10 steps to becoming an Ableton Live Ninja!

Ableton Live is a digital audio workstation (DAW) used by music producers and DJs to create, edit, and perform music. 
Here are 10 steps you can follow to help you learn Ableton Live, inside and out:

  1. Complete the interactive lessons at Learning Music. They are a great introduction to some of the key concepts of music production and include basic music theory, sound selection and programming, as well as arrangement. You can even export an idea from “The Playground” as a project and develop it further in Ableton Live (more on that later).


  2. Read the Live Reference Manual. The first 8 chapters cover all major aspects of Live but chapters 2 (First Steps) & 4 (Live Concepts) will introduce you to the main functions of the software and help you navigate your way around once you have it installed.


  3. Install Ableton Live. You can download a 90-day free trial version of Ableton Live from the Ableton website and install it on your computer. This includes all the presets, sounds, effects and synthesizers that come with Live Suite!


  4. Access the Built-in Lessons. When you first open Live there will be a panel on the right of the screen with “Live 11 Lessons” near the top. These can be accessed anytime from the menu bar at the top of the screen (Help > Help View). You can scroll through this section down to where it says “Show all lessons” and there will be a section called “Live Basics” which will run you through the basic layout and functionality of Live.


  5. Use Info View! By pressing “?” (or shift + /) you expand the “Info View” which is a panel at the bottom left of the screen that gives you a description of any parameter or control that you hover your mouse over. It’s essential when you’re learning your way around Live.


  6. Start creating music! A great way to get started is to create an idea here and then click “Export to Live” and download it as an Ableton Live Project. This will help you familiarize yourself with Ableton Live’s different file types. Open the .als (Ableton Live Set) and start experimenting with your idea by adding sounds and effects from Live’s Browser, as well as modifying MIDI clips and effect parameters. We’re not trying to create a masterpiece (yet), just have some fun!


  7. Read more of the Reference Manual. This document holds all the answers if you ever get stuck, just remember the name of what you’re looking at (using the “Info View” we mentioned earlier) and look it up. You can access it anytime from within Live via the top menu bar (Help > Read the Live Manual). Now would be a great time to finish reading those first 8 chapters.


  8. Watch some videos. If you prefer some short form video content to get you up to speed then the “Learn Live” section of the Ableton website is for you. It covers all the basics as well as some more advanced functionality with very clear, concise and easy to follow videos. Watching a few of these are a great way to see how others might use Live.


  9. Get Inspired. Ableton’s Blog is a great source of information about other artists using Live. There are categories near the top of the page for Downloads, Tutorials and Videos. Most entries are in article form and provide insight into how professionals use Live, others include free sample packs or compelling content to help you get the most out of Live.


  10. Learn from the best! Ableton Certified Trainers are all over the world. They are well equipped to have you creating at your best. To get the most out of your time with these trainers, it helps to have an idea of what you want to accomplish. For instance, you could be a DJ wanting to create Mashups, A Guitarist wanting to write backing tracks or simply have a style of music in mind that you want help to create.

Learning becomes much easier as you become more comfortable with Ableton Live, so don’t be afraid to try new things. 

The best way to learn is by doing, so have some fun and see what you can create!

Still need some help?

Are you ready to take things to the next level?

Book a session with Ableton Certified Trainer – Robert Koster and start making the music of your dreams