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Ultimate Ableton Live 9: Part 1 – The Interface & The Basics

Learning Ableton Live the right way: From the basics to the advanced, from Ableton Certified Trainer J. Anthony Allen.
Jason Allen
3,142 students enrolled
Navigate 100% of Ableton Live
Work in the Session View and Arrangement View of Ableton Live
Record Audio, Midi, and Understand Live's Signal Flow

For years I’ve been teaching Ableton Live in the college classroom. As a University Professor, my classes are sought after, and, frankly, expensive. I believe Ableton Live can be learned by anyone, and cost shouldn’t be a barrier. This class uses the same outline and syllabus I’ve used in my college classes for years, at a fraction of the cost.

This is Part 1: The Interface.

I will be making 6 (six!) complete classes in order to bring you the most comprehensive manual on Ableton Live production techniques ever created. Each class has Sets, sessions, and experiments for you to try on your own and follow along with.

And of course, once you sign up for Part 1 – The Interface, you automatically get huge discounts to all the upcoming parts (the next 5!) of this class.

You will not have another opportunity to learn Ableton Live in a more comprehensive way that this. Start here.

J. Anthony Allen is an Ableton Certified Trainer, and a PhD in Music Composition and master of Electronic Sounds. His music has been heard internationally in film, radio, video games, and industrial sound, as well as the concert hall and theater.

He currently as an adjunct professor of composition at the University of St. Thomas, Macphail Academy of Music, and the CEO of Slam Academy in Minneapolis.

Praise for other classes by J. Anthony Allen:

  • “Dr Allen does it again with his music theory for electronic musicians series. This course really opened up everything I learned from the 1st section and now I understand more about the composition side of things for music. I highly highly recommend this course to anyone!!! Really opened my eyes to many things I wasn’t aware of.”

  • “The Best Teacher ever, who makes you understand the ins & outs of Music Theory by all mean without giving what you don’t want to know.”
  • “I have never had any formal training in music at all. Trying to learn all the notes and how everything translated was a serious challenge. After going thru this class, Dr. J has totally brought down the barriers. The content was very useful and was easy to grasp for me.”

The Live Interface


An overview of what will be covered in this class, and how I'll be covering it. This is the first class in a super comprehensive series of classes. At the end of this class I'll give you the goods to get you moving into the second class.

Asking Questions
The 2 Views of Ableton Live: Session and Arrangement

One of the first things that stumps a lot of people about Ableton Live is the two different views. It isn't as weird as you think! Let me help you wrap your head around it - starting here.

What is Arrangement View?

First, we will look at Arrangement view. If you have used any other audio program, this view will look a bit familiar.

What is Session View?

Session View is where Ableton Live gets unique. You won't find this in any other program. Once you understand how it works, it is incredibly fun to use.

Navigating Live

Navigating Live: Overview

Getting around Ableton Live can be confusing at first. Here we will talk about the main layout, what to look for, and how to find help.

Info View: The Best Place To Start

Info View is our first window we will look at. This window holds the secrets to Live - and tells you everything you need to know.

Help View: The Second Place To Go

Help View is a little browser built-in to Ableton. It has lessons, sessions (sets), and all kinds of useful stuff. Check it out!

Navigation in Live

In this lesson we will look at production workflow in Live. This is something that can take a little getting used to, but once you get comfortable with it, you will moving through Live very quickly.

The Main Sequencer Window (Arrangement View)

The main sequencer window in Arrangement view is, if you have used another audio program, a familiar timeline-based layout. It has a few things that are different, so in this lesson we will explore how it works in detail.

The Clip Slot Grid (Session View)

The Session View is probably the most foreign element in Live to most people. In this lesson we will look at navigating it, and the biggest part of it, the Clip Slot Grid.

The Clip View Window

Clip View is the big rectangle at the bottom of the screen, and it contains a lot of info. The trick to Clip View is knowing that it can show you different things depending on what you are doing.

Recording in Live

Adding Content: Overview

A few tips and tricks when it comes to adding content to Ableton Live.

The Preferences: Getting Setup Correctly

Getting around inside the Preferences window is key to making sure all of your settings are correct. In this lesson I'll show you how to set everything up.

The Browser: Finding What You Need

The Browser is how we can quickly navigate all our files without leaving Live. Like most things in Live, once you get comfortable with it, it can really speed up your workflow.

Live's Signal Flow

There are a few tricks to the signal flow in Live - that is, the route audio goes once it enters the program.

Recording Audio in Live

Finally - Recording! Now that we are all setup, and know how audio is moving through Live, in this lesson we will do a little recording.

"Record to Arrange" - Recording a Performance

"Record to Arrange" is a way of recording Session view into Arrangement view. In this lesson, I'll show you!

Session Deconstruction

In this lesson I'm going to walk through this whole Ableton Live Set that we've been looking at for the last few sessions. I'll explain everything I see, in hopes that you pickup on anything you missed, some vocabulary, and just to reinforce what you've learned so far.

Editing in Live

Editing in Live: Overview

In this lesson we will talk broadly about the basic editing features of Live.

Timeline Functions & Looping

One of the most basic functions in Live is Looping clips. In this lesson we will look at how that works in the timeline (Arrangement View).

MIDI Editing & Quantizing

Quantizing is a way to "snap" our MIDI notes to a grid, to clean up our sloppy playing (and for other reasons). In this lesson, I'll show you how to do it!

Automation in Live

Automation is how to program changes in any parameter over time. Want the volume to go up in a section? Thats automation. Want a filter to start opening after the drop? Thats automation.

The Groove Pool

Possibly one of the most unique features in Live is the Groove Pool. In this video I'll show you what its for, and how to use it.

Session Deconstruction No. 2

In this lesson I'm going to walk through another Ableton Live Set that we've been looking at for the last few sessions. I'll explain everything I see, in hopes that you pickup on anything you missed, some vocabulary, and just to reinforce what you've learned so far.

Wrap Up!

Wrap up: What now?

We've only scratched the surface!

Part 2: Everything about Audio and MIDI Recording in Live - Coming Soon!

Part 2 of this class? Oh yes - coming soon!

Ableton 2: Recording and Warping

How to get started in Ultimate Ableton Live: Part 2 - Recording and Warping

Bonus Videos

The Ableton Live Instruments

Figuring out the difference between Plugins and Instruments. We tackle that in this lesson. (This is an excerpt from Ableton 4: Synths and Samplers)

MIDI Clips

You might be familiar with MIDI clips, but in this segment we will do another quick review to make sure we are all on the same page.

Important Key Commands

Attached here is a big big big list of all the Ableton key commands. Its huge.

Bonus Lecture: Audio Recording in Live Basics

I've had a lot of questions from people who just want to dive right in to recording audio in Ableton Live. The best answer to this question is to take my Ultimate Ableton Live 2: Recording and Warping class. But for those of you that just want the basics, here is a video that will get you up to speed.

Bonus Lecture: Discount Offers & Mailing List

There is so much more to learn!

Ableton Live 10 Preview

Live 10: Session View
Live 10: Wavetable Synth
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