30 Minutes With Ableton Live – Part 3

In the final part of our 30 Minutes With Ableton Live series, we arrange our beat into a full track and then throw a little spice into it using automation.

Lesson 5: Performing in Session View

Now we have all the makings of our beat, let’s record a rough arrangement of our track. Session view can be “played” to drop in and drop out clips at will while recording what you play to the arrangement view. Before you get recording, make sure to click on the orange “Back to Arrangement” button. This will ensure that any changes that you make in session view will not overwrite anything that you have done in arrangement view.

Hit the global record button to begin recording and launch a loop, then another and mix and match as you please to create your arrangement. Everything that you do will be recorded to the timeline. Ableton quantises clip launching, meaning that if you click on a clip off of the beat, then Ableton will wait until the bar starts to launch the clip, keeping everything nicely in time. When you are finished playing, hit the spacebar to end recording and click on the return to arrangement button.

Lesson 6: Finishing in Arrangement View

Now we’ll finish the beat with some automation. Automation is when we record a parameter change (like the volume of a track, or the cutoff frequency of a filter) so that it can be played back. In Ableton, automation can be recorded to clips, or to the timeline.
Let’s add a fade-in to the whole arrangement. In Arrangement View, take a look at the master track and select “Mixer” from the top drop down and “Track Volume” from the bottom one. Now on the timeline, click where you want the fade in to end on the dashed red line. The line will go solid and a breakpoint will appear. Now you can grab the start of the timeline and pull this down to create a fade-in.
You can apply this process to any parameter, like the panning direction of a track, or the amount of delay, or to switch an EQ range in and out to create a bass drop. Pretty much anything can be automated, so get creative and add as much automation as you can; the more the better!

Conclusion

After adding a little extra automation and a bit of EQ and limiting, here’s our finished beat! It’s not too bad for a half-hour job! If you made one too, share it in the comments.

We hope that this quickstart guide was enough to get you started on your journey to Ableton glory, but if you need a little help from your friends at Red Dog, we’re always available to help you out so just get in touch!

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Lewis Saunders

Lewis is Red Dog Music's Purchasing Assistant and is also a freelance guitarist, sound engineer, and music technology educator.

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