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30 Minutes With Ableton Live 9 – Part 2

30 Minutes With Ableton Live 9 – Part 2

Okay, so you’ve pulled a drum loop into your session, but to quote Shania Twain, “I’m not very impressed by that”. In this article, we get into working with MIDI and virtual instruments, as well as recording some percussion of our own.

Lesson 3: Virtual Instruments

Now that we have added an audio clip to our session, let’s try adding some MIDI. MIDI is different from audio in that it does not make a sound of its own, but instead tells a virtual instrument which notes to play, how hard and for how long.

In the browser, select the “instruments” tab and double-click Analog to assign it to a MIDI track. You can also select a preset, and edit it from there. Make sure that the Record Arm button is selected. I didn’t bother using a click for my recording and instead played along with the drums, but you may want to switch yours on using the button at the top left of the screen.

You can record your bass in a few different ways:

  • Click on the small “record” circle on the clip which you want to record MIDI to. Play in the bass line using a MIDI keyboard.
  • Click on the “record” circle and use the computer keyboard to play the MIDI notes in. You will first need to switch on the Computer MIDI Keyboard button using the button at the top right of the window, or CTRL, Shift and ‘k’ (PC) / CMD, Shift and ‘k’ (Mac).
  • Create a blank MIDI clip by right-clicking on a cell and selecting “Insert MIDI clip”, and double-click the clip to open the piano roll MIDI editor and draw your MIDI in using the pencil tool (shortcut ‘b’).

Repeat this process to record a melody part.

Lesson 4: Recording Audio

We almost have a complete beat, but now we’re going to put our own stamp on it with a little percussion. Create a new audio track and make sure that it is armed for recording. If you have an audio interface, you can select which input to listen to under the I/O tab.

Grab something with an interesting sound (a shaker, a jar full of coffee beans or rice, a pot and a wooden spoon, slap your face) and record a loop or two.


In part three of 30 Minutes with Ableton Live 9, we will look at arranging our final track and creating interest using automation.

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