July 25, 2013  |   Ableton Tutorials, Tutorials

Introducing the 9 Lives of Ableton – Video Tutorial Series

Learning to produce isn’t always as easy as you might imagine, for some it can’t be quite a steep learning curve and an arudous task. The most important thing is to get a grip of the basics before anything else, and that’s why we’ve launched our new series – The 9 Lives Of Ableton, hosted by Point Blank tutor Anthony Chapman (who’s worked with the likes of Klaxons and Franz Ferdinand). In each of the nine chapters of this series, Anthony will be breaking down a different aspect of the software to help beginners get to grips with its interface and the basics of it – just as you can experience on our online Ableton Live Certificate Program (where you can now get a FREE copy of Ableton Live when enrolling!)

Here’s the first episode, which covers Session View… enjoy, and stay tuned for eight more entries in this series!

Video Transcription:



Hi, I’m Anthony Chapman and I’m a tutor here at Point Blank Music School. I’ve got over 20 years industry experience as a producer, engineer, mixer, and composer, working with the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Klaxons and you’re watching, “9 Lives of Ableton.” If you’re new to making electronic music, these videos should give you an overview of how to get started using Live and an idea of what it’s capable of. If you’re experienced with other platforms but new to Live, you’ll probably find these videos really useful as well.


Hi and welcome to the first video of the, “9 Lives of Ableton,” series. I’ve got a little track here that I’ve started putting together in Live and I just want to give you a quick tour around it. This is some percussion for the intro and then I’ve got more of a beaty and bassy intro.


I’ve also got a build that I put in.


And then I’ve got my full beat.


And as well as this, I’ve got some other elements I haven’t quite decided where they’re going to go yet so I’ve got a lo-fi loop. I put a shaker, a rolling bass, and I’ve got some synth sounds. Okay, so there you go. There’s a little tour around the beginnings of this track I’ve got here.


Now, what we’re looking at at the moment is the session view. This is one of the things that makes Ableton Live completely unique. Nothing else really functions in the same way. As you can see, the tracks in the session view are vertical, okay? This is something that is quite intimidating at first, I think, for first time users of Live. It takes a little while to get your head around it but essentially, this is focused on creating a performing music on the fly and being able to very quickly rearrange and bring new ideas into your track.


Now each of these tracks contain slots, as you can see, and in each of these slots we can place clips. Now, what are clips? Clips are essentially musical ideas. The clip can contain midi, which either plays an internal instrument or an external device. It can contain audio, it can contain automation as well and this is really the fundamentals of how we put our tracks together in the session view. So we’ve got tracks and clips, but we also have something else which is a seam. And a seam is essentially a whole row of clips, and if you hit one of these buttons on the right hand side, then it will trigger all of the clips that are contained in that row, like so.


So if I go to here, and click that, it triggered those three clips there. And then if I go to the next one, it triggers the next seam. Now, one thing you may notice as well is every time I trigger a clip, it doesn’t start playing until the next bar, okay? So just to demonstrate what I mean, I’m going to stop the session here, stop all of the clips. And I’m going to play this clip here. So this clip here is claps and I’m going to click play on it, but you’ll notice that it doesn’t actually start playing until the beginning of the next bar. The play button will flash, and when it goes solid, then it’s actually started playing. Okay, you see that? And it basically means that you can trigger up clips and not worry about when it is you’re pressing the buttons.


As long as it’s within the last bar before you want it to go in, it will trigger exactly where you want it to. A bar is the default contours for clip launch, that can actually be changed up here. Another really cool thing about the session view is that it enables us to write and edit material on the fly. So just to give us an example of this, I’m going to trigger off some clips, okay? If I just stop this one, I’ll start these. And put this drum loop in. And so so I just want to try manually putting in some new drums, so I’m going to put my drums track into record on, and then you notice when you go in to record on, the stop button is turning to your record buttons.


So now, if I click record in this, so yeah. I just recorded that manually, there. That’s recording number one. Okay. So as you see, we can completely write a track on the fly. In fact, it is something that I’ve seen, people perform live where they essentially start with nothing and build up a track completely live in session view.


So, hopefully this has given you a little insight into how the session view is a very cool environment for putting ideas together, getting arrangements together very quickly, and perhaps even just trying something that you ordinarily wouldn’t have tried in a regular timeline basis [inaudible 00:05:51].


Okay, so join me for the next video when we’re going to delve into the drum rack.


At Point Blank Online, you’ve got two methods of interaction with your tutor. Firstly, you’ve got the weekly online master class, which is in real time. And then also, we’ve got feedback on your assignments, and that’s known as DVR.


So the online master class is a one hour session you get with your tutor every week. You can ask questions about the lesson content and get instant feedback and also demonstrations on the fly from the computer desktop with our streaming technology.


DVR stands for Direct Video Response and the concept is really simple. You upload your Ableton logical key-based project file to your tutor. He downloads it and then pushes record on the screen capturing software and it evaluates your work. So basically giving you one-to-one feedback. You see all of the mouse movements and any parameter  changes made by your tutor.


It’s kind of like sitting in the studio over their shoulder, watching what they’re doing while they work. We have found the DVR process has truly revolutionized the way that we teach online and the results speak for themselves. Book your place in the course now by visiting PointBlankOnline.net.