Whether you’re an absolute beginner – or just want to help turn on a friend or bandmate to computer music production – starting at the very beginning is indeed a very good place to start. So, it’s nice to see Ableton’s official channel this month covering the very first steps of working with their flagship Ableton Live.

In fact, even if you don’t own Live, you can make use of the demo version and try this out. I typically find that getting audio interfaces working properly is the biggest hurdle for first-time music users. (Okay, sometimes it stumps us advanced folk, too, but ideally we have it working!)

There are many commercial online training services for Live, but since spending more cash may be a disincentive to getting things going, a free videos are an ideal way to get a taste. (Then, when you’re ready, schools like Dubspot and training series like MacProVideo – the latter relevant to Windows users, too – can get you going, just to name a couple.)

Huston Singletary, the clinician in this video, is one of the most knowledgeable Live experts inside or outside Ableton – and a really nice guy, to boot – so I look forward to his series.

A parallel discussion in a Live group on LinkedIn got some similar ideas going. Much to my delight, that included not just the generic stuff, but also how to work with wind controllers and “glitch up your sax.” Here are some more videos for you:

NYC-based training house Dubspot has a ridiculous, ridiculous number of training sessions — check the Dubspot channel, choose Playlists, and then Ableton Live. But since the theme here is supposed to be getting started, I’ll be choosy.

Thavius Beck, one of my other favorite Ableton clinicians, covers the basics of chopping – an ideal place to get started once you have worked out how to record:

Mike Hatsis covers keyboard shortcuts:

And as an excellent illustration of how this can all fit together, DJ Kiva shows an integrated dub performance using the APC40 controller. It’s a nice place to close here, because it shows a bit of where you can take all of your new-found skills.

Found a tutorial that’s helped you get starting with Ableton Live? Specific software for which you’d like to see a beginning tutorial – or, perhaps, that hasn’t been covered to death in the way that Ableton has? Basic techniques you’d like to learn that aren’t specific to a certain tool?

Let us know in comments, or contact us directly.

365 Days of Knowledge! Lastly, the best free resource for learning Live I’ve ever seen – more tips than anywhere else, more useful beginner knowledge than anywhere else, and the most you could hope to get free even with a manual included?


  • yeah there's this guy who's really tackling Max4Live lately. and now that i bought it last month, i'm ready to dive in.

  • a.m. gold

    Okay, what about the "advanced beginner" or intermediate user of Live? Midi interface works, knows how to record, is using Live to produce pieces–but wants to learn more about exploiting all the *built-in* features of the software. This is where I am at–I'm not that interested yet in using Max for Live, not yet sold on a particular outboard controller, but I want to know more about everything Live itself can do. Where do I go? If you're into creating tutorials, here's a niche for you–make some like that and then promote the hell out of them, I think you'll find viewers are hungry for that kind of information.

  • Peter Kirn

    @a.m. gold: That's how I'd describe the dozens of Dubspot videos, as intermediate beginner. But is there something specific you want to know?

  • Groc

    Thanks Peter! As a recent beginner I found the macprovideo Live 8 101 tutorial to be really helpful. Got me going very quickly and they always have regular sales that are worth waiting for if you don't want to pay full price. Really looking forward to these free vids though 🙂

  • @a.m. gold: have you looked at this page:

  • Peter Kirn

    @mosquito: Oh, yeah! I completely forgot to put that in there!

  • ideletemyself

    lol… i'm glad you included all those other tut vids… i was like, "How to record audio in Ableton" ?? same as, "How to put your pants on one leg at a time" or "The subtleties of brushing your teeth" although perhaps some need help with all of these things 😉

  • lala

    Yeah, right, stuff like dubspot really needs more media attention. I just watched where to buy talent for only 9.99$, zzzzzzz.

  • Peter Kirn

    @ideletemyself: Actually, a lot of people really don't know how to get started with the basics of connecting an audio interface and recording, including many people who are very, very advanced as musicians and simply are less so on the instrumental side. Believe it or not, I don't write this site for you, specifically, all the time. 

    If that argument doesn't work for you, think of it this way — now you have somewhere to point people who would otherwise nag you with a lot of basic questions about Ableton, those who do need it.

  • ideletemyself

    wait… I'm NOT the end all be all in your thoughts all day every day?!? Peter… I'm kind of hurts now… lol… 🙂

    I suppose you're right about even the most advanced musicians needing help with even seemingly the most basic of methods when considering making music on the computer. An I shall use this as a reference for others who inquire about such things 😉

    All that being said I'm now inclined to make some tuts on how to put pants on one leg at a time and the subtleties of brushing teeth… Who knows, they might be useful to some out there!

  • @Peter Kirn: i keep that page bookmarked as i've been trying to find a good way to tag each of the tutorials to make finding specific topics faster. if only there were more hours in the day. 😀

    i must say that even after spending the last 18 years using computers for music that even i sometimes need help with just the basics. its usually when i first start using new software, but there are times where my brain just flat out forgets where something is located. a perfect example is the fostex hard disk recorder we use. i swear at least once a month there's something i need to do that is so infrequent i have to consult the manual.

    now comparing basic tutorials with how to put your pants on one leg at a time is a bit harsh. for instance, i've been using live since version 5, but the arrangement view has only JUST started being something i considered using. why? because after years of using cubase with a linear/arrangement view i felt stiffled. i wanted to be able to change the arrangement on the fly way more than it allowed. so i despite the years of experience, i'm frequently looking up stuff online to help get my head around the interaction between the arrangement and session views, especially as it relates to performance. hell the chopping samples video above was informative to me even though i already know how to chop and warp samples.

  • greg

    Woah, ideletemyself might be a bigger snot than me. Glad to see n00bs getting some help. Hard to understand how teaching someone to use their computer and hardware better demands criticism. At least this isn't more "How to make a beat" by "vanillacrunk30002002mpc," and while I don't use ableton, I find it noteworthy that they are trying to dig up more new users.

  • netchaiev

    For anyone, even experienced users, Dubspot is great. On some subject, you have a couple of different ways to do things with Live so it's always nice to see how others do even simple stuff! that's the beauty of it. I sometimes forget basic stuff when i spent my time in M4L… I learned short-cuts to things I do everyday. 

  • Daniel

    Tom Cosm has some great video's and tutorials as well, along with some example Live packs. 

    http://www.cosm.co.nz/ http://www.youtube.com/user/cosmcosm

  • shim

    can someone please explain "pros" using KRK's?!

  • Charlie Lesoine

    Thanks I needed these. Just started to mess around with live 8 earlier this year and have only really figured out the looper+nanokontrol, which is really really cool, but I know there are other cool things this app can do…

  • lala

    @netchaiev: great, i cant wait to hear about the 50 different ways to drink a glass of water 😉

  • @a.m. gold . I might have something you'll be interested in. Currently working on a tutorial/demo video for a dub feedback delay rack I'm going to give out. It's going to cover some advanced routing and rack techniques. I'm not going to walk through building the basic unit but will go over key concepts in it's construction and show how to customize it and give ideas for taking it to the next level. Taking a while since I'm just learning all the video software, also I want the thing to be actually entertaining as well as informative. Going to try injecting some personality to stand out from the crowd.

  • James

    A lot to be learned on Live and audio stuff at The DSP Project:

  • shim

    @greg: stay golden pony-boy

  • Don't forget max4live.info… Working on new content as we speak!


  • lala

    @greg: "I find it noteworthy that they are trying to dig up more new users"
    you got it, its just pr fluff for a plugin host that crashes if you use plugins…

  • Tranthangapa


  • try

  • Tranthangapa


  • try

  • Tranthangapa


  • try