Ableton Live
Ableton Live Tutorial

Ableton Live: Creating a Track from Scratch

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29 Videos | Length: 2hr 54min 56sec
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  • Introduction 1:16


    Adam welcomes you to the course and discusses what he will be covering.

  • Kicks 8:28


    In this tutorial, learn how to sequence and manipulate the kick drums. Adam shares various workflow tips, such as why he likes to work in arrangement view with a Loop Brace, instead of session view, and why he prefers to do kicks in audio, instead of MIDI. Also learn about tuning kicks, shaping the dynamics, and consolidating this into a loop.

  • Bass 10:23


    Explore Ableton's Wavetable instrument as Adam creates the bass from scratch. Assuming no prior synthesis knowledge, he explains and demonstrates the fundamental sound design concepts: wavetable synthesis, envelopes/ADSR, and modulation. Adam further pieces all this together by explaining workflow, how to "find your sound", sidechain compression, as well as a few miscellaneous tips (such as which bass notes you can and can't use in electronic music).

  • Sidechain Compression 6:12

    Sidechain Compression

    In this video, we dive deeper into sidechain compression, learning the main three parameters (ratio, threshold, release), and how we can use these to dial in the rhythm. Adam also explains and shows how to avoid "hold down". Finally, he touches upon a trick to set up smoother sidechain compression, using "FF1 Mode" with a 10ms lookahead.

  • Bass Processing 4:19

    Bass Processing

    Now follow along as we fill out the bass' frequencies by applying some processing. Specifically, we use "Sub Osc" to enhance the root note/fundamental, and saturate with Overdrive to fill out the higher frequencies. Discover Dry/Wet, setting bass level by eye, and grouping these devices into a rack to save for later use.

  • Vocal One Shot 7:40

    Vocal One Shot

    Here Adam uses the Sampler instrument, to create a vocal one shot on the "off beat". Explore pitch envelope modulation to add punch/definition, and how to set root note to tune it. Adam also shows a range of important workflow tips, such as moving "sample start" as it's playing, to much more quickly and enjoyably choose the section of vocal to work with.

  • Lead Synth 12:16

    Lead Synth

    In this video, Adam creates a lead synth from scratch, using the Wavetable instrument. Adam builds upon ideas discussed in the previous video designing the bass, introducing new concepts: unison (for thickness), LFO modulation (for looping modulation), and using pitch bends to write a melody. He also shares some workflow tips, such as how to take a 2 bar melody, and extend it into a 4 bar melody.

  • Bass & Lead Sequencing 6:22

    Bass & Lead Sequencing

    Learn some key principles behind sequencing an 8 bar section. Here Adam is sequencing the bass and lead parts, but the concepts underlying this apply to other elements too. Explore color coding strategy, extending loops, trimming unneeded MIDI, and naming conventions.

  • Riser 6:59


    In this tutorial, Adam inserts a riser. It sounds simple, but he covers a few very important things to watch out for, e.g. warp mode imperfections, and high pass filtering unwanted low frequency rumble. I also sidechain compression this, and automate the ratio (increasing "pumpy-ness" over time), to add some subtle but interesting variation.

  • The Intro 9:15

    The Intro

    In this video, we start the intro. First, Adam tunes the the vocal Sampler the full and proper way. Then, he explains how to view phrasing and arrangements (in blocks of 4, 8, 16 bars), providing a framework for viewing and thinking about the arrangement. Adam also includes a wide range of useful little tips, such as why you shouldn't start at bar 1, and how to create another bass which is similar, but different to what we already have.

  • Second Bass 3:56

    Second Bass

    Next, Adam creates the second bass, again using Wavetable. He uses some previously explored ideas, but more importantly, he shows how he made the full section flow, by using the rhythm from the 2nd half of the lead, as the defining modulation for this new bass.

  • Reverb 5:34


    Let's get creative with reverb. By bouncing it out as audio, Adam can manipulate it, chop it up, fade it in, and more generally treat it more as its own instrument. Explore freeze/flatten, how to work around the sidechain compression error message, and how to, if unsure, deactivate a clip, instead of deleting it (allowing us to reactivate it later, if we change our mind).

  • Percussion Loop 3:57

    Percussion Loop

    In this tutorial, Adam shows everything you need to know about adding a percussion loop. It sounds simple, but there are a few things to know that are easy to overlook. E.g. the auto-warp preference, audition volume, and auditioning (in time) as it's playing. Adam also chops it up, and adds some sidechain compression, to make it flow.

  • Going Further with Vocal One Shot 3:06

    Going Further with Vocal One Shot

    Let's go further with this vocal one shot. Adam first chooses a better note, illustrating the power of perfect fifths (seven semitones). Then I add an Echo effect to make it more interesting, "hot swapping" as it's playing.

  • Vocal Build Up 8:29

    Vocal Build Up

    Let's now finish up the vocal one shot. Learn about filter sweeps, and how you should use Auto Filter, not EQ 8. Then, see how to turn this vocal idea into a build up. We learn about bouncing to audio, keeping backups, consolidating, frequency shift vs transposition (inharmonic vs harmonic build), the trick to automating "warp transpose" (MIDI clip envelopes), and choosing a logical amount of pitch transposition.

  • Intro Hi-Hat Loop 4:24

    Intro Hi-Hat Loop

    In this video, Adam adds a hi-hat loop to the intro. Again, it sounds simple, but he demonstrates some important workflow ideas in the process (creating reverse fills, extending loops, color coding, and adding subtle filter sweeps).

  • Linking Phrases 4:24

    Linking Phrases

    Discover the main idea behind linking phrases (sections of the track). To do this we take a bit of the drop, and add a high passed version of this, to the build. Learn about automation, grouping, and how to sidechain compress without adding kicks to the track (sometimes called "Ghost Kicks").

  • Build Up Snares 5:50

    Build Up Snares

    In this tutorial, Adam creates the build up snares, exploring velocity and rhythm. He uses Simpler and velocity variation to create a rhythm. He takes this further than usual though, by adding filter cutoff velocity sensitivity too (mirroring real life), to make it sound more interesting, and realistic. I finish by mapping a useful control to a macro, for future consideration.

  • Details & Variations 13:34

    Details & Variations

    Now let's add some details and variations. See the real-life process of automating, re-sequencing, and fixing things up. This includes automation, low pass filtering, EQ, and experimenting with the vocal one shot (stretching, with different warp modes), to see what works, and what doesn't. As you'll see here, sometimes ideas don't work, and sometimes the simpler solution, is the better solution.

  • Second Drop 5:44

    Second Drop

    Learn how to create the second drop. The big idea is to the copy the first drop, and change either the sound, the melody, or the rhythm. Adam tries a few options, before deciding to change the drum rhythm (to a "half time" rhythm). Discover what's important about the 16th grid, and how to use ghost kicks and intermittent double sidechain compression, for a deeper pump, and additional rhythm.

  • Generating SFX 4:53

    Generating SFX

    Explore generative workflows, as Adam uses a generative workflow to create some sound effects for the track. This uses current parts of the track, to make the resulting sound effects feel more coherent, more like they are a part of the track. It's also a quick and fun way to make sounds. Learn some tricks for working with reverse SFX, and how to maximize a clip's waveform, to make it nicer to work with.

  • Sequencing SFX 3:25

    Sequencing SFX

    In this video, Adam sequences the SFX I made in the previous video. In the process, he shares some useful little workflow tips and tricks, such as how to drag a copy, and drag unquantized.

  • More Filter Sweeps 6:09

    More Filter Sweeps

    Let's do some more work with the filter sweeps. Adam first fixes a mistake Ableton made. Then he shows how to use filter sweeps to create a transition. He also automates device on/off, and explain how, when doing so, you need to watch for discontinuity clicks!

  • Arrangement 8:33


    In this tutorial, Adam finishes up the arrangement. Learn about the writing concept "Kill Your Darlings" (be comfortable deleting something you've spent a lot of time working on). He also shares some fundamental arrangement principles, such as how to create a break and an outro, from existing sections. As well as a few specific workflow tips, such as checking automation, and checking for newly added fades, when deleting kicks.

  • Filling Out the Mix 7:11

    Filling Out the Mix

    In this video, Adam shows how to fill out the mix. He fills out the drop with pink noise (shaping it with EQ). Adam then fills out the build snares by layering a kick underneath. He also explains some important workflow ideas for doing all this, such as when and when not to solo a track, why he doesn't always use racks, and why it's important to always use automation lanes.

  • Setting Levels 3:14

    Setting Levels

    Learn how to efficiently and effectively set levels. Adam shares the best workflow for doing this (splitting clips onto different channels), and how you should automate utility (not the track fader!) to change the level over time. He finishes off by adding a few subtle details, including an interesting "manual delay".

  • High-Pass Everything 1:29

    High-Pass Everything

    See how to clean up the low end, by adding a high pass filter to everything (apart from the kick and bass). And if you're feeling lazy (or maybe your project is massive), Adam shares the best default setting. Also, where in the processing chain you should put it!

  • Mastering & Exporting 5:05

    Mastering & Exporting

    Now let's do a basic master, and export the track. Learn about loudness, how to set limiter gain, what to watch for before clicking export, and the export settings themselves (render start, length, bit depth, etc..). Also see how we should add a 16th note of silence at the beginning and end of the track, to make sure we don't lose anything in the encoding process.

  • Full Playthrough 2:49

    Full Playthrough

    Listen to a full play through of the track - not that it matters too much, as this course is about ideas, techniques, and workflows. We all like different music, and that's part of the fun!

Product Overview

Adam Pollard aka Multiplier brings you an in-depth video series all about creating a track from scratch with Ableton Live! Shown in version 10 but applicable to other versions and DAWs, see how to make a modern day track starting with just the kick drum, all the way to mastering and exporting the song for all the world to hear.

Adam welcomes you and begins with the all-mighty kick drum and includes workflow tips, tuning kicks, shaping its dynamics, and consolidating the part into a loop. Then follow along and see how to craft a complimentary bass sound and part using Ableton’s Wavetable virtual instrument.

Sound processing is then shown and you'll learn the fine art of sidechain compression, using a ‘Sub Oscillator’ to enhance the root note/fundamental of the bass sound, saturate with Overdrive to fill out the higher frequencies of content and much more.

Vocal One Shots and Lead Synths are next, and you'll see exactly how to create these instruments and get creative with them in the production and arrangement. Risers, and working on more parts and instruments are then shown in-detail, with tons of tips and tricks and helpful ideas for making a production that sounds modern and powerful.

Throughout the rest of the videos Adam covers build ups, variations, drops, sound effects, filter sweeps, how to fill out the mix, basic mixing and mastering ideas, how to properly export your song and more.

See the individual tutorial descriptions for more info. If you want to see someone craft a modern sounding production in Ableton Live from scratch, stop right here… Watch “Ableton Live: Creating a Track from Scratch” today.

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