Ableton Tutorial – Overview, Features and Potential

AbletonTutorialWhen you mention the terms “music producer” or “DJ”, some people usually imagine a guy surrounded by a lot of equipment, with flashy lights, buttons and knobs everywhere. Some people also think that music producers or DJs are only as good as their equipment is. Those people are wrong.

Nowadays you can carry a whole production studio and a DJ booth in a laptop bag, all this thanks to the impressive evolution of music software.Check out the “How to Produce a Retro Techno House Record in Ableton” course to find out how you can create a complete track, from the very first beat all the way up to the final retouches, using only one piece of software: Ableton.

Why Ableton?

The answer is simple: because it rocks! Ableton is one of the pylons of the music production and mixing industry, being used by renowned DJs and producers such as Armin Van Buuren, Daft Punk, Gabriel & Dresden, John Digweed, Pete Tong and many others.

What makes Ableton stand out from the crowd is the fact that it is incredibly flexible, being suitable for every music enthusiast, from the bedroom producer or private party DJ all the way up to the studio professional or the world-renowned DJ.

Because it was designed to work all by itself or paired with external instruments, the only real requirement for using Ableton is creativity. Learn more what can result from creatively using Ableton from this online course.

Ableton for DJs

Some old-school DJs will insist that a real DJ only needs two turntables and a mixer. Nothing else. That may be true for scenarios such as rap battles, contests or mixing sessions of decent lengths, but when a DJ is invited to a festival, for example, and asked to perform for 5 hours, you can’t really expect that DJ to come with a truck loaded with vinyls and just keep spinning, scratching and changing them to exhaustion. This is where technology comes in.

Probably the biggest misconception people have when it comes to using laptops and software in DJing is that they think the software does the job of the DJ, when in fact the software allows the DJ to do a better job by giving them more control over the music. To understand this, let’s go back to the previous example of the old-school DJ compared to the modern DJ; the old-school DJ can only play 2 tracks at a time, one from each turntable and, while this does give her some space to play around with the sounds, she is quite limited. Also, she has to know her songs very accurately, to know where the beat stops, where there’s a drop and other key points of the track; all good, but what do you do when you have to mix for several hours? You can’t just memorize all the key points from 100 tracks. Luckily, now you don’t have to. Using Ableton, you can see a track’s pattern and know exactly where your key points are in the track. This doesn’t make you any less of a DJ now, does it?

DJs that perform electronic music are also faced with the challenge of making DJ sets – long mixes that are pre-recorded, for being broadcasted in various shows or to be used between live mixing sessions. Ableton gives you absolute control when it comes to creating such sets, giving you all the options you need to cut, edit, blend and warp your tracks together in one seamless mix. If you also happen to have some hardware at hand, such as a Launchpad, the possibilities are literally endless.

Learn out more about mixing with Ableton from this course.

Ableton for producers

For producers, Ableton is basically a studio-in-a-box solution, fitting everything you would expect to find in a real studio (synthesizers, effectors, samplers, instruments, audio processors and much more), in one easy-to-use program. Different working interfaces such as ‘Session View’ or ‘Arrangement View’ allow for better control over every aspect during different stages of production.

Ableton is compatible with a wide variety of MIDI controllers and instruments, giving you a deep level of control over all the details. To get a general idea of the potential of Ableton, check out the APC40, a dedicated controller created by Akai, a company with a history of decades in the field of audio instruments. Launchpad (created by Novation Digital Music Systems) and Push (created by the developers of Ableton) are two other powerful MIDI controllers that allow you to make the most out of your ideas and have fun doing it.

The most important thing for us is that [Ableton] Live makes making music fun. When you’re having fun, you’re making better music.”

Josh Gabriel (Gabriel & Dresden)

Working with Ableton

The main advantage of working with Ableton is that the program has so much to offer that, as long as you’re creative, there’s no way of running out of possibilities. You can always find new ways of mixing different instruments and effects into creations that might turn out to be the very next hit to blow up the charts. And just when you will think you are running out of options, you will always come across new packs of instruments and effects that will unlock the path to new ideas and possibilities.

If all this sounds too good to be true, and you are afraid that a program that can do so much might be hard to master, you’re in for a surprise: Ableton is quite easy to learn, thanks to its intuitive interface. In fact, you can learn how to create your own track from scratch in just one course. What are you waiting for?