Archive for October, 2009

Getting Started with Ableton Live

A few people have asked us what equipment we use to generate our background sounds and record our music sequences. We use Ableton Live on Apple Macs to sequence music and loops, and even compose and record a complete music piece, ready to record to CD.

Ableton Live is a sequencer and looping program you can play like an instrument, in a live setting. That must be why it is called Ableton Live!. Once you master a few basic controls, you can literally plug a sound source such as a keyboard to your audio-in port and start recording.

There are two principle views in Live; Arrangement View and Session View. In Arrangement View, the clips run horizontally across the screen, with time running from left to right. Each Audio clip shows up like a mini voice trace, so you can pick out the loud and soft parts on the time line. In Session View the Clip slots are lined up vertically, a bit like the channels on a mixer. You switch between views by clicking on the Arrangement View Selector or Session View Selector up in the top left corner, or by using the Tab key.

The main things to note with Live is that once you have set up a track to record on, you have to arm it by clicking on the Arm Session Recording switch. This is a rectangular device with a black dot at the bottom of the clip slot in Session View, or to the right in Arrangement View. When it is armed it turns to red with a black dot.

Next you click on the Global Record button which is a square button with a black dot in the central group at the top of the screen. When Global recording is on, it turns to red with a black dot, and Live logs all of your actions into the Arrangement.

Finally, you click on the Play button, two buttons to the left of the Global Record button at the top of the screen, and recording will start. Everything going into your audio-in port will be recorded in the track untill you click on the square stop button between Global Record and Play. When you click Stop, the Global Record is automatically disarmed, so pressing Play again will play back the snippet you have just recorded, provided that the Track Activator (the little speaker icon) is green. You can also use the space bar to toggle between Play and Stop, which is really useful in a live situation.

If you are interested in Getting Started with Ableton Live, it has an excellent tutorial section built in; just click help on the top menu and select your lesson. There is also plenty of Live support on the Web. For an online tutorial, before you buy Live click here to visit Getting Started with Ableton Live.

Ableton Live 8 retails in the UK for under £300, with the technical details as follows:

  • Multitrack recording up to 32-bit/192 kHz
  • Nondestructive editing with unlimited undo
  • Powerful and creative MIDI sequencing of software and hardware instruments
  • Advanced warping and real-time time-stretching
  • A comprehensive selection of built-in audio and MIDI effects

You can buy Ableton Live 8 through Amazon.

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