Whether you’re going into professional music production, DJing on the weekends, or just looking for a hobby, Ableton Live is a high-quality and versatile program that can take your music to the next level but learning it will take time.
If you’re a seasoned professional in other Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs), you may be able to pick up on Ableton in a few weeks.
However, if you’re brand new to music software, you can expect learning the basics of Ableton Live to take 1 to 3 months with the help of YouTube and other tutorials. In 6 to 12 months, you can have a good understanding of more advanced features.
But to fully master Ableton Live, it will take several years of dedicated practice – and with new updates and capabilities rolling out regularly, becoming an expert will require continuous learning.
According to the editorial team at ProducerHawk.com, learning the basics of Ableton to be able to put together a simple song can take as quickly as 2 hours.
Using it at an amateur level can take 20 or more hours. Producing music in Ableton at a professional level can take more than 5,000 hours, often taking between 3 and 5 years of study and practice.
The steep learning curve is because producing at a high level requires not only mastery of the software but of core music production concepts like mixing as well
Ableton Live offers two different views within the software, and there are different situations where each view is appropriate:
- Session view – which is the default – is a grid-based view designed for live performances such as DJing or jam sessions. Groups of sounds from different instruments, called Clips, can be arranged into Scenes and triggered as needed.
- Arrangement view better resembles other DAWs and sequencing software, it is better for composing, arranging, remixing, or producing music as opposed to in-the-moment playing. In the Arrangement view, your music is in a set order with a definitive start and finish to the song.
Ableton Live has a wide variety of built-in instruments that users can create music with.
However, the exact instruments in the program will depend on which version of the software is being used.
With the Standard version, users can purchase additional built-in instrument packs and even connect their own external instruments.
The Live Suite version of the software, however, includes all available instruments automatically.
In addition to instruments, users can also add effects to their tracks to create their desired sound.
Ableton Live effects are separated into two categories: audio effects and MIDI effects.
Many of these options are standard in most DAWs, but Ableton puts special emphasis on effects that would work well for DJs and other electronic musicians.
Like other DAWs, artists and producers can create full songs from start to finish in Ableton Live.
Built-in instruments can be “played” directly in the software to create beats, basslines, melodies, and more. MIDI instruments can be played externally and recorded by the software to be added to the track.
If adding vocals, those can be recorded and edited in the software as well. Finally, users can edit individual clips and arrange/master the full track.
This completed track can then be exported and shared so that audiences can listen to it whenever they’d like.
In addition to creating and sharing complete songs, Ableton Live also allows users to perform their work live.
Whether users are creating singular instrumental lines or full backing tracks, these clips can be created and configured in advance so they sound exactly as they should on stage.
During the performance, artists can trigger clips as needed. If desired, music can also be created, remixed, looped, or sampled in real-time during performances.
If your goal is to perform live using Ableton, it’s essential to learn everything you can about the software and practice often so you can perform your best.
Aim to spend at least 30 minutes per day with Ableton so you can use it to its full potential and discover new ways to create music each session.