Ableton Live Techniques: Sampling

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Authored by Erin Barra, Loudon Stearns


Course Code: OMPRD-282

Next Term Starts September 24

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Each week you’ll create and share custom-designed instrument presets for peer review in discussions. Weekly assignments give you experience using Ableton samplers within musical compositions.

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Upon completion you will have developed a library of custom sampler presets that represent your personal production voice, and you will have created numerous compositions. 

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • use Ableton Live’s advanced clip functions creatively
  • compose using Ableton’s sampling devices
  • describe the cultural and ethical considerations of sampling
  • use recording editing and processing practices in Ableton Live effectively in your compositions
  • use custom sampler presets created during the course in your own compositions
  • assemble a portfolio of numerous compositions created within the course
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Lesson 1: What Is Sampling?

  • What Is Sampling?
  • Exercise: Exploring Ableton Session View as a Sampler
  • Launching Clips with MIDI Mapping
  • Envelopes
  • Exercise: Create a Sampler Using Ableton Live's Session View
  • Exercise: Warping and Sound Design
  • Assignment 1: A Short Sampled Etude 

Lesson 2: Time Rearranged

  • Warping Review
  • Exercise: Warp It
  • Slice to Drum Rack 
  • Exercise: Slice to Sampler 
  • Exercise: Share Your Sampler
  • Slice, Resample, Discover, Repeat (Creative Workflow)
  • Assignment 2: Slice, Resample, Discover, Repeat 

Lesson 3: Appropriation

  • Discussion: Share Online Resources
  • Power in a Sound
  • Meaning and Culture
  • Sample Preparation
  • Juxtaposing Sounds and Mixing Cultures
  • Arrangement View Editing and Warping
  • Assignment 3: Appropriated Composition 

Lesson 4: Looping and Tuning

  • Polyrhythm and Interval
  • Loop Synth
  • Exercise: Create Your Own Loop Synth
  • Exercise: Granular Sparklepad
  • Evolving Bass Pulse (Creative Workflow)
  • Assignment 4: One-Minute Crescendo 

Lesson 5: Designing Drums

  • Drum Rack Signal Flow
  • Exercise: Electronic Drum Rack
  • Exercise: Acoustic Drum Rack
  • Exercise: Create and Share a Custom Kit
  • Extract, Mix, Match, Layer, and Groove (Creative Workflow)
  • Assignment 5: Extract, Mix, Match, Layer, and Groove 

Lesson 6: Sampling Your Life

  • Reexamining Your Sonic Landscape
  • Recording, Documenting, and Organizing
  • Thumps, Hisses, Hums, and Clicks: Cleaning Tips
  • Assignment 6: A Day in a Minute: A Sonic Time Lapse 

Lesson 7: Sampling Yourself

  • Plan, Record, Edit, Build, and Play
  • Zones and Ranges
  • Levels, Loudness, and Filters
  • Assignment 7: Add Yourself 

Lesson 8: Live Sampling

  • What Is Going On?: Audience Perspective
  • The Art of Multitasking: Performer Perspective
  • Design, Build, Practice, Perform, Reflect, Tweak, Repeat
  • Assignment 8: Live Sampling Performance 

Lesson 9: Sampling Vocal Performances

  • Sampling Meaning: Producing Prosody
  • Creating Harmonies And Melodies
  • Voice Grooves
  • Assignment 9: Final Production Palette

Lesson 10: Sampling Emotion

  • Articulations
  • Alternations
  • Designing Expression
  • Assignment 10: Anticipation and Relaxation 

Lesson 11: Build a Sampler from Scratch in Max for Live

  • Build a Sampler in Max for Live
  • Assignment 11: Finish Final Project 

Lesson 12: Moments of Musical Mystery

  • The Impact of Sampling on Music Production
  • Pitch Drop
  • Sample Replacement
  • Assignment 12: Review and Remix



Completion of Ableton Live Fundamentals or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.

No Required Textbooks

Software Requirements

  • Ableton Live Suite
  • Max for Live Essentials Pack

Mac Users

Windows Users

Hardware Requirements: All Users

  • MIDI controller
  • Audio interface
  • Microphone
  • Associated cables
  • 500 MB free hard drive space
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed ( to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)




Erin Barra has been a key player in the creative process of many projects from conception to final master to stage performance. With a wide ranging skill set (educator, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist, music technology consultant), she enables people to create content they're personally invested in and execute their ideas.

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Specializing in music technology integration, she works with artists and bands looking to integrate laptops and digital technologies into their writing, production and stage setups, and has developed, taught and executed several music technology curriculums at the open source (Coursera and ROLI), K-12 (Beats By Girlz), and collegiate levels (Berklee College of Music, Berklee Online).

An authoritative voice in music technology education, she is an associate professor in the Songwriting department at Berklee College of Music and is one of the leading product specialists for the Berlin-based music software company Ableton. A natural collaborator, Erin has had the opportunity to work with an array of artists, from Grammy winners like John Oates, George Massenburg, Kathy Mattea, and Elliot Scheiner, to those at the front lines of the independent movement like Res, Miles Robertson, and Ari Raskin. She holds a degree in Songwriting from Berklee College of Music and has 20+ years of keyboard/piano experience. Read Less



Loudon Stearns is an associate professor at Berklee College of Music, a course author and instructor at Berklee Online, and an active media-artist. Within the Contemporary Writing and Production department at Berklee College of Music, he prepares students to work as independent composers and producers in a technology-laden music industry. Online, he focuses on the latest electronic music styles and music-technology innovations, showing students how to analyze contemporary styles and use the latest music technology in their own works. An innovator in both education and art, Loudon authored a Massive Open Online Class, "Introduction to Music Production," that has provided high-quality free education to hundreds of thousands of students, received an award from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association for "Excellence in Teaching" and received the "Excellence in Media Art" award from the Emerson College Visual and Media Art department.

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Holding a Bachelor of Music in Contemporary Writing and Production and Bass Performance from Berklee College of Music, and a Master of Fine Arts in Media Art from Emerson College, Loudon pulls from a broad range of skills in the creation of his own multi-media performances that include live music, projection-mapping, dance, visual art and interactivity. Of particular interest is using the entire world as a performance space by using internet streaming to coordinate numerous performers and audiences on vastly different parts of the globe. The technical and aesthetic challenges of this type of performance are new and exciting and require the sort of broad skill-set that Loudon has developed through his extensive institutional and self education in music, sound, performance, motion graphics, photography, programming, and construction. Read Less

What's Next?

When taken for credit, Ableton Live Techniques: Sampling can be applied towards these associated programs:

Associated Degree Major


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

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