Advanced Music Production with Ableton Live

Author: Loudon Stearns | Course Code: OMPRD-381

Based on feedback from Ableton Live users, Advanced Music Production with Ableton Live offers a forward-thinking approach to recording, editing mixing and mastering using Ableton Live. The course provides in-depth training on Live's components, such as Operator, Sampler, Analog, Tension, and Electric. Students will master tools for live performance, such as on-the-fly beat creation and getting the most out of your controller, as well as the concepts behind composing effective grooves, bass lines, pads, harmony, and melody. Students will also delve into effects processing with compression, gate, chorus, flanging, and other delay lines, and learn how to use Racks to combine them to create original and dynamic textures. The course features hands-on, guided demonstrations of Ableton Live, and goes into great detail on using the application for complex compositions, mixing, and live performances in any musical style. The course emphasizes exploration and experimentation, culminating with a final project in which students create a full-length song or a live performance tool.

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

  • Compose grooves, bass lines, pads, and melodies which can be applied to any musical style
  • Use Ableton Live as a composition assistant to apply rich harmonic ideas to compositions
  • Use synthesis tools to improve music productions
  • Design any sound imaginable with Ableton Live's synths
  • Create unique textures with audio effects
  • Apply effects processing to create professionally polished productions
  • Use Live in both studio production and live performance environments

Berklee Online and Ableton have come together to offer an educational discount on Ableton Suite 9. Once you enroll in the course, you will be able to purchase the software at the discounted price through the Required Course Materials link on your My Home page. Early enrollment is encouraged to ensure software delivery prior to the start of the course.

Lesson 1: Live Basics

  • Demo Tune Analysis
  • Compare Scene A and Scene B
  • Key Mapping
  • More on Key Mapping
  • Editing MIDI
  • Working with Clips: Warp Markers
  • Launching Clips: Capture Scene
  • Recording into the Arrange View
  • Control Tip: MIDI Configuration
  • Control Tip: MIDI Control

Lesson 2: Getting into the Groove

  • Groove Analysis
  • Subdivisions
  • Groove
  • Setting Up a Controller
  • Preference Rules
  • Creating a Custom Drum Rack
  • Loop-Recording a Groove
  • Control Tip: Cue Mix Setup

Lesson 3: Developing a Groove

  • Developing a Custom Groove
  • Many-to-One Track Setup
  • Recording the Elements
  • Setup for Metarecording
  • Metarecording
  • What Do I Do Now?
  • Control Tip: Follow Actions

Lesson 4: Resample and Slice

  • Programming Realistic Drums
  • Configuring Your Drum Rack
  • Editing Your Drum Groove
  • Resampling
  • Slicing a Loop
  • Slice Effects
  • Drum Rack Sends
  • Macro Controls
  • Control Tip: Instant Mappings and Takeover Modes

Lesson 5: Sampling

  • Comparing the Samplers in Live
  • Creating a One-Sample Instrument with Sampler
  • Looping
  • Amplitube Envelopes
  • The Filter
  • Creating a Responsive Instrument
  • Control Tip: Simpler

Lesson 6: Long, Evolving Sounds

  • Building a Harmonic Framework
  • Creating a Harmonic Template
  • Creating a Chord Progression
  • Creating a Bass Line
  • Changing Voices and Rhythms
  • Creating Background Parts with LFOs
  • LFO 1 Natural Variations
  • Creating Rhythmic Accents
  • Creating a Slowly-Evolving Texture
  • Ambient Piece Notes
  • Control Tip: MIDI Devices

Lesson 7: Harmonic Templates and Dance Music

  • Harmonic Field
  • Tune Analysis
  • Electronic Drums
  • The Kick Drum
  • Operator
  • Creating a Kick Sound
  • The Analog Synth
  • The Fast Line Synth
  • Control Tip: Macro Controls

Lesson 8: Volume Control and Planning a Project

  • Using the Utility Device
  • Using Autopan
  • Using the Gate
  • Using the Compressor
  • Single Arpeggiators
  • Parallel Arpeggiators

Lesson 9: Composing and Sequencing Lines

  • Melodic Composition
  • Phrasing
  • Accent: Analog Velocity
  • Accent: Tension Velocity
  • Clip Envelopes and Automation
  • Vibrato
  • Pitch: Monosynths
  • Manual Pitch Control
  • Control Tip: Complex Arpeggiation

Lesson 10: Synth Orchestration

  • Foreground, Middleground, and Background
  • Build Your Sections
  • Range Layering: Pads
  • Range Layering Process
  • Add More Elements
  • MIDI Stretch
  • Velocity Layering: Leads
  • Velocity Layering Process
  • Fine Tuning Pitch Bend
  • Optional Exploration: Advanced Subtractive Synthesis with Analog

Lesson 11: Effects Overload

  • Mixing
  • Effects Racks
  • Dry/Wet Control
  • Stereo Splitter
  • Automorpher
  • Frequency Splitter
  • Dynamics Splitter
  • Effect Morpher and Chopper
  • Effect Mover
  • Delay Designer
  • Sidechaining
  • Vocoder
  • Transitions
  • Control Tip: Dummy Audio Clips
  • Gated Delay Lines
  • Morphs and Transitions
  • Control Tip: "Dummy" Audio Clips

Lesson 12: Final Steps

  • Rock Funk Intro
  • Intro Bass
  • Hardware Effects
  • Intro Chords
  • Intro Guitar
  • Verse 1: Overview
  • Verse 1: Vocals
  • Chorus 1: Scream
  • Breakdown
  • Changing from Percussive to Melodic Sounds
  • The Rest of the Tune
  • BigMomma
  • Reggae
  • Reggae Guitar
  • Reggae Oboe
  • SlapBassClimax
  • Sidechaining
  • Putting it All Together
  • Control Tip: Performance Gear
  • Final Performance

Loudon Stearns

Author & Instructor

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 eduction 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.

Holding a Bachelors 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.


Brian Funk

Instructor

Brian Funk, aka AfroDJMac, is a multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter from New York. He began his musical career with the guitar, playing in numerous rock bands, recording albums and embarking on East Coast tours in the United States. In an effort to expand his studio’s capabilities and songwriting arsenal, Brian turned toward computer-based music in 2006. As a guitarist and songwriter, he found Ableton Live to be the ultimate tool to unlock his creativity and bring his studio creations to the stage.

A curious sound designer, AfroDJMac regularly releases free Ableton Live devices that challenge conventional sound-design-thinking, via his Web site http://afrodjmac.com and YouTube channel http://youtube.com/afrodjmac. His series of Two Minute Ableton Live Tips earned him the title of “a legend in the Ableton Community” (Ableton Blog 6/26/12).

As a writer and high school English educator, teaching Live and music production is the perfect marriage of two life passions. Brian specializes in teaching Live for songwriters and rock musicians, home and professional studio application, and live performances. His experience as a rock musician offers students a unique insight into bridging music of the past with the music of the future.

Prerequisites

Completion of Producing Music with Ableton Live or equivalent knowledge and experience in addition to a basic understanding of rhythm, key, and meter is required.


Required Textbooks

None required


Software Requirements

  • Ableton Suite 9*
  • Mac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Safari
  • PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Edge
  • Flash Player (if using the Record Live tool)

*Berklee Online and Ableton have come together to offer an educational discount on Ableton Suite 9. Once you enroll in the course, you will be able to purchase the software at the discounted price through the Required Course Materials link on your My Home page.


Hardware Requirements

All Users

  • MIDI keyboard controller
  • Recommended: USB/MIDI Pad Controller (e.g.: Novation Launchpad range, Akai Professional APC40 mkII, and Ableton Push 2) 

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.7 or higher
  • Multicore Processor
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Sound card
  • Speakers or headphones 
  • Webcam

PC Users

  • Windows Vista SP2 or higher
  • Multicore Processor
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Windows compatible sound card (ASIO driver support recommended)
  • Speakers or headphones 
  • Webcam



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Next Term Starts January 9


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