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 styleUse Ableton Live as a composition assistant to apply rich harmonic ideas to compositionsUse synthesis tools to improve music productionsDesign any sound imaginable with Ableton Live's synthsCreate unique textures with audio effectsApply effects processing to create professionally polished productionsUse 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. Depending on the shipping option chosen, software delivery could take up to eight business days.

Lesson 1: Live Basics

Demo Tune AnalysisCompare Scene A and Scene BKey MappingMore on Key MappingEditing MIDIWorking with Clips: Warp MarkersLaunching Clips: Capture SceneRecording into the Arrange ViewControl Tip: MIDI ConfigurationControl Tip: MIDI Control

Lesson 2: Getting into the Groove

Groove AnalysisSubdivisionsGrooveSetting Up a ControllerPreference RulesCreating a Custom Drum RackLoop-Recording a GrooveControl Tip: Cue Mix Setup

Lesson 3: Developing a Groove

Developing a Custom GrooveMany-to-One Track SetupRecording the ElementsSetup for MetarecordingMetarecordingWhat Do I Do Now?Control Tip: Follow Actions

Lesson 4: Resample and Slice

Programming Realistic DrumsConfiguring Your Drum RackEditing Your Drum GrooveResamplingSlicing a LoopSlice EffectsDrum Rack SendsMacro ControlsControl Tip: Instant Mappings and Takeover Modes

Lesson 5: Sampling

Comparing the Samplers in LiveCreating a One-Sample Instrument with SamplerLoopingAmplitube EnvelopesThe FilterCreating a Responsive InstrumentControl Tip: Simpler

Lesson 6: Long, Evolving Sounds

Building a Harmonic FrameworkCreating a Harmonic TemplateCreating a Chord ProgressionCreating a Bass LineChanging Voices and RhythmsCreating Background Parts with LFOsLFO 1 Natural VariationsCreating Rhythmic AccentsCreating a Slowly-Evolving TextureAmbient Piece NotesControl Tip: MIDI Devices

Lesson 7: Harmonic Templates and Dance Music

Harmonic FieldTune AnalysisElectronic DrumsThe Kick DrumOperatorCreating a Kick SoundThe Analog SynthThe Fast Line SynthControl Tip: Macro Controls

Lesson 8: Volume Control and Planning a Project

Using the Utility DeviceUsing AutopanUsing the GateUsing the CompressorSingle ArpeggiatorsParallel Arpeggiators

Lesson 9: Composing and Sequencing Lines

Melodic CompositionPhrasingAccent: Analog VelocityAccent: Tension VelocityClip Envelopes and AutomationVibratoPitch: MonosynthsManual Pitch ControlControl Tip: Complex Arpeggiation

Lesson 10: Synth Orchestration

Foreground, Middleground, and BackgroundBuild Your SectionsRange Layering: PadsRange Layering ProcessAdd More ElementsMIDI StretchVelocity Layering: LeadsVelocity Layering ProcessFine Tuning Pitch BendOptional Exploration: Advanced Subtractive Synthesis with Analog

Lesson 11: Effects Overload

MixingEffects RacksDry/Wet ControlStereo SplitterAutomorpherFrequency SplitterDynamics SplitterEffect Morpher and ChopperEffect MoverDelay DesignerSidechainingVocoderTransitionsControl Tip: Dummy Audio ClipsGated Delay LinesMorphs and TransitionsControl Tip: "Dummy" Audio Clips

Lesson 12: Final Steps

Rock Funk IntroIntro BassHardware EffectsIntro ChordsIntro GuitarVerse 1: OverviewVerse 1: VocalsChorus 1: ScreamBreakdownChanging from Percussive to Melodic SoundsThe Rest of the TuneBigMommaReggaeReggae GuitarReggae OboeSlapBassClimaxSidechainingPutting it All TogetherControl Tip: Performance GearFinal 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


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 and YouTube channel 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.

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


PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 or higherMac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, SafariFlash Player: current versionQuickTime: current versionAdobe Reader: current versionAbleton Suite 9

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.

MIDI keyboard controllerM-Audio Trigger Finger recommended, but not required
Windows XP, Vista, 7, or 8Multicore Processor2 GB RAMWindows compatible sound card (ASIO driver support recommended)
Mac OS X 10.7 or higherMulticore Processor2 GB RAM


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Next Term Starts June 27

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    12 weeks
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