Performing with Ableton Live


Authored by Erik "Hawk" Hawkins


Course Code: OMPRD-281

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Learn how to use Ableton Live for real-time, dynamic live performances such as triggering backing tracks for your band, creating a live DJ/remix set, or recording and assembling an entire song, on the fly, in front of an audience. This course will give you the opportunity to learn and practice these performance skills using Ableton Live, your MIDI controllers, and your instruments. You will learn how to build your own Live sessions, customize them for your specific performance needs, and be able to skillfully and artfully perform with Live using a variety of setups and techniques. This course is designed for students with diverse backgrounds—from singer/songwriters, music producers, DJs, and electronic music artists to music directors, podcasters, pastors, and YouTubers.

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

  • Record a clip-based performance using your computer’s keyboard or your MIDI controller
  • Employ MIDI mapping
  • Create and record a real-time performance from scratch using Live’s Browser in conjunction with Live’s Session View
  • Warp and manipulate stereo song files for perfect playback at any tempo and pitch
  • Use Live’s headphone cue system for DJing
  • Synchronize Live with other DJ systems, such as CDJs, Serato, and Traktor
  • Record a real-time DJ performance using Live
  • Perform, record, and arrange a live looping session
  • Use Live’s effects and third-party effects
  • Use Live for mashups and remixing
  • Set up and control external MIDI hardware (such as drum machines and sound modules) from Live in real time
  • Design a multi-controller, multi-computer, multi-performer stage setup and use it in a live performance
  • Control lighting and audio/MIDI cues from a handheld device
  • Set up and manipulate a live performance from your handheld device
  • Create a studio quality mix down of your Live set performance
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: Live Electronic Music Performance 

  • The Evolution of Audio Loops in Today’s Live Electronic Music
  • The Development of Live
  • A Brave New World
  • Help Resources
  • Exploring Live’s In-Program Help
  • Review: Session View
  • Review: Launching Clips
  • Keyboard Shortcuts
  • Recording Your Performance
  • Live Performance Tips

Lesson 2: Complete Control

  • Exploring Basic MIDI Controllers
  • Other MIDI Controllers
  • Controller Envy
  • Review: Launching Clips and Scenes from Your Controller
  • Work With What You’ve Got
  • Browser Experience
  • Review: Understanding Live’s Browser
  • Review: Hot Swapping
  • Drag, Drop, and Play
  • Review: Clips and The Browser
  • Live Performance Tips

Lesson 3: Djing with Live

  • The DJ Saved My Life
  • Review: Understanding Warping
  • Song Section Clips
  • Give Me Warp Drive
  • Cue This Up
  • DJ Controller Setups
  • Extreme DJ Setup
  • Recording Your DJ Set

Lesson 4: Using Live with a Band

  • Band Aid in Action
  • Who is the Conductor?
  • Got a Band?
  • Expanding the Cue Mix
  • Click and Sync
  • Freeform Beat Match
  • Get in the Cue
  • Review: Managing Clips
  • Review: Managing Scenes
  • Clips, Scenes, and Sync

Lesson 5: Live Loop Performance Recording and Playback

  • These Amazing Artists
  • Performance Approaches
  • Live Loop Recording Fundamentals
  • Looper
  • Controller Help
  • Loop Record Yourself
  • Loop Recording and Performance Tips
  • Rehearse Then Record

Lesson 6: Real Time Effects Manipulation

  • Effective Artists
  • Review: Killer Stock Effects
  • Are You Effective?
  • Review: Rack Effects
  • Macros for More Control
  • Straight Through with Effects
  • Real-Time Effect Manipulation
  • External Effects
  • Synchronization Considerations
  • Mid Way Skills

Lesson 7: Real-Time Remixing

  • The Real Remix
  • Setting Up Songs
  • Setting Up Your Clip and Sample Libraries
  • Mash It Up
  • Adding Your Own Elements
  • Third-Party Plug-in Effects
  • Remix Live

Lesson 8: Controllerism Meets the Stage

  • Controllerism in Action
  • Ever Seen a Show Like This?
  • Example Setups
  • Mapping Parameters and Limbs
  • MIDI Controller Preferences
  • External MIDI Sound Modules and Drum Machines
  • Synchronized Computers
  • Summary of Setups
  • Diagram a Multi-Controller and Performer Stage Setup

Lesson 9: Handheld Device Control

  • Real-Life Examples
  • Identifying Uses and Platforms
  • Basic Connections
  • Troubleshooting
  • Got Handheld Control?
  • Max for Live
  • Controlling Stage Lighting
  • Handheld in Action

Lesson 10: Building a Live Performance Set (Part 1)

  • Review Set Types
  • Performance Goals
  • The Power of Locate Markers
  • Group Tracks for Organization
  • Into the Set
  • Live Set Check
  • Dress Rehearsal

Lesson 11: Building a Live Performance Set (Part 2)

  • Words of Experience
  • Too Organized to Fail
  • Check In
  • Clips and Scenes on the Fly
  • More MIDI Mapping Fun
  • Real-Time Performance Review
  • Final Review
  • Curtain Call

Lesson 12: From Stage to Studio

  • Live Performance Album
  • Make it Live
  • Understanding the Scenario
  • Set Up, Enhance, Manipulate
  • Mix Down Approaches
  • Mastering
  • Which Approach Works for Your Project?
  • Everybody Is a Critic
  • Mix Down and Master
  • Where to Release


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Ableton Live Fundamentals, or equivalent knowledge and/or experience.


  • No textbooks required


  • Students are required to record video for their assignments. Options for recording video include:
    • Smartphone
    • Digital camera
    • Webcam (using either video recording software, or the video recording tool that is built into the learning environment)


  • Ableton Live 10 (Suite or Standard) or higher


  • MIDI controller (a dedicated Live controller, such as the Akai APC 40 MkII or the Ableton Push, is recommended)
  • Audio interface with at least one mic preamp (multi-input and output recommended)
  • One of the following studio monitoring options (both recommended):
    • Studio monitors (pair), such as JBL 305Ps or better, as well as necessary cables
    • Over-ear studio headphones, such as Sennheiser HD 600, Sony MDR-7506, Philips SHP9500, Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, etc.

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Erik "Hawk" Hawkins

Author & Instructor

Erik "Hawk" Hawkins is an EDM artist, producer, composer, remixer, label owner, and author. His music has been used by major television networks and film studios, including ABC, CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, and New Line Cinema.

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Dozens of his articles have appeared in the Industry's top publications, including Electronic Musician, Mix, Remix, and Keyboard. He has authored several books, including Complete Guide to Remixing and Producing Drum Beats. His Berklee Online course, Programming and Producing Drum Beats, won the 2012 UPCEA Award. He also manages his own busy YouTube channels and has collected way too many vintage synths. Read Less

Kareem Clarke


Kareem Tony Clarke is a DJ, music producer, and label owner. Throughout his career, he has performed at major clubs in New York City, toured US colleges, performed at TEDxBerkleeValencia, played at SXSW 2017, and held DJ residencies in Valencia, Spain. In 2016 he founded the deep house and techno label Digital Den Records with fellow Berklee alum Ian Cahill.

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Kareem holds a BA in Engineering Studies from Lafayette College, as well as an MA in Global Entertainment and Music Business and an MM in Music Technology Innovation from Berklee College of Music. Read Less


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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