Ultimate Ableton Live: Part 4 - Synths & Samplers
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Ultimate Ableton Live: Part 4 - Synths & Samplers

Learning Ableton Live the right way: From the basics to the advanced, from Ableton Certified Trainer J. Anthony Allen.
4.7 (226 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
2,004 students enrolled
Created by Jason Allen
Last updated 9/2017
Current price: $12 Original price: $30 Discount: 60% off
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  • 5 hours on-demand video
  • 5 Articles
  • 2 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion

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What Will I Learn?
  • Produce music using Ableton Live
  • Use drum samples to edit, arrange, and create unique drum beats on your own.
  • Work with Ableton's powerful Racks interface
  • Create sounds from scratching using all of the Ableton Live Instruments
View Curriculum
  • Taking Ultimate Ableton Live: Part 1 - The Interface & The Basics is a great place to start, but not required to get the most out of this course.
  • Taking Ultimate Ableton Live: Part 2 - Recording & Warping is also great, but not required to get the most out of this course.
  • Taking Ultimate Ableton Live: Part 3 - Producing & Editing is also great, but not required to get the most out of this course.
  • Access to Ableton Live will be required. Using the trail version (free for 30 days) would be a great way to start.

For years I've been teaching Ableton Live in the college classroom. As a University Professor, my classes are sought after, and, frankly, expensive. I believe Ableton Live can be learned by anyone, and cost shouldn't be a barrier. This class uses the same outline and syllabus I've used in my college classes for years, at a fraction of the cost.

This is Part 4: Synths & Samplers

This is a really deep class - tons of content, tricks, and tips. I'll go through all of the Ableton Live Instruments in this class, with considerable detail on each one. We will also talk about synthesis tricks and tips, getting most out of your samplers, and tons of production tips. Topics include:

  • Synthesis Basics
  • Types of Synthesis
  • Physical Modeling Synthesis
  • Elements of Synthesis
  • Live's Analog Instrument
  • Live's Collision Instrument
  • Live's Electric Instrument
  • Live's Impulse Instrument
  • Live's Tension Instrument
  • Live's Operator Instrument
  • Live's Simpler Instrument
  • Live's Sampler Instrument
  • Multisamples and Zones
  • Sampler Orchestras
  • Racks!!!!
  • Instrument Racks
  • Chain Selector
  • Macros in Racks
  • Drum Racks
  • Choke Settings
  • The External Instrument
  • ...and much more!

I will be making 6 (six!) complete classes in order to bring you the most comprehensive manual on Ableton Live production techniques ever created. Each class has Sets, sessions, and experiments for you to try on your own and follow along with.

And of course, once you sign up any part, you automatically get huge discounts to all the upcoming parts (the next 5!) of this class.

You will not have another opportunity to learn Ableton Live in a more comprehensive way that this. Start here.

J. Anthony Allen is an Ableton Certified Trainer, and a PhD in Music Composition and master of Electronic Sounds. His music has been heard internationally in film, radio, video games, and industrial sound, as well as the concert hall and theater.

He currently as an adjunct professor of composition at the University of St. Thomas, Macphail Academy of Music, and the CEO of Slam Academy in Minneapolis.

Praise for other classes by J. Anthony Allen:

  • "I've had Live Lite for a while but never quite understood how to use it because of the different options in how to arrange audio. This course explains exactly how to do that and get the most out of Live."
  • "Great overview - I would start here for sure if you are just getting your feet wet with live. clear and to the point. session walkthroughs are great. looking forward to more"
  • "I have never had any formal training in music at all. Trying to learn all the notes and how everything translated was a serious challenge. After going thru this class, Dr. J has totally brought down the barriers. The content was very useful and was easy to grasp for me."
    Who is the target audience?
    • Students who want a comprehensive understanding of Ableton Lve
    • Anyone interested in producing tracks, beats, synths, or any other music on their own
    • Students looking to understand the deeper levels of Ableton Live
    Compare to Other Ableton Courses
    Curriculum For This Course
    47 Lectures
    Welcome & Overview
    1 Lecture 03:48

    Welcome to the class! This video is just a quick overview of what we will be talking about in this class.

    Preview 03:48
    Working with Live's Instruments
    4 Lectures 16:53

    Step 1 in this class is figuring out the difference between Plugins and Instruments. We tackle that in this lesson.

    Preview 06:27

    If you've taken the other Ultimate Ableton Live classes of mine, you are totally up to speed with how MIDI works, but just for fun, lets run through a few key important concepts to refresh our memory.

    Preview 04:56

    You should already be pretty familiar with MIDI clips, but in this segment we will do another quick review to make sure we are all on the same page.

    Preview 05:30

    Attached here is a big big big list of all the Ableton key commands. Its huge. Don't bother memorizing it, but for this class I'll be using a handful of key commands all the time, so do pay special attention to the following:

    35.19: Working with Plugins and Devices

    35.12: Key and MIDI Mapping

    Important Key Commands
    35 pages
    Synthesis Basics
    3 Lectures 24:11

    A quick overview of this section, and introduction to the "Key Synthesis Elements."

    Synthesis Basics

    There are many different kinds of synthesis. We will mostly be working with FM, Physical Modeling, and a touch of a few others. I'll explain the differences in this video.

    Synthesis Types

    The "4 Key Elements" to synthesis are the main building blocks that will get you understanding all synthesizers quickly. Learn these concepts and you will always be able to make sound on any synthesizer.

    Synthesis Elements
    Live's Analog Instrument
    5 Lectures 31:43

    A few notes about how we will be approaching the Analog Instrument.

    Live's Analog Synth

    First, we will walk through the basic outline and signal flow of Analog, paying special attention to our "4 Key Elements."

    The Basic Outline of Analog

    Now its time to get down and dirty: In this lesson we will program our own sounds, and explore some of the parameters in Analog.

    Programming Analog

    A few extra features available to us in Analog, that we will also find in most of Ableton's Instruments.

    LFO and Other Parameters

    Here is the session from this section. Download it, play with it, riff on it, enjoy!

    DOWNLOAD: The Analog Patch I Built In This Section
    The Ableton Live Instruments
    13 Lectures 01:24:57

    Lets talk about Instruments - all of them!

    All The Ableton Live Instruments

    First up: Live's Collision Instrument. A powerful physical modeling synth.

    Live's Collision Instrument

    In this video we will program a sound with Collision. I'll give you the patch that I made in this video in the next segment.

    Programming Collision

    DOWNLOAD: Collision Patch from the Previous Lesson

    The Electric Instrument is a model of an electric piano (like a Rhodes organ). In this segment we will explore its basic outline.

    Live's Electric Instrument

    Walking through the key elements of Electric, looking for familiar parameters and anything new.

    Electric Basic Outline

    For this instrument we will deconstruct one of the presets that comes with Ableton Live - so you already have these files on your computer.

    Electric Preset Study

    Next up: The Impulse. Great for drums and many other things. First we will look at its interface features and learn a little about it.

    Live's Impulse Instrument

    In this section we will make some music with Impulse and see what we can do with it.

    Building Grooves with Impulse

    Live's Tension Instrument

    Lets poke around and look at some of the Tension presets, and explore the different parameters using them.

    Tension Preset Study

    Last but not least (for now) is the Operator. This is a mammoth synthesizer capable of amazing sounds and amazing diversity.

    Live's Operator Instrument

    Like before, in this section we will look at a few of the Operator presets, using files you already have on your computer to learn more of the ins-and-outs of Operator.

    Programming Live's Operator
    The Ableton Live Samplers
    5 Lectures 45:11

    What is the difference between a synthesizer and a sampler? Not much, actually.

    The Simpler and The Sampler

    First we will look at the Simpler - a simplified sampling instrument. Most of the controls here will be familiar to you.

    Using Simpler

    Next, we move on to Sampler. This is a grown-up version of Sampler, but has a deceptively simple (looking) interface. The key to its power is hidden in the "zones" tab, which we will look at next.

    Using Sampler

    In most sampling instruments, you will be working with more than one sample. This is how you set up a sampler to hold multiple samples, and make really expressive instruments with it.

    MultiSamples and Zones

    In this section I'm going to open up a orchestra library sample pack that I have, using a Sampler. Its got about 300 different samples in it, so lets walk through how they are triggered.

    An Orchestra Library Example
    UPDATE: The Live 9.5 Simpler
    4 Lectures 09:44

    Live 9.5 came with a newly updated Simpler. Here are a few of the new features of the New Simpler.

    Whats new?

    The 9.5 Simpler has three main modes. First, we will look at the "classic" mode.

    Live 9.5 Simpler - Classic Mode

    The second new tab in the 9.5 Simpler is the 1-Shot Mode.

    Live 9.5 Simpler - 1-Shot Mode

    The last, and most powerful, new mode in the 9.5 Simpler is the Slice Mode.

    Live 9.5 Simpler - Slice Mode
    7 Lectures 59:56

    What is this thing called Racks that I've been raving about? I promised you it would be something amazing, so here it is. First an explanation of what it is.

    Instrument Racks

    The Chain is a key element to Racks, as is the Chain Selector. How to create chains, and use the Chain Selector in this video.

    Chains and the Chain Selector

    Macros are like the dashboard of the Rack. Super powerful if you take advantage of them. Here is how.


    In this video I'll dissect some Instrument Rack presets, so we can see what is inside them, and what makes them work.

    Some Rack Presets

    We've seen Drum Racks before in some of the previous Ultimate Ableton Live classes that I've made. Now that you know what Instruments Racks are, Drums Racks should make a lot more sense. So lets have another look at them.

    Drum Racks (A Little Review)

    Drum Racks have a few special features that we can do that are specific to drum sounds. The Choke setting is a great one for building dynamic (and realistic) sounds.

    The Choke Setting

    Sends & Returns in Drum Racks
    The External Instrument
    1 Lecture 05:01

    The External Instrument is our gateway to talking to any physical synthesizers that you might have access to. Live can control those synthesizers and get audio from them. There are a few setup hurdles to jump through, but I'll walk you through it in this video.

    The External Instrument
    Closing Thoughts
    4 Lectures 06:38

    Thanks for watching! Leave me some good comments if you enjoyed the class, and check out some of my other classes!

    Parting Thoughts

    The next class in the series: Ultimate Ableton Live Part 5!

    Up Next....

    You can spice up what you are doing in your synths by using some MIDI effects. We will talk a lot about this in the next class (Ultimate Ableton Live 5), but here is a little bit on MIDI effects just to get you started with it.

    Bonus Content: MIDI Effects

    There is so much more to learn!

    Bonus Lecture: Discount Offers & Mailing List
    About the Instructor
    Jason Allen
    4.6 Average rating
    6,786 Reviews
    39,086 Students
    65 Courses
    Ph.D / Ableton Certified Trainer

    J. Anthony Allen has worn the hats of composer, producer, songwriter, engineer, sound designer, DJ, remix artist, multi-media artist, performer, inventor, and entrepreneur. Allen is a versatile creator whose diverse project experience ranges from works written for the Minnesota Orchestra to pieces developed for film, TV, and radio. An innovator in the field of electronic performance, Allen performs on a set of “glove” controllers, which he has designed, built, and programmed by himself. When he’s not working as a solo artist, Allen is a serial collaborator. His primary collaborative vehicle is the group Ballet Mech, for which Allen is one of three producers.

    J. Anthony Allen teaches at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN., and is an Ableton Live Certified Trainer. He is a co-founder and owner of Slam Academy, a multimedia educational space in downtown Minneapolis. Recently, Allen founded Hackademica – an innovative net-label for new music.

    J. has a PhD in music composition, 2 Master’s degrees in music composition and electronic music, and a bachelors degree in guitar performance. Through his academic travels, Dr. Allen has received numerous awards along the way.

    If you run into him on the street, he prefers to be addressed as J. (as in, Jay.)