Arranging Techniques for Ableton Live, Produce Better Music

How to arrange music in Ableton Live, Ableton Live Lite, for professional results. Learn to produce better music.
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Instructed by Sam Gill Music / Music Techniques
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  • Lectures 52
  • Length 2.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 8/2015 English

Course Description

This course is about using Ableton Live to arrange your songs. You can use Ableton Live Lite, or other music software as well.

The techniques you will learn, will help you in multiple areas of your recording career or journey.

This course deals specifically with applying a method I call Sliding Plates to your compositions. However, I do more than that. I walk you through how to use Ableton more effectively, so you become more productive.

I've arranged over 400 songs in Ableton Live, and have been in the music industry since 1992. I have recorded and produced serval albums in many genres. I've learned a lot of techniques that I want to share with you, which will help you write and complete songs faster than you have before. I have developed techniques and concepts that I will teach you, which will help you to utilize most of what Ableton Live offers.

I go step by step, and mouse click by mouse click. I have divided up the lessons into small and bite sized pieces. My goal is to be quick and efficient not overwhelming. I give you tips along the way. I zoom in when you need to see some detail, and I help guide you around the interface, and walk you though complicated terms with analogies and simple things to remember.

This course is designed for any one who is seriously frustrated with music arranging.

Stepping into the computer software domain, can be overwhelming and daunting, and I have worked hard to make this course an easy transition.

You might be and experienced musician, but when it comes to arranging a song, you might get frustrated or ask the question - What do I do now? I am here to help. This course is geared for you.

You might be ok at arranging, but maybe you need more help, maybe your songs do not vary enough, so this course is going to help you see how to add variation, and help your songs pop.

You might be using Protools, or Logic Pro, or CakeWalk, or Sonar, or another software program, yet this course is still of great value to you. You can apply the concepts and theory into those programs as well.

So sign up, and take this course, and be on your way to a better professional.

What are the requirements?

  • It is helpful to have a copy of Ableton Live, or Ableton Live Lite, but you can use any software you choose.
  • You must be willing to learn the whole process. It is good to know it anyway, but you will be required to learn Ableton to help make your music great.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Arrange your music into a composition.
  • Use the Ableton Live workflow.
  • Use the Sliding Plates method to quickly and professionally arrange your songs.
  • Add variety without using complicated or frustrating methods.
  • Learn techniques to be professionals.
  • Be able to walk into a studio, and have a handle on music software and arranging compositions.

Who is the target audience?

  • Students who have written music, but are unsure how to arrange it.
  • Any musician who has any trouble with arranging.
  • Anyone being frustrated with the Ableton Workflow, and wants to know how to use it more efficiently.
  • Anyone who wants to learn how to arrange, or improve their songs.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction to this Course

In this course you will learn how to arrange a song in Ableton Live 9. The technique you will learn is effective in ProTools, Logic, Digital Performer, Cubase, and others. In any style, or any software program you can apply the same technique. This course is specifically designed to teach you how to learn about the method which I call Sliding Plates. This course not only goes over technique, but I show you step by step how to apply the technique to a working composition. I work with you on launching clips, and arranging a piece. I also explain the workflow in Ableton, so that you can work more productive in the software.

The techniques in this course, can be applied to Ableton Live 9, Ableton Live Lite, Logic, Logic Pro X, Garage Band, Cubase, Protools, Reason, CakeWalk, Sonar, and other music Platforms.

Section 2: Concepts of Composing and Arranging in Ableton Live

He we look at the vertical and horizontal views of Ableton, and briefly explore the interface.


Here you will learn the concept of Sliding Plates, and the theory behind it, later we will apply the technique to the composition.


You will learn about the imaginary line, a concept for more productive arranging in Ableton.

Section 3: Duplicate and vary tracks with little to no effort.

Here we are going to look at the 3 main MIDI tracks that we used to build this song.


Since we are looking at chords, I wanted to show you how I write chords, and give you some ideas how you can play the piano, or vary your chords when you play.


Sometimes it is hard to visualize how software works, so I take a brief aside, and show you how a Piano Roll in a computer program translates to a real piano.


When talking about chords, and progressions, it is useful to talk about Chord Theory, so here is some advice, and encouragement, as you go along your journey.


Here I show you how to separate the bass notes from the chords.


Here are some quick tips on how to quickly recognize whether you are working with a MIDI track or an Audio track.


Here I show you how to get creative, and add variety with little to no effort. Small changes, can make a lot of difference.


Now I show you how to apply the technique that you just learned, so that you can see it in action.


I go over what we did, so you can see what you learned. A recap, helps to retain memory, and hit the major points of interest.

Arrangement Quiz
4 questions
Section 4: Ableton Workflow

This lesson covers a lot. I start with timing your arrangement. Then we look at cleaning up your workspace, and I take you through several parts of Ableton, to get you used to the tool.


You will be introduced to basic concepts of arranging.


We will take an aside, and look at how to organize your music collection. How to export from Ableton. We will also look at how to identify which Ableton file, and which directory you are working from. Note: This works on a Mac, on windows, directory structures are treated differently, and you may not have the same results.


You will learn about scenes, and how to launch clips consistently when using scenes. I also go over the most common mistakes that crop up, and how to adjust your skills around them.


Here you will be introduced to the Ableton workflow, and what advantages Ableton offers when working with MIDI clips, and how you can gain productivity and efficiency with Ableton's advantages.

WorkFlow Quiz
4 questions
Section 5: Beginning to Apply the Sliding Plates Technique

You will learn and experiment to find combinations of clips to you. I will show you how to experiment, and find combinations.


You will learn to launch scenes at the right time. Avoiding errors and common mistakes. You will learn to recognize your music, and see why Ableton behaves as it does.


You will learn to effectively order your combinations, so that you can begin to arrange them.


You will learn how to apply the Sliding Plates method, so that you can quickly and easily order your combinations.

Sliding Plates Quiz 1
5 questions
Section 6: Adding Automation and Effects to your Arrangement

You will learn how to apply effects to your tracks.


You will learn the importance, and professionalism in checking the settings of your effects between channels.


You will learn about track based automation.


You will learn about different ways of automating effects, using track automation.


You will learn how to make fine adjustments, and how to make an effect really come alive with precision.


You will learn how to recognize when a parameter has been automated.


You will look at and learn about clip automation.


You will learn some expert tricks on cleaning up unwanted automation, which will save you time!

Automation Quiz
5 questions
Section 7: Advanced Effect Automation

You will learn to trigger the bands of the EQ Three effect to find what works.


You will learn to automation, what you leaned while you were experimenting.


You will learn to automate mid-boost feedback, much in the same way you worked with EQ Three.


You will learn that the mid-boost filter frequency is also necessary to make the feedback more effective.


You will learn to apply my fast automation cleanup method.

Advanced Automation Quiz
5 questions
Section 8: Putting Everything Together

You will listen to the whole mix, and hear how everything sounds together.


You will learn to recognize different signs that tell you a parameter has been automated.


You will learn how to adjust the arrangement, and see how to correct and transform the timeline view.

Overview Quiz 1
5 questions
Section 9: More things to Cover

Here you learn about the SOLO feature, to listen to each track individually.


You will get a quick recap of the arrangement and what we have gone over in this course.

Overview Quiz 2
8 questions
Section 10: Advanced Concepts in Ableton Live

Here you will learn about methods for recording MIDI tracks, especially when using outboard gear.


You will learn about using Sends and Returns.

Advanced Concepts Quiz
7 questions
Section 11: The Final Application of Sliding Plates

You get a review of the workspace, and how to collapse and minimize sections of the workspace, so we can work on scenes more easily in the next lesson.


You will learn how to go from the scenes we have been working with, to the classic timeline view.


You will learn how to fix the arrangement in the classic timeline view. You will also see how to fix and correct mistakes, and adjust as you please.


You will see how to adapt the application of sliding plates to the timeline view, and to see how it looks in the classic timeline view.


You will learn, and understand concepts about taking what you adjusted in the timeline view, and copying those adjustments back into scenes if you like.

Sliding Plates Quiz 2
5 questions
Section 12: Bonus Section

You learn how to export your arrangement. How to organize your music, and how to export selections of your timeline view.


I briefly talk about what I will be going over in another course, that I am offering.


I have titled this lesson Rate of Success. It is a bonus lesson, and I hope that it encourages you. Mainly mostly what I see are the people who do not get what they want in life, simply gave up too soon. I offer in this video a way to get around giving up, and some encouragement for staying with it, and sticking with it, and to keep on trying, and experimenting. Hopefully, is you have seen a lot of failure in your life, just know, that I have faced many failures, before I learned and became better, and I hope to see you do the same.


Here I share with you a bonus tip, on how I typically record my guitar parts. This lesson will show you the basics of using a Direct Box, and how to connect it up to your gear.

6 questions

A quiz that has selected questions about the bonus content.


This is the full version of the example song that we worked on in this lesson. You can preview this lesson to hear the full song.

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Instructor Biography

Sam Gill, Instructor, Sr. Consultant, Executive Director, Producer

I have been making music, since 1992. I have 3 labels, and 2 bands. I have programmed and written over 800 sequences, and when I have time, write about 80-100 songs a year. At one point I owned 19 keyboard synths, and 20+ synth rack modules. I used to record and arrange on a setup that consisted of a 24 channel Soundcraft, with 3 DA-88's and a Roland MC-50Mk2. I came to Logic and Apple in 2007, and picked up Ableton Live in 2009. I sold most of my hardware, and bought in to soft-synths, after I sampled my most used sounds, and was able to reliably use those. I continue to write to this day, and keep learning new techniques, and new ways to improve my music. Now that I have amassed such knowledge, I have found the joy of sharing what I know with others who can benefit from my years of experience.

Beside music, I have worked with electronics since 1990, and have built, repaired and fixed many things along the way. I got really sucked into electronics, when my synth passion ignited, and I found out that they need to be repaired frequently. I started repairing synths as early as 1998, learning about the ins and outs of the electronics that they were founded on.

I took an interest in programming keyboards, with my first programmable keyboard, which was a Kawai K11, which I bought in 1992. I did not know it then, but programming a keyboard, and programming a computer, are not very far off.

In 1994, I bought my one and only sequencer, a Roland MC50-Mk2, which I have to this day, and it writes in DD floppy drives. I have a collection of DD drives, since they are not easily found today. I composed over 800 sequences on that sequencer over a 10 year period. I learned how to arrange, and that arrangement method was directly transferrable to Ableton Live.

Since 1984 I also been an avid Photographer, and have invested in cameras, lenses, video equipment, and other sorts of gear, to not only share what I know, but how I think. Over time I have also developed a deeper spiritual sense, that has come to offer comfort, to those I hold dear, and has helped me to achieve peace within myself. I have published my photography works, and use my photography skills for a number of different uses. I also will have courses on photography and video techniques, to share, ones that I have learned over the years.

In 2007, I began to build up my contemplative skills, and began to think more about the world, and who I was. In 2011, I was forced to speed up this process, and went through a number of breakthroughs, and revelations. In 2013, and into 2014, I experienced spiritual awakening, in new and different ways, and had a lot of my beliefs turned upside down, or replaced, or expanded. As you may have guessed, I have now a lot to talk about on this issue, and I will be making courses for self-development, and personal development, along with helping you to understand some of the things that you may be going through, and how to cope or grow beyond them. Hope is always possible, in all situations, and a better outcome can always be pursued.

If you have a course that you would like me to teach, just send me a note, and I will add it to my list. I am always looking to help others, and mentor people, as I have the time. I hope that I have been able to help you, and grow your skills and talents, as you look for ways to express them.

I hope you enjoy watching and learning from these courses, as much as I enjoy teaching them. Be well, and take care my friend.

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