Sound Production Course (Kadenze)

This course is based on the Kadenze free course that you can pace at your own leisure.


  1. Course Link


Ideation to exploration. Ableton Live is incredibly intuitive.

The ideas and principles behind live include (from Robert Hanke):

  1. The model is about being able to interact with sounds intuitively.
  2. It came about in small steps in similar ways to other artistic innovations.
  3. A step sequencer is one of the core ideas that made it through. As opposed to coming from a "drummer" background, they built a sequencer where each sequence was its own instrument. This is essentially today's "session" view.
  4. The idea to record a "protocol". Record your clips, change your effect settings and in that way you will create your automation data.
  5. Robert normally only uses Ableton for audio.

Live Sets and Projects

Key Terminology:

  • Live Sets: A self-contained session in live
  • Projects: A live project is a folder that contains all the live-related files that belong together. Samples and recordings get saved in the project. If you save as in the same project, you can create an "alternative" version of the track.

The Browser

The right-hand sidebar. This is where you can find the library of sounds, audio effects, plug-ins etc.

It is split into two pieces:

  1. Sidebar
  2. Content pane

The places section will depend on how you've configured it.

Some important pieces to know:

  • Current project: shows all sounds and files in the current project.
  • Samples: This is a great place to store all samples.

Good thing to note: searching through Ableton can also filter through presets and sound effects etc. This is the case for audio effects + samples.

When it comes to previewing samples, it will play them quantized during playtime. If you select Raw down the bottom of the sidebar, you can bypass the quantization. This will also be great to have off when checking out different drum kits.

Session View, Clips, Tracks and Scenes

The session view is the default view of live. If you don't see it, you can click the session view icon or press tab.

In the session view, tracks contain clips. They can be audio files like loops, sampes or even entire songs.

On MIDI tracks, they can playback clips from virtual instruments.

You can only play one clip from a track at a time but you can play an entire "scene" which is a row on the session view. These scenes are quantized and pressing a button prior to another scene will start the next song.

Clips can be create by dragging in clips or files into the clip slot or by recording your own.

Pressing the "record" button on a free clip slot will enable you to record freely. If you then improvise you can record until you hit the spacebar. If you play it back against the metronome and you know the timing is off, you can quantize and fix this by right-clicking and see the "quantize" settings.

There is an option under Edit > Record Quantization where you can select what the record automatically quantizes to. Command + U will also quantize selected notes to the current settings. Holding command (or control) can allow you to take things off the grid without snapping.

Renaming Scenes/Clips

You can also change colour and rename clips/scenes. You can also even do things like renaming scenes to a particular tempo and it will change tempo when that scene launches.

Arrangement View

This is the other primary view. This will feel familiar if you've played around with other DAWs.

It is used to arrange your track.

To play the arrangement, you can hit the spacebar. If you hold the shift button down when hitting play, it will play directly from where it stopped.

For zooming if you double-click in a particular area it will zoom you in.


In the arrangement view, you can right-click and add locators to give "shortcuts" in the arrangement view.

Bring ideas from Session View to Arrangement View

One of the fun ways to do it, is to hit the record button then begin playing your clips.

Hold shift when clicking if you want record to start when you fire the first clip.

Another way to move from session view to arrangement view is to click and hold a clip, hit tab and drop the clip whereever you want. You can also do the reverse!


Note that loops that are extended will update the loop everywhere we edited. Consolidate before you split the clip and independently edit.

The Clip View

To open the clip view, double-click on a clip within the main session or arrangement view.

Depending on the type of clips you select, there will be different things you can control. The common areas are the Clip area and Envelopes area.

The Launch view only appears for Session View clips and the Audio view is for audio clips only.

Launch View

When you click on a clip, it will replay on the global quantization launch.

During this session, the key mapping option from the top-right was selected to map the clip to A.

Legato is "where it will start playing within the clip when you trigger it". In the example, it showed jumping between two clips without quantisation but playing at the same spot the previous clip was.

Note: if you select multiple clips, you can change values for both.

For the Sample area, there are options to playback audio clips in high quality, you can reverse the clip and there is also fade on by default to help with clip transitions and playback. Change that if you notice some transients not hitting for some drums.

The RAM parameter will load the clip into memory, but you only have limited RAM so sometimes this is not the best option.

There are also options for things such as transposition.

Preseve mode within the Sample View

For percussive sounds, you generally want to choose transients to preserve those sounds and keep it within Beats warp mode. There is also a Re-Pitch mode for other sounds. Tones can make some interesting grain size changes. Texture deals with some interesting stretching. There is a complex mode if you're trying to change entire arrangements.

The Envelope Section

Envelopes used as you may expect. You can automate any of your clip settings over time.

If you click loop you can change the envelope automation over the sample so it isn't the same length as the sample.


You can do the follow with MIDI on the Clip view:

  • Reverse the MIDI notes. You can also just highlight and reverse some notes.
  • "Duplicate loop" can also take everything in the loop and edit it.