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The ethos of this guide is to get your hands on Live as quickly as possible, because the only way to learn how to make music is to actually be making music. There are, however, a few things that need to be set up before we can get to that. These may seem tedious - and they are - but they are going to save you loads of trouble in the future and it's best to take care of them before we get started.


1.1 a folder for Live

First thing's first - we need to make sure you have proper file architecture. Live is going to mostly need to folders on your computer - one for project files and one for samples. Where these go is somewhat arbitrary, but the most important thing is that you keep them consistent. Let's go ahead and make them.

 OS X: ~/documents/  windows:

OS X: ~/documents/



/* internal notes - these must be the same color as the background*/

When you save new projects in Live, this will be your default location. 

1.2 samples folder

No matter what genre of music you'll be producing, you'll almost certainly be using samples. More than anything else, you're going to want to make sure these stay organized. 

To jump-start your production, we've hand-selected a starter pack of samples from the pATCHES packs and categorized them into folders.


Once you've downloaded the folder,

 OS X: ~/music/ableton/user library/samples/imported  windows:

OS X: ~/music/ableton/user library/samples/imported



This might seem like an odd an inaccessible place for your samples, but trust that it will pay off in the long run to keep things organized.

1.3 the Live browser

You'll notice the left-hand side of live is dedicated to a file organization system we simply call The Browser. The leftmost panel (known as the The Sidebar) are folders - think of them like shortcuts in Finder. We want to make sure the two folders we just created are easily accessible inside Live, so we're going to create shortcuts for them in the sidebar.

 add the samples folder by navigating to its location from user library

add the samples folder by navigating to its location from user library

 Add the project folder via "add folder"

Add the project folder via "add folder"


/* internal notes - round the corners of these (and all) */ 

Clicking on either of these will of course open their contents in the browser.

1.4 arrangement view

first thing

 tab switches between session view and arrangement view

tab switches between session view and arrangement view




1.5 preferences



1.6 the info box

As you work through this tutorial and beyond, if you have any questions about how a particular thing works, hover your mouse over it and take a look at the info box in the bottom left corner. Information that will likely explain what the control, device, or GUI element you're hovering over does. If you don't see it, try pressing shift + tab, this toggles between the two modes in the bottom panel. Keep in mind also this can toggle this display on and off with the shift + ? shortcut. 


/* internal notes - grey out the rest of this to keep focus on info box */

That's about all of the set up we need. In the next section, we'll get right into creating music by taking a look at assembling a rhythm section.