How to Make a Beat on Ableton Live

You can make a quick beat on Ableton Live by loading a drum rack into a MIDI track and recording a clip from there. You can also load samples into any drum rack to customize your own beat sounds in the rack.

My name is Donovan, and I’m a musician and producer who has been using Ableton Live extensively over the last few months for all of my recording projects. I know how to make a beat in this DAW through first-hand experience. 

This post will show you how to make a beat on Ableton Live. I’ll walk you through the basic steps of setting up a drum rack and tell you how to record a beat from there. I’ll also provide some other related information along the way. 

Let’s get after it. 

How to Make a Beat in Ableton Live: Quick Guide

There are a few different ways to go about making a beat in Ableton Live. You can use a Drum Rack, MIDI tracks, or an audio track and load your own samples. I’ll show you how to use a drum rack in this quick guide. 

Using a drum rack in Ableton Live is the fastest way to get started with making beats. This is how I learned to create beats, and I’m still exploring how much there is to utilize with the various racks that come with my version of Ableton. 

If you want to make a beat using other samples or audio tracks, you’ll essentially follow the same directions I’m about to give you, but you load those audio sample files into the drum machine and then play them back. 

Follow these steps to make a beat in Ableton Live using a drum rack: 

1. Open a new or existing Live Set. 

2. Select an open MIDI track to make a beat on. 

3. Click on Drums from your collections. 

4. Select a drum rack from the available options. I like to make beats with the 808 Core kit, so that’s the one shown in the image below. But you can use any kit that you want.  

You could choose any available drum rack to make a beat with.

5. Drag the drum kit of your choice into an open MIDI track.

6. Arm your MIDI track for recording. 

7. Make sure your MIDI controller is connected to Ableton, or enable the computer keyboard controller by pressing the M quick key

8. Press the Clip Record and/or Session Record buttons to begin recording. If you want to build beats by making overdubs, be sure to record using the session button. 

9. Record your beat by using the controller or keyboard to play the samples in your drum rack. 

Pro Tip: Be sure that your keyboard is set up at the correct octave to control the drum rack. You might need to press the X or Z buttons on your computer to toggle the octave control up or down until you hear a sound from the drum rack. 

10. Double-click on your MIDI clip to open up the Piano Roll. This can help you make edits and adjustments to your beats. 

I usually make beats in segments, so I like to open up the piano roll as I record overdubs. If you aren’t great at making beats, I suggest following this route rather than trying to record everything live. 

When you double-click on the MIDI clip, your beat will appear in the piano roll. 

11. Keep recording all the elements you want in your beat. 

12. Make any edits in the piano roll to get things on time. You can also adjust velocity and many other parameters in the roll. 

13. Click on a new MIDI clip or MIDI track to record another beat. You can start building several clips together this way and begin to form an entire Ableton project.

Pro Tip: I like to let the piano roll run on a loop while I record my beats. This allows me to keep things rolling as I get into the groove. It’s easy to overdub like this. You just need to ensure the Loop feature is activated and highlighted and that Session Record is on. 

Enable the Loop feature for easier overdubs during the beat-making process. 

Final Thoughts

Even though I’m not great at beat-making, I really enjoy it and think that Ableton is one of the best DAWs for beginners and professionals alike to use for this purpose. By using a drum rack, you can easily create solid beats in a matter of minutes. 

Loading your own samples into drum racks is an excellent way to create unique beats. Once your samples are loaded, you can play them just like any other drum rack noise. This is more technical but leads to more possibilities as well. 

What’s your favorite drum rack or sample in Ableton Live to use for making beats? Let me know in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *