How to Make Your First Beat in Ableton Live – Welcome!

Hello there! We’re trying something new here.

For one entire calendar week, we’re pausing our regular schedule of irrefutably awesome, can’t-live-without-them, like-nothing-else-out-there articles on Flypaper in order to bring you a week-long, free course on how to make a beat in Ableton Live using the Drum Rack!

At the bottom of each article, you’ll be able to skip ahead to the next lesson or go back to the previous one. And if you get really lost, you can use this link to view all of the lessons à la carte. Good luck on your beat-making adventure!

Welcome to the Course!

As we mentioned above, this free micro-course is a snippet of our more in-depth Mainstage course Beat Making in Ableton Live. But if you’re just starting out, this should get you ready to craft some great beats. By the end, you’ll know how to:

  • Load preset Drum Rack instruments
  • Record MIDI
  • Do some basic editing
  • Overdub MIDI into existing Clips
  • Make a simple, shareable beat

What You’ll Need

For this course, you’ll need a computer with a copy of Ableton Live, or you can follow along in your DAW of choice. If you’d like to give Live a shot, you can download the fully functional 30-day demo here.

We’d also recommend a MIDI controller of your choice. A MIDI controller is anything that speaks to your computer via MIDI data — basically, digital music information. My controller of choice is Ableton’s Push, but there are tons of keyboards out there at all price ranges you can use as well.

If you don’t have a controller, don’t worry. You’ll soon learn how to make incredible beats using just your mouse and keyboard! Apparently, clicking and drawing is Skrillex’s preferred method of beat making, so you’ll be in good company.

Take a moment to introduce yourself in the comments below. Let us know a bit about your Ableton background and what artists, genres, and cultures inspire your music.

Jlin: Rhythm, Variation, & Vulnerability

Join our Mailing List

We offer creative courses, articles, podcast episodes, and one-on-one mentorship for curious musicians. Stay up to date!


Three Examples of Dilla Swing

In this lesson from Ian Chang’s course, “Warped Rhythms & Abstract Beats,” he explores three ways Dilla inspired his sense of time and feel.


How Ian Chang Uses Sidechained Noise Gates in His Track “Audacious” (Video)

Son Lux’s Ian Chang walks through his Sensory Percussion and Ableton Live setup and how his “Audacious” came together through their marriage.


Active Studio Monitors Compared: Two-Way Vs Three-Way Monitors

It’s all coming together in your home studio but things just aren’t sounding “right” — here’s how to make sure your monitors are up to snuff!