Ableton Live is a powerful and easy to use software that works well when you want to play multitracks live with your worship band. The Ableton program is a great DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) because it’s reliable and uses very little computer power. In this blog you're going to learn the ins-and-outs of using Ableton live on a Sunday (or any day) to play worship tracks with your church band. I cover the difference between arrangement & session views, how to identify instruments and set up out puts, how to set your tempo, master, make a timeline and more. You'll also learn how to get a free Ableton live template.
Other DAWs require more attention on your computer which could be riskier when you're playing a live worship set at your church. You’d hate for your computer to fail the moment you need your worship multitracks the most (trust me, I’ve been there)!
Ableton is also is a fully functional DAW which means you can fully record, create and edit audio. Because of these functionalities, you can even use Ableton to create your own multitracks. The best way to fully utilize Ableton's capabilities is through taking the Custom Multitracks Masterclass course where you'll learn everything you need to know to make a Custom Multitrack.
The first step to using Ableton Live as a DAW for playing your multitracks through is to decide which view to utilize.
Ableton has 2 main views that you can play your multitracks through:
Arrangement View OR Session View
Let's dive into the features and pros and cons of arrangement vs session view.
1. Arrangement View Features:
Arrangement View allows you to see an entire timeline of a set
You can powerfully utilize locators to customize your sets and flow in between songs
We prefer using arrangement view so we will show you how to use the benefits of arrangement view, although session view is equally as useful.
Easy for church media and sound volunteers to use and view
Allows you to plan for spontaneous worship moments or prayer moments
Gives you more control over the tracks (Fading in and out, controlling individual stems, and more)
With greater customizability comes greater margin for error - such as putting locators in the wrong place or stems in the wrong place
You have to drag in drop stems in every week and it therefore takes more time to manage each worship set
2. Session View Features:
Allows you to see the stems but the focus is on the “Master” section. When you press “play” on the master section it fires all of the tracks listed in that row.
For large worship teams with full bands, this is a simple way to manage simple multitracks
You can create a master session file every Sunday so you don’t have to drag and drop tracks every week
Limitations to customizing your worship set's flows
You can't edit roadmaps or sets once the stems are loaded
Doesn’t let you control spontaneous worship moments well
This video goes more in-depth into using Session vs. Arrangement view
Identify Your Instruments/Set your outputs
Once you decide on your views for Ableton, create the instruments (stems) that you want for your session. It might look something like this:
You can get a free Ableton Live template for playing multitracks in Arrangement view by taking the Multitracks Masterclass.
We like to use the below set up because it can most easily be controlled by a volunteer team who is helping to run our own custom multitracks.
Track (includes percussion, keys, guitars, etc.)
Now you’ll have to tell your computer where to send each instrument as an output on your interface. Each instrument (stem) will have a separate output to the mixing board. We send our stems like this:
Tracks Stereo Out - Output 1+ 2
Cue/Click Tracks Mono Out - Output 3
Bass Mono out - Output 4
Pads Stereo Out - Output 5+6
Set your Tempo/Master
Use a stem to put into a CLICK track. Double click on this track and adjust the “Slave/Master” Button to Master - this dictates the tempo of the tracks under the Master track. To adjust the tempo, now click on the “Warp” Button and adjust the tempo under “Seg. BPM”
Once that is complete, anything you import into that track will be bound to the BPM you set the Master track to.
Now, you can click and drag your tracks and stems to their respective places.
Make your Timeline
Use your locators to mark the beginning, end or transitions of a song. This creates an easy flow in between songs and tracks during your worship set.
Once your locators are set you can MIDI map your MIDI keyboard or launchpad in between the locators to easily flow section to section. You do that by hitting “MIDI” at the top right of the screen and everything will turn blue.
This shows you what is available to control via MIDI. Simple click on the Locator and Button you want to assign to that Locator. So if you want Your C1 Key on your MIDI keyboard to start playing “What a Beautiful Name,” you click on the song starter locator, then simply click on C1 and it’s MIDI mapped!
Learn how to Make Your Own Multitracks for your Worship Team and Church
Learn everything you need to know about Ableton Live, Pro Tools, and how you can make custom multitracks in 2 hours or less so you never have to purchase a multitrack again.
Making your own multitracks doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, you can learn to make your own worship multitracks in 4 simple steps. You don’t have to try and force your team to fit into pre-made multitracks anymore. Now, you can make multitracks to fit and empower your worship team to sound their best. Making your own tracks is all about embracing and amplifying your team’s unique giftings, sound and vibe.
The course, made by a South Florida Worship Leader who’s a Berklee Music Production grad, includes:
7+ hours of video course content
A course booklet
Downloadable templates for Pro Tools & Ableton
Tech Purchase Lists & Pricing Guides
3 Amazing Worship Drone Packs