Ableton Live Sampling & Automation Tutorial
In this Ableton Live Sampling & Automation Tutorial I am going to walk through several ways to
sample a song or part of a song and one of the most important tools that Ableton Live offers
which is automation. When sampling it is important to find out what that particular sample will
affect the song you are trying to create. Many hip hop artists will sample vocals that can be
used in the background to give it that extra texture to the song. It is also very common to take
samples of instruments to help give your track or song more power.
So let’s begin with adding a song to Ableton Live and I will show you how to sample them in
different ways (I will be using Linda Scott’s “I’ve Told Every Little Star”):
*Note – The reason I prefer to take “Warp” off in this case is because when you are sampling
vocal tracks Ableton Live does not do a great job in synchronizing to the tempo of your song.
However, if it is instruments or “sounds” that you need to sample the “Warp” feature does a
decent job in adjusting to the tempo of your song without manually adjusting the sample track.
Now back to sampling the track manually – what I like to do is turn “Warp” back on and enable
the metronome in Ableton Live while listening to the sample track to ensure the song is in time
or beat to your song.
Now to make the process easier highlight the part of the song that you would like to sample
and clip the “Loop” button. This will allow you to work specifically on just that part or
arrangement of the song without having to keep hitting play. Once the track is on loop you can
let it play along with the metronome and hear what parts sound out of beat. When you identify
a part that is off beat you simply double click right above the wave file until a yellow icon
appears – these are called warp markers. After the warp marker has been placed you can drag
them to the left or right to get the timing down. As illustrated below I have found the section
of the song I would like to sample and adjusted the timing with the warp markers.
Next step is to right click on the sample and select “Crop Sample”.
This will cut the rest of the song and leaves you with only the sample that you want to use in
Now the fun part is coming up – we are going to splice this sample into a midi track.
Right click on the sample and select “Slice to New Midi Track”
You will be prompted with a dialogue box. Make sure to select “Warp Marker” in the drop down box and hit “OK”
This will now create a new separate midi track with the samples chopped into the drum rack
where you can trigger using any midi controller. If you adjusted the warp markers correctly
each time you hit the notes assigned to your midi controller it will play on time.
This is how it should look like when playing the sample in the same order it was created.
Back to the dialogue box that prompted after clicking “Slice to New Midi Track”:
Where it says Slicing Preset: “Built-in”, if you click the drop down menu there are several
different options and you can even create your own so that it will save you time after sampling
On to automation which in my opinion can really set the tone for your song. Automation will
allow you to do fade in/fade out, pitch, stereo panning, etc. Below is an example of how to use
In this example I picked “Gain” and then you are able to use the envelopes on the arrangement
view to adjust to your liking:
There are so many other effects that can be utilized in this fashion which is what makes Ableton
Live so easy and amazing at the same time. Feel free to experiment with different effects using
Now that you have an idea on how to sample a song and effects automation there is an infinite
amount of possibilities to bring your music to a whole new level. Try all kinds of songs and
sample them even if you do not think it will fit your original idea – you would be surprised how
often samples will fit into your songs and make it sound better and unique. Thanks for reading
Ableton Live Sampling & Automation Tutorial.