Technology has given artist new tools and ways of imagining their live performance. We can now sync live visuals, trigger samples on the fly, have access to unlimited effect processing, and all of this can be done through a single computer. Ableton Live gives musicians an easy way to envision their live set and add as much simplicity, or complexity as they would like.
In this article, I am going to go over some basics of live performance with Ableton Live. This will help you envision what you want to make out of your live performance, and inspire new ways of looking at things. To start, let’s look at the different type of live performances.
This image shows the major types of Live Sets. I will review what these sets are and their advantages. This will mainly be centered around making these sets with Ableton Live as the backbone.
DJing with Ableton Live
A disc jockey (sometimes DJ or deejay) is an individual who selects and plays pre-recorded music. They move in-between stereo mastered tracks. Usually through an A/B set up where two tracks are playing and they slowly bring in one on top of another and then switch between tracks.
With a DJ set, you have a lot of flexibility. As a music producer, you can make tracks and throw them into a live set. You can also mix in other artist tracks just as easy as your own. An advantage here is how easy it is to move from track to track without any practice or prep work. You can also have a laptop and a controller as you’re set up, making it very portable.
A disadvantage is you lose the sense of being in the moment. A really good band can look at the crowd and instantly respond. The audience knows that the music is happening at that exact moment. When it’s over then it is gone forever. This has a way of captivating people. DJing as a simple way of moving from track to track does not have that level of engagement.
Here is a video I made for my DJing with Ableton Live course with Warp Academy: