How to Make Your First Beat in Ableton Live

Learn how to program a simple MIDI drum beat using Ableton Live's presets and Drum Rack instrument in 15 minutes.

15-20 Minutes
5 Sections

One of the fastest ways to get beats down in a hurry is to sketch them out in Ableton Live with Drum Rack presets. Knowing how to quickly locate, utilize, and manipulate these sounds is an essential skill for streamlining your creative workflow. In this free micro-course, we'll focus on the basics of Ableton's Drum Rack instrument so that you can start making beats right away. Our aim is that within 15-20 minutes, you'll be making your own beats using presets.

This course is a snippet from our more in-depth premium course called Beat Making in Ableton Live. In that course, you'll build on this initial knowledge by learning how to create your own kits, manipulate effects, create break beats, and get your drums sounding more realistic. Start here, and then join our subscription to access our full course. 

Dan Freeman

Ableton Certified Trainer

Dan, also known as CØm1x, is an Ableton Certified Trainer, artist/producer/bassist, and music technologist based in Brooklyn, New York. One of the world's leading experts on the integration of live instruments with laptops using Ableton Live, he does live electronic acid house and electro­ funk sets that integrate live musicianship with improvised sound creation and visuals. He has performed and presented at venues, festivals and universities globally including SXSW, Harvard University, Berklee, Sonar (Barcelona), Berghain (Berlin), Centro Cultural Español (Mexico City), IATEC (Rio de Janeiro), AIMEC (Curitiba, Brazil), The Strøm Festival (Copenhagen), La Universidad de Santiago (Chile), DJLAB (San Jose, Costa Rica) and the Festival Internacional de la Imagen (Manizales, Colombia).

Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Dan comes from a bi-cultural background: his mother is Nicaraguan and his father American, so he grew up exposed to a rich variety of music. He graduated Harvard University, and came to NYC to be a session bass player and performed throughout North America, South America, and Europe in venues ranging from underground Brooklyn loft parties to Broadway pits and Carnegie Hall. He also played keyboards for the RCA Records’ rock group Stellastarr*. In 2008, he formed the electro funk digital music and art collective Comandante Zero (CØ). CØ developed techniques for fusing live acoustic instruments with laptops running Ableton Live and created their own unique hybrid set as well as serving as a backing band for various artists including Polina Goudieva and Virgin Records’ artist Xavier.

Currently, Dan has a production studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn where he mixes, remixes electronic music and writes for film as well as performs with his electro funk digital art and music collective Comandante Zero (CØ). Dan has designed curriculum centered around Ableton Live for several institutions. Previously he served as a senior instructor at New York City's Dubspot where he taught electronic music production and headed Dubspot International. He is currently on the faculty of New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music where teaches producing music with software and MIDI. He also curates the Digital + Acoustic Sessions, a monthly event in Brooklyn, New York at ShapeShifter Lab that features artists using Ableton and live instruments in cutting ­edge new ways.

In 2015, he founded the Brooklyn Digital Conservatory, a platform that brings top digital music producers/performers and educators to emerging markets in Latin America and Asia for courses and performances. Since its foundation, the Brooklyn Digital Conservatory has run workshops and courses in Chile, Costa Rica, Italy and Colombia with workshops scheduled in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico for 2017.

You can find out more about Dan here:

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dan freeman
drum machines
ableton live
beat making
how to make your first beat in ableton live
music production
drum rack

Course Outline

  1. Section 1


  2. Section 2

    Working with Drum Rack

  3. Section 3

    Recording Basics

  4. Section 4


  5. Section 5



Who is this course for?

This course is for new and aspiring beat makers who want to learn the basics of programming beats using the built-in Drum Rack instruments found within Ableton Live.

What are the requirements?

The only thing you need for this course is a copy of Ableton Live (no previous experience required). If you don't have an Ableton license, you can follow along with the free demo.

How long does it take?

You can read through this course and be making your first beats in about 15 minutes..

What can I expect to get out of it?

You'll learn how to program a simple beat using Ableton Live's Drum Rack presets.