Ableton Live Quick Tip – Resampling and Sample-Based Workflow

Here, I've chopped out a portion of the original audio and created layers on new audio tracks.

Resampling is an incredibly simple yet powerful technique in digital music production.  The idea is straighforward:  Record the output of one or multiple tracks into a new, editable audio file.  It’s not much different than rendering your composition, except here you’re actually going to incorporate the new file into the current song.

I employ this technique often, dropping the resampled audio onto a new track and chopping, mangling, retuning and layering it until it’s barely recognizable.  This simple technique can pay dividends in terms of thickening sounds and giving you unexpected new directions for your composition.

As I say in the video, this technique is the crux of what hip-hop producers have been doing for a long time, so there’s no reason why people working in different genres can’t learn from this approach (If you’re interested, I have a 2 hour long Sampling and Slicing series which goes into sample layering and mangling).

In addition to giving rise to new composition techniques, resampling is a great way to force yourself to commit to your song rather then endlessly tweaking the MIDI notes and arrangement.

When you drop everything to audio, it may become easier to move forward and get the damn thing finished!  The visual clutter of a complex MIDI arrangement can sap a composer’s motivation, while a simple waveform presents the user with a manageable set of information.

Here’s a brief rundown of resampling and its uses in Ableton Live:

Ableton Live Quick Tip - Resampling and Sample-Based Workflow by

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9 Responses to “Ableton Live Quick Tip – Resampling and Sample-Based Workflow”

  1. Mark TAugust 14, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    Hi Nick,

    Hey bro I wanted to stop by and say hi, it’s been a while. Love the new blog, you’ve really came a long way. I gave up on my Ableton website, I just couldn’t keep up with you man. I went back to music and still use Live everyday. Love the quick tips. Keep in touch. Peace…

    Mark T

    • NickAugust 14, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

      Hey Mark,

      Glad you’re sticking with music man, and it’s good to hear from you!

  2. dj shivaAugust 14, 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    Grrr. I didn’t even know it was that easy to select a section to cut. I was doing it the hard way by trying to draw a cursor line. Just that teeny little tip made my day. LOL

    • NickAugust 14, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

      It’s amazing how much time these little things can save, and they’re usually so easy to miss. Glad it helped 🙂

  3. Mark TurnhamAugust 18, 2010 at 9:31 pm #

    Now I understand what resampling is and how it’s used….Thanks

  4. TimMarch 3, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    I noticed that when the resampled audio is output it’s warped in the beat mode. Is there an option I can select that will by default output it in complex pro mode?

  5. Mark DMarch 28, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Hey Nick!

    Loving this site. What a resource it is. So much more organized than the forums.

    A friend of mine showed me a technique similar to this, and I was blown away – but we were wondering whether there’s a way to record the master track to audio without any of the returns or effects on it – so that it’s totally dry and you can apply the same returns to it that you are on your other tracks.

    I might be thinking of the wrong way to be approaching this technique… Let me know if I’m totally off base on my question.

  6. NavarMay 17, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    Nice one! I’m going to be buying your various sampling packages soon, I need to step up my sampling game. I started making music as a traditional musician, and for a while when I started out making electronic music, I let the “real music” snobs get to me, and scare me away from trying sampling because it isn’t real music. Then I learned more about how producers in virtually every genre of music since the sampler incorporated either samples or resamples, including old school house, 80’s synth funk and boogie, and even disco. The song that really turned me on was Tullulah Moon’s If You Want My Love. Excellent and classic use of resampling to achieve a unique musical effect unachievable by other means.

    I study neuroscience by trade, and in the face of overbearing criticism from music snobs about sampling, I had occasion to sit down and thought about it, that anytime I played a given note on a piano, I was literally sampling every such instance of that note that I’d ever heard, and what I played next was probabilistically determined by my musical listening background and training. My brain is a highly sophisticated sampler, using probably distributions not unlike probability based midi effects. So someone who is skilled at sampling and listening potentially possesses every bit of musical sense as someone who physically makes music, perhaps even more so because there are many musical hacks among traditional musicians, too. Whether I decide to follow an inverted triad over root minor 9th chord with a suspended chord, or whether I sample the same thing from a D-train tune, I still need to have a musical sense to know what goes together in order to say something meaningful about my personal and musical history.

    Really liking your site. Please keep it up!


  7. jevinsJuly 23, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    yee thanks for taking the time dude!

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