Ableton Live Video Tutorial: Intro to Warping + Slicing Audio w/ Thavius Beck

What exactly is Warping and Slicing?

One of the things that makes Ableton Live such a unique and powerful piece of software is a fundamental feature that completely changes how you are able to interact with audio. This feature is called Warping. Warping allows you to manipulate the tempo and pitch of your audio independently of one another. This means that you can change the pitch of a song to fit the pitch of another without changing the tempos, or you can slow down or speed up a piece of audio without altering the pitch. As someone who came from using hardware samplers like the Akai S-900, Roland W-30, and even the MPC 1000, you can imagine just how mind-blowing a discovery this was for me at the time. When you learn how to effectively warp audio and apply it to your songs, every sample becomes a new piece of elastic to be stretched to your liking.

…And what about Slicing?

Slicing audio simply means that we take an audio sample and slice it in to smaller audio samples, based either on sub-divisions of time (e.g. 1/4 notes, 1/16th notes, etc.), warp markers that we place on the original audio sample, or based on the transient markers that Live places on the audio sample when it detects volume peaks. Live has a feature called “Slice to New Midi Track” that allows us to easily slice a piece of audio in a few simple mouse clicks. When warping and slicing are used creatively, the sample based musician has all the tools necessary to perform audio alchemy with any source material available.

So I said all of that to say…

In this particular example, we will take a piece of a song called ‘Cisco Kid’ by WAR to use as our source material, warp it so it matches our session’s tempo, slice it to our Sampler instrument, and create an entirely different pattern with the slices.

The main benefit to warping and slicing your audio is that you can easily isolate certain parts of a song and manipulate them as you wish. For example, if you have a piece of music with a full band playing (lets say drums, guitar, bass, vocals, etc.), you can still take control of the sample by slicing the audio where the kick and snares are, and then use those slices to play a different pattern. Then you can also change the pitch of the slices, duplicate the instrument with the slices and transpose that duplicate up or down an octave, etc. When it comes to having creative options, Live gives you a nearly endless well to draw from.

In conclusion

Ultimately what you choose to use depends on what you feels gives you the most intuitive way to realize your ideas… the reason I fell in love with Live so many years ago was because it is so powerful and versatile, yet really fun and relatively easy to use. But the main thing that got me hooked was learning how to warp audio… once I wrapped my head around the concept and started experimenting with mixing and matching different types of audio of varying pitches and tempos, my eyes opened wide at the sheer amount of possibilities now at my disposal… I just hope that more people use these tools to make original, unique, and progressive music. I mean, what good are all these amazing tools if we just keep looping More Bounce to the Ounce? (oops, did I just date myself? Haha!)

-  Thavius Beck, Ableton Certified Dubspot Instructor

Ableton Live Producer Certificate Program

Starting Sept. 26, October 12, October 24th in New York

and the week of OCTOBER 2nd ONLINE!

See dates and register for NYC and online classes!

The flagship of our music training, with every Ableton Live course offered at the school. After completing this program, you will leave with 4 completed tracks (EP), a remix entered in an active contest, a scored commercial to widen your scope, and the Dubspot Producer’s Certificate in Ableton Live.

What’s Included:

  • Ableton Live Level 1: Shake Hands with Live
  • Ableton Live Level 2: Completing Your First Track
  • Ableton Live Level 3: Production Essentials
  • Ableton Live Level 4: Sound Design & Instrumentation
  • Ableton Live Level 5: Advanced Composition & Production
  • Ableton Live Level 6: Taking Your EP Global

This program is about learning Ableton Live by going through the entire process of being an artist, by developing your own sound through a series of sketches and experimentation. You will also learn the ins and outs of this powerful software through a series of exercises designed to help you master the steps involved in producing your own music. After a level of getting familiar with the tools that Ableton has to offer, you will then develop your sonic ideas into full length songs – one per level. You will be exposed to a variety of approaches to arrangement and composition, storytelling techniques, ways of creating tension and drama in your music. At the end of the day, it is the sum total of your choices as an artist that define your sound, and levels 2 – 6 will give you the experience of actually completing tracks to add to your portfolio.


  • Ableton Live Core & Advanced: 6 levels
  • Dubspot’s complete Ableton course load
  • 132 hours of hands-on instruction
  • Additional instructor-supervised lab hours


  • Ableton Live Core & Advanced: 6 levels
  • Dubspot’s complete Ableton course load
  • 60-80 hours of high quality videos
  • 3 hours of instructor-led chat sessions per week
  • Direct video & audio feedback from instructors

For more start dates and information about payment plans, please call 212.242.2100 or 1.877.DUBSPOT (1.877.382.7768) or send us a message.

  • st.villanus
  • 9/26/2011

I’ve been using Live for years. Its warp features are the reason I got it. Thavius going over a fundamental of the program is great to watch. Lately, I have gotten lost slicing to drum racks and forgot about the sampler. Live does so much. It’s easy to let it do too much for you. This is just the inspiration I needed to simplify my process a bit and be more creative.