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Watch Battles Reflect on Loops, Ableton in a Live Band Setting

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

battles

On some deeper level, maybe it doesn’t matter how something repeats – whether it’s looped in a pedal, looped in software, or simply repeated by a human player, for instance.

On another level, given just how much repetition matters to music, maybe that’s why we care so much about how it’s accomplished.

Ableton this week released a visit to New York’s experimental rock trio Battles, in a film and interview under the header “The Art of Repetition.”

There, we get to learn more about the process behind Battles’ dense, hypnotic sound. The film is a bit long, but there are some telling moments.

Best quote: “Sometimes people ask if we use a click but we don’t. It’s just music.”

In the ensemble, both looping hardware and software feature prominently – what the band calls “computerness and pedal-land.” In “pedal-land,” bass/guitar player Dave Konopka makes heavy use of Electro-Harmonix gear from hometown NYC (see our recent story and accompanying comments on that topic), plus Line 6 and Boss units and the Gibson Echoplex. There, process is a physical chain of units – he’s capturing and “rephotographing” sound with individual pedals. (The EHX Freeze Sound Retainer is a nice snapshot tool.)

For guitarist, keyboardist, and Ableton Push instrumentalist Ian Williams, who’s naturally in Ableton’s spotlight, all that process is effectively digital. (I notice he’s got the Universal Audio Apollo Twin as interface, as well; I was recently singing the praises of the ability to do DSP live onstage.) The same relationships take place in software instead of being physically cabled between gear.

That said, I find it interesting that the recording process for the band involves a lot of “real-for-real” miking of amps and the like.

battlespush

A lot of the video focuses purely on the compositional process. It’s also noteworthy to see Ian’s approach to Push. Now, to me, one disadvantage of Push is that you lose everything you’ve learned in terms of muscle memory and the sound you produce. But Ian argues that’s a feature, not a bug. “It keeps it kind of strange – that’s the key,” he says, and accordingly shows off Push chops as a way of getting past habits directly to “just listening” as you play. He also uses his multi-instrumentalist approach to make the keyboard sound more like a guitar, guitar more like a keyboard.

I’m fascinated by the way bands use laptops onstage. The reality is, I think we’re all so used to laptops that they aren’t the obstacle they once were – for audience or artist. It comes down not to a philosophical choice so much as an implementation choice, and you should definitely do whatever makes you feel most comfortable. Here, it’s nice to see both working.

Also – duct tape on headphones and beds in the studio. You know it.

Enjoy, by way of dessert, the lovely “My Machines” video.

Battles is on Warp Records, so you get a nice connection between the world of the rock band and Ableton’s experimental electronic roots.

https://www.facebook.com/battlestheband/

http://warp.net/artists/battles/

http://bttls.com/

The post Watch Battles Reflect on Loops, Ableton in a Live Band Setting appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Ableton Does an Event: Loop to be “Summit for Music Makers”

Friday, July 17th, 2015

loopsite

They moved from one flagship software product to adding one piece of flagship hardware. Now there’s a flagship event, too.

It’s called “Loop,” and it will be held 30 October – 1 November in Ableton’s headquarter city of Berlin. It’s clearly in part a summit for the Ableton Live community. But just as their recent book covered the creative process rather than Live per se, the event is pitched a convergence of creativity and technology generally.

It’s not just talks or demos, either. The event organizers are combining hands-on workshops and invites educators. There’s also a collaboration with CTM Festival to set up evening performance programming.

As they put it:

Loop is three days of performances, talks, and interactive workshops aimed at exchanging ideas at the cutting edge of music, creativity, and technology. Bringing together artists, technologists, and other creative thinkers, Loop is a collective exploration of what it is to make music today and what it could be tomorrow.

Talk titles include how to overcome creative blocks and how to get in the flow and what music looks like beyond genres. As in Dennis DeSantis’ book, there are deep discussions of what loops and repetition mean, how they relate to traditional drumming, and how to escape the grid and presets. I’ve been told these are just a few of many more topics and speakers to come.

Already in the speaker list (apart from yours truly) are (of course) Robert Henke, Holly Herndon, Henrik Schwarz, King Britt, James Holden, Money Mark, Young Guru, Dauwd, DJ / rupture, Daniel Miller, Matthew Herbert, and Electric Indigo. There are also people like researcher Rebecca Fiebrink, who is doing ground-breaking work in interactive machine learning and has an unparalleled research and development background.

Actually getting into Loop if you aren’t a speaker will be a bit of a challenge. There are only 400 participants in total, with registration by lottery. To maximize diversity, they say they are also grouping tickets by age and genders. There are links provided for SoundCloud and the like, though with the stated intention of seeing if you’re doing something – that is, it isn’t an audition.

Tickets are 250€ for a full ticket, though if you’re 18-25, it’s 100€.

Since I’ll be there in journalist capacity, of course, I’ll do my best to bring relevant information to you whether or not you make it to Berlin. For more information:

https://loop.ableton.com

The post Ableton Does an Event: Loop to be “Summit for Music Makers” appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Ableton updates Live to v9.2

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Ableton has announced the release of Live 9.2. This free update includes refinements to Live’s audio warping engine, the introduction of latency-compensated automation, a new Tuner device, and [Read More]
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Watch Ableton Push Tame Elektrons Live, Hear Music from Uruguay

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

gustavomystery

Gustavo Bravetti is indeed a man of mystery. The Uruguay-born artist is a live virtuoso of dance music, pulling out all the stops. And in his latest feat, he tackles a trio of Elektron black boxes.

Fortunately, it’s not all mysterious. The Ableton Push-controlled, Max for Live-based tool that gives him these octopus-like powers over the gear will soon be coming to you.

First, let’s watch. Even if this isn’t your own musical idiom, you have to concede it’s a nice rig, nicely played. And it’s a pleasure to premiere here on CDM:

The secret sauce is something called Performer. Built in Max for Live, it gives you snapshot controls over Elektron’s Octatrack, Analog Rytm, Analog Four, and Analog Keys.

The big picture:

Performer is a master snapshot controller made with Max/Max For Live (Cycling 74). It allows you to store, recall, and modify a set of parameters on the fly adding a considerable amount of power while performing live with the Elektron’s black boxes. If you have also the Ableton/Akai Push controller (other devices compatibility to be added later upon request), you can control and monitor most of the Performance’s parameters/functions from there, store/recall Performer’s Snapshots, change mute states etc, etc.

What you get is the ability to pull up parameters on the fly. That includes scenes, patterns, and track mute/level, plus performance knobs and pads, depending on the particular piece of Elektron kit. Each bank stores 16 snapshots, and you get a whopping 64 banks.

You can recall snapshots via pads on Push or from the Octatrack (or via the device itself). And recall can be quantized.

That means you can create structures by modifying parameters, call them up quickly (on the beat, if you choose), and then use your free hands to improvise still more. As is often the case, adding more structure has the opposite impact of facilitating more improvisation.

If you don’t own Max, a standalone copy is available.

The patch is now in beta. It’s not available widely (apart from on request), but we hear it’s coming soon.

But all of this is also a great excuse to discover the output of a rich group of producers from Uruguay. Our friend Cooptrol has put together a compilation of 26 artists dubbed Misterio.

Amigos de Cooptrol (Friends of Cooptrol) is a compilation of Uruguayan electronic music artists. The purpose of this compilation is to integrate and promote artists from the Uruguayan electronic music scene. These 26 tracks were produced exclusively for this compilation. The artists were given two simple guidelines: to make a “misterious” track, and to keep its duration under 3.30 minutes. The tracks are in alphabetical order of artist names. If you click on each track you can see the artist info and image.

It’s beautiful and diverse — and it includes the track seen here. Give it a listen:

Misterio by Amigos de Cooptrol

More:
http://gustavobravetti.net/

The post Watch Ableton Push Tame Elektrons Live, Hear Music from Uruguay appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Novation’s Launchpad Grid, Now in Color, for Ableton or iPad

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

launchpad

Novation’s Launchpad has seen slimmer and smaller versions. And upcoming is a Pro version with pressure/velocity and MIDI in and out.

But if you just want the grid, you can now get the base model with RGB color. It’s officially called the Launchpad mk2. No availability or pricing yet (damn you, unstable Euro), but you can sign-up for notification.

The update has the same basic design as the original, but updated with styling from its Pro sibling, and RGB color behind the pads for more visual feedback.

Here’s the obligatory video of the new model, which gets a very cute studio setup and a live performance by Buddy Peace:

That basic model does quite a lot.

Beginners: For beginners, you get a lot of bundles. Live Lite, a gig of samples, and the Bass Station plug-in are included.

Ableton Live users: In Ableton Live, you’re pre-mapped to Drum Racks, mixing, and Max for Live.

iPad owners: And this is a grid that works with just about anything. Ableton Live is the original use case, but the driverless model plugs into an iPad, too. There’s official support for Novation’s own Launchpad app.

Advanced users, customization: Linux, Windows, other apps, all work, too, because the Launchpad has class-compliant drivers. This hardware has also been well supported by the community for apps ranging from Bitwig to Renoise, partly because of its low cost. Because it’s simple to program, it’s a great choice for Max and Pd and Reaktor patchers, too.

But that’s all true of the whole family at the moment.

So, is this the Launchpad I’d get? Absolutely not.

Wait, what?

Yeah, I have to admit, I think Novation has nailed it with two models. The Launchpad Mini is incredibly small, so for a dead-simple grid to just toss in a bag, I’d opt for that model – partly because I don’t need all those colors. The Pro, meanwhile, is brilliant in that it works with MIDI, and much to my surprise will support standalone operation. It’s not necessarily the most responsive controller in terms of pressure sensitivity (I still like Push and Maschine for that, or the Linnstrument if I want to get really serious). But it may prove to be the most versatile. There’s more to say about the Pro, but expect our review as they arrive this summer. (I got to play with a prototype, alongside our own MeeBlip, this summer.)

All that said, I’m sure the RGB Launchpad will be perfect for some. And Novation has done a superb job of rounding out their lineup with options for every use case, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. That lets you be modular and carry just what you need, and that, I think, is a very good thing.

Plus, I still can’t kill my original Launchpad (serial #7, believe it or not), even after copious amounts of abuse. So I think putting your faith in this line isn’t a big risk.

Ableton’s Push remains the hardware to beat as an expressive instrument with lots of other features. But it’s not much use outside of Ableton, it’s not available in anything other than the flagship model, and it’s heavy (which may be a good or bad thing, depending on whether you’re next DJ gig involves Ryanair).

Novation at the moment has pretty much every other possible base covered.

Now I just have to bide my time waiting for that Pro model.

http://global.novationmusic.com/launch/launchpad

The post Novation’s Launchpad Grid, Now in Color, for Ableton or iPad appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Conductr Controls Traktor and Ableton All in One iPad App

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

ConductrTraktor03

If you want to control Ableton Live from an iPad, you’ve loads of options. If you want to control Traktor – not so much. The best all-in-one option is Traxus Control, which is free (though it requires Lemur).

Now, one app does everything. The same app has modes for both Ableton Live and Traktor – meaning you can tote one iPad and be ready for both the live set and the DJ set. And on the Traktor side, you get fluid integration with Native Instruments’ DJ software – ironically, when NI themselves have no such controller app.

And the advantages are clear: no room to tote more hardware? Cramped DJ booth? Tired of having to use the mouse and display just because something you need wasn’t mapped? Doing a mix or podcast on the go and don’t have a controller handy? Solved.

At the heart of the new system is a Traktor controller module, adding to the Ableton Live modules that were already there. (Live modules include clip control, lovely XY pads, mixing, and a MIDI keyboard for melodies.)

For Traktor, you get three views: Player, Mixer, and FX. (One module is free to try out; Conductr is fairly functional even in free mode before you commit to in-app purchases for extra features.) As with Conductr’s Live controls, you can customize your iPad to view whichever modules you like. Keep one on the display to make things simple (ideal if you’re augmenting other hardware), or fit up to four to cover all the bases. There are options for display, too.

Inside the Traktor module, you get control of up to four decks.

There are tools for looping, jog/bend, tempo, sync, cueing and transport, and the like. And the interface really comes alive with effects controls – something I already liked about TKFX.

All of this is fit into the tidy, stylish Conductr interface.

You also can use your iPad in either wired (USB) or wireless mode, depending on your preference.

See more in our gallery.

ConductrTraktor06

ConductrTraktor05

ConductrTraktor04

ConductrTraktor02

ConductrTraktor01

Now we just need something like this for Serato.

More:

https://www.conductr.net

The post Conductr Controls Traktor and Ableton All in One iPad App appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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A New Book from Ableton Wants to Help You Make Music

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

abletonbook

Imagine if the Eno/Schmidt Oblique Strategies, a music theory book, and an Ableton quick-start manual all got caught in a transporter accident with a bunch of different music producers.*

That seems to be what you get with Making Music: A Book of Creative Strategies. In one sense, the aim is to be none of these things. It’s not a manual. It’s not a template for music making. It doesn’t, apparently, rely much on musical theory in the traditional sense.

But, then, if you know the man behind it – Dennis DeSantis, a classical percussion virtuoso and composer turned documentation czar – this all makes sense.

The book is divided into the three places where you might become stuck creatively:

1. Beginning
2. Progressing
3. Finishing

And in each section, it includes both problems and solutions, plus hands-on reflections from artists, ranging from experimental to club. (I wish it had sections for “soups” and “desserts,” but this isn’t my book.) Sometimes, it’s talking about specific harmonies in house music. Sometimes, it’s reflecting on the very act of listening.

parallel-harmony-2

In fact, if anything, the whole thing seems a bit like Fux’s Gradus ad Parnassum rewritten, Julia Child The Joy of Cooking style, for anyone frustrated with a blank or overcrowded Ableton Live session display.

But I’m delighted to see it. I can’t imagine myself trying to organize a book in this particular way – we’ll talk to Dennis shortly about how he went about it and offer an excerpt for you to read, if you’re curious. But it seems a marvelous challenge. And it represents the sort of discourse I hope we have more of – one that lies at the intersection of philosophy and creativity and the specific particularities both of musical craft and technological praxis.

pages

makingmusic

A composer in the 18th century had to tackle, simultaneously, the deep meaning of poetry and whether that clarinet player could really easily finger that melody they just wrote. So it shouldn’t seem a conflict of interests when we have to wrangle with a particular detail of automating a plug-in and the grand sweep of the form of the track we’re finishing. The clash between the specific and the profound, and the desperate struggle to actually make something we like, is at the essence of creative process.

If you have specific things you’d like us to ask Dennis about this question, or documentation of music software in general, or cool things he knows about new music on the marimba, let us know.

More info, excerpts:
https://makingmusic.ableton.com/

Note to wise people: has any music software company really done anything like this? I don’t think so. For that matter, I can only think of a handful of books that attempted this sort of scope (though a smattering of this way of thinking has been added in over the years). One advantage of Ableton as patron: you don’t have to convince a publisher this would work.

Obligatory nerd-out: *Okay, think of this as the reverse of the transport accident in Season 1, Episode 5 “The Enemy Within.” In this version, all those parts form some new composite that comes out neatly as a … book. Which is cool. Also, Space Dog. I may be a hopeless nerd, but the advantage of hopeless nerds is we always know where to find weird furry unicorn dogs for you.

The post A New Book from Ableton Wants to Help You Make Music appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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LK Gives Your iPad or Android Tablet Easy Control of Ableton Live [Gallery, Hands on]

Monday, March 9th, 2015

1

Ableton Live is happily running on your laptop. It’s not yet running on your iPad or tablet, or optimized in any way for touch. And that’s left a window wide open for touch controllers.

Now, the question is, is there room for yet another control app? touchAble retains the crown for all-around control of Ableton Live; there’s very little this app doesn’t do, from replicating Live devices to MIDI editing to custom templates.

But the relaunched LK, released today, has a few reasons for consideration, as an alternative or complement to other solutions.

First, if you’re an Android user, LK’s Android tablet support alone means it just became your go-to choice if you have a tablet that isn’t an iPad.

Second, LK’s simplicity and modular design I find appealing, as you’ll see in screenshots here. LK’s narrower focus in its main controller view make it particularly accessible. Devices open below the clip/mix view and expand and collapse just as they do in Ableton Live. And dedicated views for MPC-style pads, an X/Y viewer, and MIDI control are clean and easy to understand.

4

The MIDI PADS module alone I find worth the cost of entry, even if you’re already using another iPad tool for Ableton control. With chord mode, friendly controls, and a built in arpeggiator with sync, plus lots of space for your fingers on the layout itself, it’s darned-near perfect. I increasingly find an iPad mini an essential accessory for work – and something I can fall back on when I can’t lug around extra gear but want to keep making music. It’s also easy to imagine this running alongside a Push for even less reason to go over to the computer screen – which can be a real concentration breaker when you’re trying to stay in the flow.

When you do want to connect LK, you can use either a wireless connection or a wired MIDI connection. The latter works with a 30-pin or Lightning (or Android USB) cable, so that you don’t have to worry about a wireless connection getting flaky when you’re trying to work.

MIDI control isn’t limited to Ableton Live, either. The app outputs MIDI, so with a little configuration, you can use it with external gear alongside your Live set, or control something else altogether.

Last week, we saw another option for routing MIDI between apps and computers in the form of midimux. Developer Nuno Santos and I just tried out Midimux in conjunction with LK, and it works perfectly. That opens up additional routing options for those with more sophisticated setup ideas in mind. Previously:
Now, Across iOS and Mac, Everything is Musically Connected [Video]
Here’s How To Connect the iPad’s Easiest Pattern Maker to Your Mac [Video Tutorial]

There’s really nothing stopping you from trying LK, too. The app is free, with each module operating for 15 minutes. That gives you time to see if you like this approach. If it fits your approach, you can unlock modules a la carte. I’m also intrigued to see where the LK developer goes next with future modules – I’m hearing word of a piano style controller and a step sequencer.

Current pricing:

LAUNCHPAD – US$ 8.99
MIDI PADS – $ 4.49
MIDI CONTROLLER – $ 4.49
XY PAD – $ 4.49

LK replaces the previous app LIVKONTROL, but if you already bought LIVKONTROL, get in touch. Nuno tells CDM, “We are offering the activation of the respective modules to all previous buyers that present to us the purchase receipt.”

Nuno’s tech startup Imaginando in Braga, Portugal has been busy. It’s also the source of the excellent TKFX, which I find – by far – the easiest way to control effects in Traktor when DJing. More on that soon:
TKFX Gives You Crazy-Easy iPad, Android Control of Traktor Effects, KAOSS-Style

http://livkontrol.com

Documentation is online:
http://livkontrol.com/lk-live-controller-help

I’m having a lot of fun with it. Here are some shots of it running on my device:

IMG_0070

IMG_0069

IMG_0068

IMG_0067

IMG_0066

LKBRIDGE

The post LK Gives Your iPad or Android Tablet Easy Control of Ableton Live [Gallery, Hands on] appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Hands on with the Ableton Live 9.2 Tuner [Video]

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Hey, sometimes it’s the simple things.

I was going to write something, but – well, it’s a tuner. Watch the film, from Ableton Liveschool. And I have to say, Ableton has found a way to make this Device more interesting than previous Max for Live efforts. It even has a histogram.

Perhaps the most newsworthy element here – a sign of the times – is that the resurgence of analog synthesizers has meant that tuning outboard hardware is now again an application for tuners. You’ll see in the video here an example with the classic MOOG Minimoog, but see the Ableton-shot photo below for an Arturia MicroBrute. Keyboardists, not just guitarists, are now using tuners, too.

If only we had some digital means of keeping things in tu– jeez, what the heck is going on, anyway? Strange, cyclical days.

Enjoy!

tunerbrute

The post Hands on with the Ableton Live 9.2 Tuner [Video] appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Ableton releases Live 9.2 as public beta

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Ableton has announced that the upcoming Live 9.2 update is now available as a public beta. This update improves and expands on several key functions of Live software, as well as adding new capabilities [Read More]
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