Posts Tagged ‘ableton’

Live Clinic: Looper + Footswitch

May 7, 2009

Warping tracks and vocals in Live 8

May 7, 2009

vocoding a drum loop

May 6, 2009

Slice of Winter on Ableton Live

May 6, 2009

My favorite Ableton Live plug-in.

dubSpot Kicks of Live 8+APC Workshop Tour in San Francisco – CDM Discount

May 5, 2009

Guitarist/composer/musician Christopher Willits is on faculty for the dubSpot series. Photo (CC) Buzz Andersen.

dubSpot, the West Coast + East Coast music technology training center is doing an eight-city tour of the US to talk about Ableton Live 8 and the Akai APC40 controller. They’re enlisting some of my favorite people to do the workshops. I like the curriculum: it’s not just “here’s how to use Live,” but a real focus on music production, finishing actual music, and pushing the envelope with live visuals, onstage performance and controllers. We also have a $25 discount exclusively for CDM readers if you want to attend.

I want to thank dubSpot for helping sponsor CDM this month – their support makes possible our own free tutorial content and artist coverage slated for later in May.

The tour kicks off this week in San Francisco, but will travel to other US cities soon (dates to be announced; stay tuned).

The artists doing the instruction are some folks whose work I particularly enjoy:

  • Jon Margulies, author of Ableton Live 7 Power among other things, and the person doing the Live 8 curriculum here in NY. And like me, Jon is a secret Medievalist (he’s played early music at Spoleto).
  • Moldover, “Moldy” to his friends, co-founded the Warper series in NYC and the new LoveTech party in SF, and has become notorious for hacking Novation keyboards and espousing controllerism.
  • Christopher Willits is an utterly brilliant guitarist capable of morphing the instrument into all kinds of sounds, for those of you who don’t know his work. And he’s been doing a lovely series of tutorials for our friends at XLR8R TV.

… plus a powerful roster of artists: Funkaid for Africa, Dub Mission, Jason Short, Dub Gabriel, and Barry Cole.

The workshop is $125 for one day or $225 for both. If you are lucky enough to hail from sunny San Francisco, dubSpot is also offering a $25 CDM discount if you head to their site via this link:

But we’ll have more for the rest of the world, too – I’m playing with the Warper crew on the sidewalk in front of dubSpot NY in June, and we’re working on a way of doing a live stream to the CDM planet from there. Stay tuned.

Moldover, Live + Reaktor, and his modded Novation keyboard at our Handmade Music event a couple of years ago.

How to Warp a song in Ableton 8

May 5, 2009

AudioFinder with Ableton Live

May 4, 2009

Making a Bassline sit well with the Kick

May 2, 2009

This time it’s about making, in Ableton, a bassline that sits well with the Kick. No it’s not another sidechaining tutorial. Tom Cosm shows two different tricks – automating EQ’s low frequencies and automating Gain. Very quick and overall a quite nice alternative to sidechaining. As you can see, I like Tom’s tutorials quite a lot. Why ? It’s quality stuff (stream and content), Tom seems to fit Teacher role and his voice is not annoying :)


April 30, 2009
Although Ableton Live 7's MIDI effects collection does not include a
step sequencer, it has all the ingredients for building one in a MIDI
Effect Rack. I'll start with a basic 8-step sequencer and then go on to
describe several useful enhancements. You'll find all the tools
mentioned here in Web Clip 1. For an alternative approach, check out the free Fib 02 step sequencer from TrackTeam Audio (

I'll use notes C2 through G2 (MIDI Note
Numbers 48 through 55) to trigger individual sequence steps. Trigger
notes can come from MIDI clips, live playing, or an arpeggiator, and
each has its advantages. Separate racks for Velocity, length, and pitch
will have their eight Macro knobs mapped to individual steps. If you
have a MIDI control surface with continuous rotary knobs that is
supported by Live (such as the Novation Remote SL series), you can
quickly shift its focus between the three racks to update step values
in real time.

Eight Is Enough

Insert a MIDI Effect Rack on an empty MIDI
track, reveal its Chain List, create eight chains, and rename them Step
1 through Step 8. Use the Key Zone editor to limit each chain to one
note: Step 1 to C2, Step 2 to C#2, and so on. Create two copies of this
rack so that you have three racks in series, and rename them Velocity,
Length, and Pitch.

Insert a Velocity effect in each chain of the
Velocity rack, map its Out Hi knob to the corresponding Macro knob, set
its Operation to Velocity, and set its Mode to Fixed. Insert a Note
Length effect in each chain of the Length rack, set its Mode to Time,
and map its Length knob to the corresponding Macro knob with range 25.0
ms to 4.25 s. (Controlling the length in milliseconds rather than beat
divisions gives you greater flexibility.)

In the Pitch rack, insert two Pitch effects in
each chain and map the Pitch knob of the second one to the
corresponding Macro knob with range -48 to 48. Delete the first Pitch
effect in the first chain, and set the Pitch knob of the first Pitch
effect in successive chains to -1, -2, -3, and so on. The first Pitch
effect ensures that each Macro knob has the same range: C-2 through C6.

FIG. 1: In this 8-step sequencer, the Scale effect at the left displays the active step in green, and the Macro controls of the three MIDI Effect Racks control the step Velocities, lengths, and pitches.
FIG. 1: In this 8-step
sequencer, the Scale effect at the left displays the active step in
green, and the Macro controls of the three MIDI Effect Racks control
the step Velocities, lengths, and pitches.

Insert a Scale effect before the Velocity rack
and rename it Trigger Display. That lets you see when each step is
triggered, and you can also use it to turn off or remap steps. Group
everything into a new MIDI Effect Rack and save it. You now have an
8-step sequencer that you can route to any instrument plug-in (see Fig. 1).
When you create sequences you like, save the whole sequencer rack or
save the individual Velocity, Length, and Pitch racks to swap into
other sequencer racks.

To create a sequencer with 16 steps, duplicate
the chain in the 8-step sequencer and precede it with a Pitch effect
having a fixed offset of -8. Notes Ab2 through Eb3 will trigger the
second chain (Steps 9 through 16). You can create larger sequencers in
the same way.


You can trigger steps in real time by playing
the trigger notes on your MIDI keyboard, or you can create a looping
MIDI clip for more-complex step sequences. The MIDI clip determines the
rhythm, quantization, and order of the steps but has no effect on their
Velocity, length, or pitch. Try adapting a percussion MIDI clip to
trigger sequencer steps while using the original clip to play
percussion (see Web Clip 2).

Inserting an Arpeggiator effect before the step sequencer is a more traditional solution (see Web Clip 3).
Hold mode lets you set up sequences adding one step at a time. Use the
Style setting to change the step order or to make it random. Also
explore the Retrigger and Repeats controls.

You can insert Chord and Arpeggiator effects after the sequencer to create chord sequences and then arpeggiate the chords (see Web Clip 4).
Use a Scale effect to filter or correct the sequence to any scale as
well as to transpose the whole sequence. Web Clip 1 contains step
sequencers of each of these types with their Macro knobs mapped to the
important parameters.

Ableton Live 8 Misuse: Ping Pong Psuedo Scratching Effect Video Tutorial

April 27, 2009
For all the emphasis on learning how to use creative tools the proper way, it’s often when youmisuse a feature that it really becomes a powerful tool. So, in the spirit of some of the “mistutorials” from Ableton’s own Dennis DeSantis, here’s our friend Michael Hatsis of New York’s Track Team Audio / Warper Party / Dubspot with a really unusual way to achieve scratching effects.
You know the Ping Pong effect for its clichéd, stereo-panning echo effects. But here, it goes an entirely different direction: now that Live 8 has added new delay modes, you can create some special effects that don’t sound like the typical effect. Mike manages to warp and bend Ping Pong into something that sounds a lot like scratching. He warns that “this is not meant to replace vinyl nor will it produce a totally authentic sounding scratch sound.” On the other hand, you start to get some sounds that are reminiscent of scratching but sound unique, which I think is a Very Good Thing.
Live 8 users, download the template:
There’s also some nice discussion happening over on the Ableton blog. (Main request: automation / dummy clips for more sound-warping power.)
Video: Total misuse of a ping pong delay – scratch effects
(And those of you Pd/Max/SuperCollider/Chuck/Reaktor users out there, maybe this will inspire some DIY effects along similar lines.)
Ableton Live 8 Creative Tutorial Videos: Using and Misusing Groove Extraction
Ableton Live 8 Creative Tutorial Videos: Misusing Frequency Shifter
(and, yes, much as I love Live 8, I welcome other tools, too – anyone interested in tutorials to request / tutorials you want to make?)

Drum patterns on #Reaktor #Spiral

April 23, 2009
Flexible rhythm patterns here on the Native Instruments-Reaktor-Spiral.
And bonus, How to use the Ableton live with Spiral.

Ableton Live 8 Creative Tutorial Videos: Using and Misusing Groove Extraction

April 23, 2009
Ableton Live 8 is here, and by now, you’re like familiar with some of its banner features. But we wanted to learn more about how features could be used in creative, new ways, or even misused. I sat down with Ableton’s Dennis DeSantis in the Ableton office here in New York to talk about some creative applications of new Live 8 features, starting with groove extraction and quantization.
Dennis is the right guy to consult when it comes to rhythm: he’s a talented composer, a classically-trained percussionist, and a founding former member of the ground-breaking Alarm Will Sound ensemble, which plays music from Varese to Aphex Twin. (Dennis himself was responsible for some of those Aphex Twin remixes.)
In part 1 of our 3-part series, Dennis looks at ways in which groove extraction can be used as a powerful dynamic quantization tool. That was always my hope for Live, going back to very early versions; it was incredibly frustrating that you had only limited, mechanical-sounding “swing” features that couldn’t be controlled. To some, Groove Extraction may simply mean copping specific grooves from samples, but it’s actually capable of dialing in a custom groove with real ease.
In part 2, Dennis shows how a similar technique can bring a simple percussion pattern to life, replicating the sorts of organic variations that happen with real players.
See also part 3 for alternative techniques with the Frequency Shifter – tune percussion with this effect instead of getting the usual metallic special effects.
These are “power features,” capable of a wide variety of results, but they’re also accessible enough that anyone could easily learn to use them. Have a look.
Incidentally, the audio is a bit odd as we recorded this on St. Patrick’s Day, and even twelve stories up, the shouts on the streets in Manhattan made it sound like the French Revolution was happening below us.
Subscribe to CDM TV: Our video series is now available via, so you can subscribe via:
iTunes (and watch on your iPod/iPhone, too)
Miro (the fantastic, all-platform video app)
We’ll soon have Internet Archive distribution, too. All CDM videos are now released under a Creative Commons license.

Glitch Mobber, Laptopist edIT Walks Through His Live Setup, Talks Ableton, Lemur

April 23, 2009
edIT live at Chicago's Eric Rejman
edIT, live in Chicago. Photo: Eric Rejman, via MySpace.
Interview Download MP3
Liz McLean Knight aka Quantazelle catches up with one of our laptopist idols: edIT, the talented solo artist and Glitch Mob member. I won’t insult what he does by giving it a dumb name (”Glitch Hop?”). Suffice to say, edIT is adept at bringing insane musical chops to live laptop performance.
Liz got to geek out with edIT about the details of his live setup, which now drops the M-Audio Trigger Finger for the visual feedback and fluid multi-touch flexibility of a JazzMutant Lemur. (All due love to the Trigger Finger. But I think that would have been like, when I was a child, trading my Knight Rider Big Wheel for the full-sized KITT.)
edIT tells Liz just what this is all about, how he puts together his live set, and what the technical setup means for him musically. He also talks strategy. Sometimes, that means keeping the integrity of the tunes by loading changes into Ableton Live’s pre-composed Arrange View rather than triggering relatively mundane changes of loops manually. At the same time, that frees him up to work with more radical changes with effects and the like – stuff that may actually be interesting. So, no, just glimpsing the Arrange View will not land edIT on — in fact, edIT and Glitch Mob are just the kind of antidote we need.
Interview audio quality is low, but it’s well worth the listen for all the details.
While we’re at it, here’s more insight into edIT’s unique IDM and Hip Hop-inspired world, including the greatest anti-electronic music quotes of all time.
edIT Mug Shot
photo: Barbara Talia 2007, courtesy edIT.
XLR8R TV in one of their nicest episodes ever got to play a street gig in San Francisco on Haight with the Glitch Mob. Now, playing outdoor gigs in San Francisco isn’t exactly that big a deal – hey, it’s not New York City, where you’ll last about 2 bars before meeting the NYPD. But it’s fantastic to see what the Mob are all about, and the performance is terrific.
Most importantly, this video includes this poetic diatribe by An Angry Man, which I will transcribe here in the hope that someone puts it on a t-shirt for us:
Nobody is playing an instrument.
You have technicians here, making noise – are you taping this?
No one is a musician.
They’re not artists because nobody can play the guitar.
For more insight into edIT’s thoughts on music in general, here’s an extensive video interview. This comes from an apparently defunct show called The Craft. The show title has certain unfortunate associations with bad girl-witch movies, and pops up odd bits of trivia that make it seem as though it was targeted at old people or kittens. (Turntables, associated with hip hop? Who knew!) But the production itself is lovely, and edIT has some great things to say. And the show producers got one thing very right: edIT is part of the future of music.
More on edIT’s music and edIT and Glitch Mob touring to a town near you (NY tomorrow, LA 4/30, Arizona, Detroit, Alberta…):