I cannot recall the last time a device had been so highly anticipated as Ableton Push.
With good reason. Push is not only a sleek, beautiful control surface for Ableton’s newly released version 9 but it is also a highly intuitive and fresh new musical instrument. It’s touch sensitive multi-color grid is specifically designed to eliminate the barriers that get in the way of the flow of the initial creative process. Push not only facilitates the search for the right sounds (and with Live 9’s suite including 3000 + sounds there is plenty to choose from) it also features an amazing system for almost foolproof note entry and improvisation.
I have heard and at times agreed with folks that feel musicality in the past decade has somewhat suffered. They feel that the values of study and practice have been replaced by gimmicks. “Pro Tooling” and “Autotuning” have become synonymous with a manufactured sound recording that sometimes translates poorly onstage. With Push you can choose to play in a certain scale or mode eliminating the possibility of playing the wrong note. At first glance this too might seem like cheating but there is a difference. With Push the musician can also learn about scales and modes by being able to recognize and executing note combinations familiar to the ear but previously only reserved for expert musicians. With dedication and practice there is no limit to what can be played. This newfound freedom could encourage the kind of experimentation needed to create new musical territories.
Will there be haters that will regard Push as a crutch and criticize its ease of use as further disregard of the classic values? Yes, I think so. One thing that sparks my imagination about the future of music now are the compositions that will eventually materialize as a result of putting these tools at the fingertips of highly creative individuals. Now boring overused chord progressions will be substituted by interesting, exotic and perhaps never heard progressions. Let’s now imagine that kind of power in the hands of the next Mozart, Debussy, Beethoven, etc. Perhaps a bit like the first time they were given a piano.
As a certified Ableton instructor, I am proud to be at the starting line of this revolution. If music is indeed the universal language, perhaps we will all be able to communicate more effectively and maybe Ableton’s Push might just make this world a better place.
Here is a simple example of how to do a sidechain in Renoise and then in Ableton Live. There are many ways to implement a sidechain but this is a great easy to follow example of how the technique works.
McKay Garner of the band “doppio” gives an in-depth tutorial on “keyboard drumming”: using a drumKAT MIDI controller with Ableton Live to create the beats and melodic lines heard on their latest self-titled album. McKay also talks about the band’s creative process and their participation in the Music Video Race.
Brought to you by the San Francisco Electronic Music Meetup (SF-EMM). Hosted by Chris Huelsbeck and Amy Lee. Contents: