How to … with Ableton Live

Screenshot 2018-11-12 at 10.40.20This month, I’m launching new series of tutorial videos – looking at how I make music using Ableton Live.

There are literally thousands of freely available Ableton videos from the usual internet resources and many of them are very good indeed. They often deal with a specific technical useage of Ableton Live and I’ve long since lost count of how many of these I have accessed and benefitted from over the years.

So why would I want to add yet more to a very crowded market? After all, there are many out there who understand the functionality of Ableton Live rather better than me… What is it that I can  bring to the virtual table?

I think the short answer is showcasing how I make use of Ableton Live to explore a whole range of some important [but sometimes overlooked] musical ideas which might be of interest to those working across genres. For example:

  • How can we use an African rhythm to make engaging loops?
  • How do ambient pioneers like Brian Eno make such engaging pieces which don’t sound bland?
  • How can we use the programme to explore innovative contemporary music – from Reich to Radiohead?
  • What can we learn from live percussion ensembles when we are programming drum loops?
  • How can we break away from the tyranny of major/minor/ pentatonic scales?
  • How can we use seemingly rarefied ideas, such as Messiaen’s modes of limited transposition, in more ‘commercial’  genres?

I think the really important thing for me to do  is to try and show how we can use the functionality of Ableton Live devices, effects etc. to harness the potential of powerful musical ideas in a relatively straightforward way.

The first in this series, working with cross rhythms, has already had a positive and encouraging response from Ableton Live users and musicians and teachers working with other sequencer programmes.

So I’ll be working on more over the coming months, exploring ideas outlined above. Hope you find them useful – feedback always welcome!

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