For the last couple of months I’ve been working on a new Ableton PUSH set up for live performance. I’ll write a more extensive piece on this in the next couple of weeks, but this is briefly what I’ve been working with:
I’m seeing the whole set up as a complete instrument. It’s a hybrid – a DJ set up and live instrument matched together. In my left hand I have the DJ controls – volume faders, a cross faders and knobs controlling filters, delays and the sounds of the TB 303 emulator that I’m running. In my right hand are the live instruments I’m playing. I use the PUSH to program beats on the fly, use the step sequencer and play lead lines and bass lines. I also trigger samples with this hand and “play” the filters of the Moog Minitaur
My goal with this set up is to essentially improvise a dance set. Start with just a couple of sounds and loops and rock a dance floor for an hour. No set can or will ever be the same – it will depend on the night, crowd and how everything comes together.
I also have a random acid house generator spitting out patterns when I really want to take a completely unplanned detour and see what I can do with it. Kind of like life – taking what’s handed to you and doing the best you can with what the universe has given to you. : ) More on some of the details of the set up and tips on live performance with PUSH to come.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Here’s a piece I wrote in 2012 that I’ve been thinking about as 2015 begins…
Two weeks ago I went and saw the film ‘Jiro Dreams Of Sushi‘. It’s a documentary about Jiro Ono, an 85 year old chef considered to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. The movie is a beautiful piece and is really a study about what it takes to become a master artist. In the film, a well-known Japanese food critic lists the attributes of what makes Jiro a master. I thought they were a pretty good summary of what it takes to be an excellent producer/artist as well, so I wanted to share them. Here they are….
1. He Takes His Art Seriously – This is, believe it or not the hardest part to being an artist. Most of us grow up in a world where we are told that sitting in an office and entering numbers into a computer is ‘serious’, but making a piece of music is just for fun or even frivolous. So when we desire to make music many of us,including myself, struggle with our inner parents/teachers/friends etc. who tell us that it’s just a phase until we get decide what we’re really going to do. If you plan to be a producer/artist, change this attitude now. What you do us the most important thing in the universe. You create beauty to give people joy, ecstasy or sadness. You give them the fleeting moments of their life to make them know what being human truly is. And in our journey on this plane, we need these spiritual moments as much as food or water to make this existence meaningful.
2. Willingness To Work Hard – This goes without saying. I’ve been in NYC’s music scene for over a decade and the one constant that I’ve noticed is that talent is maybe 10% of the reason an artist does well. Work ethic and perseverance is about 90%. I really don’t believe in luck, except for the fact that you’re lucky to be be alive and in good health. Otherwise you make your own opportunities.
3. Absolute Cleanliness - In ‘Jiro Dreams Of Sushi’ absolute cleanliness is considered a virtue, because if the restaurant was in the slightest bit dirty, it would impact the taste of the food. In the world of production, absolute cleanliness is a virtue because it speeds your work flow. By cleanliness, it is not necessarily being able to do a white glove test on your console (although, if you can maintain that level of cleanliness in your space, your equipment will love you). It’s about the organization of files, of projects, of sessions. It’s about maintaining your tools in top working order. All of this will unclog your workflow and let the creative spirit pass through you without interruption.
4. Command And Leadership – As a producer, especially as a DJ/producer or performer producer, you are in charge. Even though this may not be the case in every project, there will come a time when you will have to take command of a project. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be a collaborator – all musicians should. It means you should have a strong vision, be clearly competent and have the other necessary attributes of leadership – responsibility, punctuality and the habit of keeping commitments.
5. Impatience - On one hand, patience is a virtue in music and art in that it takes time to practice, acquire skills and have them fully realize themselves. By impatience, an artist realizes that they have something to say and that there is no time to be wasted in acquiring the necessary skills, practicing them and then producing what has to be produced and getting it out to the world. Often, it can seem like there’s so much time to do what we’re going to want to do, but, there’s really not…
Finally a last piece of wisdom from Jiro. In the movie, he tells his son: A great chef must eat the best, so that they will always have better taste than their customers. This is true with music as well. Listen widely and listen to the masters. Listen deeply to outstanding musicians of all styles. It opens the mind, fills you with ideas and makes you to channel some of that mastery into your own work.
On Friday, December 26, I’ll be doing a special Live PUSH and visuals set @ GLOW, a music and visual art party in NYC with visual artist 0h10M1ke. I’m really excited about moving this scene forward in 2015.
Here’s a little jam I’ve been working on.
Doing a set this Tuesday 11/4 @ 10:30 at the Delancey in NYC on the Ableton PUSH with my Comandante Zero bandmate 0h10M1ke. The Warper Party is always a fantastic place to see cutting edge new performance techniques.
Next week, November 10 – 14, I’ll be in Rio de Janeiro giving a Dubspot Ableton course at IATEC Rio. Looking forward to it.
Here’s a re-post of my collection of Ableton key commands…
One of the best ways to get fast at Ableton Live is to master the key commands. Here’s a list of key commands I put together when I was studying to become an Ableton Certified Trainer. Copy and paste this and keep it by you as you work. I found a lot of cool functions just by putting together this list. If I’ve left any out, please shoot them over to add to the list. Enjoy….
A. FILE MENU
Com N: New Live Set
Com O: Open Live Set
Com W: Close Live Set
Com S: Save Live Set
Shift Com S: Save Live Set As
Shift Com R: Export Audio/Video
B. EDIT MENU
Com z: Undo
Shift – Com Z: Redo
Com x: Cut
Shift – Com X: Cut Time – Select a loop, Hit this command, Everything in the loop will be cut and that amount of time will vanish from the arrangement.
Com c: Copy
Com V: Paste
Shift Com V: Paste Time: – Select loop, Copy, Then paste – will copy over what’s there
Com D: Duplicate
Shift Com D: Duplicate Time: Automatically duplicates what’s in the loop
Delete Key: Delete
Shift Com Delete: Deletes what’s in the loop
Com R: Rename
Com E: Cut
Com J: Consolidate
Com U: Quantize
Shift Com U: Quantize Settings
Com G: Group
Shift Com G: Ungroup
Com L: Loop Selection
Shift Com L: Select Loop
Com A: Select All
C. CREATE MENU
Com I: Insert Silence
Shift Com I: Capture and Insert Scene : Takes all the clips that are playing at a given moment and creates a whole new scene with them
Com T: Audio Track
Shift Com T: Midi Track
Opt Com T: Return Track
Shift Com M: Insert Midi Clip
Opt Com F: Create Fade: Also allows for the creation of cross-fades!***** To do this – select the track in arrangement view, then hit the clip you want to add a fade or cross-fade to. Then hit this command and you’ll see the fades appear
F11: Full Screen – Doesn’t seem to work on new MacBook Pro
Shift Com F: Search In Browser
Opt Com O: Overview of the Entire Track
Opt Com I: Ins and Outs
Opt Com S: Sends
Opt Com R: Returns
Opt Com M: Mixer
Zoom In: +
Zoom Out: -
Com M: Edit Midi Map (Midi Mapping Short Cut)
Com K: Key Mapping Shortcut
Shift Com K: Computer MIDI Keyboard
Com 1: Smaller Launch Quantization
Com 2: Larger Launch Quantization
Com 3: Triplet Launch Quantization
Com 4: Kill Launch Quantization
Com 5: Fixed Grid
Com B: Draw Mode
Com F: Follow: If activated, display will scroll during playback to keep the current song position visible.
Tab – Switches from Session to Arrangement View
Shift Tab – Switches from Track to Clip View
Here’s some footage from the extraordinary UK beatboxer Reeps One and producer Linden Jay at last night’s Ableton Live User Group. The vocals are completely processed through Ableton and essentially Linden is mixing him in real time. With every kick, he boosts the lows and at times filters and jacks the highs.