Ableton today released Grain Scanner – a 10-voice polyphonic granular synth and re-synthesizer designed for experimental noises, glitchy effects, alien textures and thick clouds of ambience.… Read More Ableton Introduces Grain Scanner, A 10-voice Polyphonic Granular Synth
mutateful brings live coding – real-time musical pattern manipulation, expressed as code – to Ableton Live. And it looks like a must-have for arrangement and composition, too.
So yes, there are knobs and faders and pads and keys and wind inputs and whatnot for playing music live. And then there are the often clunky graphical interfaces found in music software. The core of live coding is all about finding that immediacy of compositional ideas – being able to get directly to patterns.
mutateful lets you do that by typing directly into the Session View of Ableton Live. That paradigm isn’t new to Live – the software already lets you enter tempo changes in scenes by including the number. mutateful just takes that idea way further out.
Type transformations into clips, and those clips then transform patterns inside the clips. You can add simple transformations, or chain a bunch together.
Some of the tasks those transformations can accomplish:
- Combine clips (in various ways)
- Change length (via cropping or setting to certain lengths)
- Filter out notes by length
- Remove silences
- Remove overlaps, making polyphonic clips monophonic
- Create stuttering retriggers
- Rescale pitches
- Slice notes into divisions
And you can do all of this by clip, musical fractions (like 1/8 notes), and whole or decimal numbers.
Watch just how cool this is:
It’s a pretty radical addition to Live, and arguably more radical than anything we’ve seen officially from Ableton Live in the software itself for years. But it’s still fairly simple.
I almost hesitate to categorize this as live coding, because it looks really useful in arrangement relative to the GUI, and you might not use it as a livecoder would onstage. (I do expect this means people will invade live coding events running this, though.)
Documentation is limited to a quick reference, but it’s fairly easy to follow and more is coming.
How it works: it’s actually a native app, made for macOS and Windows, which then communicates with the Live API via Max for Live and UDP. That means the usual qualification is involved – you’ll need the latest version of Ableton Live and a license for Max for Live (either separately or as part of Live Suite). That could open up this idea to other software with APIs / scripting interfaces of their own.
You can grab it from GitHub and check out more examples:
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ROLI has launched new Studio Editions of its award-winning Blocks. The new Studio Edition controllers are equipped with “groundbreaking” sounds and effects, new composition tools, and deeper integration with ROLI software and leading DAWs. … Read More ROLI Launches Blocks Studio Editions, ROLI Studio Software Suite
Novation is marking the 10th anniversary of introducing the original Launchpad MIDI controller for Ableton Live by introducing the Launchpad X and Launchpad Mini [MK3].… Read More Novation Launches Launchpad X, Launchpad Mini [MK3]
Tristan Calderbank shared this live performance with his DIY robotic percussionist.… Read More Live Performance With An Open Source DIY Music Robot
Mobile keyboards continue to be fruitful and multiply. But Novation’s latest includes standalone mode, so it isn’t just a computer accessory – so let’s see how this category looks now.
Novation is the company that brought you the workhorse Launchpad grid, so anyone wanting a keyboard with colored grids on it would do well to take notice. But the MK3 adds some features its predecessors lacked – starting with the ability to work with gear minus the computer. New on the MK3:
- Standalone mode and MIDI. There’s just a 3.5mm MIDI out jack, but combined with functionality that works without a host, you can now use this little keyboard with gear and not just a computer.
- Fixed chord mode. Even for those of us with keyboard chops, this is useful on a small keyboard or in dance music contexts. New on the MK3.
- Arpeggiator. New on the MK3, and puts the Novation in contention with offerings labeled Akai and Arturia.
- Pitch/mod wheel. MK3 adds these as touch strips; the Launchkey 25/49/61 have pitch and mod, but it’s new on the Mini line.
- RGB backlight. Yes, yes, more disco lights – but this also shows more information, matching colors to clips you’re launching and indicating status. Also new on MK3.
There’s also a Capture MIDI button, which lets you grab ideas even if you haven’t hit record. That’s now in Ableton Live, too, but it’s great that with the keyboard, this works everywhere.
And existing standard features from the Launchkey mini are here too:
- Scene/clip launch (for Ableton and Novation software – this is a Launchpad).
- Velocity sensitive keys and pads. Also standard on the Launchkey line. Velocity is actually missing on the Launchpad mini, meaning if you want triggering and velocity, this is a better bet.
- Bus power.
There’s additionally now a bunch of bundled stuff from AAS, Softube, Spitfire Audio, XLN Audio and Klevgrand, and Novation now does a free membership. No, that isn’t some elaborate “cloud/subscription” feature – they just send you stuff from partners “every couple of months,” which may be more what you want, anyway.
This does make the Novation offering competitive, no doubt – not least because of Novation’s uniquely close relationship to Ableton Live, but likely just as useful with other DAWs (via Mackie HUI, which works with just about anything).
Here’s a hands-on review by loopop:
This also to me gives it a major edge over, say, Native Instruments’ keyboards, which work only when connected to a computer. That makes their Komplete Kontrol line desirable if you’re mainly interested in plug-in integration, but fairly useless if you want it to do double-duty with gear and not have to boot your laptop.
And that’s true of many other keyboards, too. Akai’s APC and MPK mini keyboards have some nice features and low prices, but they only work with a computer. (The MPK mini now has standalone sounds, but no MIDI out apart from USB.) And now Novation has added one of the features I like best on the MPK – the arpeggiator.
So this is really down to Arturia and Novation if you want something you can use on its own with your gear, as well as with a computer.
Arturia’s Keystep has a step sequencer and more dedicated arpeggiator functionality and controls. It lacks the pads and their accompanying trigger/DAW features.
So Novation gives you a still-usable arpeggiator but additional pad and trigger features.
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Today Novation announced a new model of the Launchkey Mini, the 25-mini-key portable MIDI keyboard controller for Ableton Live. Key features of the Launchkey Mini include a new arpeggiator, Fixed Chord mode, Capture MIDI, 16 big RGB pads, transport controls and more.… Read More Novation Introduces Launchkey Mini With Arpeggiator, Fixed Chord Mode, 16 RGB Pads, More
The update lets you use the SSP as a multichannel USB audio/cv/trigger/gate interface, supporting up to 24 I/O channels (with 16 physical inputs and 8 physical outputs), at up to 192khz sample rate.… Read More SSP Eurorack Module Update Adds 24-Channel Audio I/O & More
Isotonik Studios has announced CrossFire, a control surface script for the AKAI Fire that turns the controller into ‘a powerful Step Sequencing, Note Playing, Drum Triggering, Session Controller’ for Ableton Live.… Read More CrossFire Turns Akai Fire Into Powerful Ableton Live Control Surface
Signal from Isotonik was already a revelation – a powerful toolkit for adding modulation to Ableton Live. But curves, step sequences, and crossfades add real motion and transformation to your music.
Darren of Isotonik Studios has been busy documenting how to use this with some no-nonsense, clear video tutorials. It’s the latest episode, adding Steps and Crossfader module, that gets really exciting:
The new module Steps alone is reason to write home. It’s capable both of the titular step-sequenced, fixed steps, but curves, as well. And while you’ll find modulation built in in tools like FL Studio, Reason, and Bitwig Studio, the implementation via Max for Live by Isotonik has some really lovely usability that stands alone.
The Crossfader is unique, too – this isn’t just a mixer for audio signals, but modulation sources, as well.
It’s worth checking the other videos, too. Episode two looked at the cult hit VST plug-in Serum, creating sound design with Signal in combination. And even with Massive X just out, this is some interesting stuff:
You’ll probably want to start at the beginning, which introduces Freeze and LFO (since I’m listing these in reverse chronological order):
You’ll notice the Chaos Culture moniker on there; this is their creation. You’ll probably want Live 10 Suite, but anything Live 9.7.5 or later, plus an active Max for Live 8.0.2 license, will work, across Mac and Windows.
It’s so deep, it suggests whole new workflows and compositional ideas, so I’ll be sure to start some music from scratch with this one. But it’s really quite well done, and a rich enough approach to modulation that developers on other environments may well want to have a look.
Signal is €88.05 – pricey for a Max for Live creation, but then possibly even bigger than any recent Live upgrade from Ableton themselves. If you have a go, let us know how it works; I’ll try to post some more impressions in August.
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