Christine Augspurger: Final Project

Proposal (Updated 11/3)

Working Title:
Ableton Live – An Introductory Demonstration

To familiarize myself, and ultimately the class with the basics of using Ableton Live.

I will present a short overview of Ableton Live, with a special emphasis on using it in a live performance setting. Learning about MaxMSP was my original goal, but as I dug deeper into MAX, it became clear that learning Ableton would be a smart first step. The two programs are now sold together and compliment each other nicely. Learning and demonstrating the basics of Ableton ties in nicely to our work in Garageband, our discussions regarding remixes and audio manipulation. I will consider these and discuss how Ableton makes it both easier and harder for a musician to achieve their desired electronic result.

My research will mainly use online sources, including the Ableton Live manual, the Ableton website, and youtube videos to familiarize myself with the basics of the program. I have also recently purchased a controller for live which has both a MIDI input keyboard and a touchpad grid - an essential tool for using session view in a live setting. This controller will be central to my exploration and later demonstration of Ableton. I intend to build a simple song from scratch in class using both audio and MIDI inputs. This song will include all basic functions and be show in both arrangement and session views. This will be presented to our class in a Youtube-style demonstration lecture.

Submission and Presentation:
My goal is make the submission and presentation one in the same – a presentation that is video recorded and could possibly be posted to Youtube to serve as a helpful guide for other musicians interested in learning Ableton. Included will also be a short handout with program illustrations as well as discourse relating back to the discussions within the scope of our seminar.

Annotated Bibliography

Berg, Richard, and David Stork. The Physics of Sound. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005.
A textbook which provides a comprehensive overview of the physics of sound. Topics include waves and wave forms, electronic music and synthesizers, and sound recording. Each of these topics, as well as many others, occupy their own chapter.
This textbook is from a course I took as an undergrad. The chapters on waves and wave synthesis, electronic music, synthesizers, and recording have provided me with a good basis in the scientific side of dealing with electronic music. Many simple concepts covered in this book are essential to understanding what and how Ableton does what it does.

DeSantis, Dennis, et al. Ableton Reference Manual Version 9. Berlin: Ableton AG, 2015.
The official technical manual for Ableton Live 9 will be my main resource, as I am trying to learn the basics of the program. The manual is quite detailed and covers everything from the basic functions of Ableton, to file management and routing for optimization, to providing reference guides for each of the Ableton instruments and effects.
This source is definitely the longest and most detailed of all. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, and are very thorough. The only possible downside to relying on the manual, is that many of the artistic and creative functions Ableton can be used for tend to come from artists looking for a specific end product and manipulating Ableton to fit their needs. The manufacturers and programmers at Ableton tend to stick to describing the conventional uses for their software.

Escude, Laura. “Masterclass: Ableton Live: demystifying the Session View.” Electronic Musician April 2011: 30-35. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 3 November 2015.
Escude's article discusses the session view – a distinctive feature which sets Ableton apart from many other DAWs and live performance software. She quickly explains how to cue and trigger a number of sounds and effects using session view, and frames this information in the context of her own live performance as a violinist.
Where other sources are bogged down by the large number of very specific functions in session view, this one is concise. Unfortunately this article does not discuss some more advanced functions such as time shift, nor does it mention the use of a set of trigger pads – a potentially powerful tool in session view.

Manzo, V.J., and Kuhn, Will. Interactive Composition : Strategies Using Ableton Live and Max for Live. Cary, NC, USA: Oxford University Press, 2015. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 3 November 2015.
This is one of the only existing books covering Ableton Live 9 – the latest update released in 2015. The chapters begin with a basic overview of how to navigate through Ableton, as well as chapters on specific musical styles, effects, and mastering.
This book is an excellent supplemental resource for learning Ableton. For my purposes with this project, I anticipate only using the first two chapters: Basics, and Session View. The graphics in the book are all of the Ableton interface, which makes following the instructions very easy. Also, the book's pacing and approach to progressing through different Ableton functions will definitely inform how I organize the steps in my own tutorial.

Sadowick Productions. “Ableton Live 9 Beginner Course.” YouTube Video Playlist. YouTube. Youtube, 3 November 2015.
A series of 11 videos that provide an overview to the basic functions in the arrangement view of Ableton Live 9. The videos are simple and well organized, and progress in an intuitive way. The host, Sadowick, also curates a web store which includes many free and for-purchase “packs” and advanced tutorials for Ableton.
In terms of familiarizing myself, and then others, with the arrangement view, this is an excellent resource. The arrangement view is similar to most DAWs with time running left to right and multiple tracks stacked on top of each other. Unfortunately, Sadowick does not work in session view, a main component of the program and of my presentation.

Wells, Paul. “Electronic Insights: Ableton Live – A Look Inside the World of Interactive Music Software.” Modern Drummer September 2008: 130-133. Web. 3 November 2015.
This article discusses the use of Ableton for performing musicians (as opposed to the producer and/or DJ perspective taken in many other sources). Though short, the article outlines a few simple functions in Ableton: cutting and pasting rhythmic material, creating loops, and using the session view to help with creativity and workflow.
The article tries to appeal to performers and encourages them to begin considering using Ableton to help with their practice and performance. This is an important perspective, as many of my audience members are also performing musicians. Beyond this perspective, this article is too short and not detailed enough to offer any further information.

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