Pure Art

There comes a point when a piece of art is so refined that the products, byproducts, and even messiest and most defiled anty-products of that piece of art look good. The old rule that the back of the cross-stich should look as nice as the front applies throughout all kinds of art, whether it’s computer programming, music, or athletic prowess.

You’ve got your face deep down in the last algorithm that will finish your crowning achievement of the last nine months of work. The goal is met, the task is complete, but the project is a mess.

Now its done, and you start polishing and packaging it up, writing API docs, making CD art, distributing re-usable instrument tracks for the rest of the world to see – the piece is packaged and ready to ship.

Ableton live is one of those pieces of fine art, where the purity of the design lends itself to producing beautiful musical sets, even among some of the crappiest work you’ve done. The layout of the clips, the coloring and grouping of the built-in tools, everything can end up being a work of art in it’s own, not just the final audio dump that you’ll stick on your new album.

Go download the free Múm set on Ableton’s site and check out the work that they’ve done. If you don’t have Live just download the free demo.

First off, everything sounds amazing. Any clip sounds good with any clip. Even a monkey could play a nice sounding song here. This is the meaning of the back of the cross-stitch work. The loops are clean, refined, polished, done.

They also spelled their name with inactive tracks down at the bottom of the set, and spelled their name again in midi notes in each of those tracks. I know this is poking at nerdy details, but this set just emanates the very cleanliness and artistic presentation that such a flexible tool makes possible. It’s just a feeling I get, man.

This software makes me want to be creative, whether I like it or not. Not only that, but it plainly shows the way to easy and readily available creativity, without having to wade through the much of documentation and technical cribby-crap.

Ableton have nailed the solution to the music problem. They have nailed it, and then shown us what we didn’t know we wanted to do in the first place. They’ve redefined the industry. While people preach this crap all the time, you almost never really see it.

Because of this, Ableton Live is the best piece of software out there.

By |2009-11-06T06:17:00+00:00November 6th, 2009|Uncategorized|3 Comments


  1. pho November 7, 2009 at 7:53 am - Reply

    ableton live is odd..
    i think its actually like too good.. if that makes any sense. the user interface and software setup are so logical and slick. it does everything too: composition, live performance, audio synthesis. you would just end up doing every musical thing in live and be their bitch. every serious electronic musician ive talked to about this says basically the same thingwhich is that its easy to get funneled into these slick solutions but b4 u know it ur sounding just like everyone else. better to go hack a cd player instead or whatever just be original.

  2. Patricio November 7, 2009 at 11:54 am - Reply

    pho: I think you bring up a very good point, especially about everyone sounding the same. I can’t see it yet, but i wonder how a similar sound would manifest itself in Live?

    I could see the excessive emphasis on loop-based music making it easy for people to lose the natural feel of 3-5 or 7-9 bar transitions.

    Or maybe the synths themselves? Maybe they sound good enough to be used regularly, but also similar enough to remove a feeling of pinache? I suppose it’s the user’s choice what plugins to use, though.

    I think this topic will be interesting to watch down the road, although you could argue that Live’s ability to work with normal audio recording moves it into a niche that can’t be constrained to an unoriginal, or suffering from the “Ableton Live sound”.

  3. pho November 11, 2009 at 2:31 am - Reply

    hmm… yes i suppose i was referring mostly to live performance. there its much more obvious: if the DJ stares at the screen most of the time, isn’t wearing headphones, or it sounds looop-based, then you prolly know what they’re using. not that most people on the dancefloor care at all.

    you said in another post that you’re using Python for a threaded audio plugin. im curious to hear more about that… my impression was that the global interpreter lock made python pretty useless at threading. and you’ve embedded an interpreter in the plugin?

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