Ableton and me

After having seen the excellent results that Neurokin and AMB get with Ableton, I decided to give it a go. That was some months ago – in fact, more than one year ago, now that I recall. First time I tried, I couldn’t really understand how it worked, with all those modes for sequencing and arranging and what not.

I’m more used to the more plain way of arranging notes which is used in trackers (in fact, some people say it is like assembly code for music), so being able to move so freely around is kind of confusing to me.

But past week I brought back my goal of understanding Ableton and suddenly all of it made sense. Or almost all…

The missing part is something which nobody has ever mentioned: the controls response. I can’t find a way of moving those knobs in a predictable manner. If I move the mouse just a little, they hardly move. If I move the mouse slightly more, they all of a sudden move towards the maximum/minimum value (it’s all quite random) making the whole idea of a knob completely useless and rendering it into a nice round on/off switch: it’s either zero or all.

How am I supposed to move those knobs in a soft and sweet manner? I have tried displacing the mouse left/right or up/down while holding clicked the left button, plus several combinations with the right mouse, shift, control, command, and even tried to use my MIDI keyboard’s knobs but nothing worked as I wanted/hoped.

Then in a sudden fury went to Schism tracker and built one pattern in 3 minutes, in a futile try to forget about my Ableton sorries. It wasn’t good at all and the samples sounded horribly plain (once you have been playing with all those reverbs and echo’s and autopannings from Ableton, everything else seems an old crappy instrument). It frustrated me and then I began to think about how could I connect all those pieces of software using MIDI, like when I managed to send MIDI data to Reason from Schism Tracker using some MacOSX internal routing, but I didn’t want to get even more frustrated because of the latency so I just went to Reason and continued a bit of the remix that I started when I saw that r08028 had done a remix of Hard Dreamings

I have advanced a little bit more of that remix today but it’s still nowhere near being finished. At least it’s being fun to do it, and seems that my musical blockage is slowly fading away and I am able again to elaborate melodies and all that, so I’m happy, even if I can’t understand how to control those cheeky ableton knobs.


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