Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CMS 2010: Workshop 3 - Ableton Live

From the what-I've-got-is-good-enough dept.

Workshop #3: Easy Click Tracks, Loops and Music Software: Ableton Live Training by Mitch Bohannon

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I went to this class for the following reasons:
  1. They were giving away copies of Ableton Live.
  2. To evaluate Ableton Suite as a replacement for Logic Studio.
  3. I might actually learn something.
In baseball terms, a .333 batting average is quite good. In workshop terms it's pretty bad.  To start, the free copies of Ableton turned out to be a drawing for one copy and, as usual, I didn't win.  As for Ableton being a replacement for Logic Studio - not really.  At least I learned something.

Mitch did a good demo, showing how to layers tracks and put together songs for live performances.  He starts with a simple click track.  Next he adds a quickly played scratch track - usually himself singing along with an acoustic guitar.  That track is only used for reference while building out the song but never makes it into the final mix.

After that, add drums, guitars, keys, vocals, etc.  Finally, he added a track of vocal queues for the band members. When it comes time for the performance he only plays the tracks for whatever band members are missing and pushes the click and vocal queues to the in-ear monitors.

It makes a lot of sense.  Most churches don't have a huge talent pool to draw from and on those weeks where you can't find a drummer, keyboard players, etc., it certainly helps to fill things in.  He even showed how to tag portions of the song as bridges, verses, choruses, etc. and assign them shortcuts to keys on the computer or MIDI devices like foot pedals allowing him to change the arrangement on the fly.

I'm not a big fan of playing along with a track, even if it is more dynamic than a straight-up recording, but what he taught can be well translated to recorded music as well.

Here's the other thing I learned.  My copy of Logic Studio, in spite if it's user-unfriendliness and obtusity, is about as good as it gets.  It's not that Ableton Suite isn't good - it's just more of the same.  Just another pro audio software suite with its own flavor of obtusity and unfriendliness.  It's certainly not worth paying $800 for Ableton when I already spent $500 on Logic.

Update:

Mitch just posted this video on his YouTube channel covering the topics from the workshop:

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