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touchAble 2

November 23, 2013 6 comments

For some reason, I’ve rediscovered Ableton Live. It’s a fun program and it takes me back to my days of composing on old hardware (workstation) sequencers with independent track looping. When computers ushered in the “new era” of composition, I went linear (track based) and never looked back.

I picked up Ableton Live several years ago, and other than to help with the occasional bout of writers block, never really took to it. Loop composition is fun and inspiring, but I’m too analytical when it comes to the rest of the production process, and it’s a well known that Live isn’t (always) the best finishing program. In that regard, Logic, Pro-Tools and Reaper have served me well.

That said, the good news is the folks at Ableton have improved Live greatly, and with version 9, I find myself using it again. This newfound usage was bolstered by NI’s Maschine, which has me “performing” again (pushing buttons, twisting knobs and moving about) instead of mousing around the screen.

This weeks exercise was about getting Maschine and Live to work together. It’s a convoluted process, but once you get them talking, it makes for an awesome and creative working environment. However, this is not without it’s issues. Since Maschine is now functioning in a dual role (controller and performance tool), and it can only do one at a time, you have to switch this “hybrid” functionality back and forth, which can be a pain while working.

So, I got it all working on Thursday, and after patting myself on the back for my ingenuity, set in on Friday to work. However, overnight Live was upgraded to version 9.1, and after upgrading, the two no longer wanted to play well together. Not sure what happened there, and I lost a day troubleshooting, but whatever…

These new issues were rendered moot when I discovered touchAble 2. It’s an iPad app (natch) that effectively recreates Live’s user interface for the touch screen. Suddenly the need to get Maschine and Live talking again diminished rapidly.

The $24.99 download was quick to my iPad Mini, and after an even quicker download of the server control app for my MacPro (and MacBook Pro), the app was talking to Live.

Kudos to touchAble’s design team. The app is extremely intuitive. I was able (no pun intended) to figure most of it out without online help.  I won’t go into the specifics of it here. If you’re interested in it, please check out the app’s youtube page – it contains the full specs on the info tab.

I don’t usually get excited about this kind of tool, but great tactile control enhances the Live experience tenfold. Anything that keeps your hands off the mouse and on an instrument is great for composing.

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