They say anyone can make music these days, so I decided to join Picnic London’s Ableton Live beginners course. The workshop took place in Goldsmiths’ Orangery. Opinions were divided over whether this place used to be a church, a bunker or a greenhouse filled with citrus trees. Whatever it might have been, it formed an interesting location for a workshop in the midst of New Cross’ hidden gardens, full of windows and ingenious tables that could be transformed into chairs. And of course there was James, the man with many names (Gray Dawn, Strawberry Complexity, Purple James), our Ableton Live instructor for today.
We were five people, all from different countries and with different backgrounds (from mathematics to anthropology) all with the wish to learn more about digital music production. In the first part of the workshop – a crash course for complete beginners – James introduced the program, showed some video’s, gave a live demonstration and taught us the basics. We learned how to record and arrange audio with software instruments and got enough time to experiment and ask questions.
Then we had lunch. After we filled our bellies with halloumi, enchilada’s, humus and falafel we were ready for the second part in which we learned how to design custom samplers and effects to use with controllers. James taught us how to use guitar, the Novation Launch Pad and even a Wii controller! On top of that he demonstrated how the already countless possibilities of the program can be extended by connecting to other programs such as MaxMSP and Reason .
… as soon as I got home I started practicing what I just learned. I’ve spent the whole weekend finding new sounds, experimenting with a variety of effects and analyzing songs that I love.
It was amazing to have a full day of teaching; I felt like being in school again and as soon as I got home I started practicing what I just learned. I’ve spent the whole weekend finding new sounds, experimenting with a variety of effects and analyzing songs that I love. There are so many new sounds to discover. Suddenly my life is filled with cosmos soundscapes, distorted heavens and analog bongo’s. I even managed to construct some really bad loops.
By now I’ve reached the point where I had to remove the Ableton launch icon from sight, ask a friend to hide my midi keyboard and swear I won’t touch it until I finish my dissertation. (I already broke my promise while writing this…) Thanks James for this beautiful Picnic!
Written by Louise, a participant of the Ableton Live beginners course, organized by James Leahy in conjunction with Picnic London. Original Post.