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My Parents made the single biggest mistake of their lives when they bought me turntables for christmas when i was fifteen, spending night after night watching coronation street with the bass from my room above nearly caving the ceiling in. But they did set me off on what will be a lifetime of musical manipulation. i experimented with mixing, scratching and trying to create my own music using 2 different records. I soon learned this wasnt going to be enough to satisfy me and i started thinking more about how the music i was playing actually came to be. I started researching music production software and not knowing anyone who could push me in the right direction i struggled to create my own music using everything from entry level software like "ejay" and more advanced options like "reason" I never really got further than a few straggly drum beats and not very melodic melodies until a friend introduced me to ableton live.
what a difference this made. It was simple to install following the on screen instructions. this really does put a virtual studio in your hands and allow you to manipulate music in ways unparalleled by its competitors. it has everything in one, no more chopping samples in one program and transfering to another, no more recording vocals in another program to transfer, ableton live has it all. it has great in built instruments with loads of downloadable presets that can also be customised there is also plenty to do in the audio effects rack from simple e.q 3's to e.q 8's , compressors, frequency gates and delays there really is to many to mention.
The time warping features ( bends and manipulates audio files to go in time with beats) is very very accurate although i did need a good while of practicing and a few pushes in the right direction from a friend b4 i got the hang of it, but then again if it was easy everyone would be doing it.
the program allows you to easily load in samples or songs in aif, wav, and mp3 formats giving ultimate flexibility. Using the menus u can insert an audio channel load your sample or song and hit play. this audio track can then be piled with the effects of your choice. The midi channels are loaded in the same fashion except instead of then loading a sample to the track you key in midi notes using your mouse on the built in sequencer or you can hook up an external midi device such as a keyboard / synthesizer. The sheer volume of vst instruments ( virtual studio technology) that can be used in conjunction with this software makes the creative opportunitys infinate and the only thing holding you back is your imagination.
Having 2 different views the software makes it simple to keep track of what you are doing, you use one view to cut chop and choose samples, record midi notes or vocals plus whatever else you feel like, then with the simple push of the tab button you get the "arrange view" this is where you lay out your track as you would like to here it in a song. this view still allows for choopping warping etc and also provides facilities for you to draw in the automation of effects, volume, track panning etc ( you may only want effects or panning to start on a particular channel at a certain part of a song)
Live can also be used to dj with digital music and play live sets but as i have not used it for this particular function it wouldnt be fair to give an opinion although i can say i have heard good things and theres some big name artists using it for entire live performances ( Paul van dyke to mention one)
the program can also be wired into other music production software such as previously mentioned "reason" and it really does seem there is no end to the possibilities. I learn something new everyday using it and i know i have not even touched on half of what can be done.
It would help if you knew someone who uses this already to show you the ropes but dont let that put you off because there is a multitude of tutorials for download on ableton's own website ( all free) and on youtube. and once you get the hang of the basics you will develop your own style and way of using it.
THE GRITTY PART
ableton live 8 ( the newest version with even more features ) retails at over three hundred pounds which is very pricey but worth it if your serious about your music and you can also pick up a free trial version or a cracked version (for try before you buy purposes only)
ableton 7 however is still top and is now retailing at just over two hundred pounds if you use a price comparison website you should find yourself a nice deal and although ableton 8 does have more features it does not take away from what version 7 is capable oF
ableton live 7 is a fantastic product for professionals to use in their working capacity and also reaches out to the amateur because of the superb online help and support ( dont think I've ever came across a program with so much support) i recommend anyone interested in music production at leasts downloads the trial version, but brace your wallet because you will want to buy this after you've tried.