10 Ways To Improve Performance In Ableton Live

ableton-liveToday’s computers blow away the computers that were available in 2001, when Ableton Live was first introduced.

Back then, if your computer had a 1 Ghz CPU, 256Mb of RAM and a 20GB hard drive, you had it pretty good. Now, processors are 30-40 times faster, computers have 100 times as much RAM & terabyte hard drives are common.

But, as computers have gotten faster, our DAWs have added features and our expectations have gotten higher. So, even with today’s faster computers, you’ll still run into situations where you need more power than your computer has to give.

In this article, guest author Doug Beney offers 10 ways to improve performance in Ableton Live. And, if you want even more information, we’ve included a collection of resources at the end of the article that you can check out.  Continue reading

Go Deeper Into the Sound – Unless It Will Make Your Head Explode

shape-of-soundReader Alistair de B Clarkson let us know about a new series of articles kicking off at the Shape of Sound site, Going Deeper into the Sound.

The series is intended for ‘music nutters’ that are obsessed by sound.

Clarkson notes:

These articles are only suitable for synthtopia readers and will result in any non synthopia reader complaining that their head will explode.

Continue reading

Open Mic: What New Electronic Music Are You Listening To?

Open Mic: Reader Andy Hagerty wants to know “What new Electronic Music are you listening to right now that you’d want to share with the Synthtopia readers?”.

Is it something from an artist that you think is under appreciated? Something new from an established artist? Something that you’re working on?

Leave a comment and let us know…..

Continue reading

Jaron Lanier, DJ Spooky Jam on ‘The Sound of Sci(l)ence’


Haverford College, in suburban Philadelphia, plays host this coming week to electronic and experimental hip hop musician DJ Spooky, virtual reality guru and composer Jaron Lanier, and Living Colour percussionist Will Calhoun as they gather for an event called “The Sound of Sci(l)ence.” The conference takes place June 15 – 17.

“The Sound of Sci(l)ence: Listening to Quantum Mechanics, the Big Bang, and Nanotechnology,” is a three-day series of conversations, workshops, and performances exploring the intersection of music and quantum mechanics. Supported by a Mellon Arts Residency Planning Grant from Haverford College’s Hurford Humanities Center, the event pairs visiting artists Will Calhoun, Jaron Lanier, and Paul Miller (aka DJ Spooky) with Haverford faculty and students in an effort to widen the scope of quantum mechanics pedagogy through the study of sound, as well locate synergies with courses across the academic disciplines.

Organized by Chemistry professor Joshua Schreier and Physics professor Stephon Alexander, who describe the idea behind the workshop this way:

“Mathematically, quantum mechanics (QM) has many analogies with the classical wave phenomena of sound, and yet the pedagogy of QM is almost entirely visual. This series of conversations and performances will explore how to ‘listen to’ the simple systems used to teach QM, how this can increase student comprehension, reach out to non-technical audiences, and for its own inherently aesthetic benefits. In addition, we would like to explore how this could be used to explore/comprehend our research interests in cosmology and nanoscience. “

The event is FREE, but registration is required. Attendees can register for tickets at this link. Continue reading

Pseudo Scratching In Ableton Live 8

YouTube Preview Image

This video demonstrates how to emulate a scratch-style effect in Ableton Live 8 using the new delay Modes in Live’s Ping Pong Delay.

This is not meant to replace vinyl nor will it produce a totally authentic sounding scratch sound, but it is a Ableton Live only solution and is a nice add-on to your effects arsenal.

You can download the template at dubspot.

The Complete Guide To MIDI Bagpipes; Covering Practice Pipes, Robotic Bagpipers & The Frankenpipe

Q. What’s the difference between a bagpipe and an onion?

A. No one cries when you chop up an bagpipe.

Glamorous MIDI controllers like the Tenori-On get all the press, but MIDI bagpipes are where the real action is.

There’s a significant amount of work being done in the area of bagpipe-style MIDI controllers. And it’s no surprise why: MIDI bagpipes combine two of the world’s most maligned instruments, the synthesizer and the bagpipes, into a state-of-the-art, cutting-edge computer music user interface.

That lets you play Sailor’s Hornpipe.

Check this video out and then tell me it wouldn’t have benefited from a bit of MIDI bagpipes:

Here are the latest options for getting your MIDI bagpipes on:

Master Gaita, top photo, lets you use bagpipe fingering to control the MIDI universe.

The instrument made from a PVC tube with nine touch sensors. A 2.5 meter long cable leaving the plastic box carries the MIDI signals to the computer or sound module.


  • Five selectable with a simple command chromatic fingerings (Galician, Asturian, Scottish, French and Extended (2.5 octaves wide).
  • Compatible with other bagpipes as Gaita de Boto, Sac de Gemecs, Xeremía, etc.
  • Any key/octave performance.
  • Independent control of drones. Tenor drone must be tuned either in first or fifth grade of the scale.
  • Four switchable sound programs with two instruments each.
  • Duete by upper or lower thirds performance.
  • Direct PC connection via joystick plug.
  • Standard MIDI connection using the supplied MIDI cable.
  • MAC or portable computer connection with a USB MIDI converter (not included).
  • Auto-shut off after two or ten (by selection) minutes of no activity.
  • No mouth or legs support needed because of its bagpipe-like held down.
  • No finger moistening needed to activate sensors.
  • Nine volts battery or external power supply.

vPipes is described as Next Generation Bagpipes.

vPipes is an electronic Uilleann Pipes emulator (without regulators) affording the possibility of practising in a variety of situations which would prove to be impractical or impossible with a real set of pipes.


  • 2 x High-performance, advanced RISC architecture main processors
  • Backlit Mini LCD Display
  • Continuous force sensor for realistic octave change emulation
  • Li-Ion rechargeable battery
  • In system battery charger
  • Compatible with 4 AA 1.5V standard batteries
  • Integrated synthesizer
  • RISC-based digital signal processor (Synthesis/DSP)
  • High-quality wavetable synthesis
  • Serial MIDI in & out
  • Effects: Reverb + Chorus
  • Surround on two speakers with intensity/delay control
  • Four-band parametric equalizer

The Degerpipes is an electronic bagpipe chanter. It’s designed to be a practice instrument, but it’s also a MIDI controller.

Key Features:

  • Same size and finger spacing as a long practice chanter.
  • Dual output: PHONES and MIDI. Headphones and MIDI devices can directly connect to the DegerPipes Chanter. It’s also possible to connect the phones output to an amplifier or a stereo.
  • The chanter contains all electronic components as well as the battery. No external box or additional equipment is needed.
  • Authentic Bagpipe sound including drones generated by wavetable sound synthesis. Highland Pipe and Smallpipe sounds integrated.
  • Perfectly tuned chanter scale and drones by usage of crystal oscillator and microprocessor control.
  • The Pitch is adjustable in a range of more than three octaves. This enables you to play together with other instruments in any key.
  • The drones volume is variable and can also be switched off.
  • Through MIDI output every MIDI compatible tone generator or other MIDI equipment can be used (for example PC with notation program).
  • An extended cromatical scale is available allowing you to play tunes which are not playable on the real pipe chanter.
  • Driven by a cheap standard 9V Battery, Accumulators are also usable.
  • Up to 100 hours of playing with only one battery.
  • Automatic power off after a minute of no activity.
  • A Metronome is integrated within the Chanter.

Promote Your Music With iPhone Ringtones

Apple quietly introduced an update to Garageband that adds a cool new feature: iPhone ringtone creation. Anything you’ve got in Garageband, you can turn into a ringtone.

For some people, that may mean the end of getting double-charged for ringtones at iTunes. If you’re a musician, a sound designer or if you’ve got a podcast, you might want to create ringtones to promote your song or show. You could do this with your music, a show theme, sound effects or a catchphrase.

Here’s what you need:

  • GarageBand 4.1.1 or later
  • iTunes 7.5 or later
  • iPhone with software version 1.1.2 or later

Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating ringtones with Garageband:

Step 1: Select Some Audio In Garageband

Select Some Audio In Garageband

Open your Garageband file, turn on the “Cycle region” button, and then adjust your the sides of the selection to get the audio you want. You can preview the ringtone by pressing the “Play” button.

That’s it. Your selection should be under 40 seconds long.

Step 2. Send Your Ringtone To iTunes

Send Your Ringtone To iTunes

Once the cycle area has been set, choose Share > Send Ringtone to iTunes.

Step 3. Check Your Ringtone In iTunes And Sync It

Your custom ringtone will show up in iTunes. Give it a preview, and then you can sync it to your iPhone!


  • If you want to make a ringtone out of an existing piece of audio, like an .mp3 file, create a new Garageband file and drag your audio in, and then follow the instructions above.
  • You can find your ringtone on your computer from iTunes. CTRL-click on your ringtone and select Show in Finder.
  • You can share your ringtones on your site for people to download. To install, they just drag the ringtone to iTunes and sync their iPhone.