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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Sep 2019 > USING MIDI KEYBOARDS IN ABLETON LIVE


The humble MIDI keyboard is often still seen as the most universal way to interact with your music software. But why do we need it with Ableton Live, when we have the great Push controller? Time to find out…

The good old MIDI keyboard might seem a tad redundant when we have so many high-tech ways to control Live, but it can still be one of our best friends. Unlike Push, for example, a keyboard simply works with any music software – and maybe with iOS and Android devices, too. If you have a keyboard at home already, make sure to give it some love from time to time and find it a space next to your fancy LED boxes.

For the actual playing of musical parts, nothing has ever overshadowed the basic keyboard, even if it gives you nightmarish flashbacks to childhood piano lessons.

The most important reason to keep a keyboard handy is that using it can impart transferable skills. It’s never a good idea to get too invested in one particular piece of music software. In the future, you might be in a band or studio situation where you need to hook up to Cubase, Logic or Pro Tools and a keyboard will keep you more versatile than a grid of pretty lights.

Keyboards are great for dynamic musical performances, but meet resistance in certain quarters


To understand the full benefits of using a MIDI keyboard with Live, you could also explore some of the more exotic creations that are on offer. At the moment, if you want to kind of keep a keyboard layout while getting groovy hands-on control, you could look at offerings such as the Novation SL MkIII, ROLI’s Seaboard or LUMI, Native Instruments’ Komplete Kontrol, or the Akai Advance range. All of these will make you feel at home as far as note layout goes, while adding various levels of software integration.

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About MusicTech

It’s probably not all that contentious to say that everybody, at some stage in their music-making journey, needs a synth. Whether you’re working on deep, intricate soundscapes, creating pounding dance music or concocting chart-climbing pop hits, taking advantage of the myriad textures, pads and leads that the synthesiser provides is a no-brainer. This month, we celebrate this beloved instrument with a series of linked features, highlighting the history, science and ongoing development of the synth. We speak to Georgia, an artist who wowed Glastonbury with her retro synth-pop stylings; take a trip to Bristol to visit UDO and look at the making of the Super 6, a synthesiser that merges the very best of old and new technology; while Andy Jones delves into the synth’s pivotal role in shaping dance music. We also continue Adam Crute’s Sound Synthesis Masterclass series, this time exploring the science and mechanics of sampling and synthesis. Aside from our synth focus, we also have a fantastic interview with The Prodigy engineer and co-producer Neil Mclellan, who tells the inside story of the making of their classic record Music For The Jilted Generation. We also speak to MPG Breakthrough Engineer Of The Year 2019 Dani Bennett Spragg about her incredible career to date and her best-practice advice. Later, we experience the mind- (and ear-) blowing wall of sound that is James Murphy and Soulwax’s Despacio sound system. Our review section this month continues the synthy vibe that runs through this issue, as we get hands-on with Native’s latest iteration of Massive X, have some fun with Modal’s CRAFTsynth 2 and explore the scope of Softube’s Volume 3. I hope you enjoy the issue.