Making it Live

Live looping with Ableton Live

Here’s a recent video of some live looping with synthesizers and gadgets performed at the experimental/new music studio, Community of Sound in Burlington, VT. Knowing even less about filming than I do about keeping a website up-to-date, I must say that I’m pleased with the look of this one. This is the first in a series of short synth videos that I’ll be releasing over the next month or so.

An improvised piece performed live using an MFB Dominion 1, Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 12, and Novation Ultranova synthesizers. Drums, mixing and effects mostly through Ableton Live with a couple of Livid Instruments MIDI controllers manipulating the drums, fades, loops and effect sends. Recorded at Community of Sound sometime during the fall of 2018. Performed by Adam Ploof.

The process that I generally follow when making these pieces is partially improvisation, but would probably be better described as spontaneous composition. For each piece, I spend about a half hour dialing in a set of timbres with the synths and drums that create the mood I’m feeling inspired by on that day. Occasionally, I might rework my software setup to accommodate an arrangement idea or incorporate specific effects. More on that in another post. Next is to figure out a chord structure, beat and a rough idea for how I might layer different sounds.

With that rough outline in place, I press record and see what happens. Usually, I’ll get a decent piece in a couple of takes though sometimes it takes hours before I put together something I’m happy with. Every now and then one take is all that’s required. I believe that was the case on this video. I had already recorded one piece this session and was just trying out an idea and, on a whim, thought to press record. In a way, this video is a look inside the process since I hadn’t really worked out any of the themes for the piece in advance — that’s all happening in real time.

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