Control Ableton Live with the AC Sabre wireless MIDI instrument – three mind-blowing riffs! PART 2


(By our guest contributor Hari Karam Singh)

You could win one of five free codes for the AC Sabre app, read the story for full details…

In part one of this series, we had a look at a technique to play dubstep/trap/grime style bass wobbles in realtime using the AC Sabre. AC Sabre is a wireless MIDI Instrument and motion controller for the iPhone/iPod Touch.  I created the Sabre because I wanted to jam on my synths like I can on my guitar – spontaneity and creativity are closely linked. Plus, I felt that we weren’t really tapping the full potentially of ours soft synths’ tweakability with just knobs and faders. The AC Sabre lets you control parameters and automations with your movements, which is very intuitive. It can turn a lifeless violin patch into an sensitive instrument or a monotonous bass synth into a roaring beast…

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Control Ableton Live with the AC Sabre wireless MIDI instrument – three mind-blowing riffs!


(By our guest contributor Hari Karam Singh)

You could win one of five free codes for the AC Sabre app, read the story for full details…

Once upon a time, skyscrapers were made up entirely of straight edges. Now you have buildings like the Gherkin here in London that are entirely curved. An architect once told me that the single invention that precipitated this evolution wasn’t some major breakthrough in glass manufacturing or other engineering technology but the appearance of the humble Bezier Curve tool in the CAD software.

Whether this is true or urban engineering legend, the moral of the story is that the tools we use inspire our creativity. Different musical tools encourage us to delve into different musical territories. For example, you’ll play different riffs when rocking on the guitar versus say, the violin or the banjo – even if you play them all with the same proficiency.

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Native Instruments announce Maschine Jam – use it to control Ableton Live as well!


Today Native Instruments announced Maschine Jam – an addition to their Maschine range of controllers.

Maybe we’ll talk about the Maschine software another time, but what’s interesting for us Ableton Live users straight off is the level of Live control here.


Maschine Jam features 64 backlit RGB pads, full USB power, and 8 touch strip faders – called Smart Strips, as well as a keyboard mode with an arpeggiator.


As far as Live is concerned, once you install the remote script provided by NI, you get mixer control, clip and scene launching, macros, MIDI note sequencing, and drum sequencing, in a very Push-like style.

Interestingly, the NI website discusses using Jam alongside other DAWs as well as their own Maschine software, including Live, Logic Pro, and Bitwig.

NI Maschine Jam is available to order now at £319.

Visit the Native Instruments Maschine Jam site here.


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New semi-modular FM synth for Ableton Live – Bengal, by Max For Cats


Today, Ableton and Max For Live have released Bengal, a new Max For Live-based, polyphonic, semi-modular FM synthesizer. Bengal features four operators, eight voices of polyphony, six FM algorithms, 20 editable sine wave harmonics (or one wavetable) per operator, six audio effects and a flexible modulation architecture centred on a graphically interactive virtual patchbay.

Here are some key points:

Although its component modules (operators, filters, etc) are all fixed, they can be patched together in any configuration you like in the giant Patch panel at the bottom.

Eight-voice polyphonic.

Four identical operators generate their waveforms using a bank of 20 editable sine wave partials or a wavetable – over 40 are included, and external samples can be imported by dragging and dropping them directly into the GUI

Two multimode resonant filters – filter 1 offers a choice of five switchable types – Moog- style ladder Lowpass, regular Lowpass, Highpass, Bandpass, Notch and Comb.

Two LFOs serve as regular parameter modulators or additional FM sources, while both the six-segment Breakpoint envelope and ADSR envelope can be looped and curved.

Eight-step sequencer, outputting MIDI notes or modulation data, and featuring scale snapping, swing, and randomisation of pitch and velocity.

Six audio effects – reverb, delay, distortion, chorus, limiting and stereo widening.

Patch panel. Simply drag virtual cables from sources to targets – each connection point can accept multiple cables at once, feeding as many sources to each target as you like!

Visual Control Panel gives graphical feedback on the signal from any point within the synth, as set in the Patch panel.

Bengal is available now for $59/€49 from the Ableton website.


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AC Sabre – new iOS MIDI controller app released

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AC Sabre from Air Craft has been released on the iOS App Store. This is a wireless MIDI controller which uses buttons, pads, and gestures to control your favourite DAW.


From the brief personal demo I’ve seen, it provides a very fluid way of working, and is probably the most expressive app of its type available.

AC Sabre is currently available for 50% off, at £9.99, until 19th August.

Visit the AC Sabre website here.

Here’s what it says on the App Store:


+ Scale-synced, velocity sensitive note play

+ Harmonies, trills, arpeggios…

+ Gesture-based vibrato

+ Note shift (for playing out-of-scale notes)

+ Circle of Fourths/Fifths key changes

+ Note range and octave shift

+ Legato and Portamento modes

+ Note-clamping pitchbend

+ A Drone for sustain and guitar “tapping”-style effects


+ Low latency (<10ms), 50m+ range via Wi-Fi

+ QuickPanels allow realtime access to most common parameters

+ Save/load/export configuration Patches

+ Wi-fi/Bluetooth support + Bonjour auto-detect

+ Supports multiple devices running AC Sabre as separate MIDI inputs into your DAW

+ MIDI Learn wizard for quick CC assignment

+ MIDI channel selector for playing multiple instruments


+ 6 assignable Motion Controls

+ Pitch, Roll and Yaw angles

+ Linear Shake & Shuffle

+ Play Intensity

+ 2 configurable Touch Ribbons

+ 1 configurable User Button

+ Vibrato on Shake


+ Major, Minor and Pentatonics

+ Jazz modes: Dorian, Phrygian, etc

+ Bebop Dominant, Octonic, Nine-tone scale and other exotics

+ World scales like Hungarian Gypsy, Hirajoshi, and Mississippi Blues

+ Arpeggio scales like Dominant 7b5

+ 1-4-5-b7 and other Bassline scales

+ A few centuries worth of Indian Raag scales


+ Vibrato amount from 1/4 step up to full PB range

+ MIDI CC’s and output range are fully customisable

+ Motion range calibration

+ Virtual MIDI support, play other apps

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Ableton Live With Bass Guitar – part 3

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(Here’s part three of Jacob Ostema’s excellent bass guitar tutorial series!)

In the final article of this series, I will be taking a look at going live with your bass rig. This can be somewhat difficult but very rewarding. It takes guts to get up on a stage and perform for a live audience, but there are ways to make sure the show is successful, and by making sure you have some sort of backup on stage you can reduce the risk of something going terribly wrong. In this article I will be going over some of the things I do on stage with my rig and of course, how to be prepared for the worst!

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SSR London summer school booking now – Ableton Live, NI, Pioneer

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A limited number of tickets are now available for the SSR London Electronic Music Production & DJ Summer School, which runs from August 22nd to 26th. I’ll be teaching part of the Ableton Live sessions for this course!

The idea is that you’ll create a full track during the week, before learning how to play it live using pro DJ technology – so you get an overview of the entire creative process.

There’ll also be discussions and presentations about how to distribute and market your music online.

As I said, limited places only, so get over to the SSR course page and book now. See you there!

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Sub Pac M2 review – mixing and performing with a wearable sub!


SubPac M2 – more bass, less blasting?

I love music technology gear, especially controllers and anything else related to the user experience. I’m more excited by a new MIDI controller than a posh mixing desk, for example. Naturally, I’ve always been curious about the Sub Pac S2, which is a seat back that transmits ‘club system’ type sub bass frequencies through your body as you mix, or watch a movie, or play a game. And – getting to the point of this review – there’s the more recent M2 model, a wearable version for those who need to feel more bass while they’re working or playing standing up! The SubPac principle is designed on the basis that we can’t always get enough sub without playing our music or games through an oppressively loud speaker system, which isn’t always an option for home use. The M2 arrives in a stylish box, and looks for all the world like some kind of body armour; bonus points for industrial design, and it’ll do double duty as part of your next superhero costume. The package includes the M2 itself, with straps, a hardwired control box which clips into position on the pack, a stereo minijack audio cable, a small printed manual, and the power supply. This is the first wearable music tech product I’ve tried…it’s not like strapping on a guitar.

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