Derek Olson Is Addicted To Ableton Live

It is true, Derek finally got the Live bug.
For a long time now, I have been a Logic guy. I started using Logic Express back in 2006. It was about the time I was in my recording class at Tulsa Tech.

I remember the feeling of not knowing a single thing about this monstrosity, this multi-colored beast up on my screen.

One night, I gathered my gear (Presonus Firepod, Laptop, Logic Express) and my bandmates. We piled into the spare bedroom at our drummer’s house.

This room was ready for mayhem, with its walls covered in airplane insulation and old carpeting. As I think back, I realise this probably helped very little. But, I guess everyone has to tack carpet to the wall at some point in their musical life.

The band was fired up, and so was the gear. The songwriting was done, and we had practiced many, many times.

The mic’s are placed, their cables running back to the corner where I am with my laptop.

I open Logic Express. The monster stares me down, but I am confident I can topple her.

My friends are waiting for the green light. Yet, I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get the sounds in the room through their cables and into the laptop.

I had no clue about anything. So, no recording was done that night. We just played away until the wee hours, waiting for the police to trot over and tell us the time was up.

It took me a lot of trial and error, plus reading the silly manual, to get where I am now. (side note: I do wish Logic still came with the physical manuals. They make me look smart sitting on my bookshelf.)

That one simple lesson: how to arm the tracks. It is an invaluable lesson, and I wish I knew it before. I won’t forget now though.

One nice thing about learning to use a DAW, is that other DAW’s operate on many of the same principles. I know that I have to arm the track, I know how to go through the signal chain to check for any problems.

I also know, that sitting there in that room with my friends watching, and not knowing what I didn’t know, was very challenging. It made me want to learn all I could about these computer recording programs. I had to know what I was doing!

I have heard the accolades of Ableton Live spouted by many musicians and DJs. I thought it was just for live performers, and honestly, I was scared of another learning curve.

I’m still on that learning curve, but I do know how to get around and do what I want in Live. I just keep seeking faster and easier ways to do it. I’m sure that process will continue for a long time.

Ableton Live is not just for live performance though. That was a total misunderstanding. It is a great way to write and record. The ability to try loops out in different sequences can be very helpful.

It is much like a scratchpad. Once the idea has had a few iterations, it may be vastly different than its start point. But, getting to that point fast is what makes songwriting easy. I have enjoyed that process. I do the same thing in Logic Pro now, but with a whole other method.

I certainly won’t be abandoning Logic Pro, I have found version 9 to be great. The new amp and pedal plugins for guitarists is awesome. I have lost myself in those for hours.

I do think it is worth trudging the learning curve path. After hours and hours, and more hours, it can even become second nature to use these tools. That is a blissful state worth achieving.

Now to check out Novation’s Launchpad…

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