The Ableton Live 9 beta is trickling out, but not officially released until next year. Ditto that saucy new Ableton Push controller. And some users are complaining about things that aren’t in the feature list for Live 9.

Waiting’s no fun. Let’s do stuff now. Here are three examples of things you can do right now, today, with your current version of Live. In fact, all three wind up being applicable to Live 9, too.

1. Modulate anything. First, I’ll start with my favorite. EXT, at top, is a free Max for Live device that does modulation. Unlike the new default LFO, it uses steps, a kind of modulation step sequencer. You can assign that modulation to any parameter in Live for rhythmic control of your whole set. In a cool twist, you can also trigger each step manually by playing it, in case syncing everything to clock is getting too mechnical and dull.

(I wish on these free devices that developers would use open source licenses; it’d be fun to freely remix this into a third mode for continuous LFO-style modulation.)

http://k-devices.com/shop/ext/ [free]

2. Make use of a second (or third) display. Next, via comments, an illustration of how to kinda sorta make Ableton Live work in a multi-monitor setup.

Live user jamief, on the Ableton forums, is pretty serious about multiple monitors. This, of course, isn’t quite what most of you have in mind: Jamie is taking the whole Live window and stretching it across the displays. Since Live doesn’t have a detachable mixer or arrangement window (like Reason), or a multiple-windowpane view that allows you to show displays side by side (like many, many DAWs), you can still only look at Session or Arrange singly. This seems to me easy to fix. Ableton already has panes that open and collapse. Barring a change that would allow side-by-side views, there could be a New Window option for multiple views. On the other hand, this is a “things you can do right now” story. And Ableton’s design decision means you focus on one workflow at a time – either the non-linear Session view or more traditional Arrange. That still has some advantages, and I can imagine appreciate the stretched view.

Jamie, for his part (her part?) does. He’s ordered three new 40″ (100 cm) displays for an even bigger view. That’ll come in handy with curved envelopes and Session Automation next year when Live does arrive. Discussion:

https://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=157174

3. Use a pressure-sensitive, light-up grid for playing and modulation. Just before Live’s new release, Keith McMillen Instruments released this video of their QuNeo touch controller modulating Live with pressure. It means Push-style control you can get right now, cheaper and lighter.

The set you see is available for download:
http://files.keithmcmillen.com/downloads/quneo/QuNeo_AbletonUnderPressure_set.zip

Despite the cost and size advantage of QuNeo, I do generally prefer Push’s appearance, pads, and greater control options. But readers are already imagining a smaller version of Push. (Push jr.? Push mikro?) QuNeo essentially is that now. I’m curious: readers, how do you view the relationship of QuNeo and Push?

So, there are three things you can do without waiting for new hardware and/or software. Got more? Send them our way. Now I want to go play with Ext.

CDM Live 9 coverage: http://cdm.link/tag/live-9/