Ableton has an interesting teaser up on its website today:

A new strategic partnership between Ableton and Cycling ’74 promises exciting developments on the horizon for digital media creators, producers, and performers. Ableton CEO and cofounder Gerhard Behles and Cycling ’74 CEO David Zicarelli are pleased to announce this unique alliance between the two dynamic and innovative audio/video software companies.

Cycling ’74 and Ableton to Codevelop New Products

The announcement for now is mostly like a mutual love letter between the two developers. But maybe that’s appropriate: Live wouldn’t be Live without Max/MSP’s long history of real-time, computer-based performance. Many Live users are also Max users, combining Live’s pre-built live performance capabilities with Max’s modularity. And because Max/MSP is built as a prototyping environment, many Live features have been sketched in Max before being developed into Live. I’ve gotten to look over the shoulder of Ableton developer Robert Henke (monolake) at some of his prototyping patches. Operator, for instance, lived as a subtractive/FM Max/MSP patch before being built into Live. That makes perfect sense: traditional development is slow and inflexible. By sketching in a visual patching environment like Max first, you can freely experiment with features, design, and interface.

So, wouldn’t it be great if Ableton and Cycling ’74 could cooperate more formally, having been friendly with one another in the past? Absolutely. And, while that moment is not now, I look forward to getting information on … um … whatever they’re doing … whenever they do it. (For some reason, I have an image of a deep, basement laboratory in Berlin, filled with 40″ plasma screens covered in inscrutable Max patches, clouds of granular drones echoing through the room, steaming beakers full of bubbling red liquids, and Robert Henke, David Zicarelli, and Gerhard Behles in lab coats laughing maniacally. Careful with the particle accelerator, please, Robert.)

I’ve confirmed with Ableton what this announcement is not (before they get flooded with questions):

  1. It’s not a product announcement (yet). There’s no announcement of a product or a timeframe. Yes, there is something coming — but there aren’t any imminent details. (Hey, this stuff takes time to develop.)
  2. It’s not a merger or acquisition. There will be no Ableton ’74 or Cyclington. Or Ablax/MiveSP/Jitterton. No one is buying anyone. Cycling ’74 and Ableton are not becoming “A Division of Avid.”
  3. Live was never “developed in Max/MSP.” Live was (and is) often prototyped in Max. You can also prototype applications in PowerPoint or Flash. Developing an application is a different matter altogether. Starting with Live 1.0, Live became a separate, compiled application. But as for other cooperation, we’ll just have to wait.

Also, as a Max/MSP nerd, I have to point out that the way they’ve patched Ableton and Cycling ’74 together in the graphic is likely to cause stack overflows as it’s a loop. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

More details on the deal:
Cycling ‘74 Founder Talks Ableton Collaboration, Max 5