Ms. Pinky Revised from Mastah Lee on Vimeo.

What should DJing in Ableton Live look like? How could conventional vinyl cueing and scratching be integrated with the Live environment? Serato and Ableton gave us one possible answer to that question last week with The Bridge. Their solution: use your Serato DJ set normally, and simply sync the transport of Ableton Live when the two run simultaneously.

That solution could be ideal for some users, but it falls short of what many expected, which was the ability to scratch audio elements from Live as though they were on vinyl. Scratching Live clips would seem to be the best of both worlds: you get all the live sequencing features of Live, but you can still manipulate sound as you would on a turntable.

Enter Ms. Pinky. The vinyl control system has long been a highly-precise, solid-performing alternative to better-known names. Its ace in the hole has long been open control from your own custom patches, via an external object for the graphical programming language Max/MSP. The results have ranged from custom visual performance to a vibrating chaise lounge controlled by a turntable. With Max patches now able to interact more deeply with Live through Max for Live, that opens up the chance to build your own DJ-Ableton integration.

Ms. Pinky and Max for Live user Lee Goodrich has just done that. We saw an early version of the patch last month, but a new version irons vastly expands on the integration with Live, making this a truly complete solution for digital DJing.
Post on the patch with download
Information on the update

Some of the tasty features you get:

  • Set Ms. Pinky to any track and use clips in that track
  • Trigger a clip as you would normally, and it cues right into Ms. Pinky for scratching (see Lee in comments for more, but do note that the catch is that Ms Pinky actually loads the original file, because clips in Live don’t yet provide access to their playhead)
  • Trigger different sequences of audio clips using a pattern contained in a MIDI clip (essentially automated cueing)
  • Record clips using Live’s recording facility
  • Scratch away with control vinyl

In relative mode, you can proceed directly to the beginning of the next clip without back-cueing.

The net result of all of this: Ms. Pinky acts like a scratch-anything device you can drop right into your existing Live set. With clever use of sampling and re-sampling, that opens up integration with any synths or external audio sources, not just audio clips.

Ironically, this is much closer to what I had predicted the Serato – Ableton collaboration would resemble.

Lee shares some comments about his experience:

I understand the concern people have about the one big caveat of Max For Live programming (You gotta pay to play, and no free runtime limits potential casual users), but honestly I think Max for Live is a slick enough product to overcome this. Making Max For Live patches has been the most fun programming I’ve ever had, and it is amazing how much you can do and how easy it is to do it. If other programmers are having as much fun as I am, then the bevy of awesome patches that come out of this product will end up being worth paying $300 at the door.

Perhaps the only other thing I’d like to say is that I’m not actually affiliated with Ms. Pinky at all, just another customer who wanted some functionality and due to the versatility of the software was able to extend it. So big thanks to Down Low Pinkstah and whoever else has worked on Ms. Pinky to make it so easily extensible.

Thanks, Lee! It’ll be interesting to see where else this may lead.

If you start using this in your sets, let us know – and get some photos / videos / mixes / whatever.

Oh, yeah, and I want to see a vibrating chaise lounge interface inside Ableton, too.

Another essential feature of Ms. Pinky: it’s just extra awesome having pink control vinyl. Photo (CC-BY-SA) ghostdad.