Hit your own upgrade button with Ableton Live: costs nothing, keeps on giving. Photo (CC-BY) Andrea Mitrani.

Get a whole new Live, for free. Smart users can make it happen.

Sure, just a mere mention of Ableton can bring out angry hordes of Live users waiting for whatever they imagine they want out of Live 9. We can’t comment on Ableton’s internal development process. So, why not instead make Ableton new for yourself – no need to pay for anything, all with free downloads, free tips, and more musical power? (Hint: I do expect an upgrade from Ableton – I, uh, don’t think they’ve abandoned their development efforts – but when you can upgrade your own music making, it’s even better.)

Our friend AfroDJMac, NYC-based producer and musician, has been producing amazing Live Packs over the past year. (In fact, while I expect I frightened away any non-Live-users with this headline, the audio is perfectly usable in any software you like.) Setting himself the ambitious goal of producing one Live pack every single week, he’s done the unthinkable. One year later, he has 52 Live Packs, all free giveaways on his site, all wonderful and unique. Everything conceivable and inconceivable is there: Commodore 64 drums, a Casio MT-68, Justin Bieber (third-ever mention of Justin on this site), water bottles turned into synths, Christmas Trees, Game Boys, glitches and resampling and bizarre sounds, Melodicas and Fenders, the works.

Grab #52 – built with the Korg iMS-20 app for the iPad as a starting point – then lose hours perusing all the other entries.


(I read that initially as SAT word “abscond,” as in “I absconded with your MS-20; I’m very sorry.” If someone can make that pack, let me know.)

So, when you’ve pulled off those 52 packs, how do you one-up yourself? How about by starting all over again with a weekly series – this time, with two-minute video tips. (Seriously, man, can you let us know what you’re having for breakfast?) Episode #1: having learned the lesson the hard way, our hero AfroDJMac remaps the “stop” button on his APC to avoid utterly destroying a live set. (Doh!) Video:


Still hungry for more? We turn, then, to another friend, Austin, Texas-based Francis Prève. When we last joined Fran (who I hear turned 23 yesterday, making him one year older than me), we got to download via Vulcan Mind Meld and the Internet a wealth of tips, sounds, and Live Packs:

A World of Sounds: Academik’s Francis Preve Shares Label’s Music, Studio Advice, Samples for Live

Well, Fran didn’t stop there. His latest addition is a really cool patch, not so much because it manages to steal a sound design trick from Sweden’s OP-1 synth and Sweden’s Swedish House Mafia (though that is nice), as much as because the resulting use of Racks to morph from kicks to leads could help you find all sorts of new instrumental effects. Go. Download. Enjoy:

Free Ableton Instrument: One Trick Pwnage [Francis Prève blóg]

I do look forward to what’s coming in software upgrades – but I can’t wait to upgrade my own music-making first. Go forth. May your set not coming to a screeching halt as you play, may the white noise generator always be at your back.