The response to the breaking Live 9.1 news this week was fast and furious; we were honestly surprised at the vast readership of the story. A lot of you must have multiple displays or virtual desktops you want to use (or, now, even a Push).

But sometimes the best upgrade is the one you can install in your brain. Improve your technique, and an array of musical possibilities open up.

Take this terrific tutorial from DJ Vespers as an example, which involves varying very small sample slices in Ableton’s Sampler to create unique pads. It works especially nicely with Sampler’s parameters and a Rack, but if you have other samplers you like to use, something similar would work in those, too. The tutorial cautions that this isn’t true granular synthesis, but defined broadly, I’d say it is — very restricted synchronous granular synthesis. (Actually, this could be an interesting question, so greetings, Smarter Readers, discuss!) Most importantly, the sonic results are fascinating and versatile.

In this Ableton Live synthesis tutorial, Myagi shows off how to get under the hood in Sampler and make it do some tricks that are anything but obvious. Looking at repurposing the Aux Envelope, he shows how you can control sample position using a Macro Knob and make Sampler behave akin to a granular synth. The sky is the limit with this one. As an added bonus, we provide the synth preset, Instrument Rack, and Audio Effects Rack as a free Ableton Live Pack download.

There’s a download along with the video (email required).

At the bottom of this post, Vespers has a tutorial on Robert Henke’s Granulator, too. (You could use similar Max for Live, Max, Pd, and Reaktor patches, along with other granular tools.)

By the way, if you’re in Berlin, you can see me messing around with sound design and Live and Maschine in a studio session. I’ll try to post some version of that soon, perhaps with (cough) more preparation. And I’ll be talking to the lovely duo Blue Hawaii; we’ll have video and more of their music soon. From 16h in Mitte – Facebook event – or just stay tuned worldwide on CDM in the next couple of weeks.