mutateful brings live coding – real-time musical pattern manipulation, expressed as code – to Ableton Live. And it looks like a must-have for arrangement and composition, too.
So yes, there are knobs and faders and pads and keys and wind inputs and whatnot for playing music live. And then there are the often clunky graphical interfaces found in music software. The core of live coding is all about finding that immediacy of compositional ideas – being able to get directly to patterns.
mutateful lets you do that by typing directly into the Session View of Ableton Live. That paradigm isn’t new to Live – the software already lets you enter tempo changes in scenes by including the number. mutateful just takes that idea way further out.
Type transformations into clips, and those clips then transform patterns inside the clips. You can add simple transformations, or chain a bunch together.
Some of the tasks those transformations can accomplish:
- Combine clips (in various ways)
- Change length (via cropping or setting to certain lengths)
- Filter out notes by length
- Remove silences
- Remove overlaps, making polyphonic clips monophonic
- Create stuttering retriggers
- Rescale pitches
- Slice notes into divisions
And you can do all of this by clip, musical fractions (like 1/8 notes), and whole or decimal numbers.
Watch just how cool this is:
It’s a pretty radical addition to Live, and arguably more radical than anything we’ve seen officially from Ableton Live in the software itself for years. But it’s still fairly simple.
I almost hesitate to categorize this as live coding, because it looks really useful in arrangement relative to the GUI, and you might not use it as a livecoder would onstage. (I do expect this means people will invade live coding events running this, though.)
Documentation is limited to a quick reference, but it’s fairly easy to follow and more is coming.
How it works: it’s actually a native app, made for macOS and Windows, which then communicates with the Live API via Max for Live and UDP. That means the usual qualification is involved – you’ll need the latest version of Ableton Live and a license for Max for Live (either separately or as part of Live Suite). That could open up this idea to other software with APIs / scripting interfaces of their own.
You can grab it from GitHub and check out more examples: