Deals and offers are all over the place, but what will actually help you get over creative block and make something? These free Ableton Live add-ons and an invaluable book make a great place to start.

Making Music: Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers is a written book – not a YouTube channel, not a device. But it was one of the more ambitious and influential music tech projects of recent years. It’s the work of Dennis DeSantis, who has a deep background in concert music. The book takes on how to start, strategies for creating new and varied ideas, ways of solving problems, and how to finish – all with a mixture of music theory and software practice. And maybe that’s the best way to describe the state of music making now anyway – theory and (electronic) tools are blurred. The Ableton touch is there, but it’s applicable to other tools, as well.

You’ll find it on a new page Ableton have compiled, free for download in, and .epub format.

Ideas and Offers for Making Music at Home

Don’t forget that Ableton Live itself is available now in the full Suite edition for a 90-day unlimited trial.

And speaking of that, this exceptional collection of Max for Live devices is also now available, a collaboration between Ableton and the wonderful Sonic Bloom and Max for Cats. They had me at the name:

Stray Cats Collection

But this is some next-level goodness here:

MSE synth, looking very classic synth - Oberheim-ish.
MSE synth, looking very classic synth – Oberheim-ish.

A vintage-tinged, Oberheim Four Voice-influenced MSE synthesizer.

SEQ8 step sequencer (more traditional analog design).

ConChord – nice cure for the common step sequencer.

ConChord, a “pulse-based chord step sequencer” – so you can sequence full chords as well as steps, and look at those steps in terms of pulses, for more open-ended patterns.

Stochastic Delay, which eschews the usual repetitive quality of delays with variable unpredictability.

Weird reverb algorithm, made usable.

Verbotron – an elegant little reverb, drawing on an algorithm from Finland’s Juhana Sadeharju. (You’ll find other iterations of the underlying algorithm in the open source world – as GVerb. But think of this as a nerdy, unique esoteric reverb to get you out of the everything-sounds-the-same world of effects.)


Color is a “sound texture” device – so it’s a bunch of different retro sound models, mimicking the grit of vinyl, tape wow and flutter, drive, and EQ. Putting them all together gives you a nice console to shape your sound without overwhelming with controls or getting lost in a bunch of plug-ins. That last bit, I heard about a friend of a friend who made that mistake. Not me. I’m a professional. I would never get distracted by endlessly tweaking a bunch of plug-ins and then toggling them on and off over and over again. I mean, I just never get distracted in general. You’ll see that not happening right now. Wait, where was I?

SkramDelay is actually kind of the odd effect out here, in a good way – modulated dual-channel delay with more randomness.

Check them out, free:

And that seems like a nice, healthy diet balancing some bread-and-butter features with pretty esoteric and experimental stuff, in such a way that you could easily apply anything in between. If that’s not what Ableton has always been about, I don’t know what is.

Speaking of which, bonus – only because Robert Henke was sharing this on his social media this week – watch the Ableton co-founder product some synthetic sounds using Live as instrument. One of the first videos Ableton ever uploaded to the then-new YouTube service (CDM was in its second year):

Despite the grainy video, this is actually just as relevant an approach to sound design and routing in Live in 2020 as it was in 2006.

Don’t forget that for more inspiration, you can check out some of the guides I’ve done recently for Riemann Kollektion:

Max for Live: the techno producers’ guide

Tutorial: Unlock hidden sound tricks in Ableton Live 10’s effects

And you don’t want to miss Sonic Bloom for more resources and patches and more – source of this collection above:

Sonic Bloom: All Things Ableton Live, Push & Max for Live