Lets Dance!

| May 8, 2011

Oh. My. Goodness. So, I love electronic music, I really do. I write a fair amount of pop music on my own think that programs like Reason (I’ll talk more about that one), and Garageband are excellent tools for teaching kids music; particularly since a lot of what we hear has some basis in these programs. This week, I’ve gotten a chance to experiment with another program that kids, at least on the middle or high school level, should get their hands on: Ableton Live.  When you look at Ableton, you think that is similar to something similar to garageband. You can record midi instruments (that are really hot, by the way), make loops and grooves, jam to beats, and put together a pretty hot sounding pop thing.  Ableton, though takes it to the next level. Turns out that “Live” part in the name is super important. Ultimately, you can program a whole bunch of loops and sounds into various buttons on mixing board and, in real time, create a re-mix. Its taking the idiom of electronic music and makes it live.

In my first dabbles with Ableton, I felt like a middle schooler who is new to jazz improvising. I found myself wondering “is this right? does this sound good? Oh my God, this doesn’t sound perfect.” In my first take, I spent 10 minutes just experimenting and then began “cleaning up” the track by cutting sections out and placing things so that they’d sound just right. It occurred to me that I was obscuring that purpose of the program! There I was trying to fix up what I had done Live when it is the very essence of the the live sound that makes what I did interesting.  I wish I could say that in the end I left it all alone, and did no editing after I programed my instruments, but alas, I did do a bit of cut and pasting to make my piece sound…well…good?

At the end of the day, this program is a great reminded to me that when we teach our students, we have remind them that there is no such thing as “right” and “wrong” when it comes to creativity. Sure, there are rules to different styles of music, but at the end of the day, we cannot be so critical of ourselves that we stand in the way of true artistic expression. We must encourage our students to continue on, even when what is produced isn’t what is considered conventional.  Even in the short period of time I’ve been exposed to Ableton Live, I felt that I’ve achieved a greater degree of mastery from the program…I’ve attached my first attempts at a song! Enjoy!

LetsDance 1