This was one of our tech guy Steve’s first interactive projects using Ableton as the sequencing package to his own hand made bespoke midi interface. Check this film to see it in action and find out more about The Abletonator.

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The following article is used courtesy of a Creative Digital Music post from March 2008.

“It’s big. It’s beautiful. It’s … not at all practical as a mobile controller. It’s the Abletonator: Ableton Live on a PC with custom controller and casing, transformed into an arcade game cabinet form-factor. Why? Because. So, if you liked the Ambassador Live controller with arcade buttons, but wanted a full cabinet so it’s impossible to lift, you’ll love this.

The creator is Jr Savage, who evidently created this in 2006. Install MAME on this, and you’ve got an all-Live, all-vintage-gaming dream machine. Specs:

  • Custom-built plywood cabinet
  • PC running Windows XP, Ableton Live 6 (hmmm… may want to upgrade the cabinet), with a 8×8 audio card
  • 19″ LCD monitor
  • Custom control surface: 8 channels, joystick navigation (of course!), touchpad and mouse
  • 2-octave keyboard

“Coin-op electro shock.” I love it.”

New Features

Steve our technical genius has been busy programming new features to our bespoke software using Max For Live. Check out this screen shot showing some swanky new additions to The Drum Machine interface.

As is if the additions of ‘Thump-Kick’ and ‘Ringy-Snare’ weren’t enough, there are even more things that you can now do;

– The drum hits can now play at the same time on each station (was either/or on the last version)

– The midi clips are ‘observed’ so when new hits are made this shows instantly in the sequencer (before you would have to wait till the step came round)

– You can select a different midi clip (limited this to 4 clips)

– You can change the length of a clip (limited to 4 beats, 8beats, 16 beats ,32 beats)

– You can select between different sounds (limited to 4 sets)

– Now can see the name of the selected drum sounds

– The knobs are now linked to different parameters in each sound set, which update once a new sound is selected

– Knobs also display the name of the parameter its controlling

– The levers act as overall FX (they don’t change with different sounds selected)

We can’t wait to test these new features out. Watch this space!


Top down diagram of The Drum Machine.

The Drum Machine Diagrammatic

The Drum Machine is a six-station hexagonal music controller.  4 stations contain two drum pads with two different sounds and a choice of two different sound sets, giving an overall choice of four sounds per station.  The other two stations contain two different keyboard synthesizers with different sounds, one is an arpeggiator and the other is a freestyle keyboard.  The machine quantizes everything that is played (puts it in time to 1/16ths) when rec loop is chosen, or it can be played completely freestyle also. 

There are then a choice of different knobs and levers on each station that control different effects to each sound, changing the overall sound of the music played back constantly.  The user can then clear their recordings or the machine itself clears each station after a certain length of time, meaning that the music is constantly changing and evolving.  The human controllers in the booth add to the overall sound by dropping in and out different basslines and kick drum loops as rewards and also the “voice” of the machine, which encourages the users and further enhances the overall effect, whilst also adding a little offbeat humour as well. The booth operators also control the myriad of different visuals that combine effected images of the users, our own unique style of visuals, plus running messages which both encourage and amuse the users and tie in the music, visuals and voice of the machine to cap off the overall user experience.

Anyone can play the machine, from those with absolutely no musical knowledge at all through to keyboard or drumming geniuses and get just as much from it.