During day two of the Ableton Spaces workshops at Together 5, prolific producer Jerome LOL stopped by our District Hall headquarters to discuss and demonstrate the Ableton Push with some assistance from Ableton instructor Loudon Stearns.
The Push is a new breed of controller from Ableton that allows for a visual creative process based on patterns and shapes, which Stearns cited as creating a more familiar environment for a bass player such as himself. The Push operates on a unique principal of built-in scales, creating something of an even playing field for musicians – “more democratic.”
“When you show someone a guitar or piano, it is so much more difficult to pick up. While the push requires practice, it engages the imagination more and frees the mind from worrying about whether a note is out of key or not.” – Jerome LOL
Stearns is a Berklee professor and self-professed “harmony geek.” He appreciates the Push for different reasons that Jerome, viewing it as a valuable teaching tool that offers immediate gratification while still teaching the user about traditional harmony.
The Push, Stearns explained, is a flexible tool which changes what its knobs, buttons and faders do based on the context in which a musician uses it. It’s also a highly sensitive piece of equipment that can be used even for performances and compositions that require extreme dexterity and speed, recreating everything from tablas to speed-metal guitar riffs.
Jerome asserted that both Push and Ableton Live are amazing platforms for open experimentation, even in realms beyond what its creators envisioned. Among the features and plugins he cited as favorites were the Fade to Grey ping-pong delay with high-pass filter, the looper, the chain selector and the unique instrument racks.
Stearns stated that he believes DJs using tools like Push and Ableton often make better music than a traditionally trained and educated musician like himself. Traditional music, he said, tends to focus on the communication between the artists on stage. DJs, on the other hand, are much more in tune with communicating with the audience.
“With the Push you’re producing a beat on the fly as fast as you can in front of the audience and sometimes it sucks. But that is a part of the excitement of the Push.”