Gatherings Graphic

The Gatherings Concert Series

presents a

Loop Based Composition Workshop

with Ben Camp's Overview of Ableton Live

Sunday 4 December 2005 7:00pm

St. Mary's Hamilton Village
Philadelphia, PA

Ben Camp to Lead Ableton Live Workshop at The Gatherings

Ben Camp On Sunday 4 December 2005 at 7:00pm The Gatherings Concert Series will present a workshop on Loop Based Composition at St. Mary's Hamilton Village. This workshop will focus on the popular software Ableton Live and is open to anyone interested in learning more about the concepts upon which this software is based. If you have ever listened to loop based music and become curious about how the software (in particularly Ableton Live) functions and is used in the creation process, or are interested in making your own loop based music, then this workshop is for you!

The Ableton Live Workshop at The Gatherings will be headed by University of the Arts instructor Ben Camp. Ben is an active DJ/Electronic Musician and has released over 30 singles to the dance music market on several highly respected independent labels, including his own label, Movim.

The primary educational goal of this workshop is to teach to the novice the creative operation of Ableton Live, a sequencer and looping program one can play like an instrument. Ableton Live provides all the primary features of an audio recording program and a MIDI sequencer, as well as some processing effects and virtual instruments. Due to its unique design, Live has the potential to become an instrument in itself. This workshop will cover the essentials a first-time user needs to know about setting up and operating the Ableton Live program. Concepts to be covered include: creation and manipulation of pattern elements, production of completed pieces, real time musical performance and ultimately, insight into how these components and concepts may be integrated with the aim of realizing musical productions.


Oroborus Looping Overview

The basic idea of a Loop is simply defined as, "a circuit where the output is connected back to the input".

The iconic representation of "looping" is the Ouroboros ("the tail-devourer") and is the symbolization of concepts such as completion, perfection and totality, the endless round of existence as well as eternity. It is usually represented as a worm or serpent with its tail in its mouth; which is a powerful symbol of infinity and also of universal nature, of completion, perfection and totality, the union of the chthonic with the celestial. Parallels abound - the figure-8 symbol of infinity (quite possibly derived from the uroboros), the Chinese yin-yang symbol, the Buddhist wheel of Life, etc.

Notes From

Sasha Ableton Live in Use:

Sasha is a well-known top-circuit DJ. Over the past few years he has taken to using Ableton Live in his DJ sets, making exclusive edits and remixes of tracks "on the fly" and mixing them with a PowerBook and custom MIDI controller. In 2004 he released a DJ mix CD called Involver which featured this new type of digital mixing and, over the summer, put out a similar CD entitled Fundacion.

Please see below for links providing more insight into Sasha, the technology used and the creative process:

  • Sasha is in Live Control with Ableton is an interview with Sasha covering the development of a prototype wave file controller (The Maven) and how, through its interface with Ableton Live, has lead to new music. This page also includes links to other significant resources.

  • Sasha A-Live provides an overview of Sasha as artist, with insight into the creative and philisophical aspaects of Remixing.

  • Fundacion by Sasha reviews the album with an emphasis on the use of Ableton Live and how this software is advancing the art and craft of music creation.

  • Sasha Pushes Boundaries On 'Involver' is a review of the album and credits Sasha with channeling his creative energy into producing not only one of 2004's most listenable albums, but also pioneering an entirely different way to create music.

Laptop Battle Laptop Battle: Electronic Music Culture

Over the past few years, the idea of the Laptop Battle was been born. These were around somewhat before Ableton Live came into wide use, but it has been Ableton that has really enabled these events to take off. A typical Laptop Battle involves various participants making music on the fly in front of an audience with the object to eventually select a winner. The first rounds of battles can limit participants to only two or three minutes of music time, which speaks to Ableton Live's flexibility and ease of use. In Philadelphia there have been three major laptop battles hosted by Seclusiasis Studios at Silk City. The fourth one is happens on Wednesday 30 November 2005. All Philly Laptop Battles have thus far been sponsored by Ableton Live.

Please see below for links providing more insight into Philadelphia's Laptop Battle scene:

  • Seclusiasis Studios is a Philadelphia based independent studio production facility, design house and promotion/marketing venture. Sponsored music events include The Philadelphia Laptop Battle at Silk City. For more on this event, access the Seclusiasis website and click on "News" or "Events".

  • Laptop Battle dot org offers insight into Electronic Music's new cultural phenomenon of fusing sound design, composition and stage performance in the form of a Laptop Battle.

  • Photo Essay by epmd is available for viewing and will provide more insight into the Laptop Battle as experienced at the Mid-Atlantic Laptop Battle of February 2005.

Notes by Scott Kelly

Workshop Outline:

Ableton Live The Loop Based Composition Workshop will provide basic insight into the creative tools and techniques required to compose, record, remix, improvise, produce and edit musical ideas, using Ableton Live audio and MIDI sequencing software, a sequencer played like a musical instrument. Unlike other sequencing software, Live allows the user to create sequences in real time, on stage, or while remixing in the studio. The workshop will explore Live's graphic interface, explain how to work within its various views to record and edit audio and MIDI data, and demonstrate the program's unique real-time recording and mixing capabilities. At workshop's end, the beginner will have learned the basics of compiling live sets from audio and MIDI clips, loops, or samples in real time. With further study and experience, the novice may then become proficient in producing musical works in a number of contemporary styles, including Drum and Bass, R&B, Breakbeat/Trance and House Music.

Recommended Workshop Resources:

(the following resource links, while not essential, could help provide background knowledge which would enable attendees to get more out of the Ableton Live workshop):

  • Ableton Website:

    Computer programs such as Ableton Live have made it possible for amateur musicians to compose, produce, mix, master and publish very high quality music on either standard audio CD or MP3 format with remarkably little expense. All that is necessary is a good PC or Mac computer, an inexpensive USB keyboard and the software. This program brings acoustic, electronic and virtual instruments, as well as digital audio recordings, together in a single easy to use interface. Conceptually, Live lets you drag audio loops - a drum or bass groove, for example - from a bin of audio files into one of a series of tracks. By dragging several of these loops into different tracks, a multipart arrangement is built. Loops are then adjusted so their tempos match, plus the tempo of an arrangement can be changed without also changing the pitch of the tracks within it. Live also allows for the triggering of individual tracks with the mouse or the Mac's keyboard, or via MIDI for live performance.

    Access the Ableton website for tutorials, videos and downloadable free version of Live.


  • Laptop Music For Beginners:

    Ableton Live is a hot program. Used by world-renowned musicians and DJ's, it has filled a gaping hole in the needs of electronic artists: the ability to loop samples and do it smartly and with style. Live does essentially one thing and does it astoundingly well, it allows the user to build and layer samples while keeping them synchronized and in time to the beat. These layers may be triggered via MIDI control or from the computer screen. It also has an arranger window for creating large-scale time-based progressions, allowing one to essentially compose a piece beforehand. The strengths of this program are proported to be less in the compositional realm than in the live realm of sample-based performance and triggered loops, hence its name.

    Laptop Music For Beginners - by Roddy Schrock


  • Ableton Live Tutorial:

    This user-friendly program was designed for live performances by musicians who wanted to use the recording studio like a musical instrument. As performers and recording engineers, they felt frustrated by the limitations of conventional audio programs, so they wrote their own.

    This tutorial covers the basics of Live for the home-studio and laptop musician. Those who already know the program may also pick up a few new tricks. If you do not already have Live, just download the demo version from Ableton's web site. The demo has all the features of the full product but without the ability to save work and export audio.

    Getting Started with Ableton Live - by Scott Tusa


  • Master Class: Going Live:

    Ableton Live is a multifaceted tool for looping, processing, and sequencing audio. It offers a deep feature set that's equally suited to real-time performance and desktop composition.

    To get the most from Live, one should develop a set of standard procedures, a hands-on familiarity with Live's user interface and a good grasp of how Live operates. Using Live is like learning to play an instrument, because, at heart, Live is just that. In this article, Live's capabilities and user interface are examined, and techniques are offered that will help the user take advantage of some of this program's less obvious features.

    Ableton Live Tutorial by Len Sasso


  • Ableton Live:

    Ableton Live is described by the manufacturer as a 'sequencing instrument' and is, according to the manual, "the result of musicians wanting a better way to perform live, improvisational music using a computer." In essence it's a software sequencer, designed to play back audio 'clips' - which may be short 'soundbites', whole mixed and mastered recordings, or anything in between - via an intuitive graphical front end allowing for a fair amount of improvised rearrangement. For musicians whose music is wholly electronic in nature, Live potentially offers a happy medium between, at one extreme, taking an entire studio's worth of MIDI gear out on the road and, at the other, standing motionless on stage with one finger poised meaningfully over the Pause button on a DAT recorder.

    Sound On Sound Magazine by Paul Sellars


  • Ableton Live:

    Before Live, every digital audio workstation was created to emulate the analog studio. Live is the first program that recognized recording is only one part of the creative evolution of a piece of music. Live is also the first program to utilize the fact that the computer can be present at every creative stage - from conception to production to performance.

    When it first debuted, Ableton Live offered a revolutionary new view on how to produce music. Since then, it has become integral to many top artists' creative processes. Now Ableton Live 5 turns up the volume even further, delivering the goods at all stages of the music making process - creation, production and performance.


  • Ableton Live:

    Live was originally sketched in Max/MSP. Upon deciding to take the software in a commercial direction, Ableton was founded in 1999 by Gerhard Behles and Robert Henke of Monolake and Bernd Roggendorf. Live was rewritten in C++ as a commercial piece of software, and the first version was released in 2001. As of October 2005, 5.0.2 is the current version. Ableton has also spawned a second product, Operator, which is used as an audio synthesis instrument inside of Live. Behles remains the chief executive of Ableton, while Henke remains in a role of technical leadership and focuses on Live's included effects and instruments. Ableton's office is located in central Berlin.

    Wikipedia - the Free Encyclopedia


  • Loop Music:

    In electronic music, a loop is a sample which is repeated. "Loops are short sections of tracks (probably between one and four bars in length), which you believe might work being repeated." A loop is not "any sample, but...specifically a small section of sound that's repeated continously." Contrast with a one-shot sample. "A loop is a sample of a performance that has been edited to repeat seemlessly when the audio file is played end to end."

    Wikipedia - the Free Encyclopedia


  • Beatmaking Incorporated: Home Studio Production:

    This 10 week course, held at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, provides everything needed to get started producing your own beats using the latest all-in-one software studio, Reason 3.0. Hip hop, house, techno, drum and bass, and more. Course covers sampling, original production and how to get that perfect groove going. Learn to mold, mend and shape your own speakerblowing beats in the comfort of your home. Instructed by Ben Camp, the only prerequisite for this course is a moderate familiarity with computers.

    The Beat Goes On


  • Producing Music with Ableton Live:

    Berkleemusic's online course examines a wide variety of musical uses for Ableton Live, from expressive sound design using audio and MIDI clip manipulation, to innovative signal processing with Live's unique built-in effects. It also covers real-time control for laptop performance. The course includes a series of topics focusing on specific programming techniques, and also examines creative methods to arrange and produce entire song productions.



The Gatherings Concert Series hosts the Loop Based Music Workshop with Ben Camp on Sunday 4 December 2005 at 7:00pm (doors open at 6:30pm) in the parish hall of St. Mary's Hamilton Village 3916 Locust Walk (just east of 40th & Locust) on the Penn campus in West Philadelphia. Requested Donation: $5 - $10 at the door. All ages welcome. No previous knowledge of music or technology needed.

For more about Ben Camp, please access the:

The Gatherings Concert Series is presented by the all-volunteer staff of The Corporation for Innovative Music and Arts of Pennsylvania