Note is a sketchbook groovebox app from the Ableton Live creators for iOS

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With Note, Ableton is showing a fascinating sketchbook app for iOS for capturing ideas without having Ableton Live close at hand.

Mobile music-making has been a fascinating topic for many years. Smartphones and tablets now have performance capacities that can easily keep up with current notebooks. So it’s no wonder that many people want big DAWs like Logic Pro or Ableton Live to make the leap to tablets.

So far, no major DAW has done this. Not even Apple, which owns the iOS operating system, which is best suited for music-making applications. With Cubasis, however, Steinberg offers Cubase for iOS in a slimmed-down version, i.e. not a 1-to-1 port. The same applies to Ableton Live. There is no port, however, they now have released their first iOS companion app.

Ableton Note

Ableton Note

With Note, the developers of the Ableton Live DAW are venturing into the iOS market for the first time with their own app. This is not new territory for the Berlin team. They already developed Ableton Link an interface protocol with which you can easily synchronize apps with the DAW.

Note is an easy-to-use groovebox intended to serve as a mobile sketchbook for the Ableton Live DAW. The concept of the app is based on the creation of patterns, i.e. loops on the go that can be edited constantly. You don’t even have to press record. Reminds me of the capture feature built into Ableton Live that records your ideas in the background. There are three modes available allowing you to start from scratch, create additional clips, and overdub notes. A mode for every situation you are in.

Sound Engine

The core consists of a 25-pad melody grid and piano roll allowing you to play melodies and program beats using the 16-pad percussion grid. Built-in is an easy-to-use engine consisting of synthesizers, drum machines, and sampling capabilities. It comes with a collection of presets, samples, and kits to play with.

The sampling option in the percussion and melodic sampler is one of the highlights, making it dead easy to create your own sounds and kits. Use your phone’s microphone, filter, repitch, or add audio effects to transform your sampled sounds. Tip: if you need higher-quality audio for your iPhone/iPad, you can simply connect a professional USB microphone to it.

Additionally, Ableton Note has built-in effects to shape your sounds further. You can add up to two effects on the melodic sampler or synth instruments while the drum kits have slots for a send and insert effect. You can work with chorus-ensemble, delay, phaser-flanger, redux, reverb, saturator, and channel EQ.

Ableton Note

Creative Loop Mangling

Note is all about creating fast loops that remain fully customizable after recording. So you can quickly create variations by copying your loop and make small changes to each version. Note also has many smaller creative additions that make it possible to go deep. For example, you can work with note repeat or animate your sounds by automating instrument and effects parameters. Simply tweak a parameter and press “add” to capture your movements.

Another clever feature is that Note gives musicians absolute freedom in the tempo at which they jam into it. The app automatically restores what you played and a create loop. If a mistake has happened, you can easily fix it, even in an existing loop.

And like in Ableton Live, you get a session view where you can combine, duplicate, and arrange ideas. You can use eight tracks with up to eight clips each, on eight scenes. Then export your audio to share with friends or collaborators.

Ableton Cloud And Collaboration

Yes collaboration. That’s where Ableton wants to go. You can send your entire note set to Live using Ableton Cloud. Here you can open your project in Live’s browser and pick up where you left off with all your sounds, samples, and effects in place.

Once opened in Live, the DAW creates a new session and packs the sounds into distinctive Ableton devices allowing you to continue working on it. Ah yes, there was something else with Collorabtion. Since Ableton focuses on the Cloud, I assume that we will soon be able to collaborate in real-time with other musicians.

Familiar Concept?!

The concept of Ableton Note sounds extremely familiar to me. More precisely from Tim Exile’s innovative online groovebox app and plugin Endlesss where you collaborate with other musicians from all over the world.

Both apps are very similar and go in the same “idea capturing” direction. The advantage of Endlesss is that it is free and can be used to its full extent for all matter what DAW you use. Ableton Note is designed for Ableton Live and is thus limited in its capabilities if you are not an active Live user.

I’m excited to see where Ableton will take the app next. Whether it will be extended to online collaboration like Endlesss and whether it will be expanded by the engine. Let’s see.

Ableton Note is available now for $5,99 USD on the Apple AppStore and runs on iPad and iPhone. There is currently no Android app

More information here: Ableton 

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