One of Ableton Live’s strongest features is Max4Live.
Max4Live is an ecosystem within Ableton itself that allows creators to build and design their own effects and instruments to use in their projects. Better yet, they can also share these tools with the greater production community.
This results in some of the most useful, interesting, and downright inspiring production tools on the market (more often than not, completely free of charge).
Aera is a German DJ, producer, and Applied Magic label head, whose latest album wouldn’t be near as prolific if it wasn’t for Max4Live’s functionality. So to celebrate this, we decided to bring him on to break down his favorite Max4Live plugins that every Ableton user should have in their arsenal.
Stream Aera’s ‘Versions’ Below
This ten-track LP runs the gamut of left-field electronica, trip-hop, and more. While the genres themselves aren’t important, the texture and composition certainly are and are the reason why this album shines.
Each track offers a different perspective on the producer’s mastery over music while still managing to seamlessly meld into each other in a way that only true self-expression can manage.
“For this project Aera follows in the footsteps of his 90s heroes, channelling the likes of “Endtroducing” by DJ Shadow and “Mezzanine” era Massive Attack. By getting cozy and slow, he is leaving the dancefloors of this world behind for a moment.” -Aera
So before we get into Aera’s favorite Max4Live plugins, hit the play button on his latest album and hear these plugins in action as you read why he loves them so much.
First we have a rather simple device with a big impact. Fold allows you to shrink your MIDI keyboard to any custom palette of notes while skipping the unwanted notes.
It’s my favorite scaler device, as it does not leave any duplicate notes on the keyboard. As I play a lot of my melodies and chord progressions by hand, this opens up new ways of playing and finding melodies and made me think differently about the 12 keys we are all so familiar with.
Another scaler device, this one helps to keep melodies and chord progressions on track over several different channels, without the need to change or rewrite single midi notes.
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It has one “sender” device that you feed the note information, which forces the “receiver” devices to only let these notes pass through. This lets you try out different scales and transpositions within a song easily.
An unassuming-looking device made by Ableton founder Robert Henke. It basically lets you change the properties of every n-th note by certain amounts. For example, every 3rd incoming note could be transposed by 7 semitones.
Feed it a simple 4 note melody, and you have a more complex melody. In fact, you now have a melody made of 3×4=12 notes. I love devices that with simple ideas can create complex results, and this is one of them.
One of my (not so) secret weapons!
Hocketing is a super interesting concept originating from the 13th century, where a single melody is split into its single notes which are being played by different instruments.
This device lets you do this very easily.
I love to set up a simple arpeggio, where each note is played by one of 3 external synths, which all have a similar sound dialed in. Now when I start changing the timbre of every single synthesizer, I can get really lively and interesting modulations going.
A little bit of a curve ball, this is a Midi delay device on steroids made by certified Ableton trainer Noah Pred.
It took me a while to wrap my head around it, but once I did, it created some fascinating and highly usable results that I probably could not get from any other device.
I love devices like this to kickstart an idea. I could try to explain exactly how it works, but why don’t you just head over to Noah’s page and try it out – he has some other super cool devices as well!