So often we have DJs coming into our showrooms asking for ways that they can take their DJ sets to new heights, whether this is producing their own original music to play out, or adding production gear to their DJ setup to open up new ways of performing. Including production hardware in a DJ set up is becoming more and more popular – now more often than ever you’ll see one of your favourite DJs on lineup posters with ‘live set’ next to their name! One of the best bits of kit for DJs to add to their arsenal is Ableton Push 2. It’s an easy-to-use, versatile instrument that is great in the studio, onstage, and in the DJ booth. Here’s 5 things a DJ can do with a Push 2:
1. Sync Live 10 To Your Current DJ Set Up Using Ableton Link
Pairing DJ gear with production gear can unlock new creative potential in your performances. This can be made incredibly simple by using Ableton Link, a software that keeps everything beat-synced. Serato and Traktor users, good news: these two popular DJ softwares are Ableton Link-enabled! This means that you can beat-sync your Live project with your DJ session. Pairing Serato/Traktor gear with a Push opens the door for doing seamless DJ/live hybrid sets without the stress of going out of time. Ableton Link works by sending BPM info through to your DJ software. If you want to connect multiple devices just ensure you are connected to a wireless network or set up a secure network that only you and your fellow musicians can connect to. Don’t use Serato or Traktor? Certain units on the market have other means of beat syncing with Live. For instance Pioneer’s new mixer, DJM-V10 has MIDI Out which you can use to sync to Ableton.
2. Trigger Samples/Loops During Your DJ Set For Live Remixing
DJs are always looking for ways to bring something unique to their sets. One great way to do this is by using the Push’s pad bank to trigger samples, loops and one-shots. You could use stems/samples from your own tunes, your favourite drum kit, or chopped up parts from tracks in your set, e.g. vocal hooks, so you can do hands-on remixing on the fly. If you don’t use Serato/Traktor (which are Ableton Link-enabled) you can manually beat match the BPM to the song you’re playing without having to use your laptop – just using the Push’s Tempo encoder. Using turntables and don’t have the BPM info to hand? Push even has a Tap BPM button, just like the ones found on DJM mixers. Simply tap in time to the tune you’re playing and the Push will identify and match the tempo.
3. Perform A Live Set
After experimenting with DJ/live hybrid sets you may be tempted to delve into the world of fully live electronic sets. A live set gives you the ultimate control over every part of the music, and provides a chance to showcase your original material once you have become more confident using the Push and have accumulated lots of ideas that needs putting to good use!
Push 2, which has the greatest Ableton Live integration of any trigger pad on the market, is a popular choice for live performances. It works brilliantly as the hub of your rig, with its flexible layout lending itself to a whole load of functions, from the 64 velocity-sensitive pad bank for finger drumming and jamming out melodies/basslines, to the step sequencer for punching beats in and building them up on the fly, to Session View that allows you to trigger Scenes and Clips in a hands-on manner. You can control your set in a micro sense (playing melodies/triggering vocal samples/playing with FX) and a macro sense (triggering entire sections of music, keeping an eye on the organisation and flow of the set).
Want to use live FX during a performance to reinvent your own material, but have no time to go through and map every single parameter? No worries – Push has already done the job for you. Whatever parameter you choose, the Push will display the relevant info automatically, so you don’t have to do a load of complicated mapping pre-set, giving you more time to focus on the fun creative stuff.
It is also easy to incorporate other instruments (synthesisers, keyboards, drum machines etc.) and control them from the Push by adding them as external instruments within your Live project.
4. Remix/Edit/Transform Your Favourite Tracks
We’ve touched on how you can use samples in a live setting, but there’s loads of amazing ways you can use sampling in the studio, whether that’s doing an edit of a disco track so it’s on the grid and easier to mix, or reinventing fragments of your favourite tunes to make something completely new and fresh!
You can use Push and Simpler, one of Ableton’s samplers, to get new joy out of your favourite tunes. Simpler is very easy to operate on Push – you simply drag in an audio file of your choice, then use the pad bank to trigger. You can amend sample start and end time using the Push encoders – no need to break away and use your computer. Use different modes to achieve different ends – e.g. if you like the drum sounds in a certain break but want to use them to create your own rhythms, use Slicer (it will separate the beat into its individual sounds e.g. kick, snare, hats so you can play or sequence in beats) or, if you dig the riff or vocals in a sample and want to use it to create a melodic fill, use Classic or One-Shot mode.
You can do this with songs from your digital collection – or, if you have some great tunes on vinyl that are sitting about, get creative with your own record collection! Simply set a channels input type to Ext In, select the input your device is connected to (select Auto from the Monitoring menu to hear playback whilst recording) then record from your turntable into the Push (via an audio interface) then press the Clip button to view the sample waveform. You can then use Simpler and the Push’s pad bank to flip that sample on its head!
5. Produce Music From Scratch
The tactile playability of the Push translates brilliantly to creating your own original music. Your studio sessions will become fun and effortless and your tracks, created hands-on, will have an organic, natural feel. Once you know your way round the Push you’ll be amazed at how easy it becomes to get full tracks down out super fast. Use the pad bank to jam out melodies, with the option to lock into a key of your choice, so you can’t hit a wrong note (find this option in the Note menu on the Push). You can also use the sequencer if you’re more confident drawing melodies and basslines in than playing them. You can easily browse presets and sounds using the Push’s detailed screen menu.
Jamming in effects is simple and requires no complicated pre-mapping – Push will display the relevant parameters for any given effect automatically, so you can simply select an effect and use the knobs to mess around. Easily organise your tune by using the Session View screen, whereby you can easily view, edit and trigger your clips and scenes. Once you understand the workflow it becomes incredibly easy to build a track up from scratch, switching between channel to channel without losing time menu-diving so your creative output can be constant. Get a Push and make 2020 the year your music output skyrockets!
Push really does have such a vast amount of functions that once you own one, it becomes an indispensable part of your rig, whether you’re adding it to your DJ setup or using it to make your own music. Push comes bundled with Intro, a lite version of Live 10. You can also buy it bundled with upgrades to Standard (mid-range version, much more extensive feature set than Intro but more limited than Suite) and Suite (fully-fledged version, maximum amount of plug-ins, synths and other features). Check out our listings below for more info…
1. Ableton Push 2 + Live 10 Intro
2. Ableton Push 2 + Live 10 Standard
3. Ableton Push 2 + Live 10 Suite