Ableton has an interesting teaser up on its website today:

A new strategic partnership between Ableton and Cycling ’74 promises exciting developments on the horizon for digital media creators, producers, and performers. Ableton CEO and cofounder Gerhard Behles and Cycling ’74 CEO David Zicarelli are pleased to announce this unique alliance between the two dynamic and innovative audio/video software companies.

Cycling ’74 and Ableton to Codevelop New Products

The announcement for now is mostly like a mutual love letter between the two developers. But maybe that’s appropriate: Live wouldn’t be Live without Max/MSP’s long history of real-time, computer-based performance. Many Live users are also Max users, combining Live’s pre-built live performance capabilities with Max’s modularity. And because Max/MSP is built as a prototyping environment, many Live features have been sketched in Max before being developed into Live. I’ve gotten to look over the shoulder of Ableton developer Robert Henke (monolake) at some of his prototyping patches. Operator, for instance, lived as a subtractive/FM Max/MSP patch before being built into Live. That makes perfect sense: traditional development is slow and inflexible. By sketching in a visual patching environment like Max first, you can freely experiment with features, design, and interface.

So, wouldn’t it be great if Ableton and Cycling ’74 could cooperate more formally, having been friendly with one another in the past? Absolutely. And, while that moment is not now, I look forward to getting information on … um … whatever they’re doing … whenever they do it. (For some reason, I have an image of a deep, basement laboratory in Berlin, filled with 40″ plasma screens covered in inscrutable Max patches, clouds of granular drones echoing through the room, steaming beakers full of bubbling red liquids, and Robert Henke, David Zicarelli, and Gerhard Behles in lab coats laughing maniacally. Careful with the particle accelerator, please, Robert.)

I’ve confirmed with Ableton what this announcement is not (before they get flooded with questions):

  1. It’s not a product announcement (yet). There’s no announcement of a product or a timeframe. Yes, there is something coming — but there aren’t any imminent details. (Hey, this stuff takes time to develop.)
  2. It’s not a merger or acquisition. There will be no Ableton ’74 or Cyclington. Or Ablax/MiveSP/Jitterton. No one is buying anyone. Cycling ’74 and Ableton are not becoming “A Division of Avid.”
  3. Live was never “developed in Max/MSP.” Live was (and is) often prototyped in Max. You can also prototype applications in PowerPoint or Flash. Developing an application is a different matter altogether. Starting with Live 1.0, Live became a separate, compiled application. But as for other cooperation, we’ll just have to wait.

Also, as a Max/MSP nerd, I have to point out that the way they’ve patched Ableton and Cycling ’74 together in the graphic is likely to cause stack overflows as it’s a loop. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

More details on the deal:
Cycling ‘74 Founder Talks Ableton Collaboration, Max 5

  • http://www.daevlmakr.com Vlad Spears

    I use the partnership of Live and Max/MSP every day on my boxes, and have a difficult time remembering *shudder* how I made music before joining the two of them together. Throw in a couple Monomes and I can do anything with my magic rig!

    But on the stack overflow, Peter… both [ableton] and [cycling74] are obviously abstractions, and I believe both companies have built in internal feedback suppression.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Crap. Had a feeling I'd get outdone. I've got nothing. ;)

  • dead_red_eyes

    Wow. I still have yet to get into Max/MSP, but I'm close to buying it here soon. I really can't wait to get into it.

    I also haven't messed around with Live yet, and really don't know how it would benefit me … but I must say that after this announcement, I'm even more curious.

    But, I just bought Digital Performer 5, so it's going to be a while before I try out Live at all.

  • http://www.daevlmakr.com Vlad Spears

    Crap. Had a feeling I’d get outdone. I’ve got nothing. ;)

    But Peter, you could be totally right! Massive feedback could be their Big Plan which this Max patch actually describes: passing creative energy back and forth between Ableton and Cycling until your processor melts down in just the right way to open a dimensional rift in the universe. Wow! Look at all the beautiful tesserae swirling out of those chaos vortices! It's Max 5 with Jitter 2.0!

  • bliss

    Cool! I'll just sit back and watch all of the good stuff happen. I've come to grips that I'm not a programmer, but I love using stuff that others have made. I wish I had time to learn Max/MSP, though. Maybe after I hit the lottery of some sort.

  • Eric.Ortiz

    This is the greatest partnership in the industry that i have seen in a long time. I use both max/msp and live in all of my projects.I am very excited o see what future that we can patch together with this merger. If max/msp is fully integrated with live it would be possible to create a netpd type server with the use of vst and au.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, Max is built for non-programmers as well as programmers. It does take some time to learn, though, I'll admit. Stay tuned … there will be more to lay back and see, and maybe we can help everybody learn. ;)

  • http://geradorzero.com Fabio FZero

    Live wasn't developed in Max/MSP, but it has a good deal of Python inside it! It would be really cool if they released an API. More info here.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Wow, fascinating! I know that APIs have come up as a discussion on an ongoing basis (or some other scripting mechanism, most likely unsupported). The problem I'd see is that these things could break with updates. Still, I agree it could be cool.

  • BassTooth

    excited to see if Ms. Pinky style; Vinyl to Live control will be added.? video too.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Whatever may come down the pipe, you can use Ms. Pinky now as a plug-in. Or you can map Ms. Pinky to MIDI and use that. The problem with doing vinyl control to Live is that Live doesn't really have something that can be easily scratched or otherwise triggered from vinyl. So it makes more sense to embed something that does make sense with vinyl inside Live, like running Ms. Pinky or eventually Deckadance as a plug-in — or some other solution.

    Remember, anything you can do in Max now you can turn into a VST plug-in and run in Live.

  • http://abstrakt.vade.info vade

    Fabio :

    Live was prototyped asa Max patch. I know, because a good friend of mine has the patches ;)

    I hope to see some nice developments here…

  • sdbrown

    You can already integrate the two. I personally use <a>JACK to interface between Pd and Live all the time.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Right, but prototyping and developing are two different things. We have seen Max-developed applications, like VJ apps Livid Union and (prior to the upcoming version, which is totally Cocoa) VDMX. But some people mistakenly thought when Live came out that it *was* Max/MSP, which of course it's not with good reason.

    That said, Robert was a well-known Max patcher prior to Ableton's founding, and has even released Max patches on an album as Monolake. And you can see some of these early ideas prior to Live's release.

    But what happened in Live and Operator is these were ultimately translated into something new. And that's another interesting application of Max: you can use it to prototype, then go back and code.

  • worm

    Ummmm I can only guess that it will be a plugin type object that you will be able to build and edit max/msp/jitter patches in realtime… while having access to critical information/routing of LIVE…. just drop it on a track and voila… video window, and max editor.

    I surely hope that this is not going to be yet another permutation of the never ending pluggo plugin purchasing program c74 has started with MODE/PLUGGO/HYPNO… etc.

  • http://www.paulsop.com Doktorfuture

    Cool to take a company with an easy to use interface and pair it with a company that makes one of the trickiest interfaces.

  • http://indiedanceparty.com DJ McManus

    So a pluggo vst patch into Live so we can finally browse for mp3s with proper track info, like artist, song title, and whatnot.

    I'd love it if the Live screen were more modular. I'm not asking for skins. Who needs to see a Leutenent Uhuru skin on Live. I'd love to see two seperate track waveform views at a time. (off topic)

    Tracks running in Deckadance just don't sync up with your loops running in Live in the same tight way that tracks in Live itself do with those loops.

    Yes to tutorials and more NOOB info about Max Msp. Please, Uhuru!

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Doctorfuture: I don't think you'll see Live re-molded with a Max/MSP interface. Don't worry. Live's interface isn't going anywhere.

    Anyway, I would argue that Max is a tool without an interface — it's DIY UI. But as for the patching element of it, you can expect Max will improve on its interface in the next version. And David Zicarelli (the company's founder) told me in an interview that he was personally influenced by the elegance of Live's interface.

    Feel better?

  • anon

    That's nice. Maybe they can develop a host platform that won't crash so all this software is actually useful in a live situation ;)

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @anon: Which are you talking about?

    Max/MSP I've found to be very reliable. The only crashes I've had recently were all related to buggy externals (and thus, not C74 code).

    Ableton Live I've found to be the single most reliable host I use, and I know a number of plug-in developers who agree. Even so, I carefully test any plug-ins I use, as they tend to be the cause of trouble.

    Computers crash, and since by definition you're asking for a "host platform," you're courting software with plug-ins, which risks instability. It's instability that can be managed, but you have to test. And developers are restricted by third-party software coders and the specifications of the plug-in formats.

  • anon

    No I mean a platform to host the applications, not a plugin host… I'm talking about the host OS, Windows and MacOS and linux and .

    Sorry for the confusion between IT speak and ITB speak. I don't mean to make any judgement on the stability of the apps…

    It is a shame though, to hear you say "Computers Crash" like it's just a fact of life. Computers don't crash unless the hardware or software is faulty. I have servers with months and years of uptime (no not redundant systems), but my DAW, before it was demoted to librarian duties, was lucky to stay up for a few days of full use. They both have the same tech doing the same level of testing ;)

    Plugin host developers need not be restricted by third parties and plugin specs, or OS vendors. They could be all teaming up and eradicating these problems. Of course I'm aware that business interests unfortunately come before the music, so that's unlikely.

    It was really meant as a sarcastic joke, it's hardly realistic… Although one can dream :) I'd just like to hear news that goes "Just in: Ableton, C74, RME and Microsoft release 99.999% uptime DAW with 12% speed increase over standard installations on XP" instead of the usual "Newsflash: New version of our software has cool new features."

  • http://www.smadsteck.nl Mattijs

    As a fulltime Max user/programmer that uses Live during all the remaining time, I can only say that this could be a very interesting development. I am very curious about the intended products.

  • Sam

    Actually, depending on the functionality of the ableton and cycling74 objects, you MAY be able to create a loop without problems…

    sorry, nerdy comment.

  • James

    ahahah i think if Ableton were becoming “A Division of Avid i would uninstall it now just to be safe…

  • Symbiont

    Hi, It seems I have happened upon some seemingly knowlegeable sorts. Howdy. Quick question gentlemen/ladies, how do you get progs like Resolume to 'talk' to ableton? Have heard coldcut use a little prog to link their vjamm to ableton…not quite sure of the name though….any comments?

  • http://www.polymorphic-music.co.uk polymorphic

    hmmm.. interesting news.

    I wonder if this will open up the way for an interface between Pure Data (PD) and Live ?

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  • http://www.julienbayle.net Julien

    I'm so interested by this powerful brains collaboration !

    Indeed, Max/Msp seems to become a real interface between me, my MIDI controller & Ableton live.

    More details this day of 31th, january 2008 ? ?

  • John Sweet

    It's time for somebod at Ableton or Cycling 74 to start talking, even in the slightest. Like a goal for a release date, or what areas they're focusing on. Once Max 5 is out, they won't have any excuses.

  • pao

    I would like to know if there's any course ded to ableton in italy, sicily the most…

    may you help me?

  • http://www.berkleemusic.com/school/course?course%5fitem%5fid=9520204&amp;program=music%5fproduct Nik

    Hi pao, I've studied advanced music production with Ableton at Berklee College of Music and teach online.

    Will be happy to get you started. Just drop me a line: tuksega /at/ gmail /dot/ com