The melodic layouts of pads on Ableton’s new Push hardware do place notes in closer proximity, allowing you to perform virtuosic materials with added ease.

Well, some added ease. You can bet what you see in this video isn’t that easy. Yes, even before Push is available to the public, there’s already one insane video on YouTube of Flight of the Bumblebee. In fact, I’m not sure how anyone will top this, exactly, even once Push is publicly available. While requiring less dexterity than the piano might, this still requires some dexterity – and practice adapting to a layout that isn’t a conventional piano layout.

This is the work of Yehezkel Raz, whose YouTube account is chock full of Ableton-produced music. There is some music in there, too. Here’s a quite-nice track, featuring more Classical piano licks:

Here he is having fun playing a kind of augmented/player-piano digital hybrid on the Push’s predecessor, Novation Launchpad.

And yes, he plays the traditional black-and-white piano, too.

Beautiful, this ambient “Night Notes” series – “Flight of the Bumblebee” may ultimately get more views, but it’s a great showpiece for discovering his other music.

Thanks to nerk for this one.

  • floko

    He isn’t playing all the notes in push at the same time, but yeah, it’s incredible :)

    • Todd Keebs

      yeah, noticed this too…. there definitely are some green pads lighting up that he’s not touching.

    • markLouis

      It certainly looks that way, but video can be misleading.

      Fingers move very quickly playing music and video cameras sometimes capture frames at a comparatively slow rate so sometimes you just never see a finger touch everything it touches. My webcam is awful capturing me playing fingerstyle guitar.

      Or isn’t there a line from Videodrome, something like, “Why do something for real when it’s so easy to fake?” So it can be a “dramatic recreation.” I suppose Peter will comment on this eventually, is it real or staged.

      I don’t know. But video can be misleading.

    • IdleTaxi

      If I recall correctly, when you play a note on the Push controller, it lights up all other pads that are the same note.

    • Ronnie

      He’s playing the lead solo, but the chords/accompaniment also light up.

    • Ed Macovaz

      As far as I can see he’s playing everything live.

      The way Push’s melodic layout works means the same note will appear more than once in the grid. The pads you see lighting up when they’re not being played are alternate voicings for notes he is already playing.

  • César Hernando Pantoja

    I started to play the last video before the one before that finished, and the mix was lovely :)

  • edisonSF

    damn! this dude is illllllll……..!
    pads look super responsive!!…
    really want one but havent got to see one in the flesh, to make the final call on build quality ect…. hearing awesome reviews though….
    where’s your review peter??

  • Samuele Cornell

    this video makes me wonder where lies the border between an advanced controller and a real instrument…whatever is the answer, well , Push seems simply amazing !

    • markLouis

      It does look cool. And instruments without the white key/black key layouts present different musical keys in a very play-able and natural manner, unlike pianos and synths that require different hand configurations for the same chord in different key signatures or the same scale played in different key signatures.

      But touch-sensitive pad arrangements go back to the late 60s. Buchla had them, and Moog elected to go with keyboards. It was one differentiation of the brands. And standard keyboards always seem to win in the marketplace.

      I wonder if people are finally comfortable enough with high-tech stuff that a rational and powerful controller like this could be taken seriously as an instrument? It still seems strange, however, still to even see headless guitars with the tuner on the body and pop stars seldom play them. And other than Joni Mitchell, I’ve never even seen a popular singer-songwriter stand in the spotlight with a midi guitar connected to a computer. I hope the time is right for something like this, but it seems to me the odds are against it.

    • Bjorn

      Its not only the controller, its also the software. When I bought Live, it said “Live sequencing instrument” on the box and it didn’t even have MIDI Tracks yet.

      We can definitely play around with these definitions, but hasn’t that been done from long before we could load punchcards into a pianola?

      If you can play and express yourself with it, its an instrument.

      You kinda picked the wrong crowd as example there though. Pretty much every musician embraced high-tech stuff. But most guitarists are a different breed. As soon as a guitar costs X amount of money, its blasphemy to put it thru a digital effect. Sure, you’ll find people who’ll enjoy a preset on a 700€ modeller that sounds nearly identical to a 3000€ Mesa Boogie… But obviously stores prefer selling the amps, cabs, pedals and heads. And the 50 other things you need to maintain a guitar…

      From Wiki: “A musical instrument is broadly defined as any device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds.”

      So broadly, if you put a Mic near Push to amplify the sound of your taps, you made it an instrument.
      Replace the Mic with a USB cable going to a sound generator (Live), now what is the difference? Apart from better musical results…
      Broad definitions are fun :)

    • markLouis

      “Pretty much every musician embraced high-tech stuff. But most guitarists are a different breed” — Many do, and many are very passionate about it. But many are very conservative, too, and not just guitarists. For instance, have you ever, even once, ever seen or heard about someone actually using a Roland D-Beam controller on pop act’s stage or in a popular video? I’m sure it’s happened, but it’s a cool bit of technology and nobody’s really embraced it in any exciting way. And Roland has put it on everything, so it’s out there and available, but it hasn’t gotten a lot of love. (You don’t, for instance, see D-Beam emulators for other synths.) So, technology is cool and many people love it. But many people are blah about it.

    • Bjorn

      D-Beams can be fun, but the crowd that enjoys that stuff moved on to stuff like Kinect. Which offers more dimensions to work with. Imogen Heap springs to mind as an artist that goes all high-tech in her performances with cameras and sensors.

  • David

    I really don’t get the Push excitement. It seems just a small step above the launchpad and all the deeper functionality of it is limited to native Live devices, which we all know are stuck in the millenia at best. They claimed it would ‘be it all’ but ended up only adding a bit of everything and thus achieved nothing. Not even polyphonic aftertouch, because, uh, Live (still) doesn’t support it. I suppose that vintage style LCD display is supposed to distract us from the lack of dual monitor support in Live? Ableton is in a serious rut. Push is the most uninspired controller I have seen lately. I never even bothered to check what it costs.

    • Peter Kirn

      It has velocity sensitivity across the whole grid, interactive RGB feedback, multiple pitch layouts, and pressure control, even before you get to the native Live controls. All of this is then modifiable with Max for Live, and it sends bidirectional MIDI, so it’s possible to work with it beyond the native devices.

      It’s not going to be for everyone, but I can’t possibly defend the statement that it’s a “small step above the Launchpad,” which had none of this. And what has dual monitor support got to do with a controller?

      There isn’t currently another controller that does this interactive business with pitch layouts, not in hardware, at least. Not one. There are physical controllers with fixed pitch layouts, but that’s it. Even most of the 8×8 grid controllers lack velocity and pressure.

    • David

      Interactive pitch layout? It’s not like the other controllers have notes written on their keys. Just do it software side. Was anybody even asking for that? It’s a grid controller with a basic 8×8 grid, not an Eigenharp.

      I’m not saying Push is awful, I’m just saying that Push, like Live 9, lacks vision and just barely makes the finish line. It’s a ‘here and now’ device that is okay at this moment, but will already seem dated by the time it ships. It already does look dated to me, when I compare it to, say, a Quneo, a Soundplane, a QuNexus, the Eigenharp, even Machine. Those devices have vision. This is just a rather bland progression of the Launchpad. I can see it’s use but just with no poly aftertouch, it’s already a half-hearted implementation of an already rather limited idea. Since they didn’t make any radical advances with Live 9, there’s not much to take advantage of either. If Live 9 now had 8×8 drum racks or something I’d see it. But nothing has changed. Pitty the fool that seriously wants to play a piano or synth like this (unless it’s for youtube exposure of course. Maybe try using chopsticks taped to your fingers too).

      My display remark comes from me not being able to imagine what they could possibly display of interest on that little blocky screen that wouldn’t be better displayed on a pop-out window on screen or on a seperate monitor.

      But hey, to each his own.

    • Leif Olson

      i think you’re missing the forest for the trees buddy. This is the best implementation of dual monitor i can think of, one where you can put away the laptop and engage directly with an subtle control instrument. The hardware is well thought out, and its flexible enough that software can be adapted to meet your needs. (For example, while live may not recognize poly aftertouch explicitly, the device does send per pad pressure values, which are used by the python script to control pad volume of the drum rack sequencer). This is an open pressure sensitive rgb instrument, with greater flexibility than the machine and much better build quality than the quneo. Pity the fool who cant see the value in that.

    • David

      Fair enough. I’ll wait and see. It’s a beautiful piece of hardware, I’ll give you that. I just wish it was a bit more forward looking.

    • Leif Olson

      there’s a balance to be had in between forward looking and practically useful. I have a quneo, i have a monome. The former tends not to be used to its fullest, the latter is constrained, albeit by design. This sits nicely in a place that few other devices fill.

    • whatever

      David you’re talking such a nonsense mate. Comparing Push with Qu*shit or Maschine.. is like comparing a computer with a bunch of typewriters (where Maschine would be the later-gen electrical kind). Let alone you can’t even spell the “Maschine” correctly which shows you haven’t even done your homework before getting into discussion. Unless it’s all just a plain trolling, but then it’s quite unsophisticated one, really :)

    • Bjorn

      This poly aftertouch discussion that keeps coming up is a bit silly. For an instrument to be compatible with this, it needs a voicing mode that basically requires multiple instances to load in a single device. Its the only thing that makes sense. And it wouldn’t be without a significant CPU boost. The only devices that do support it, already have complex voicing modes.
      So the workaround would be to load multiple devices and separate the notes.

      Or make an MFL voice routing thingie that allows for as many voices as you have instances.
      Or make a Bomes/MIDI Pipe translator so you can map pressure to whatever you want.
      Or wait 2 days till after Push is released to download a python script that does any of the above and feels like its a native feature.

      The damn thing already sends the messages. Wait for native support so you can map it to a filter or LFO rate… Or map pressure from any note to any parameter of any device in any track…

      Not really directed to you Peter or even anyone specific. It just seems weird that this keeps popping up. You can do this with any pad controller with Aftertouch. But before, nobody was really fussed about it because the (standard issue) Monome doesn’t sense velocity. Now Ableton has a controller that has the pads doing the same thing Maschine can do and out come the pitchforks.

    • bloodynails

      The Push definitely does not do “the same thing Maschine can do”. Maschine allows for a completely mouse-free and computer-screen-free workflow.

    • Bjorn

      I was talking about the pads capabilities. To output pressure messages…

  • Chris Sciurba

    Being someone who prefers using a grid layout for melodic material instead of a piano keyboard, this definitely makes me all the more interested to try Push.

  • Brett

    Awesome. As a guitarist, it will be exceedingly easy for me to pick up and play the Push in chromatic mode right out of the box. The note layout is exactly like a guitar in P4 (perfect 4th) tuning… isochromatic layout! Eureka! What could be easier? Also, I’m pumped about the diatonic modes. Whip up a blues backing
    track, put the Push in Dorian mode, load up a gritty electric piano
    patch, and JAM.