Above us, only sky. Christopher Willits playing the Overlap + Ableton show at Public Works early this month, San Francisco.

Above us, only sky. Christopher Willits playing the Overlap + Ableton show at Public Works early this month, San Francisco.

You can think about melodies and harmonies in geometric shapes. In fact, instrumentalists playing piano keys or guitar frets have already been doing that for some time. What’s happening with grid controllers like Push – among other alternatives – is that it’s now easy to rearrange melodic setups to see and play these relationships in new ways.

Musician Christopher Willits has started a series of videos called CREATE (hmmm… like that name somehow), through the creative community platform Overlap.

Willits tells CDM, “I really love this instrument. I’m excited to work with it more and become really comfortable. Like any new instrument, it’s going to take a little time for it to become a fluid part of the creative process.”

So, consider this a first chapter. In it, Willits has a nice overview of how to think in triadic harmony using triangles – a good place to start if you’re finding those layouts a bit overwhelming. And stick around for the end as he begins to make some music.

Nice little video, and more to come:

I expect a lot of Push posts – I’m finishing off a little hacking guide from stuff you’ve sent which, incidentally, also includes ideas about how to get around some of the frustrations with Push and how to do things without the hardware. (Trust me, this isn’t the Ableton blog, and that’s important – so let’s see more grids, more geometries, and not just for Live, please.) At the same time, I remain puzzled by the naysayers claiming Push “isn’t an instrument,” including various conversations with other hardware makers. Please – a fader box can be an instrument, too. In the end, your own personal feeling of playing it seems to me what matters.


Finally, to finish out with some music, a recent, haunting ambient remix from Chris, in a fuzzy, lush swell of sound:

From the remix album from tmymtur – ensl.jp/shop/tmymtur_2en
Featuring: Celer, Christopher Willits, i8u, Yui Onodera, Mark Harris, Opitope, Sogar, Stephan Mathieu, Taylor Deupree.

  • Eric Lerner

    Hello Peter! I’m still hoping for the review video you mentioned featuring Phoebe Kiddo on the push. Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-Francis/726367250 Nick Francis

    Jordan Rudess has a nice set of video tutorials for Push at MacproVideo. He, like Willits, believes that Push opens up all kinds of creative ways of approaching melody & harmony, and really gets off on playing around with patterns on the grid. Both musicians find this the most compelling element of Push.

  • Oscillate Music Group

    I am shocked, absolutely shocked to discover a musician’s tutorial that includes music theory in a fascinating way. Shocked, I tells ya! (*in the midst of the tirade, our speaker grabs a Push and slips it under his coat*) Round up the usual suspects! Back to YouTube videos with poor lighting, soft focus, and rambling about features in twice the time necessary to yield results that are only half worth listening to. (*whistle blow*)

  • agent0047

    great video! …explains a lot I’ve been wondering about with PUSH chord structure. I can’t wait for more!

  • fluffy

    “Featuring: Celer, Christopher Willits, i8u, Yui Onodera, Mark Harris, Opitope, Sogar, Stephan Mathieu, Taylor Deupree.” …..so great to see on CDM my fav artists in a single post :)


  • http://agargara.iiichan.net/ agargara

    This reminds me of playing with fourths on the monome years ago and discovering various chord shapes. Push seems to make this process easier with the color-coding of the root… Maybe it’s time for me to code a monome app like this.

    • David

      In case you didn’t notice, it’s pretty obvious from all the Push reviews that isomorphic key layouts are an Ableton innovation. In fact, so are triads, aptly named after how the notes arrange in triangles on a standard Push keyboard (unlike a piano where they just crudely stack like notes in a musical score).

      I also hear Ableton is working on a musical system that allows you to seamlessly transition through key signatures in a circular fashion in steps of what they call “fifths” and “fourths”.

      They are tentatively calling it “The Circle of Push” and it will be officially supported in Live 10. According to a tweet by Jordan Rudess who has received early access it brings an hitherto unseen level of intuitiveness to composing and really draws their triangles, er, triads, together in an all-encompassing system of music.

    • kconnor9000

      I regret that I have but one mod up to give to this comment.