I recently did a very interesting freelance job for the German Telekom at the IFA (a huge consumer technology tradeshow). The brief was to produce a "digital jam session" that people from the audience could join and create a good sounding track together with. But that wasn't all.

Telekom Digital Jam Session at IFA 2017

Further Limitations:

  • The controllers needed to be quite visual so that people taking part in the jam as well as the rest of the audience would have at least a rough understanding of what was happening.
  • Anything run via wi-fi or bluetooth was out of the question as a lot of interferences were to be expected at a tradeshow.
  • The setup needed to be possible in one minute as the jams would happen as part of promo segments and be repeated three times a day.
  • Since most people have very little musical skills or knowledge, the Live Set needed to set musical limits that would eliminate mistakes as much as possible. The only way to have someone play something melodic or harmonic live was to limit the available keys/pads to the one of a selected key.

A whole lot of limitations, but I do like working with them, and I love a good challenge.

Since the deadline was tight, very tight indeed, I needed to send them the list of used and needed gear within three days. Generally, I would have started creating the two tracks that would be the core of the jams first, and then figure out the technical setup. They wanted me to include an iPad (in between even two), Push as well as a synth.

I decided to use only one computer with Ableton Live, and a synth that offered presets, since the setup needed to be as fast as possible.

Atmos Live Set in its final form

Initial Controller Setup (untested):

  1. The Ableton Push in Note mode and In Key would be used to play an arpeggiated bell sound live. The first four encoders would control the chain selector to switch sound presets as well as parameters of the arpeggiator.
  2. The Novation Launchpad would be used to trigger clips on 8 tracks for beats and percussion. With a quantisation of at least 1 bar.
  3. The Novation Bass Station II would provide the bass sound, while some of the synth parameters as well as an Auto Filter would be modulated with a Leap Motion (gesture based controller).
  4. The AKAI MPD218 would be used to trigger various one shots liv