This blog post was written by Giorgia Gabrielli and Matthias Wolf from PlayHardware, the littleBits Chapter in Munich.
Following Loop 2015 in Berlin, the Bavaria Ableton User Group and PlayHardware agreed to work together. The goal was to discover the vast possibilities when you combine littleBits with Ableton products.
According to Ableton, who organized the event, Loop is three days of performances, talks, and interactive workshops aimed at exchanging ideas at the cutting edge of music, creativity, and technology. Bringing together artists, technologists, and other creative thinkers, Loop is a collective exploration of what it is to make music today and what it could be tomorrow. Being invited by Ableton allowed us to show off the littleBits Synth Kit and let attendees have a sneak-peek at some of the new modules. At the conference, we were put in touch with Marco, the organizer of the Bavaria Ableton User Group. After some interesting conversations we decided to plan organize a meetup in Munich on December 7th to explore the Synth Kit combined with electronic musicians and users of Ableton Push and Ableton Live.
After a short introduction about PlayHardware and the way littleBits work, we dove right into the functionalities of the Synth Kit. The ten participants who joined us worked in groups of two. We structured the workshop in a way that allowed the musicians to get to know each module in a very playful and loose manner.
Because most people had some knowledge of electronic music, we didn’t have to spend much time talking about how oscillators, delays or filters work. This gave us the chance to focus mainly on the basic structure of a synth and how to develop it further. It didn’t take long to see that everyone was able to build their own synth and even extend their project to include other input and output modules like, like light wire or pressure sensors!
We dedicated the second part of the workshop to the possibilities the new MIDI modules present to users of Ableton Live. Connecting the Synth Kit to the participants’ laptops brought the workshop experience to another level. Participants really appreciated the simplicity and the different ways of interaction.
What We Learned
-Check the level of knowledge of the participants before starting a workshop. Some were beginners and went to the meetup to get an introduction to electronic music, others obviously already had a lot of knowledge. This makes a huge difference on which topics to focus during the workshop.
-Remind people to bring their laptops. Only two people had laptops with Ableton Live with them, so only those two groups could dive deeper.
-Ensure that you have enough supplies for everyone!
-Ask people to bring some headphones. When working with the Synth Kit, please, just do it. You and all your participants will be happier if you don’t have to hear everything noise from your participants.
-It was amazing to see how musicians approached the kits– it was easy for them to generate cool sounds and small productions very quickly. We look forward to organizing a second meet up with Ableton!