How are you using Numerology with the Push? Tell us a bit about that.
Hi Folks --
Fair enough. Buckle up. This will take awhile. It's also idiosyncratic to what I want to do. If you're a DJ, probably this is not the ideal way to go. My background is as a bassist for like 30-odd years, and so I approach Live more as an instrument (a very complicated one).
Background: Numerology 4 is still in (more or less public) beta. That's what allows Push functionality, where the Push basically gets programmed in the same way as the Launchpad. So I'm running Numerology in user mode rather than PXT-Live (and wishing Ableton would allow multiple user modes so i could do both).
For an overview of how Numerology works with the Launchpad, look here: http://five12.com/t-lpad1.html
(there is also a handy reference document somewhere on the site).
If the rest is tl;dr, you can get what you need from Jim's tutorials above. And my questions are at the very end.
NOW, what is this good for over Live's very capable step sequencer? Lots of things: overall, I feel like the Numerology sequencers are more "playable" in real time than Live's or at least more fun for me; ratcheting is also possible, which is always fun live. Changing sequence length or parts of sequence length on the fly for another (and independently of Live's time signature or clip length). Running multiple sequencers to control a single sequence (e.g., 3 against 2 drum rhythms; hard syncing multiple time signatures). Modulating modulators. Using the IAC bus (it's slightly wonky but explained on the Five12 forums) you can step sequence effects or device parameters. Again, you COULD do that in Live, but not on a return track, and it would be more fiddly to edit in realtime in performance than it is with Numerology. Also, I happen to love the drumseq with Battery (though it's good with drum racks too). I am not that into finger-foo drum programming, and the drumseq is very good for a variety of velocities, etc, which make rhythms much more sonically interesting. My normal way of working is to set up two drumseqs in a single stack so that the cymbals and percussion can be programmed and modulated independently of the kick and snare.
If you know step sequencing, it's the best thing out there by leaps and bounds. Also, while Live's clips are great for a lot of things, they are sometimes too static in terms of what I want to do while actually playing the music (as in the decisions were all made ahead of time and are a hassle to change).
I've been performing a Live set on the Octatrack, which I love in many ways but is limited in others, and now that I have a modular synth setup as well, Numerology and Silent Way are just too good to pass up for that, which means I am trying to transition my instrument as it were.
So what I'm doing with Numerology and Ableton is much more conceptually like the Octatrack. Keep in mind that I'm just getting started here and haven't performed live yet with this setup (first gig is in September, so I've got time to practice).
1. I am using Numerology to step sequence sliced-to-MIDI beats (very easy to rearrange a chopped up drum beat on the fly, without the randomness of the many instant remix plugs unless I want that). I tend to prefer the mono note for this--the OT is monophonic and I like that limit here.
2. I am also using it to control Samplers and drum racks full of sounds. I've produced these lovely granular drones and swarms using various plugs like DensityM4L that I would want to use Live (too processor intensive and adds too much instability). So I render long drones, dump them into sampler or drum racks depending on what I want to do, and then can sequence them using Numerology. Some fun Octatrack things I've reproduced include: sequencing changes of samples, getting a groove going and then modulating ADSR (just turning knobs, though that too could be automated). Because it's easy to program velocity, I can use Sampler's zones to switch samples or offsets or just about whatever I want.
3. I am step sequencing effects and parameters on other tracks (especially returns) via MIDI learn.
A few other notes on my setup: on Push, I have turned off global quantize so that I can trigger scenes instantly. I use time signatures and BPM on scenes so that I can mess with those things and then quickly get back to where I was before. Most clips also have quantize turned off (using scenes I can sync things when I want). Next up: MIDI footswitches to trigger sends (dub style) and turn stuff on and off.
What I miss from the Octatrack most: quickly switching channels to grab a parameter and turn a knob (it is a little more fiddly on Push, especially since I have to move in and out of user mode). I really miss what Elektron calls scenes and the crossfader (this works very differently from Live). Isotonik's SMART is kind of close if you don't need to automate more than 8 parameters at once and set it up smartly (har har) but it's not the same. I also really miss the "reload" function on the OT, where you can completely mess everything up, make it go crazy, and then hit a button and you're back at "home base" -- this is great for Live improvisation with a net. Nothing sounds like crap for more than a couple seconds if I don't want it to (vs some "fully improvised" sets I've seen where people take forever to get to something actually listenable while they're messing around, or lose a groove in search of another one).
WHAT I'M TRYING TO FIGURE OUT: Push has some designed in limits, like no crossfader access, and how it deals with switching and selecting tracks and devices. It makes a lot of sense as a compositional tool but as a performance controller I have a tough time getting my head around some aspects of it. I have been playing around with touchAble (also, it gets me the crossfader) on my iPad but I don't really know if a touchscreen is my thing. Very fun at home but I worry sweaty fingers etc will make it harder to deal with in a situation where someone might actually care to hear what I'm doing. X-Y pads are one way to mess things up and get "home" quickly with presets. Another option would be a box of knobs (BCR2000 or Livid Code) or something so I'd have instant parameter access.
the record that is being made live is here: http://buddhacurtain.bandcamp.com
(live versions are longer and more varied)