The Program That Transformed Electronic Music Performance Forever
Looking at the evolution of electronic music in both sound and structure, Thump digs into the history of Ableton Live and how the program was influential for music production.This article originally appeared on Vice
The history of Ableton usually starts in 2001, when the Berlin-based software company released their first product, Ableton Live—a digital audio workstation and audio sequencer that, among its many functions, allows musicians to easily store and trigger samples during their shows so audiences can watch them build songs in real time.
This game-changing software made it easier for the average person to make music and use their computer as an instrument, as well as perform live without needing to know how to program their own software. As a result, the software was widely adopted, and radically shifted the way electronic music is performed live by encouraging more producers to leave their homes and studios for the stage—a move that helped fuel the explosion of festival culture around the world in the 2000s. But the story of Ableton goes further back than Live's 2001 release—further even than the company's official inception in 1999. In fact, Ableton's roots can be traced to Berlin's early techno scene in the 90s, when the stakes were low and there was a lot of room for experimentation.