It may be part of the acceleration of the accelerating technology that we’re all living through, where more and more people have access to better and better creation tools, but for whatever reason, I’m seeing an uptick in free offerings for music software, samples, presets and other digital goods. It’s getting tougher to include everything worth mentioning in a week, and as “they” say, that’s a good problem to have. So to whittle down the options, I’m looking at quality, quantity, and often quite a bit of both. This week focuses on an enormous collection of Live Packs made from studio and field recordings and Output's new v2 Free Loops download, which culls interesting loops from all of its impressive virtual instruments. Please, enjoy our present moment of relative musical abundance!
Ableton Live Session & Devices from Jason Grier’s Demonstration Disc Album
Jason Grier’s latest avant-garde album, Demonstration Disc, works like a found-sound impressionist painting, partly due to his own Seurat MIDI “generative playback engine” Ableton Live device, which applies samples in a somewhat haphazard way, reminiscent of the pointillist dots on a Georges Seurat painting.
The album carries with it a people-power theme, weaving in recordings of street protests and wild New Year’s Eve celebrations. And in a true man-of-the-people gesture, Grier has made all of his edited recordings—more than 1,800 samples—available as Ableton Live Packs, complete with the Seurat MIDI triggering device in each one. Grier separates the material into 30 Live Packs themed by the source material, such as antique piano, choir, frame drum, noise reduction artifacts, zither, Oberheim Expander, no-input mixer, overtone singing, nature sounds, etc.— Each pack has a Soundcloud preview demo and an individual download link on his Demonstration Disc page.
If you download and install all 30 Live Packs, they will amount to more than 4GB of 24-bit/44.1kHz WAV files. For more background on Grier, the Demonstration Disc album and sounds, and Seurat MIDI, see Ableton’s blog post.
AfroDJMac 8-Bitify Ableton Live Effects Rack
While we’re in the Ableton Live headspace, here’s another chunk of goodness brought to you by AfroDJMac, Certified Ableton Trainer and prolific Live content creator with a monthly subscription plan available. His latest free offering, the 8-Bitify Live Effects Rack, came into being while he was creating his Coin-OP retro video game Ableton Live Template for his monthly offering (or $15 as a standalone purchase). 8-Bitify lends the chiptune vibe to any input audio by approximating the downsampled and degraded audio feel of the sample channel on a Nintendo Entertainment System, and it won’t cost you any quarters. You can take the effect to the extreme or sprinkle it on just slightly. It’s recommended for vocals and drums, but of course you can try it with anything. Also try automating the 8 macro controls, such as Crush 1 and Crush 2.
Output’s V2 Free Loops from Analog Strings, Exhale, Movement, REV, Signal & Substance
As Output’s, ahem, output continues to expand, so does its renown, as its virtual instruments, such as the recent sampling+synthesis Analog Strings, make believers out of a growing number of producers, electronic musicians, and composers. To match its expanding product line, the L.A. company has release its Free Loops by Output v2 download, about 140 loops in 470MB of WAV files originating from its 6 marquee instruments: Exhale, Movement, REV, Signal, Substance, and Analog Strings. The loops are all key and tempo labeled and fall into the 70-140 BPM range.
As mentioned above, this loop collection hits the quality benchmark both in audio and composition. Most of them feel ready to insert straight into a piece; some will even form the basis of or the inspiration for entirely new compositions or cinematic sketches. Output has earned its reputation for not half-assing anything, whether it’s their products, their YouTube videos, or even their free loops.
Boilerplate disclaimer: Most “free stuff” that we cover here will require you to provide an email address and/or register an account.