Ableton has announced the release of MidiVolve, a new Max for Live device by UK electronica pioneers, founders of the legendary Ninja Tune label and renowned tech-heads Coldcut.

Inspired by Steve Reich’s seminal ‘Music for 18 Musicians’, MidiVolve is a Max For Live arpeggiator, riff generator and pattern sequencer that automatically ‘evolves’ live or imported MIDI patterns into new riffs, melodies and grooves.

Ableton Coldcut MidiVolve screen

A pattern sequencer, arpeggiator and AI-guided riff generator, MidiVolve transforms recorded or imported MIDI clips by ‘evolving’ various per-note parameters (Velocity, Pitch, Duration, etc, plus two freely mappable lanes), with the user given control of the chance and degree of randomisation applied to each. Incoming MIDI is converted to an arpeggio or auto-generated riff, ready for evolving, which is done as a one-off event by clicking the Evolve button, or automatically every 1-32 bars by activating Auto mode. The end result is either a new single pattern based on the initial MIDI notes, ready for use as-is or detailed editing, or a constantly changing melodic continuum.

“I’m keen to challenge the conventions of electronic music,” Matt explains, when asked how MidiVolve came to be. “It’s long been my dream to make a piece as brilliant as Steve Reich’s ‘Music For 18 Musicians’, which uses subtle variation on simple parts to achieve complex organic results. Lacking any conventional musical chops, I thought I could make software to help me compose. MidiVolve is the result. It comes up with interesting musical ideas that I could never play, and lets me develop existing ones and play them on amazing sounds.

Those amazing sounds comprise over 1GB of included Instrument and Audio Effects Racks that draws on the work of Coldcut themselves and Johannesburg samplist (and Ableton trainer) Behr, whose exquisitely captured instrumental tones make the perfect sonic grist for MidiVolve’s generative mill.

The MidiVolve Max for Live device is available from Ableton for 39 EUR.

More information: Ableton / MidiVolve