Here you'll find some things you must know before starting with the Launchpad. Welcome aboard and have a nice stay!
2. Buy a Launchpad
3. Best project files to get started
4. To go further
The Launchpad is one of the most famous controllers in the world. It has become an essential tool for playing live in concert but also for composing in the studio. A lot of DJs use it regularly during concerts and live performances. We can mention examples, like Conte or Madeon who are using the Launchpad as a scene object. The success of the Launchpad comes from these artists who have known how to use creativity and talent to get the best out of this tool. Madeon is mainly responsible for the democratization of the Launchpad when he released Pop Culture in 2011, a mashup of 39 musical compositions, played live on a Launchpad (his video reached 30 millions views on YouTube).
Many people have discovered the Launchpad, because of the live performances from artists like Madeon, M4SONIC or Nev. The advantage of the Launchpad is that the simplistic look makes producing more affordable (after all it has just buttons). Even amateur musicians like to use it. While it’s true that the Launchpad can be used in a very simplistic way, it is still a real challenge to control all its aspects. That is the whole purpose of this book.
The Launchpad has several characteristics that make it a great controller. But what makes it unique above all is that the possibilities of creations and musical performances are endless.
At first, the Launchpad is a simple grid of backlit buttons. But its real strength is that it was designed especially for Ableton Live, music production software that is well known for its robustness and its unique Session mode. The way to play music is totally rethought.
The classic way to produce music is thinking horizontally, as a superposition of layers, each layer generally representing an instrument. But with the Ableton Live Session mode, you can produce your music in a vertical vision, i.e. as a succession of sounds in time, some can be looped, others stopped at any time. Rather than designing the entire song, you can organize your set by simply creating the building blocks of sounds you want to use. Then you are free to play with these bricks without interrupting live music, which can be extremely powerful to improvise and create a live session, hence the session view. You can also save your live performance at any time and even come back to it later, in the arrangement view to improve it.
Another big advantage of the Launchpad is that it allows you to have a visual feedback of the sounds you are hearing. The classic way to use these lights is to illuminate a key of the Launchpad when the sound associated with it is played.
You can also create more complex effects by varying the rhythm, colors... you can even create sequences of lights. These effects greatly enhance the live performance but it also provides a better understanding of the music.
2. Buy a Launchpad
There are different versions of the Launchpad. To help you decide which one you should buy, here is my top get started controllers up to date:
#1 Launchpad S - $169 : if you must buy one Launchpad, it should be the Launchpad S. It's perfect to get started and let you do amazing things. Some of the best mashup/performance videos you'll found on Youtube are made with a Launchpad S. It is an improved version of the original Launchpad (not available any more).
#2 Launchpad mini - $99 : quite similar to the Launchpad S, the Launchpad mini is cheaper but smaller. Still, you can do everything on it, it is just a matter of size: it may be more difficult to play.
#3 Launchpad Pro - $299 : probably the best Launchpad (and maybe the best controller) but it's the most expensive. It has more features than the Launchpad S or the Launchpad mini, for example: the 8x8 grid of RGB pads light up to match the color of your clips in Ableton, so you can concentrate on triggering and combining your loops and ideas. The touch feel is also quite different.
#4 Novation Launch control XL - $149 : if you want to mix on stage and have more control on your live set, you'll probably need a physical mixer. The Novation Launch control is perfect for this. You have many knobs and faders which can complete your Launchpad simple grid of buttons.
3. Best project files to get started
Once you have your Launchpad, you may want to start playing something cool. By chance, you're on the good place. You'll find here the best resources to get started with the Launchpad. Here are my top3 project file to begin:
#1 Pop Culture - Madeon (remake) : one of the most famous mashup of all time. The original video has more than 30 millions views on Youtube. Some parts are easy to play, others more difficult. You'll have fun from the very second.
#2 Weapon - M4sonic (remake) : this is one of the best project to get started with the User1 mode. The original video is very famous. It's quite difficult to play at the begining but you'll have fun anyway.
#3 Butterfly assault - Montee : this is my personal favorite mashup in User2 mode. I love this project file because the possibilities are endless, you can arrange your live set with the samples and it will fit together perfectly. Huge fun playing with it!
4. To go further
I recommend you to have a look to the Launchpad Pro training session that I've created recently. It already helped hundreds of people mastering the Launchpad. You'll receive a 100 pages ebook and 60 video lessons, plus many bonuses depending of which package you choose.
In this training, you will learn how to do what the pros have done with the Launchpad. At the end of this book, you will be able to compose with the Launchpad, create your own mashups, play your performances with impressive visual effects, and you will also be able to hold a live concert with only your computer and a Launchpad. You will discover innovative producing methods, amongst others the sampling, which will radically change the way you produce music.
In the first part of this training, we will go over all the features that are available on the Launchpad, in particular its 4 modes: Session, User1, User2 and Mixer. If you are new to the Launchpad, this part of the training will be essential because it will help you to understand how the Launchpad works and you will learn about everything that you can do with it. If you are already familiar with the Launchpad, I would still recommend to take a look at this part, because it will make you familiar with a lot of tricks and details you may not have knows about otherwise.
In part two, we will look at how we can create lightshows with the Launchpad. If the concept sounds simple, think again because Ableton Live allows you to do a lot of incredible and complex things regarding lightings. If you are also equipped with Max for Live, your only limit is your imagination...
Then we will discuss the most delicate but probably the most important subject: Sampling and producing Mashups. We will look at how famous electro producers are working with Ableton Live and dive into their Sampling techniques. I must insist on the fact that this part is not limited to experienced musicians and composers. We will not work with real instruments or with any sheets. In this case Sampling is working with the existing sounds. We will look at where we can find the best samples, how to extract them, how to mix and use them to create your own music. At the end of this part, you will be able to create your own mashups. If you also have some more traditional production skills, you will be able to make your original musical pieces by using Sampling as a basis, and you might become the new Daft Punk!
In the fourth and final part, we will look at preparing your project for a live performance. We will see how you can record your performance and make it amazing. I will also show you how to share your project if you want to work with other producers.
To follow this course, you only need a Launchpad and a computer with Ableton Live. If you’re just curious and do not have a Launchpad, this book will probably make you want to buy one!
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