MTEC6710 Specialized Project

MTEC6710 Information, Downloads and Links

My Master of Music Technology project, The Evolving DAW


This project recognizes the desire of musicians to readily access tools that can foster their practice of improvisation, ear training and composition. During the last two years the author and a small group of musicians have used similar tools within Ableton Live to produce freely improvized music. The project’s outcome is to provide a template file (.als) for Ableton Live Suite to assist these creative pursuits.

The production of a final piece of music using recording software involves a number of stages. Live musicians write and rehearse their music before it is recorded into a digital audio workstation (DAW), after which, editing and mixing of the material takes place. Alternatively solo musicians simultaneously compose and record by the layering of musical parts and then edit and mix. The provided template makes possible a process whereby one, or a number of musicians, can improvise freely within a real-time electronic music production framework and create musical parts and effects automation for each melodic instrument. The creative possibilities of the template also serve as an inspiration into new musical areas. All produced data is saved, with the possibility of later editing and mixing.

The template contains pre-written MIDI parts and will generate music immediately, however the most satisfying results will be produced when the user creates new MIDI clips and uses their own favourite instruments according to their musical taste.

This is a link to the Soundcloud folder, Music created using the Comprovizing template in Ableton Live & M4L, containing audio examples from improvisations using the template. The 5 audio examples recorded with Cos are directly available ​below.

Files available for download from this site:

Below is the youtube MTEC6710 Tutorial video playlist providing instructions on the use of the Comprovizing template in Ableton Live Suite.

The separate Soundcloud files are listed below.

Michael Spencer was involved in a number of improvisation sessions. His instruments were voice, penny whistle and accordion.

  •  Did the setup and operation of the template run smoothly?

As an outsider, I was unaware of any glitches.

  • Did the use of headphones work well in this setting?

Love the headphone thing. No spill. No dramas.

  • Did the template appear to work seamlessly in both recording and playback modes?

Yes, I was unaware of any problems.

  • Did the use of the template constrict your musical freedom? If so, how would you suggest this being overcome?

I was working acoustically of course. Able to do my thing quite freely.

  • Did the use of the template assist your musical freedom? If so, in what ways?

Only in the sense that the product is inspiring.

  • Was there anything that you specifically did when using this form of music creation that you would not do in a traditional setting?

Well, it’s a unique context. I’m not driving the process and thus, I’m happy to be subject to decisions and manipulation by others. My job is to listen, tune in to the content and the try to put some icing on the cake. Sometimes I find nothing appropriate to contribute. I also have to contribute in small bursts - leaving space for response/manipulation by the Master of Ceremonies.

  • In what areas of music do you consider this template may be useful?

Concert performance, live dance music, aural environments for exhibitions (like a 21st Century Varese)

A general comment

Hugely powerful, evocative, transporting technology

Michael Spencer M.Mus (UNSW). Head of Music, Winifred West Schools