Exploring Live 11’s new features with Push hardware

Who’s up for chance modes? Scales? Polyphonic pressure? Exploring Live 11 on Push hardware means you can get away from the screen and get your hands on some of the new stuff. Here’s how.

So yeah, I know this story – you went out and got the upgrade, and you just don’t have headspace to tackle all the new stuff. (Believe me, I know.) If you do have Push or Push 2 – and most of this works on the original Push – you can take your focus away from the computer we stare at all the time now and concentrate on hardware.

And yeah, if you didn’t manage to dig through that monster guide I wrote yet (link again below) – this stuff gives you some stuff you can play with with your hands and not the mouse.

This isn’t the biggest-ever Live update for Push owners by quantity – if you just count the number of features in the release notes. But it has a uniquely big impact on how you play – maybe the biggest since Push’s original launch.

For a full overview, Andri Søren has done a lovely walkthrough of everything. (Thanks for sending in your work, Andri!)

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Ableton posted some short demos, too, in the past days, so let’s walk through one at a time:


First, with all this fuss over MIDI Polyphonic Expression – a now-standard scheme for letting multiple fingers add expression independently – a lot are asking if Push has MPE. Technically, it doesn’t, but you still get per-note controls of expression in Live 11, via Poly Pressure or polyphonic aftertouch.

On the Live side, you’ll find these features when using Push 2 with the following places:

  • External Instrument. (so you can route that poly pressure to external gear!)
  • Simpler and Sampler. (modulate individual notes with Push 2)
  • Push 2 Setup menu. You can now toggle between mono and poly aftertouch with melodic instruments – inside preferences.

Both Push 1 and Push 2 support channel aftertouch, but only Push 2 also has per-note poly aftertouch.

I’m a little unclear on whether you can also use these with things like MPE Control, so I contacted Ableton for feedback.

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I missed this – I’m not sure it was really even clearly documented. But it’s kind of my favorite new feature. Playing with the Chance Editor onscreen with Clips is fun. But playing with the same feature on the Push hardware really gives you that hardware drum machine feeling.

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Speaking of visualization, of course each Live update tends to bring new visualizations of Devices on Push. And this can be a great way to play around with the new toys:

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More Macro Encoders (up to 16 max, from the original 8)? Obviously you’ll want those on Push, too.

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Key and scale sync

You have scales and grid layouts on the Push hardware, so wouldn’t it be nice to sync those up with different clips so you can swap on the fly as you play? That’s finally here, after lots of requests. And it works both ways. Set your Push to Key Mode, and set a MIDI Clip with Scale Mode enabled, and selections in one will impact those in the other.

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Other tips?

What hardware/software combinations are you using, actually? (I don’t exclusively work in Live, so I’m curious about you, too.)

Let us know.

In review, a reminder: