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Ableton Note – a quick-access musical sketchpad

Ableton is one of the biggest names in the music business, with its Ableton Live software a hugely popular DAW (digital audio workstation) for producing songs on a Mac or PC. The company recently released its first iOS app, Ableton Note, which is exciting news for anyone interested in making music.

Ableton Note

Rather than attempting to cram the entirety of its desktop interface onto mobile, Ableton has designed Note as a kind of musical “sketchpad” for building out audio ideas on the go. Its use case is similar to Apple’s short-lived Music Memos app, designed for experimentation rather than precision. If inspiration strikes, Note is a great way to get ideas down fast, with loads of tools and voices available to get things sounding pretty great too.

The app doesn’t offer complicated editing, and it’s not set up for recording live audio either – rather, its simplified interface lets users lay down a rough outline of a song idea across 8 tracks. There are drum kits, synths, samplers and effects here, all of which will sound familiar to Ableton fans. Anything you create can be opened later in Ableton Live for further tweaking, with MIDI tracks fully editable.

“Note is a place to start ideas, experiment with sounds and find direction,” says Ableton. “As part of your regular music-making routine, it can help you hone the skill of starting or ease into a creative headspace at the start of a session.” Here’s the official launch video, which is sure to inspire a few viewers to try their hand at beat-making.

Despite this cut down approach, there’s still more complexity here than a lot of music-making apps, and if you’re already involved in the Ableton ecosystem, it seems like a no-brainer to have Note available on your iPhone. But you don’t have to be a pro to appreciate the app – tapping out beats with a finger and playing around with the various instruments is great fun even for a musical novice.