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.