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All at in C

On the 14th October 2013, I’ll be joining the eminent musician and fellow Wodehouse character Peter Gregson at the Luton Music Club to max out on Minimalism. Details to follow, but on the programme is Terry Riley’s seminal work In C in all its heterophonic and generative gorgeousness.

In C

Rather than play it (on my guitar) traditionally with the ensemble, I thought it fun (and more interesting) to use Ableton Live (and Push) to rebuild it so it ran generatively. I’ve done a very simple version which adopt most of the instructions, any errors kindly forgive me and my future generations.


Here’s a screenshot of the resultant tapestry:


And here’s the WIP for your to download in the spirit of musical democracy.

In C Live Project @miltonline

Hit scene 1 and they’ll tumble through, I’ve weighted the follow actions to have on average more repeats on shorter phrases which makes sense musically. You can intervene, urging on any stragglers and holding back any clips forging too far ahead. Actually I may need to consult a statistician as the deviation in fall rates seems (in my fallible intuition) to suggest something’s a bit skewy with the randomising process. But oh well, the variation in performances is intriguing (I’m on listen number 6 and still very happy). You can of course ride volumes, edit instruments and send out effects to your ears’ content. You can always set clip 53 to – rather than stop – return to clip 1 so the piece lasts forever, with clips lapping each other – adding another dimension to the work. If Follow Actions in Live were more sophisticated or I had time to render in Max the clips could behave more intelligently by grouping together, dropping out and changing velocity more responsively as per score instructions, but it actually works quite beautifully as is, which is a testament to the power of Riley’s concept.

Incidentally if you’d like to tweak the ‘fall rate’ – and hence the resulting approximate duration – change this number on the clips (you can select multiple), but remember that you may want longer clips with lower numbers. Again I wish there was more sophistication with follow actions, which would also allow the pulse to stop after all other clips are finished, but I await Ableton Live 10 11 17


Thanks to user Jeepee on the Ableton forum, whose patch I discovered when googling this idea, I’ve kept many of Jeepee’s clips as I like how he/she played them, but am also thinking of doing it PROPERLY in Max and crowdsourcing midi and audio clips from the interwebs when the Earth slows and there’s enough hours in the day for such mischief.

For those sensible people not in to Ableton or this sort of thing, you can hear a rendered version from this patch here:

(If that doesn’t buffer or you are a suffering iPad browser) -> In C Live


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14 replies on “All at in C”

Thanks! I have downloaded the project and am very excited about putting it into Live or should I say Life? I had downloaded the oroginal score but just before I wanted to start programming all the clips myself I stumbled on JeePee’s post and then your site.

Oh no, it doesn’t work on Live 8! Is there any way you can help me out? Can you save your Live 9 project in Live 8 format maybe?

Unfortunately, live 9 projects are not backward compatible, and there is no export as feature or process in live 9 (that I know about). You could download the live 9 demo and see if you can export the clips between the two versions?

Ok, I’ll try that. In case you made some follow action settings too I’ll just have to write them off. Thanks for answering Milton!

There are follow actions, but they are fairly easy to implement, remember to have a higher chance of following on with the longer phrases than the shorter ones!

I was just driving along listening to In C and thought “I should do this with follow actions in Live” then googled for the midi score and found this and now I’m done! Wow that was easy! Thanks!

This is great. I’m just getting back into experimental electronic music doing something else for 20 years, and I was JUST thinking of doing what you’ve done, so I searched out and found JeePee’s post and your comments. Thanks for doing this and I look forward to exploring it with my students.

BTW, my fav version is Africa Express Presents Terry Rileys In C Mali it’s on youtube with a great video

I had a great time playing with your while testing out some speakers in the lab, and recorded it. You might find it interesting Now I’m going to delve deeper into how you’ve organized the file to see if I can learn more. I have 6 speakers so I’m going to try to get it so that I can have each instrument to switch to a different speaker when a new loop triggers. Also, based on your idea of crowd sourcing, I’m going to see if I can get my students (this fall) to record their own sounds and loops, and then mash it all up with a video. I don’t have enough musical skills to actually do what you did, so thanks for the boost.

found this through David Bruce’s video ( ).

Thank you for making that ableton project available. In C is just such a fascinating contribution to music and having an accessible template means a lot. I’m looking forward to both just letting the automation do it’s thing as well as stripping it all out and having some fun attempting one person reditions.

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