Piano Pioneer – Francesco Tristano on Ableton Live

Dec 14 • Artist Features • 2841 Views • No Comments on Piano Pioneer – Francesco Tristano on Ableton Live

Check out the article to learn more about how Francesco, a classically trained pianist, came to use Ableton Live for his genre-bending recordings and performances, both solo and with luminaries such as Carl Craig and Moritz von Oswald.

From an early age, Francesco Tristano dedicated himself passionately to music: piano lessons at the age of 5, first concert at 13, study at the prestigious Julliard School, and, most recently, critically acclaimed tours and albums. From such an impressive classical pedigree, Francesco’s musical interests grew to incorporate techno and other modern forms of electronic music. Today, his projects range from the fusion of classical and his own compositions, to sound manipulations of the grand piano and collaborations with artists like Carl Craig, Murcof and Moritz von Oswald.

Francesco discovered Ableton Live via Carl Craig: “Right after Carl showed me Live in 2007, I used it on my tour for the album Not for Piano (2007), in order to manipulate the sound of the grand piano and to add other, different sounds. Live is a big relief for me. Since I started using it, I don’t feel alone on stage anymore. It feels like I have a band with me.”


“In the studio I develop my ideas with Live: I’ll record something, loop it and take it to the next level. The nice thing is that everything develops so freely and you can do things spontaneously. For my album Auricle Bio On (2008), I cut the grand piano recordings in Live’s Session View, added volume and panorama sections within the clip envelope and added effects like Beat Repeat. This track was made like this:”

During solo shows for his album bachCage (2011), Francesco uses Live to edit the sound of the grand piano: “a completely prepared performance bores me. The stage is a free space. New sounds evolve if I run the grand piano through effects. I like this intuitive element a lot; Live invites you to play with tones and surprises you with sounds that you could not imagine beforehand.

“This is the Live Set I’m using for the bachCage concerts: It includes the Ableton effects Chorus, Grain Delay, Filter Delay and two Lexicon plug-ins. There are sends to other effects in other returns so that effect chains evolve. Each grand piano has a different high tone structure which develops a life of its own within the effects. I’m experimenting with parameters on stage until a sound I like develops, which I’ll use and continue playing with.”


A screenshot of Francesco's Live Set - note the network of return effects

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