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With various personnel changes necessitated by people moving away, The String Project is a smaller ensemble at the start of 2016 than it was a year ago. It does (at least in theory) become a bit easier to find dates when we’re all free and makes rehearsal rooms feel less cramped but it also creates some restrictions when trying to figure out how to recreate our repertoire on stage with a smaller number of people. One of the answers we’re looking at is a piece of software called Ableton Live, which is designed to allow playing with samples and loops live on stage. We don’t want to simply busk to a backing track but we do want the flexibility of a larger group and Ableton, with a bit of time invested in learning it, promises to provide what we need.

As a step towards this, I decided to purchase a controller, the Akai APC Key 25, which provides me both with a copy of the lite version of Ableton Live and also with a control surface and mini keyboard. The aim was to learn about how it works as well as bringing along a tool that should make it easier to fly in a live setting. So far, so good… except I spotted that one of the control knobs wasn’t working properly (movements echoed erratically in the software and also influenced by adjustments to the neighbouring control). I decided that I’d have to request a replacement and so I embarked on testing Amazon’s return policy.

So far, so good. I’ve submitted the request, printed off the label provided, packed the defective unit up and have been able to wander down to the shop at the end of my road which is a Collection+ point to hand it over for dispatch. All things being equal, the replacement unit should arrive tomorrow. It seems even more painless than last May, when I had to return my Zoom B3 (although, in that case, it was after three months of use). Hopefully the replacement will arrive as promised and I’ll be back to going loopy in a controlled way.