The Max for Live device helps generate and develop new musical ideas.

Ninja Tune founders Coldcut have designed a new MIDI device for Ableton Live called MidiVolve.

Described as a “pattern sequencer, arpeggiator and AI-guided riff generator”, the Max for Live device transforms recorded or imported MIDI clips by ‘evolving’ parameters such as velocity, pitch and duration.

The device is inspired by Steve Reich’s ‘Music for 18 Musicians’, using subtle variations to turn simple patterns into more complex sequences. An ‘evolve’ button on the device will shake up the pattern manually, or you can set it to change automatically every 1-32 bars. It’s possible to modify one or all of the parameters depending on whether you want a subtle or extreme effect.

Coldcut’s Matt Black likens MidiVolve to having a “constantly inventive musical partner to play with,” albeit one that doesn’t talk back.

MidiVolve also includes 11 instruments and effects racks made in collaboration with Johannesburg musician Behr, specially made for use with the device. The racks are made from sampled African instruments and sounds from Coldcut’s archive.

Coldcut’s device is available for €39 ($44/£34) from the Ableton store. It’s the latest of several Ableton Live expansions this year, including semi-modular synth Pallas and hip-hop drum pack BeatTools.

Check out audio examples below.

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