Push Experiments

This page documents my exploration of Ableton software ‘Live’ and the hardware controller ‘Push’. Although I often build bespoke software/hardware I have used ‘Live’ since 2003 and keep returning to this platform for three reasons. 1) I find it important to retain a rigorous performance/composition practice outside of the instruments that I build. 2) Keeping in touch with commercial offerings is essential in evaluating genuinely new technologies. 3) Making music is a different kind of art to making instruments.



East of Borneo is a fluid collective of musicians dedicated to spontaneous improvisation and explorations of sound and rhythm. SCRUNCH was recorded live at the MEME studios at Brown University June 2014, it features Michael DeQuattro on percussion, sound, and processing; Jim Moses  on guitar, sounds, and processing; and John Robert Ferguson on hardware electronics and laptop processing.

SCRUNCH is available on Free Music Archive and there should be an audio player below, but click here if that’s not visible.

I use Ableton Live/Max for Live alongside a variety of electronic devices including ‘no-input’ mixer



Robert Dominicus is the collaboration of John Robert Ferguson and Seth Dominicus Thorn.

The goal is to explore techniques and timbres associated with a variety of vernacular electronic music practices, avoiding the latent dynamics of genre-specific expectation. The majority of “there is something in the water” was recorded in an entirely improvised/live duo scenario; it’s something of an oversimplification, but John is often responsible for the beats/dynamic fractures and Seth for the textures/harmonic shifts. Robert Dominicus believe that the values and timbres of much contemporary vernacular music remain an awkward proposition for many supposedly forward looking art institutions, this is a tension that they seek to highlight.

John is excited by digitally augmented instruments and the aesthetics of the handmade, but his contribution to this project represents initial explorations with the commercial Ableton Live/Max for Live controller: Push. Seth applies a punk aesthetic to extended viola performance and likes to quote Adorno, his contribution to this project revolves around Ableton Live,  bespoke Max patches, a Behringer BCR 2000, and a MIDI keyboard.

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