Robert Henke aka Monolake Dubspot Interview: Sound Synthesis, Ableton + @ Decibel

In September of 2012 Dubspot visited Seattle’s famous Decibel Festival, where we caught up with electronic music pioneer Robert Henke (better known as Monolake, co-developer of Ableton Live) to discuss the past, present and future of Ableton, sound synthesis, music composition, and more.

In our interview the co-creator of Live gave a brief overview of how the program was conceived and discussed the importance of the more recent development of Max For Live, which allows users to program in Cycling 74’s Max directly inside Ableton.

We also visited his Decibel Festival workshop, Sound Spaces and Machines, where he compared music synthesis and physical modeling, and talked about why physical modeling is important in the creation of expressive music. He also emphasized the importance of simplicity and minimalism in the production process, while delivering a sobering message about the overuse of compression in electronic music which he calls “evil”.

Robert Henke/Monolake -

Decibel Festival -

Ableton -

Robert Henke builds and operates machines to produce art. He pairs archaic concepts with computer science in order to explore new aesthetic territories between composition, performance and installation. The creation of his own instruments and the results of using them are two sides of the same artistic process.

His art is focused on carefully shaped textural details and gradual changes of repeating structures in different time scales. It is also about volume, power and impact, the tension between silence and noise, and about the exploration of real and virtual auditive spaces.

Henke’s interest in the combination of art and technology is further evident in his contributions to the development of the music software ‘Ableton Live’. For more than a decade since Ableton’s founding in 1999, he has been central to the development of Live, which became the standard tool for electronic music production and completely redefined the performance practice of electronic music.

He writes and lectures about sound and the creative use of computers, and holds a professorship in sound design at the Berlin University of Arts.