Dillon Bastan's Songbird M4L plugin lets a singing flock of birds loose in your Ableton Live project

One of the most creative bits of music software we've seen in a minute, Dillon Bastan's Songbird invites a singing flock of digital birds into your Ableton Live project.

Made in collaboration with Alina Kano, the Max For Live device simulates a flock of up to 32 birds, each of which has its own model of a syrinx (a bird's vocal organ) and a bird's 'brain' that controls the syllables the syrinx will produce. 

The flock's movement can be adjusted by a number of parameters, including rate, alignment, grouping, separation, sight radius and force strength, while a range of parameters are able to be mapped to qualities of the flock for modulation. 

The bird's 'brain' can be tweaked to adjust the syllables (or envelopes) that each bird sings, while the specifics of a bird's syrinx (which operate using a mix of wavefolding, AM and FM synthesis) can be altered to produce a variety of tones from imitation birdsong to atmospheric textures and experimental soundscapes.

The device is equipped with 29 presets to help you get started, and there's also a basic onboard reverb to give your birdsong a spatial quality.

This isn't the first instrument from Dillon Bastan that takes influence from the natural world: his Inspired By Nature collection of Max for Live devices features seven similarly creative software tools that are undoubtedly worth a look.

Songbird is available now for $15 and works with Live 10 and up. Check out Dillon's website to find out more, or watch a walkthrough video below.

Matt Mullen
Tech Features Editor

I'm the Tech Features Editor for MusicRadar, working on everything from artist interviews to tech tutorials. I've been writing about (and making) electronic music for over a decade, and when I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard or a synthesizer. 

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