X-Ponder is like a “musical AI chatbot” for Ableton Live: play it some MIDI notes and it will play some back for you

Manifest Audio’s X-Ponder sounds like such a good idea for a MIDI device that we’re almost surprised no one has thought of it before.

Although it doesn’t use any kind of machine learning, its developer says that you can think of it “like a musical AI chatbot”. Why? Because if you feed it some MIDI notes, it will give you a musical response based on the the pitches, chords, velocities and note lengths.

When used in manual mode, X-Ponder works a little like a looper pedal. Punch in for it to start ‘listening’, and punch out for it to start playing indefinitely based on the material you gave it.

Fixed mode enables you to set specific intervals (in bars) for the calling and responding - useful for improvisation - and Listen mode incorporates a user-defined period of silence before the device responds.

By default, X-Ponder’s memory will be wiped every time it starts listening, but by switching to Long memory mode, new MIDI data will be added to its stored history, giving it an expanded number of notes and chords to draw on.

X-Ponder’s output is constrained within your chosen scale and key, but because it’s MIDI, it can be transposed or used with any instrument you like. A visualiser enables you to compare the input and the output.

Supplied as a Max for Live device for PC and Mac, X-Ponder runs in Ableton Live 10.1 or later and requires Max for Live 8.5 or later. It costs €30, and is available on the Manifest Audio website.

Manifest Audio X-Ponder

(Image credit: Manifest Audio)
Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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