The Toils of Sisyphus

Nick Fife



Ableton Live Suite 10
Skill Level:
1 in/2 Out

Video Tutorial


Notes from the composer: “In Greek mythology Sisyphus was a cruel king. The punishment for his cruelty was to push a large boulder up a steep hill, only to find it rolling back once nearing the top. As the tale goes, he has been pushing the rock tirelessly for all eternity.


Often times auditioning for orchestras can feel like the toils of Sisyphus. A musician will practice tirelessly for months in preparation for an audition, but most of the time our hopes are

dashed when we hear that infamous word, “Next”. At this point there are two options; give up and let the boulder roll over you, or start pushing the boulder again. Every musician who has won an audition knows that persistence is the key to success. If the musician keeps pushing that boulder, then eventually they will reach the top.”


For this work I used Ableton Live to pass the trumpet through a vocoder, that quickly adjusts the pitch and timbre of the trumpet to blend into the fixed media and transpose some of the parts of the piece that are in the highest register of the trumpet.


One of the challenges of a work like this is to have the trumpet sound as if it is a part of the track and not simply a trumpeter playing along with the radio. The electronic effects and passing all of the audio through the Ableton Software in a live performance helps to achieve a more natural sounding blend.

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