Ableton for Composers: Writing for Voice and Electronics Course

WEDNESDAYS AT 7 PM, (6/22 – 8/3)

with composer Chris Cresswell and tenor Daniel Fields
is defined very broadly as anyone who creates music and uses some sort of method to communicate ideas to a performer (whether traditional notation, graphic notation, or something else entirely)

For many composers, the idea of expanding their sonic palette by writing “with electronics” is an exciting, but daunting possibility. Too often, the creative possibilities of working with DAWs, such as Ableton, are left under explored in musical education, and when it is taught, lessons focus on the technical and not the creative.

This course, Ableton for Composers is designed for composers with experience composing who have little experience with Ableton. Over the course of 6 classes, 1 private lesson, and a recording session, students will be guided through the basics of generating sound in Ableton, to develop creative working habits, through the completion of a new work for voice and electronics. Chris Cresswell and Daniel Fields are trained classical musicians, but will be approaching the class from a broad perspective and welcome musicians of any style who are interested in exploring a more ‘experimental’ sound world.

Students are expected to create a new work for tenor and “electronics”. After the first four weeks of class, students will Zoom into a recording session with Chris Cresswell and Daniel Fields, where they will record vocal parts for use in the student’s final project. Students will then have a private lesson with composer Chris Cresswell to finalize their projects. These projects will be shared in our final class.

This course costs $375. $100 is due to reserve your spot in the course, with the remaining $275 due by June 22.

If you are interested in participating in Ableton for Composers, or have any questions, please reach out using the form to the left. There is no “audition” for this course, however I ask that you share a little bit about your background as a composer/sound artist/creator of sounds to get to know you better and understand what you would like to get out of this course.

Full Schedule:

Class 1: 6/22 – Introduction to Ableton
Class 2: 6/29 – Introduction to Daniel, Writing for Voice
Class 3: 7/6 – Developing Working Habits to Create Sound
Class 4: 7/13 – Exploring Sonic Possibilities
Recording Session: 7/16 (Saturday) (Individual times to be scheduled)
Class 5: 7/20 – Working Towards a Finished Product (Mixing)
7/24 – 7/30: Private Lesson Week
Class 6: 8/3 – Final Class, Sharing our Works

About the Teachers


A composer, songwriter, educator, guitarist, and sound artist, Chris Cresswell is a curious musician whose work betrays his affection for sonic wanderlust. With an ear that incorporates all sorts of sounds, from field recordings to a singer/songwriter at an open mic night, Cresswell’s music “… blurs the boundaries between industrial and organic, soothing and suspenseful, and introspective and anxious” (International Clarinet Association). His works have been performed throughout the world and are noted for their organic combination of acoustic and electro-acoustic instruments.. His vocals works (with and without electronics) have been performed by such notable groups and performers as Jon English, Jill Morgan Brenner, Rachel Blaustein, Byrne:Kozar:Duo, and others at the Hot Air Music Festival (San Francisco), The Firehouse (Brooklyn), DiMenna Center (Manhattan), and throughout the United States.

Having graduated from Syracuse University and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, he is currently a lecturer at Onondaga Community College, where he teaches a course on Composing with Music Technology and maintains a private composition studio. As an educator he has used recording technology to make songwriting, composing, and creativity accessible to students in a wide variety of settings from summer camps to classrooms to after school settings.


A versatile performer Daniel Fields has performed extensively as an interpereter of classical and contemporary works, with interests ranging from classical music to traditional jazz to rock and R & B. Highlights of his operatic performance career include playing Abel in Charles Fussell’s The Astronaut’s Tale, Henry Snibblesworth in Steven Stucky’s The Classical Style, the Student in Michael Torke’s Strawberry Fields, Alfred in Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus, Tezcatlipoca in Judith Sainte Croix’s How Music Came to the Earth. More recently, he has performed with USC Opera as Lysander in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and as Pelléas in Pelléas et Mélisande.

As a recitalist he has performed in chamber works ranging from Bach’s Coffee Cantata to Alex Burtzo’s Many Worlds. Fields is a frequent performer with the Silver Arrow Band, and writes original music for his band KindredSpirit.

While completing his BM in Vocal Performance from Syracuse University and a Masters in Vocal Arts and Opera from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, Fields conducted research focusing on the intersectionality of mindfulness, yoga, dance, and singing worlds. He has since co-designed a series of workshops to bring his findings to singers and singing teachers. Fields is passionate about teaching voice and making his broad knowledge of vocal science accessible to all.