Multi-loop Performance Tool


Recently I have been contemplating a fresh approach to the music I create and perform. For a long time now I have been wanting to put together a live performance blending the more traditional, singer/songwriter elements of my work with my explorative, textural interests.

I wondered if it might be possible to begin with a collection of sounds, chords and lyrics, and then put together a performance where songs are created in an almost improvised fashion.

A key factor in this idea is creating a way to ‘play back’ rhythm ideas that would accompany my guitar and vocal work. I imagined a system that would let me load in pre-recorded samples, but then play them back in such a way that the rhythmic ideas evolved or developed over the course of a piece, forcing me to react and respond. Every time I performed with the set-up, the result would be slightly different.

I also liked the idea of creating rhythm out of non-rhythmical material, or of wrangling rhythms in and out of time with one another until some sort of repetitive pattern emerges.

So the last few weeks have been spent building a bespoke loop player using Pure Data.

This patch will allow me to open six different loops with control over volume, loop speed and loop beginning and end points. There are delay and waveshape effects for each loop and also a tremolo and delay effect processing all the loops combined.

The results are encouraging. The patch will function simply as a loop player or as a performative instrument in itself. It is possible to start with a complete mess of rhythms and sound and slowly move towards something with some sort of rhythmical focus or sense, albeit with a fluid, loose feel to it.

I have put a lot of effort into trying to make the patch performative and usable in a real-time sense, for example, being able to open and close sub patches using the keys of my laptop keyboard whilst using the controls of a midi keyboard to change instrument parameters.

Although I am encouraged with the results thus far, there is a lot of work to do, both in terms of instrument design, and my own skills performing with the instrument.

One feature I would like to add is the ability to ‘grab’ loops of material from the sampler so that, once a rhythmic idea is arrived at, it can be repeated.

I am still testing out the patch and generating material as I try to get to grips with what is possible and how to use the instrument to produce the types of results I desire. Hopefully I will be able to upload some interesting audio demonstrations soon to give a flavour of what is possible with the thing.



One Response to “Multi-loop Performance Tool”

  1. […] A month or so ago I spoke about a Pd instrument I was building to be used as a performance tool. You can read a little about it here. […]

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