Programming a New Live Looper

Jan. 2, 2010, 5:10 p.m.

After years of trying different looping software such as Ableton Live and other open source alternatives, I still haven't found anything that provides a seamless instrument-like experience. Last year, I tried to program my own alternative, Recursion Looper: http://www.jordancolburn.com/diy-music-projects/recursion-looper

It works ok, but the functionality was a little too complex and finicky for live performance. I always liked the simplicity and reliability of hardware looping, but only having one main song section available really limits song possibilities. So I've again set out on programming my own solution. I like Ableton's Scenes and the ability to have different song sections, but I want the simplicity and immediate feel of the hardware pedal. I want to use combination of a pedal made out of a salvaged keyboard and the laptop keyboard to control the software. The functionality will be similar to having 4 separate loop pedals, with software logic to switch seamlessly between different sections and an overall mute control. After playing around some in Pure Data, I have a working demo of one section that provides looping, crossfading for smoother loops, overdubbing, 1 layer of undo (no redo), and 2 channel recording option (to allow only instrument looping while singing or vice versa). I'm working on getting out some bugs and perfecting the individual loop. When I get around to combining and get to the real exciting part of combining the four loops and momentary and latching mute, I will post an update.

  • I'm pretty sure ableton lets you record automation for control data as well. I tried linux exclusively for audio as it's what I use on my desktop at work, but between limited interface choice and many other issues, an old mac book has involved much less work and resulted in me making more music. Bitwig (similar to ableton) is coming out for linux, but it is expensive. With the javascript API though, you should be able to custom develop any kind of interface or looping you need. I just don't see the need to custom develop yet another half baked looper when I can edit an existing solution to work for me. Good luck finding your looper, let me know what solution you settle on!
    jordancolburn - Feb. 4, 2014, 5:36 a.m.
  • Too bad... Your solution doesn't help me unfortunately: First of all I would like to loop control-data and audio simultaneously. Secondly I am on linux, so no ableton for me. Thank for your update though!
    Bart - Feb. 4, 2014, 3:47 a.m.
  • Yeah, I wasn't able to find the code, but I was able to pretty much recreate all the functionality using the trial version of ableton live. The gist is to setup 4 looper effects in a parallel group on a bus and set them not to monitor audio. You can send any audio to them, use live effects, and also trigger extra clips to accompany your loops. I'll probably do a post on the whole setup once I settle on a set template.
    jordancolburn - Feb. 4, 2014, 2:58 a.m.
  • Too bad you might have lost it! Did you take another look? If you decide to re-code it, I'd love to help you!
    Bart - Jan. 27, 2014, 2:48 p.m.
  • I wish I still had it around, I haven't played with it in around 4 years. I got it functional, but a little bit buggy and I think I've lost the code since then. It really was great having 4 different loop sections that would overdub and a switch to control switching to the next loop either at the end of the current or immediately for more free flowing timing. I would kill for a hardware looper that functioned like this, and now that I'm thinking about it again, I might try to re-code this since I've learned a lot more about software development.
    jordancolburn - Jan. 16, 2014, 5:58 a.m.
  • Hi Jordan, Is this new patch online somewhere? I'd love to try it!
    Bart - Jan. 16, 2014, 5:32 a.m.