Had an excellent evening last night as Lost Garden shared the bill with Martin Archer. A small but enthusiastic crowd enjoyed separate sets, then a threesome 😉 Here are some photos from Mark Mettam
I was watching the amazing Imogen Heap (sexy, musical and techy!) recently, when she demo’d a new controller system operated by her body (it’s as intriguing as it sounds!). At one point, she sang a note and captured/froze it to hang on in an amazing cloud of sound. I set about doing this using a reverb in Ableton.
After much trial, error and googling, I found this useful tutorial on creating a “frozen” reverb. I had something similar, but the idea of toggling a wet reverb chain via a button press makes it even simpler. I have this fed from send 3, on fully wet, so as soon as I press the button, whatever was fed into the (muted) reverb is frozen and unmuted.
When you reverse the process, the frozen elements vanishes instantly, so I’ve added a second reverb to follow it, providing a controllable tail-off. Ideally, I’d like to trigger this by a foot-switch – may recycle the hold socket on the Roland PCR300 I’m using as a controller.
I’ve been mildly obsessed with the idea of hands-free midi control since I saw the incomparable hottie Imogen Heap demonstrating her “body suit” and have finally made some small progress in that direction. I’ve bought a Sharp infra-red distance sensor, plugged it into the arduino, a few lines of code and hey presto, it’s reading values from the detector.
All I need to do now is either smooth the readings and convert to a midi controller message, or more probably to begin with, set a cut off value in the data and use this to trigger a device on/off via midi. My first thought was to operate my “freeze” function in Ableton -currently dedicated to a small footswitch plugged into the “old” socket of my keyboard controller. Why it will be more fun to just waft a hand instead of pressing a button, I’m not totally sure, but it may add a small degree of showmanship into my performances 😉
For those of you that don’t know the Arduino chip, it’s pretty simple to program, here’s the code that reads the sensor.
int sensorPin = 0;
int val = analogRead(sensorPin);
During the noughties, my brother Simon ran an excellent indie label called English Electric. They released CDs by the Comsat Angels & instrumental music by Chris Meloche and Stephen Fellows, but the economics model and the growth of file sharing created restraints on output. However, we now feel that there is a different (low-run) print option that will allow us to continue to release some of the great unknown music produced in Sheffield!
We intend to (re)launch the label with our first two releases being Andy “Chickenlegs” Weaver’s posthumous release alongside a release from Lost Garden (my project with Andy Peake). Hopefully this will take place later this year. If you have any interest, please join our mailing list.
From the Bishops House gig, part 3 of 3…
From the recent gig with Chris Meloche…
Live Looping is almost impossible with out using your feet, so to control Ableton’s Looper device, I needed foot-powered midi. I own a Uno-chipped FCB1010 midi controller, which can be taught to do almost anything, but it’s hellish large in terms of carrying & finding room for, so I’ve looked at simpler midi pedals, those that send basic program change messages. Needless to say, it wasn’t straight-forward, since Ableton fails to respond to PC messages. Enter Midi-Ox – a fantastic free utility. It allows you to translate almost anything to anything!
So, you go to Options, Data mapping and set up on these lines;
This sends note on followed by note off when it receives a PC message. You need to clone so that both messages are send in rapid succession. (I tried this again recently and it only worked when value 2 min was 1!)
For Ableton to receive midi in this way, you need to set up a “loopback” system; Midi-ox output will show up as “midi yoke 1” (this works under XP, I use Loopmidi on Win 8 etc) you select “remote” and “track”, Ableton can then hear your midi pedal and you can assign whatever functions you want to control. I use it for the Looper device, controlling;
record / playback / clear / undo / half speed or double speed (both multiple octaves) / reverse
leaving 1 free pedal for ad-hoc use. On the next bank, I have less used features such as half or double loop length.
Of course, this is massively extended using the VST and native audio effects within Ableton, which are virtually unlimited. It’s a very flexible solution and has persuaded me to forsake my EDP rack for a laptop running XP. Touch wood, it’s worked fine so far!
The pedal I use is a Rolls Midibuddy, which is plugged into a BCR2000 with midi set as thru, so I’m only using 1 USB socket other than the audio interface. I bought this as a back-up for my Rolls MP80 and was delighted to discover when it arrived that it has two more pedals than the 128 – result!
However, the beauty of this setup is that you can use almost any old midi pedal from ebay, so you can shop for those with a really small footprint. In practice, it offers a budget solution to control almost anything, such as playing musical notes, chords, or perhaps controlling a lighting system.
Is the name of one of Martin Archer’s many projects – essentially a duo alongside James Huggett. I was delighted recently when Martin asked if I could contribute guitar to a 19 minute(!) track of theirs, for a forthcoming release.
I was even more impressed when Martin gave me complete freedom to play and mix whatever I wished – it’s so rare to be given complete trust in this fashion. I’ve just completed my track – quite dark, even by my standards – I hope it works for them….
Check out the Combat Astronomy site…
Martin and I will be on the same bill at a Bishops’ House gig later this year 😉
A video of the first piece we played shot by Mark Mettam from our debut gig at Bishop’s House on 30/05/14