is Hydrogen better than Ardour for drums

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Digital Larry
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Re: is Hydrogen better than Ardour for drums

Post by Digital Larry »

My application seems a bit different than most people I've read tales from.

I'm using Hydrogen to provide JACK sync to SooperLooper. SL appears to ignore JACK transport, so here's what I did yesterday.

a) Mouse in 4 drum hits on the beat in Hydrogen and set tempo to 90. 1 bar, 4 beats, 8 8ths.
b) Put SL into JACK/Host sync mode and set 8ths/cycle to 8 and quantize to "Cycle". Now recording starts at the top of the bar. Sync and Play sync are checked.
c) Grab my guitar. This is when I do NOT wish to pick up the mouse. Not having to touch the mouse at all when I'm tracking guitar is really important to me.
d) Hit the MIDI footswitch to start recording on track 1.
e) at the top of the bar, recording starts and goes for as long as I want it until I press the foot button again. It rounds out the bar to the cycle length and begins the loop playback.
f) Now it behooves me to change the 8ths/cycle value to represent the full length of the first loop so I don't start recording on bar 3 of 4, for example.
f and a half) At this point, unless I want to record more tracks into SooperLooper, I'm temporarily done with the guitar.
g) Now I can go back to Hydrogen and flesh out the basic rhythm with snare/stick/hi-hats/ride
h) Next I copy the 1 bar pattern out to fill e.g. 4 bars.
i) I copy pattern A to pattern B and set bar 2 to pattern B
j) I make some small changes to pattern B
k) Copy pattern B to pattern C and use that for bar 4. Some tom toms and a crash, typical stuff y'know. Note that I am filling out the drum part while listening to the guitar and or bass or whatever I recorded.

Note that SL keeps bumping along following Hydrogen (syncing actions on cycle boundaries) while Hydrogen loops around and around. I don't set up any looping boundaries in H2, it just loops either on the pattern or the song depending on the mode. Ardour won't let you loop when it's in JACK sync mode. I don't really know how JACK works at any technical level at all, but I'm guessing that Hydrogen doesn't try to send messages that cause other JACK clients to relocate. It just sends a continuously increasing time as if it weren't looping. I'm not sure if this is a feature or a bug but it's pretty central to the way I am using this combination of things.

Right now I have created the "seed" of a new composition. I did a couple of these over the weekend and got further than I normally do using a DAW. So I store my SL Session in one place and hope to try to remember to store the Hydrogen file there too. It's not perfect by any means BUT that workflow thing for points (c) to (e) above is lacking in everything else I've looked at. Yes yes I haven't looked at everything so maybe there really is something out there.

My next dilemma is where to go with this seed. I'm going to do a few more things and see where they lead.

Yesterday I thought I'd hit a limitation in H2 where it doesn't let you copy/paste/move. As it turns out, it does, but the UI is pretty weird and doesn't give you a good idea of what you're doing until you release the mouse button. So it may be possible to take the seed of a composition (4 bars, e.g.) and add more detail to the drum part there. The next part gets complicated by all the other reasons in this thread.

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