My SooperLooper + Hydrogen setup for guitar recording

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Digital Larry
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My SooperLooper + Hydrogen setup for guitar recording

Postby Digital Larry » Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:06 pm

I think I'll confine my ongoing discussion on this to a single thread to make it easier to ignore if you are not interested. But of course you are! (cough)

Hydrogen is configured for JACK transport and Jack Timing Master.
SooperLooper is set for Jack/Host sync.
8ths/cycle depends on what I'm doing but let's just start with 8 for a 1 bar 4/4 measure.
Quantize mode is "Cycle".
"Round" selected.

I have 3 mono tracks in SL, each set to "Sync" and "Play Sync". The get their audio from my guitar preamp thing.
Ardour is being used as a Mixer/FX host mostly at the moment.

MIDI routing is from the SoftStep to SL and Hydrogen.

I am using a McMillen SoftStep MIDI footswitch. This thing has a ridiculous amount of programmability combined with the teensiest little UI on my Macbook, but I figured it out. I set all of the buttons to be Note toggles, except two which send MMC Stop and Start.
MIDI Mapping on SL is:
a) MIDI Note for "Rec" on record_or_overdub for each of the 3 tracks.
b) MIDI Note for "Mute" on mute for each of the 3 tracks.

Hydrogen is configured to map MMC Play to Play and MMC Stop to Stop.

So now I have these 10 buttons on the SoftStep:

Code: Select all

[ Mut1 ][ Mut2 ][ Mut3 ][ Strt ][ Mute ]
[ Rec1 ][ Rec2 ][ Rec3 ][ Stop ][ Trig ]


Strt and Stop let me control the drum machine.
Mute mutes all tracks
Trig puts all tracks into mute then trigger mode - this is a little weird sometimes, will explain later.

I'm using "Mute Quant" mode and I'm not quite sure about it. If I have a 32 bar section, then it's cool to put the cycle time at say 4 bars and then you can mute/unmute tracks as a performance thing and they start and stop on 4 measure boundaries which is cool.

1 possible workflow:
Start with a 1 bar drum loop/metronome,
Record 4 or 8 bars of guitar over that.
Go back to Hydrogen and flesh out the drum part to sound good with the guitar part.
Set 8ths/cycle to 32 now (or 64; you want it to be the same length as the first audio loop).
You can record 2nd guitar/bass parts that will sync properly with the 1st loop. Since the loop was longer than the original cycle, you really need to change "8ths/cycle" when recording subsequent loops or they can get off sync by multiples of a cycle length. One way to prevent this from being problematic is to eschew chord changes! And believe me, I have done some of that.
As the thing starts to take shape, it's important to make sure that SL's cycle length is the same as the length of the drum pattern or song if you use song mode.
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Last edited by Digital Larry on Tue Sep 17, 2019 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Digital Larry
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Re: My SooperLooper + Hydrogen setup for guitar recording

Postby Digital Larry » Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:45 pm

More screenshots of the setup.
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Digital Larry
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Re: My SooperLooper + Hydrogen setup for guitar recording

Postby Digital Larry » Fri Sep 20, 2019 3:29 am

Yesterday I built Hydrogen top of tree on my Linux box.

https://github.com/hydrogen-music/hydrogen

Had one issue which is noted here:

https://github.com/hydrogen-music/hydrogen/issues/677

I was wrong about Hydrogen. While the initial developers don't seem to be putting much into it, other people are actively maintaining it, at least for the time being. Hydrogen 1.0.0-beta1 is only about a year and a half old. Bug fixes etc seem to occur regularly. So there! :D
https://github.com/hydrogen-music/hydrogen/releases

Hydrogen has all sorts of UI widgets that can be used for a SooperLooper interface. The combo fader/bar graph meter, various buttons. The only thing I didn't directly see is the Live/Mobius/RC-505 "Pac Man/Pie Chart" widget for displaying loop playback position. I think this is the best representation of looping position and one of the things I liked about luppp. Have to see what Qt5 has to offer in that regard.

One thing that does bug me about the Hydrogen interface is that everything is so teeny-tiny. If the buttons and text were twice as big ti would be a good start. On a laptop it's ridiculous.

The Hydrogen release notes say that the latest Hydrogen code supports OSC, but I haven't dug in far enough to know what that means. Communication with SooperLooper's engine is via OSC so I hope I can use what is there for that.

I was also thinking about how to combine a waveform display of a loop synchronized to Hydrogen. The OSC interface to SL's engine doesn't expose the actual loop buffer or a file pointer to the client. So, short of adding such a thing to SL, which would only work when SL and the client were on the same machine, I have an idea. You tell me if it's crazy.

The peak meter feedback from SL's engine to the GUI happens every 100 msec. So I can just set up a buffer for the length of the loop in 100 msec increments and then store the peak level in the client in order to display. It's only used to line up transients with drum hits, not to edit loops in place. I'm still thinking it all out. It may take a few years.

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Linuxmusician01
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Re: My SooperLooper + Hydrogen setup for guitar recording

Postby Linuxmusician01 » Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:19 am

Why did you compile Hydrogen from source? Does that get rid of certain quirks we've been discussing?

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Digital Larry
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Re: My SooperLooper + Hydrogen setup for guitar recording

Postby Digital Larry » Fri Sep 20, 2019 1:29 pm

Linuxmusician01 wrote:Why did you compile Hydrogen from source? Does that get rid of certain quirks we've been discussing?

The main reason I did it was to start looking at the source to see how I could cram a SooperLooper UI into one of H2's screens. Also, there have been almost 500 commits to master subsequent to the 1.0.0-whatever beta. 0.9.7 is almost 3 years old now. So it's possible someone has done something to fix some of those issues we were talking about.

The other reason was to check the differences between the 0.9.7 "official" release and top of tree, and look at issues and pull requests to see what people are doing. However, since I have H2 and SL set up in a symbiotic way (with H2 as JACK timing master, it is behaving quite solidly IMO) I'm not currently trying to solve thornier issues such as timing glitches when H2 is not the timing master, etc.

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Digital Larry
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Re: My SooperLooper + Hydrogen setup for guitar recording

Postby Digital Larry » Sun Sep 29, 2019 6:38 pm

OK, now I have captured 3 ideas for my new song I've been working on for about 30 years. One thing that's funny about composing with loops against a drum loop (that I made up myself) is that "1" is often in the wrong place. Sometimes I have just gone with the flow on that, but the Hydrogen drum grid made it pretty easy to change the few hits that mattered. It'd be cool to be able to "rotate" MIDI or audio loops to correct this, but I've never seen anything that does this. When I had my Digitech Jamman pedal I really got "1" in the wrong place frequently.

I started trying to flesh out the drum part in Hydrogen against the SooperLooper loops and started to have second thoughts about continuing too far in this direction.

First, I start with a basic drum beat that is 1 or 2 measures. Usually I'll record guitar over this for the duration of the song section in question, which could be 4, 8, 12, etc. times through. Then when I'm done I need to set SooperLooper's 8ths/cycle value to match the full length of the section. Hydrogen will loop so many times inside this, but then I can extend the Hydrogen pattern to a song and add variations etc. to match the section length.

And THAT is the point where it needs to get taken into a DAW. I'm going to try Ardour since I already have that installed and am using it for my mixer.

I also just this morning installed drumgizmo because it seems like it would make sense to build up the drum patterns with the sounds that are going to be in the final product. I want to still have drum parts in MIDI at this stage. One of the last things I generally do when working this way is to add variations to the drum parts just to make them slightly less monotonous.

edit: WOW is setting up drumgizmo in Ardour difficult. I printed the instructions and am trying to follow them.

https://libremusicproduction.com/tutori ... zmo-ardour


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