Live Performance Phrase Sequencer

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    • #113116

      These preset variations are a subset of Short Phrase Looping Techniques.  But the focus here is on live control over the envelope shape of audio patterns, and dynamic ‘replace & refresh’ of those looping sequences.  (For the back story: 

      All of the preset tweaks share some unique stereo panning / phase effects between channels.  (I haven’t quite figured out the routing behind it all yet, but there’s a nice animation of regenerated repeats.)    They also rely on heavy compression RATIO, and very low THRESHOLD values. That will ensure that most any input will duck the delay buffer, and the compressor will kick in hard.  The delay buffer contents can always be locked in place (then unlocked), using the REPEAT / Performance Switch.

      The ‘base’ preset features high – but not infinite – FEEDBACK A & B, and a moderate – but audible – RELEASE time sweep.  WET MIX is controlled by an expression pedal.  Full heel leaves a barely audible [2%] wet signal, as a metronome for input sync.  Full toe is set to 50% dry/wet.  This is the only way here to kill off the sequencing, although the repeats will eventually die out.

      Staccato notes & chords load the “phase sequencer” with repeating phrases.  New notes mix with the looping sequence, and tend to overwrite select parts of the delay buffer.  Long sustained notes & chords (held more than 3 seconds) replace the buffer almost completely.  Guitar volume control changes interact with the ducking compression, and are imprinted on the looping phrases.  The 100 mS RELEASE time also shapes the phrase *between* input notes.


      Other variations on expression pedal and input control are now available with the newest H9 / Timefactor / H9 Control updates.  “EXP controls input volume” allows silent live input to the phrase sequencer, pattern envelopes, and trailing loops.  “EXP controls output volume” will silence both dry and sequencer audio, and provide mixing options between the pedal extremes.  For both of these variations below, I defeated the WET MIX expression mapping in the ‘base’ preset.




    • #141920

      RELEASE is a powerful control over the shape of conversion from input notes to the trailing sequences.  In this ‘fast’ preset tweak, sparse note input can quickly build to complex repeating phrases.  Less of the phrase is ‘erased’ with the rapid 10 mS return to full volume.  Note attacks are preserved.  Again, holding a chord from a Whole note or greater will overwrite the current phase completely.  Some nicely timed chords can serve as a background riff that can be edited on-the-fly.

      For any close-to-infinite sequencing or looping scheme, there should be some kind of escape hatch.  You can avoid the self-oscillation levels [100-110], but in some algorithms, it’s better to stay lower [90-95].  You can use an AUX switch to kill or reduce FEEDBACK levels.  I like to use an expression pedal; mapped from maximum FEEDBACK, to 0 (or slightly higher for smoother fade-outs).  A 2nd benefit is that the repeating sequence can be ‘edited’ with rapid expression pedal movement (between its extremes).

      At the other end, a ‘slow’ RELEASE of 500 mS opens up the dynamic control of envelope shaping.  ‘Slow Gear’ effects are more pronounced over the 1/2 second build-up.  Volume control adjustments at the instrument become more layered & nuanced.  The ‘erase head’ time over the repeating phrase is increased.  This is a versatile setting: arpeggios, mixed phrases, & legato chord work.

      One cool technique involves sustaining chords with the instrument volume at a minimum.  Let the chord rings out, then fade in the instrument volume.  When you fade the instrument volume back down to zero, the ducking compressor will fade-in the recorded background to maximum.  Great for pseudo-string ensembles, synth sounds, and ambient washes.

      Of course, you can map the ‘fast’ through the ‘slow’ RELEASE on the expression pedal.  I dropped the FEEDBACK safety valve, so those levels were reduced to 75.  I also increased the WET MIX to 75%, for more emphasis on the phrase attack variation.  This is the way to go for really dynamic phrase sequences, with a deep mixture of envelope shapes.

      You can add another wrinkle by boosting the WET MIX to 100.  Now your input notes & chords will always be muted, and ‘silent’ input will fade in the resulting phrases.  It’s a type of reverse mixing that helps to accent the current RELEASE setting [500 mS here].  Both FEEDBACKs are reduced slightly.  The lowpass/high-cut FILTER is introduced in-line.  It helps out regeneration decay with increased darkening on each repeat.

      I offset DELAY A & DELAY B by a small amount here.  It adds the feel of the phrases slowing down, yet everything remains in sync.



    • #141921

      Not clearly documented as such, but the FILTER control swings both ways [lo-cut/highpass],  FILTER effects can be spread by the difference in parallel DELAY times.  The ’50’s sci-fi DELAY A setting is quickly decimated by the FILTER setting, while the DELAY B phrase loop disintegrates more slowly. Neither DELAY will output until your input drops below the THRESHOLD level, which can make for some interesting combinations of reflections & frequency response.

      With shorter delay times, it’s important to keep the RELEASE time at least equal to – or better, less than – the smallest DELAY setting.  Half of the shorter delay value is a good starting point for RELEASE, as to not ‘lose’ the delay in that segment of the compressor processing.


    • #141922

      Any delay discussion worth its salt has to include dotted eighth notes and/or Golden Ratios.  (It’s the law).  This preset variation increases the THRESHOLD to lower the ‘clamping’ effect. RELEASE is short, and barely detectable as a distinct event.  There’s some hi-cut FILTER smearing the buffer sequence.

      The technique:  Play short clipped notes, and the dotted 8th / 1/2 note repeats will cascade after your final input.  Legato playing – letting your notes decay – will duck the repeating phrases.  Note release after sustained input will fade into ambient waves of delay; reminiscient of reverb algos.  With little practice, it’s easy to summon up distinct repeats mixed with bursts of frozen sound.



      And now on to the mandated Fibonacci numbers:  Most every parameter is tweaked to taste here.  Increased WET MIX for emphasis, and a ‘bloom’ to the Golden phrases.  Magical values for each DELAY. Both FEEDBACK controls tuned to their corresponding DELAY time.  Milder compression RATIO for a smoother blend and mix (along with a higher THRESHOLD value).  Moderate RELEASE time – well under the shortest DELAY value.  Plus a little high frequency accenting, using the FILTER.

      I was going for a ‘wind chimes in the breeze’ effect.


    • #141985

      Here are a couple more variations on the ‘offset delays’ theme.  They show how making a few critical adjustments to the same preset can yield markedly different FX.  The ‘O-S-‘ preset adds DELAY time swaps to the EXP PED control over FEEDBACK levels.


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