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Re: reaktor, MSP, etc

OK, let's see.  (Note that all of this concerns Reaktor 4, but max/msp 
can do the same stuff.  With Reaktor you can create UIs with big ol' 
blinky lights, XY pads, scopes, sliders, buttons, wave form displays, 
bitmaps, and stuff like that--so that you can decide what sort of 
information will be displayed to you on your screen.  If you are curious 
about people who are using laptops to do live looping, check out i.e. 
Christian Fennesz or Tomas Korber.)

I have one looper that uses the audiotable module in Reaktor to capture 
and play back incoming audio.  since the audiotable works by essentially 
storing audio bits in a matrix of cells, you can set it up to overdub 
only on selected cells.  To simply things, there is a grid of 16 
possible "cells" that make up each loop.  Each of the cells can be set 
to overdub or play in reverse independently of the others.  So you 
could, for example, record a loop, then set only certain cells to 
contunuously overdub, so that the majority of the loop remains while 
selected parts are constantly changing as you continue to play.  Does 
that make sense?  It might be a little convoluted.  The grid is layered, 
so that you can record 4 different loops and switch between them.  I 
have been thinking about using LFOs or controllers to dynamically change 
between the loop layers but I'm too lazy to do it right now.  The whole 
thing can be clocked internally or externally so a primitive sort of 
time stretching is possible.  It's pretty grainy, but I don't mind that. 
 It definitely adds texture.

I have another looper, using the grain cloud delay module, that allows 
you to break incoming audio, live or frozen, into seperate grains, which 
can be pitch shifted, time stretched, lengthened or shortened.  You can 
juggle the grains to make nice jittery rhythms or just have things 
constantly shifting a bit.  Feedback can be turned off or inverted, so 
this can function much like a delay or only as a looping recorder.  I 
also added a nice multimode filter with a dynamic envelope and LFO 
modulation.  This patch can take loops from straight up to totally 
unrepresentative of what you just played.

I have another looper that uses the tape deck module to record and loop 
incoming audio and an XY graph to vary the playback position of each 
slice of the loop over time.  You can also change the speed of playback, 
but this effects pitch too.

I just downloaded someone else's looper off the NI website the other day 
that functions like a bank of tape loops, more or less.  Each of the 
five loops can be pre-timed by button presses to set the length.  This 
one is a little primitive but the way it's put together makes it sound 
nice.  Audio only loops if feedback is turned up all the way, so some of 
the loops can act as delays while others are doing the looping.

It's also worth noting that any of these kinds of techniques can be 
combined into one patch.  You could use an input router, which could be 
automated or modulated even, to send incoming audio to different looper 
chains.  And of course you can construct compressors, limiters, filters, 
reverbs, and so forth for additional textures.

Any type of midi controllers can be used.  If you can get used to the 
various foot switch routines for hardware loopers, you will have no 
problem here.  A footswitch for controlling things while you're playing 
and a table-top midi controller for when you are tweaking would set you 
up.  And since you can add LFOs or tempo-based modulation to any patch, 
some functions can be set into motion on their own for hands-free 
tweaking out.  You could use a graphic pattern sequencer with snapshot 
recall to make certain preset parameter changes while you are playing 
and looping.  So the changes would be decided in advance, but your 
playing could be different every time.

I don't know if any of this stuff is worthwhile to you all, but I just 
thought of a few new things I could do while I was writing all of this 

Hope this helped!