Community Post

TD for sound: Arcimboldo, a drum loops sequencer

Is TouchDesigner a good tool to manage audio?

This is my answer: Arcimboldo


I think the video is very boring, but if you jump you can find useful elements referring the text.

1) What is it:
 A drum loop sequencer, but it handles audio files in general, so it can be used for any instrument

2) How it works:
 It plays audio loops in live, following commands from a MIDI device, like a pedalboard

 3) Why I made it:
 I play in a band and we have no drummer. So we create drum loops with some software, but we don't like to play a simple predefined track. We want to be free to change the song and to improvise, both in lives and in reharsal. So we define different drum loops for each song and I drive them live, while playing bass or guitar, following the other musicians and inspiration.

 4) The samples:
 The loops to be played can both be created one by one or can be extracted from a whole track. It means that you can also use real audio tracks recorded from actual instruments (drums included), just be sure that the BPM is respected. Then create a folder with the song name and put on it the tracks.
 Once started the patch you can click the "E-songs" button and edit the songs' table inserting the song's name, the BPM and folder where to find the tracks.
 Automatically the program will create a little mixer with all the tracks you inserted.
Pressing the "E-samples" button you will open another table. Here you have to insert the display name of each track.
 Now you have to define the single loops of the song pressing the "E-loops" button. Here you can define up to 10 loops with: name, starting bar, duration. The program will automatically "cut" the tracks to play each loop at the right point. 
 name starting bar duration 
 intro 1 4
 verse-1 5 8
 bridge 14 2
 chorus 17 8
 A special key will save on disk all single loops, for each instrument, in separate wav files, if you need them.

5) Playing:
 To play the loops you just have to press pedals from pedalboard (or whatever MIDI controller).
 In my case I have 10 switches, so each one drives one od the 10 loops.
 Pressing a pedal will start a "prefill" that counts "1-2....1-2-3-4" to help you start playing the song, than the corresponding loop will start.
 Once the loop is over it starts again, unless you have pressed another pedal to start another loop. In this case the new loop will start in sync, at the beginning of the next bar, so, even if you are not perfect, Arcimboldo will be.

6) Mixer:
 You can use a single track from drums or single tracks, one for each instrument: kick, snare, closed hithat, opened hitahat and so on.
 If you have a single track you cannot change single volume, pan, eq or even mute/unmute.
 If you have separate tracks you can change everyone of this specs for each single instrument.
 You have two more controls: one for the prefill and one for the master volume.
 Each song has his different settings to be saved and reloaded automatically.

7) Display:
 The display shows (up left) the songs list where you select the song to play (than can be driver by MIDI signals) and the total time from the first start of the first loop in session.
 Than you have (up right) the list of the loops and the time you are playing that song.
 In the middle of the up part is displayed the name of the loop that is playing, if you change loop before the next beat the new name will flash while in "waiting", until it starts to play.
 Under you have the beat playing / total beats of the loop.
 Than you have the controls for each track, the prefill and the master. Volume, pan, parametric eq, mono and mute. There is a VU meter for each track+peak memory.
 On the right of the mixer there are the control keys (still in progress) to help you find and define the loops and to save single loops/instruments.

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