In the last article we created a very simple, bare-bones looping setup in Live using Session Mode, Audio Clips, and the SoftStep. In this article we will explore the other built in solution to looping in Live by exploring how to setup a looping template using the Looper device.
The basic setup is very similar to the previous approach, and again we will be using the factory NOTE preset as the starting point. I’ll be moving to a 4 Looper setup, because this setup isn’t quite as demanding on the amount of buttons it will use. To get started, create a Live set with 5 audio tracks and the monitoring set to IN for all of them (set up the routing exactly how we did in the previous setup). The first four will be our Loopers, and the fourth will be our audio input (set this to your instrument/microphone in). Next, drag a Looper onto each of the first three tracks, and make sure to set their Input -> Output to ‘Never’. This setting controls how the Looper handles in coming audio, in this case we only want to hear the loops, and never want to hear the audio from the instrument out of these tracks.
There are a lot of different ways to use the Looper and you can consult the Live manual or the built-in Info View to find out more about the Looper device. I encourage you to experiment with your audio routing and figure out what works best for your style of Looping. These articles should serve as suggestions for how to configure your Live set. For instance, we could house all of this functionality inside of one Live track and instead of using tracks we could use an Audio Effect Rack (as seen to the right) with 5 chains. Set up one chain per Looper and a direct input channel. In more complex setups this might be desirable, but for the time being we will stick to our Track format.
Now that we have our set configured we can start setting up our control. Connect your SoftStep to Live and make sure you are on the factory NOTE preset. Enter MIDI mapping mode and highlight the Multi-Purpose Transport Button (the big button on the Looper). If you hover over this, Live will give you some good info on how this button works. Basically, it allows for one MIDI note to accomplish a bunch of different actions. Try using the button to record a loop, overdub, stop and clear the loop, then map the 2, 3, and 4 keys on the SoftStep to the remaining Loopers.
We have control over 4 individual Loopers covered, but it could be useful to control all of them at once (for example if you’d like to stop all tracks at once or erase all of them at the beginning of a new idea). Luckily, there are some tools in place in the Softstep Advanced Editor that will allow us to make a Multi-Purpose button of our own. We can tell our SoftStep to send out one MIDI note when we touch a key and another when we hold it down. To set this up in the Advanced Editor, switch to Standalone Mode. Navigate to the NOTE preset and open the modline window for key 5 (or any key that you wish). Set it up to look like this:
Feel free to use a different note instead of changing the channel, it’s up to you to decide what makes sense in your setup. Now we’ll do the mapping (which is the tedious part). You’ll want to turn the second modline off (by clicking the blue number 2) and map the Foot On message to the Stop Buttons (there is a row of MIDI mappable buttons right about the Multi-Purpose Transport Button) of each Looper. Then turn the first modline off, and the second on, send the preset, then map the Clear button of each Looper. THEN, turn both modlines on, save and send the preset and you will have a global stop and erase button! You can download the Live set and modified preset HERE.
We still have the top row free for a variety of different tasks. Volume adjustments, FX toggles on the input, FX per track, solos/mutes. One of the nice things about this setup is that you don’t need all of the keys on the SS to accomplish a pretty versatile looping scenario. In the next article we will take our Softstep and Live integration one step further and setup some LED feedback for both of the scenarios we’ve setup, using M4L.