Some fun with sooperloper

Today I was looking at the new boss rc-30 loopsation and I found its features quite good, in particular I like the portability and the fact that it can run on batteries (good for busking around with a battery powered amplifier), but the cost still kept me away.

In addition I don’t know if all the features related to USB connection with the computer can work with Linux.

So I decided to give a try to my computer-based looping setup, which involves an old MIDI pedal board from proel (model MS-16), a laptop with arch linux and the wonderful sooperlooper from Jesse Chappel, an often overlooked software but very powerful and inspiring.

So I hooked my alhambra classical guitar to a little soundtracs topaz mixer that I use for reharsal with the band, feeding the input of the laptop soundcard with the aux pot of the guitar channel on the mixer.

The audio output of the soundcard was then plugged as well into the mixer that in turn is attached to a small PA.

I find loopers a very creative tool for sketching musical ideas on the fly without having to reach for a big DAW program, creating a new project, and so on. Sooperlooper, once set is an instant gratification tool and today took me to this little latin-american divertissement.

Sorry for the quality of the video, it was taken from a small photocamera and the ligthing was not that good. The audio was captured with the yamaha pocketrak 2G and joined together with the video with avidemux syncing with a little trial and error, so it may be also not perfectly synced.

All in all, I like a lot this setup but I reckon that it is a bit complex to put together compared with the compactness and smallness of the boss pedal. Of course my solution cost me nothing and offers more flexibility (more tracks, more rounting options with JACK) but I’m still looking at the rc-30 with lush desire 🙂

Being an improvisation there are also bad spots so be forgiving… 😀

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New Balafon soundfont

A friend of mine lent me a fantastic african instrument: a Balafon.

I took the opportunity to sample it and make a soundfont to be used in GNU/Linux with qsynth.

The Balfon from which I take the samples for the soundfont


To record it I used my trusty yamaha pockettrack 2G (best buy of 2011), I then cropped the single notes with mhwaveedit and put toghether the soundfont with swami.

I don’t have the latest version of swami and there are some oddities in it, but at least I’ve been able to make it into a usable soundfont (I hope).

Please feel free to use it under the term of the CC BY-SA 3.0 license ( with the following exception:
The “share alike” condition is imperative if you modify the samples themselve or create new sample libraries with this licensed product. However, produced music and other non-sample-library works can be licensed at will).

The instrument itself is gorgeous, too bad I have to gave him back soon… I only sampled one layer for each note, basically there are three octaves of a C scale from G2 to F5 (I don’t know for shure those are the actual pitches, maybe I missed an octave in positioning notes).

The whole process took me about 2 hours to complete.

Hope you enjoy it!!

Click here for the soundfont balafon.sf2

Here’s some fiddling with the soundfont, recorded again into mhwaveedit:

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Emacs blog posting

Trying to post with emacs and org2blog

Ok, now trying to make a post in this blog directly from emacs, using org mode and org2blog, following the advice found here (let’s see if links work) 🙂

Also nested headers should work

But let’d try those also.

Not a very interesting post, I know…

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is MIDI really needed in 2012?

MIDI cableWhy should one use MIDI , the Musical Instrument Digital Interface, an almost 30 year old protocol, in 2012?

Well, you could argue that MIDI isn’t necessary anymore and that you can do everything in audio, and with many software synthesizers and emulators there’s even no need of it to control external gear.

But the thing is, MIDI has one important feature that audio lacks: it is endlessly editable in musical meaningful ways. You can alter tempo, meter, pitch, timbre, intensity and can control lots of other parameters.

I often do this parallel with graphic design: if digital audio is  a photograph, MIDI (midifiles, to be precise) is a vector illustration. Sure, you can do lots of photo retouch, effects and editing, but only vector graphics let you alter at will shapes, colors, and all elements of the illustration.

So, from a composer point of view, MIDI is still an exceptional protocol/file format to create music from scratch.For example MIDI is the cornerstone of any notation program on earth, including our beatuful musescore, the venerand and ever useful abc, and the king of notation systems lilypond, used in the project mutopia to typeset thousands of historical music scores (a terrific resource).

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