Tag Archives: debian

Looping setup

The very first post on this blog has been pushed from emacs with org2blog, then I abandoned the idea for a while and posted from within the wordpress interface only.

Now I’d like to get back to the roots, so to say 🙂 so this post will be typed inside emacs

Looping setup

I thought for a while to set up a looping enviroment with my old laptop, a thinkpad t61p which now runs debian jessie. I already used the wonderful sooperlooper application as can be seen in the following video: Some fun with sooperloper | linuxaudiostudio

However, this was only about looping with live played material on a guitar, and I wanted to expand or maybe switch to electronic sounds generated inside the box.


Hardware-wise at the time I used only a MIDI pedalboard (proel-ms16-93562.jpg (JPEG Image, 640 × 329 pixels)) to control sooperlooper, now I want to integrate a couple of other MIDI controllers:

Roland PC 300


this one I bought used for 40 € and it is a wonderful (although discontinued) MIDI keyboard that has all the features I need with a small footprint and a light weight:

  1. four octaves with octave buttons to play on the entire MIDI range
  2. ability to switch MIDI channels from the keyboard itself. This is very important to control different softwares without touching the computer. I used to use the akai lpk 25, which is a wondeful tiny controller, but it lacks this feature (you can use at most 4 different channels by using the presets)
  3. Modulation/pitch wheel
  4. Sustain pedal input
  5. a programmable slider for sending MIDI CC
  6. USB bus powered (no need for yet another power adapter)

Novation remote Zero MKI


this one is a real beast. It’s also discontinued (now they make the MKII) but I found it in great conditions for only 70 €. It has a lot of physical controls with extensive programming options. It is also bus powered and it works as MIDI interface too, so I’m using it to connect the MIDI only ms-16 pedalboard.

Also great about this controller is the fact that it has two screens where you can see the (configurable) name and value of the controller you are sending.

And it has an editor that runs (with some glitches, but usable) under wine.


Here is where things get complicated.. 🙂 I haven’t sorted out yet the full setup for software but here’s a list of the software that I intend to use:

  • sooperlooper (of course)
  • renoise (the best traker ever made, althoug not free)
  • yoshimi (a great soft synth)
  • mididings (neat MIDI router and processor)
  • qjackctl (for JACK connecions and patchbay persistence)
  • wmctrl (for controlling GNOME via MIDI when combined with mididings)

basically sooperlooper and renoise should be connected and sync’d thru JACK transport, renoise providing its wonderful sampler and its powerful effect chains. Yoshimi to produce synth sounds (multitimbrical, say two or three channels), mididings to route all MIDI data to the appropriate program basing on MIDI channel.

I tried with those softwares and the resulting setup is already quite complex… and this whitout external audio sources like real instruments (which I want to integrate at some point).

Other software that I’m considering:

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Latin ballad speed recording with ardour

Today I recorded this one, it’s an old latin ballad which I heard from the italian singer/icon Mina

It has an awesome melody and a nice chord progression, which took me some hours to grasp completely.

I recorded it in ardour 2.8.14, since I switched from ubuntu to debian stable (FTW!) some months ago. The recording took about an hour, and it’s made of seven tracks plus a bus for reverb:

  • guide percussion (on the left)
  • guitar 1 (on the right)
  • bass
  • brushes (on the right)
  • voice
  • solo guitar
  • guitar 2 (on the left)

This is also the order in which I recorded them: I started with a bar of percussion (made banging on the guitar body) that I duplicated for the length of the song.

I did this because it is very difficult to multritrack all instruments on my own only with the click without sacrificing most of the groove. This trick helps to retain at least part of it.

Then I recorded the guitar (an Alhambra 5P with built in amplification) directly into an humble StudioProjects Vtb-1 and then into my trusty RME hammerfall.

The bass is a 90’s squier II precision bass through the same signal chain.

Then for the “brushes” I used a somewhat muted darbouka with a clothes brush, miked with a nice sennheiser md-421: the same one I used for the voice.

The preamp was again the Vtb-1. It’s not the best I have but is always plugged and very handy.

As for plugins, I used my preferred trio: Invada mono compressor on voice and bass, triple band parametric to cut some frequencies on the voice, and Gverb on a bus on its own as a global reverb. I sent mainly voice and solo guitar to the reverb, and also a bit of the two guitars, which are otherwise panned hard L and R.

I replaced some bad notes here and there, exported the file and opened it with mhwaveedit to cut the start and tail, and to boost a little the volume with a gently (I hope) touch of Barry Satan Maximizer.

The whole process take little more than one hour and a half, and the software behaved beautiffully without a single xrun. I feel that now I have reached a very fast workflow with ardour and Linux. Effective!

I hope you enjoy it, and if you are spanish-speaking, please forgive my pronunciation. 🙂

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