Retronyms TableTop device setup (August 2013)

Following on to the whole diagram of my performance rig, here is the device setup when I use Retronyms TableTop:


  • Audio input coming in from the Roland DUO-CAPTURE mk2 can be capture with the Magic Mic device
  • That goes into an X2 Splitter unit, one output going to the Glitchboard, the other to a Verve reverb effect
  • The output of both goes to the mixer, then to the main out
  • Actual audio from the iPad is sent to a real mixer

This lets me glitch the incoming audio or add reverb effects separate to the glitching. And I can control the balance of them in the mixer, though I usually leave the reverb audio at normal because the reverb has a dry/wet mix knob.

The Current Rig plus Lighting (August 2013)

ani_signal_chain_2Here is a chart of the latest rig. Since last October I have been trying to get closer to an all-iPad setup for the main part of the signal chain and I finally reached that point a few months ago:

New to the mix are some visual elements:

I hope this was interesting! 🙂


iPad Live Looping w/ #songrequests (2013.08.14)

The next #songrequests is out! This one takes us to a bit of a slower, more relaxed territory. Suggestions were:

  • coastside, sea shell, ocean, on the pontoon, motorboatin’, sea lion; (with a sample from Benbojangles)
  • pussywillows, poppies, furrbie, schnozzle, spoiled kitties, Babar;
  • Ozzy Osborne, little red Corvette, salt flats;
  • TARDIS, stewardess, falconer, paratroopers;
  • Dracula City cow whippers, Safety Sam, the inner struggle of any Charles Bronson character, Big Jim Slade;
  • Vanilla Sky, despair;
  • chips and salsa, pearl tea, stinky tofu, sushi, hand in cookie jar, funky fried chicken, what Pez dispensers do when they think humans aren’t watching them, Tic Tac, a flying blowfish riding a bicycle

This was definitely on the random side.

Next #songrequests is Tuesday Aug 13


OK, let’s do this again. I’ll start taking suggestions now and sometime Tuesday evening another #songrequests will happen. Send in your suggestions:

Update Aug 12: suggestions so far are completely oddball: ocean, coastside, sea shell, sea lion, vanilla sky, schnozzle, furrbie, coco, louis, on the pontoon, motorboatin’, little red corvette, miko, spoiled kitties, pussywillows, poppies, hand in cookie jar!, funky fried chicken, safety sam, big jim slade, dracula city cow whippers, pearl tea, stinky tofu, chips and salsa, the inner struggle of any charles bronson character, what pez dispensers do when they think humans aren’t watching them, ozzy osborne, babar!, tic tac, a flying blowfish riding a bicycle, stewardess, salt flats, sushi, paratroopers and falconer, despair. I have no idea how I can get most of these in.

#songrequests is music-making by committee

I put out the call this evening on Facebook and Twitter asking for any themes for song suggestions. Boy did I ask for it. The 12 topics that came out of this were:

  • Ghostbusters
  • Number Six (Battlestar Galactica)
  • clandestine
  • games
  • highwire/trapeze
  • caramel
  • bar, beer — with a sample from Leandros.Ntouni
  • jazz
  • Hendrix
  • post-punk
  • lizards
  • fire cracker — with a sample from OroborosNZ

Yes, I found a way to get them all in there in 1 take. (Yeah, there’s some rough bits but, hey, it was wholly improv and I’m using my new NanoStudio patches.) Take a listen:

We’ll do this again next week!

Super prolific weekend, live-looping is awesome to get ideas out

One of the things I enjoy about this artform is that it forces you to turn out material really quickly. Sometimes I have a little bit of an idea but while punching in the notes I get another idea. And within about a half minute I have a base of a cool tune. That’s why in this weekend I was able to punch out 3 pretty well-formed song ideas—and have time to edit the videos too!

It all starts with the main iPad. I can lay down a beat, a bassline, or a texture in about 2-5 seconds. Then it’s all about putting some meat on those bones. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and I’ll do a couple of takes, but lately that’s been more about technical issues—I’ll accidentally hit the stop button or set the wrong measure for the loop start/end. True, the solos and melody lines are a bit harder to come up with on the spot, but I’m building up this list in my head of the ones I really like. Plus, I have my favorite chord progressions.

As you can see it unfold on the videos, it takes under 10 minutes to get all that music built out … then I’m bored and want to move on to the next song. If I don’t like what’s going on I could cut it short and just move on to the next idea. During one of my live sets a “song” usually lasts from 1 to 6 minutes depending on how it’s shaping up. (This weekend’s batch of videos each was self-contained so I had to rebuild each song with the annoying metronome for the first 2 minutes or so.)

Before I started doing live-looping it would take forever to get out a song. I’d overanalyze parts, spend a lot of time EQing (and usually get it wrong), rewrite segments, try to put in a lot of different chords. Each song might be 30 hours of labor and constantly second-guessing. But with looping, there are really no take-backs. If you make a mistake you just move on. You build on what you know will work and take a few chances. You don’t have time to jump back to the mixer panel most times and you can’t do fancy progressions. In spite of this, I still find it wonderfully enjoyable and I’m always amazed at how other people can make fully-formed songs in this format—that’s definitely something I’m aspiring to.

Thanks for being along for the ride!