Traveling with Electronics : Transparent Technology

that's an impressive setup to "not have to think about the tech" 

.....jesse / sonosaurus / thumbjam / drumjam



If you are performing with technology these days outside of the slaves to sync arena, you are faced with the challenge of creating a playable musical instrument capable of responding with great nuance to human interaction and real-time musical exchange. This month I'd like to share with you a look at my current live-sampling rig and maybe it will give you some ideas to explore with your own rig and your live work. Let's see.


TOP L2R : infinity looper - 2i2 audio interface - powered usb hub - ditto looper - ms50g

BOTTOM L2R : ipad4 (10.0.1) - control box for infinity looper - MPK mini usb controller 

The starting point of the signal flow > is the Zoom MS50G effects box into the TC Ditto Looper (this is often replaced with a mixer if I am going to be sampling a large number of sources within an ensemble) > next is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface which gets audio into the iPad, for sampling and also gets all the audio out of the iPad > next is the Pigtronix Infinity looper, which is the final stereo output >.

I am running 5 apps on the iPad 4 : (sync choices were made for this rig only)  

Samplr - is the main app I use for live sampling and in the five years that it's been around, there is still nothing out there that even comes remotely close to what it can do with sound in real-time (granted it hasn't seen much update love for a while, but Marcos told me that he is working on an update right now!) - I can work with six samples at a time and record my playing gestures - Samplr is not synced to any other apps and is clocking at 60 BPM (an old school trick to keep it in real-time). 

ThumbJam - is a sample based instrument / looper that is so expressive and deep, you could write a book about it! Jesse is always keeping it updated and moving forward with useful new features (check out the arpeggiator), and was very kind to refine the audio monitoring choices and implement a couple of cc bindings to help me better control live-looping via midi - TJ is not synced to any other apps and has some kind of tempo detection that sets the BPM based on the first loop recorded. 

DrumJam - another brilliant creation from Jesse at Sonosaurus - DJ is a sample based percussion instrument that takes the concept of a drum machine in a very different direction - multiple instruments / loops which comprise an ensemble plus your choice of samples for a nuanced solo instrument - synced via Link to AUM. 

   AudioBus     AUM

AudioBus - is an essential part of any iPad rig as it allows you to route the audio of multiple apps in whatever configuration you need to achieve your desired goal.

AUM - is another essential app for both performing and recording (AudioShare) - Aum is acting as a midi router and as an audio mixer in my live-sampling rig.


CONTROL : Of the 5 apps, AudioBus is completely in the background all the time, while providing a very useful control / navigation tab which is active on any screen brought to the front. Samplr has no midi ability so it's screen must be in the front if you are going to interact with it (but to be honest, other than Link and the ability to play the Samplr keyboard via midi on the wish list, this really is a touch based app).

The remaining 3 apps (TJ - DJ - AUM), Can all be played and or controlled remotely via midi, which brings us to the final component of the rig, the AKAI MPK controller.



velocity keyboard controller with an arpeggiator, 2 banks of 8 pads, 8 knobs, 4 presets


The pad banks are sending cc's on midi channel 1 across all 4 presets - for this rig

Pad bank 1 

pads 1-7 are mutes for 7 loops : in TJ

pad 8 is delete all loops : in TJ

Pad bank 2 

pads 1-4 are master mutes for TJ - Samplr - DJ - Master Fader : in AUM

pad 5 is rec / play for looping instruments : in TJ

pad 6 is play / stop for all loops : in TJ

pad 7 is rec / play for external audio : in TJ

pad 8 is sustain for instrument 1 : in TJ  


The 8 knobs are sending cc's on midi 1 / preset 1 - midi 2 / peset 2 (etc.) 

Preset 1 

knobs 1,2,3,4,6,7,8 are volumes for loops 1-7 : in TJ

knob 5 is volume for instrument 1 : in TJ

Preset 2 

knobs 1-4 are volumes for TJ - Samplr - DJ - Master Fader : in AUM

knob 5 is volume for instrument 2 : in TJ & the solo instrument : in DJ

knob 6 is pitch for the solo instrument : in DJ

knob 7 is volume for the ensemble drum loop : in DJ

knob 8 is pitch for the ensemble drum loop : in DJ




Via my MPK mini (usb) controller's 4 presets I can remotely :

* play and control the volume of 4 different instruments in TJ

* record 7 loops in TJ, external audio & internal instruments

* control the loop mix via 7 knobs

* control the loop mutes via 7 pads

* control play / stop & delete loops

* play the solo instrument in DJ stacked with one instrument in TJ

* control the volume & pitch of the solo instrument in DJ 

* control the volume & pitch of the drum loop ensemble in DJ 

* control the volume & mute for TJ, DJ, Samplr & Master fader in AUM


Background midi control allows me to keep the Samplr screen up front while I am live sampling, manipulating those samples and recording those gestures, all in real-time.

I don't have to think about the tech as it's very transparent.....I can just play!



One of the projects I use this rig in is PHantomORchestra with Brian Mullins on Zhonghu 

 We will be performing in Boulder Colorado 

6:00 PM Sunday October 9th at the Dairy Center as part of the "One Night Only" ALIVE! series. Join us for a concert dedicated to contemporary composers - we'll be representing those who choose to compose in real-time - check it out!



I'm going to close out this month with a short report on the state of iOS: 

With the fall comes Apple's fashion make-over and I have to say that iOS 10 has been the least intrusive update so far. That said, here is what else they've been up to. - CDM Create Digital Music

While we're on the subject of headphones - sound and quality. 

Finally, a little heads up on a great deal. I've been using a combination of AUM & AudioShare along with MultiTrack DAW by Harmonicdog to create projects and recordings in the iPad, but when Steinberg introduced Cubasis 2, with real-time, time-stretching and pitch-shifting, and dropped the price by 50%, I had to drop the dime. Well worth it (even at full price).....the sale ends on october 6th.


Well that about wraps 'er all up.


until next month then

safe travels.....dino