Sunday, 22 September 2013

Adventures in iOS - Creating loops on the go

This is a monumental moment for me - my first post using my new iPad!

I've long resisted the mobile music making world, but I have to say I've become a bit of a convert over the last few days. The workflow is so very different from using a PC or a MAC, but that's not such a bad thing. Making music on an iPad reminds me of my earliest experiences making music. Instead of having one program that does everything, such as Logic or Reason, you have lots of little tools that work together.

The first bits and pieces to come out of my iPad are a collection of glitchy loops that I've created using a combination of Propellerhead's Figure and Yellofier by Boris Blank. Figure is a gesture-based looper that let's you create a three part loop of drums, bass and lead. The patches aren't editable, but they come from Reason's sound bank so they're pretty decent. I picked a few sounds I liked and then used Audiobus to link Figure to Yellofier. If you're unfamiliar with Audiobus then think of it as a virtual audio cable that goes between apps.

Once hooked up you can begin recording into Yellofier. There are two ways you can approach this: You can set up a loop in Figure and just record a chunk of it into Yellofier and play about with the slices, or you can set up your sequence in Figure so that you capture 8 individual sounds. If you go with the first method then you're likely to get unpredictable glitchy results - which is always awesome. However, if you're a bit of a control freak and want predictable, clean results then use the second. Have a look at the two screenshots below for a comparison of what each method looks like in Yellofier. It's pretty clear which one is which.

OnceL your sound is recorded in you can choose your slice points. Don't worry if the tail of each slice seems too long; Yellofier is a monophic sampler, so it'll cut the slice short if you have another slice playing straight after it.

The song editor is made up of individual cells of 16 steps, so you can create loops of 16 or 32 steps easily, or even longer if you want to You can also layer up to four channels at once, using two sets of recorded slices and the built in samples. In this example I've only used one channel at a time, because all I'm interested in is creating some loops for future use.

The different colours correspond to the different slices, and the different shapes are different effects y can apply. The shapes can be rotated to change the severity of the effect, and you can also pitch shift each step. The effects are all quite glitchy, so they add a lot of texture and harmonics.

After creating a loop I like I export the audio into an app called Audioshare, which is an all purpose audio file manager. It has Dropbox support, so it's easy to bring samples in and out of the cloud, and it also has a normaliser, so if you want a quick and dirty way of making your samples louder without altering the dynamic range then you can use that.

That's basically it, a quick and dirty overview of some techniques I've been using over the past few days. Feel free to download the loops I've created, the link is below.

Download loops (122 bpm, G major)
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