airport loops — four, unsynchronized loopers for experimentation

Inspired by Brian Eno’s Music for Airports (particularly the vocal looping used in track 2/1) and a questioned posed on r/ZOIA by u/swgazer, airport loops is a patch designed to be a miniature loop manipulation/mixing console for creating evolving textures.

Four loops can be recorded asynchronously, or a single loop can be recorded simultaneously to each loop buffer for further manipulation. (This allows for combinations of synchronous and asynchronous looping, as a loop could be recorded into all buffers, then buffers 3 and 4 could be recorded over, leaving 1 and 2 as synchronous loops from the same source, while the others differed.)

Once recorded, the control page allows for a wide range of manipulation techniques, including adjusting the speed/pitch of the loop, its playback direction, the start and stop points, and an FM-inspired “tape age” control for adding flutter and distortion.

The loops can also be mixed, sent to a reverb lite, and panned.

The signal path sums to mono, but outputs in stereo (through the reverb lite and panner). There is also a stereo dry through.

Here is a teaser clip I did on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CFQqrIahkyz/?hl=en

And a longer piece (10 min — fair warning) I recorded after publishing the patch:

Controls:

Stompswitches:

Left — maxes reverb decay; the slew limiter that controls the rise and fall of the reverb decay is located on page 2, as well as the reverb lite, if you would like to adjust the default decay of the reverb

Middle — mutes all live tracks, unmutes all muted tracks; this can be used to have loops fade in and out or to silence all of the loops (if all are live when the stompswitch is pressed)

Control pages:

Page 0: Recording

There is a pushbutton corresponding to each track. There is also a white pushbutton labeled “Record to all” that allows you to record to all the loop buffers simultaneously.

The pushbuttons are latching, but changing them to momentary would be easy, if you preferred.

The loop buffers are set to 32 seconds. If you exceed the buffer time, the loopers do weird things. In order to help with this, there is a countdown clock that runs across the top of the page. Pixels will appear when recording begins and slowly disappear when as it continues. When the last pixel disappears, 32 seconds have elapsed.

Page 1: Loop control

The controls are color-coordinated to each track.

The left and right side generally perform two separate tasks. The left side is loop manipulation. The right side is mixing.

The left controls are, per track:

“Tape speed” — pitch/speed control for the loop

Reverse — when pressed on, the loop will play in reverse

Tape trim — adjusts the start point of the loop

Tape length — adjusts the end point of the loop

Tape age — this is a control that modulates the loop speed with a random module; this will generate random numbers at a low audio rate (I forget; I think it’s ~250 Hz?), essentially FMing the loop. The effect of this is, at low levels (less than .0500), a sort of flutter vibrato, which as the tape age control increases becomes more and more distorted. A little goes a long way, but a lot goes a long way too, in terms of creating distorted textures

The right controls are, per track:

Mute — this is a button that will mute the track if it is live and unmute the track if it is silence; the intensity of the button when live reflects the level of the loop (set below). The muting process is automated, using an ADSR, allowing you to fade a track in and out without having to fiddle around with the level control. (See also, middle stompswitch)

Fade time — sets the fade speed of the muting; the ADSR used for this is linear, and the total length of fade can be 60 seconds, so a value of .1 will be 6 seconds, etc.; you can very slowly weave loops in and out of the mix

Level — sets the level of the loop

Reverb send — determines the amount of the loop sent to the reverb lite

Pan — post-send this determines where the remaining portion of the loop sits in the stereo field

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  • Category: Composition Effect Sampler
  • Revision: 1.0
  • License: Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 4.0
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  • Modified: 1 month ago
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2 comments on “airport loops — four, unsynchronized loopers for experimentation
  • Robin Servant on said:

    Thank you so much for this patch! It’s very inspiring, simple to use and so versatile!!!

    I just created a new piece of music this afternoon with it!

  • Christopher H. M. Jacques on said:

    Thanks! If you ever want to share, I’d love to have a link to the piece here in the comments.

    It’s quickly become a real tool for inspiration to me, too.

    I’ve been working on a series of brief compositions (or excerpts from longer compositions, usually) on IG — just look for all of the videos with trees in them: https://www.instagram.com/chmjacques/

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