Going live without a laptop

For the last 12+ years whenever I did a live performance I inevitably based my rig around a laptop of some form, ableton Live, some controllers , a good soundcard and that was it.

Gradually over the years as my projects have evolved I have slowly been adding more and more hardware synths and sequencers, the reason being often the sound quality is better from the hardware synths, or at least, the feel is better and what I mean by that is the playing aspect, dynamics, responses at least to me, are much better, I’ve nothing against softsynths, I still use some, and several Ive created via Reaktor and Max/MSP , but I like responsive knobs and keys.

No laptop

In CSMA we’re basing our practice around synthesis and structured improvisation and so the more live options of tweaking, keyboard playing and general knob twiddling the better, Christine Caulfield dispensed using her laptop ages ago and instead wrote her own code on a Raspberry Pi to handle MIDI clock data across her instruments and coming from me.

How it works

The drum machine TR8-S contains all the tempos and patterns for all the pieces. This is the heart of the system that everything synchs to. It connects to the MX-1 mixer using the aira usb link. Because the roland aira products can use both the USB and 5 pin din MIDI at the same time, the clock output can be split. In the drum machines case the 5 pin din takes the clock to the Kaoss pad for beat synching effects, while the clock over the usb does the same for beat effects in the MX-1 but also is sent straight out via 5 pin din to Chrissies raspberry Pi. The system-1 can also use both MIDI and usb so the 5 pin din here synch goes to the Matrixbrute, Both the system 1 and the Matrixbrute run arpeggio patterns on some tracks, both at the same time for complex layers. Ditto the sequencer in the Matrixbrute. The studiologic sledge is purely a live melodic/chordal instrument not needing a clock at the moment- but I’ve tested it, connecting via the MIDI Thru from the Matrixbrute at its arpeggio seems to work in time with the others.

Heres the live rig from last gig live rig at decimal place

And heres how it all connects up:

live set up

About stuartrussellcomposer

Composer/ sound artist. Electronic musician. Modern classical composer
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