So you messed up, what now?
Loopers have been a great addition to the performing musician’s live set up, and have allowed complex multi-layered arrangements to be created by one or two people. However, a problem arises in the permanence of these recordings when a musician makes a mistake. Any non-looping musician can easily brush over a timing mistake or a dud note and carry on with their song. A looping musician is stuck with their mistake for as long as the loop is repeating.
Once a mistake is made, the looping musician is generally left with three options:
- Continue: They continue the song, brushing over the mistake. However the audience hears it, they hear it, and it loops for the entirety of the performance.
- Undo: With some modern loopers, there is the option to undo with a simple foot press. The musician is given a second chance to replay the part before continuing with the rest of the song. However, this disturbs the structure of the song and the audience clearly sees they messed up.
- Restart: Probably the least favorable option. In a worst case scenario when neither of the above are viable options, the musician stops the song and restarts over. Unfortunately, this is usually what happens when things go wrong in a live looping gig.
There Is Another Way…¶
The problem with the above options is that none of them allow the musician to continue undisturbed and keep their flow. Continuing with a badly played layer can easily psych them out on stage, as can having to undo and then replay their part. Stopping is simply not an option at a gig. So what now?
The fourth option: trigger the Panic Mode.
Imagine you’ve messed up a one of your guitar lines, and instead of options 1-3, you simply hit a pedal which instantly inserts a pre-recorded perfectly played reference clip, performed by yours truly at a time before the gig. This allows for the song to continue completely undisturbed. You keep your flow, and the audience doesn’t know any better.
ALK’s Panic Mode can deliver exactly that.
In order to set up ALK for to use Panic Mode we first need to set the reference clips of the song. Reference clips are essentially the perfectly played versions of each audio, instrument and MIDI record loop. Once the performance of a record loop is to a satisfactory level, the reference clip can be set by right-clicking on the loop and clicking Set reference clip:
Multiple reference clips can be set at the same time by selecting the specified record loops, then choosing Set reference clips from the Song menu
The last eight clips of a record loop (your performance takes) along with the reference clip can be viewed by right-clicking the loop to reveal the loop menu. After performing new takes of the song, the original reference clips can be restored at any time by:
- right-clicking a record loop and choosing reset to reference clip
- selecting the appropriate record loops and choosing Reset to reference clips from the Song menu
Quickly set or reset all reference clips by pressing “AA” to Select ALL and then choosing Set/Reset to reference clips from the Song menu.
Panic Mode Trigger Setup¶
Now that satisfactory clips have been set as the reference clips of the song, we need to determine how to trigger the quick replacement of our bad performance takes with these clips. As explained in the Automation section, the triggering of functions with physical triggers (such as a MIDI foot pedal or button) is performed with Captured Command Regions. This is how a physical controller can be used to trigger the Panic Mode.
The setup is as follows:
- Create a Command Track.
- In the track’s Track Panel click Learn and then press the desired pedal or button on the MIDI controller. This will become the trigger for the Panic Mode.
- Draw a Captured Command Region for the length of time that is desired for the function to be available. If you require it for a whole song, make the region as long as the song.
- Set the region to target Transport -> Panic Mode, by clicking on region’s target box.
Panic Mode In Performance¶
At this point, the Panic Mode is set up for use. While in a record (performance) state, triggering Panic resets the current clip to the reference clip. Below is a scenario explaining what happens when the Panic Mode is triggered at different times:
Hitting the pedal here inserts the reference clip of “Harmony”.
Hitting the pedal here inserts the reference clip of “Lead”.
Hitting the pedal here inserts the reference clip of “Beat”.
In simple terms, any time a loop is performed incorrectly, hitting the trigger inside that loop will instantaneously insert the reference clip, allowing you to freely move on from any mistakes without sacrificing any part of the song.