Welcome

live at leedsI’m a looping guitarist living in Sheffield, England. I have been performing for 45 years in a variety of professional bands and latterly, as a solo artist / collaborator.

Repetition and Intuition are the key factors behind my music, which places dynamics & timbre high up the list. I see the guitar as an organic sound source that uses looping technology and laptop treatment to build moods & soundscapes. My pieces are born, evolve and die away.

Forthcoming gigs:
Diversity Fest 8th October 2017 Hagglers Corner

Farewell to Rare & Racy

Yesterday, I got together with Martin Archer & Mick Beck to play some live music as a mark of respect for the imminent closure of  Rare & Racy – a gem of a book & record shop in central Sheffield, being compulsorily closed & demolished (along with the block) to make way for a commercial development.

I’ve been shopping there in the mid 70s (well, browsing and listening mostly) and have lost count of the times I’ve asked “what’s that you’re playing it’s great”! People have traveled to Sheffield from far and wide on the reputation of the shop. Whilst most Cities would be delighted to boast such an amazing attraction, Sheffield Council are happy to kiss it goodbye, to join the pantheon of old buildings lost to us. We will be so much the poorer for the loss of it

Thanks to Allen Capes & the staff for changing so many people’s lives for the better…

And here’s a rough & Ready mash-up video of the day….

midi footpedal code

WordPress won’t let me easily include code in comments, so I’ve posted it as a page. This code is used to control my Echoplex Digital Pro by sending specific midi CC messages, but these can easily be adapted to send other messages, PC, CC etc. Although it works, it’s nowhere near finished and there’s probably a much better way of doing the same thing. I’m also running out of arduino pins, so multiplexing will be required to add more buttons or leds. The learnig curve never seems to flatten out ;(

#include <MIDI.h>
#include <Button.h>

// Constants

#define recLED 15
#define ovrLED 14
#define multLED 18
#define halfLED 16
#define revLED 17
#define BOUNCEDELAY1 100
#define BOUNCEDELAY2 20

Button RECbutton = Button(2,PULLUP);
Button OVRbutton = Button(3,PULLUP);
Button MULTbutton = Button(4,PULLUP);
Button UNDObutton = Button(5,PULLUP);
Button INSbutton = Button(6,PULLUP);
Button NEXTbutton = Button(7,PULLUP);
Button HALFbutton = Button(8,PULLUP);
Button REVbutton = Button(9,PULLUP);

// Variables:
int recLEDstatus = 0;
int ovrLEDstatus = 0;
int multLEDstatus = 0;
int halfLEDstatus = 0;
int revLEDstatus = 0;

void setup()
{
MIDI.begin(1);
//start serial with midi baudrate 31250 or 38400 for debugging
Serial.begin(31250);
Serial.flush();

// Setup Switches and activation LEDs
}
void loop()
{

// RECORD

if(RECbutton.isPressed())
{
MIDI.sendNoteOn(38,127,1);  // record on
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
do {
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
}
while( RECbutton.isPressed() );
MIDI.sendNoteOn(38,0,1);  //  off
if (recLEDstatus == 0 )
{
analogWrite(recLED, 255);
recLEDstatus = 1;
delay(BOUNCEDELAY1);
}
else
{
analogWrite(recLED, 0);
recLEDstatus = 0;
}
}

// OVERDUB

if(OVRbutton.isPressed())
{
MIDI.sendNoteOn(39,127,1);  //  on
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
do {
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
}
while( OVRbutton.isPressed() );
MIDI.sendNoteOn(39,0,1);  //  off

if (ovrLEDstatus == 0 )
{
analogWrite(ovrLED, 255);
ovrLEDstatus = 1;
delay(BOUNCEDELAY1);
}
else
{
analogWrite(ovrLED, 0);
ovrLEDstatus = 0;
}

}

// MULTIPLY

if(MULTbutton.isPressed())
{
MIDI.sendNoteOn(40,127,1);  //  on
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
do {
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
}
while( MULTbutton.isPressed() );
MIDI.sendNoteOn(40,0,1);  //  off
if (multLEDstatus == 0 )
{
analogWrite(multLED, 255);
multLEDstatus = 1;
delay(BOUNCEDELAY1);
}
else
{
analogWrite(multLED, 0);
multLEDstatus = 0;
}
}

// UNDO

if(UNDObutton.isPressed())
{
MIDI.sendNoteOn(43,127,1);  //  on
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
do {
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
}
while( UNDObutton.isPressed() );
MIDI.sendNoteOn(43,0,1);  //  off
}

// INS

if(INSbutton.isPressed())
{
MIDI.sendNoteOn(38,127,1);  //  on
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
do {
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
}
while( INSbutton.isPressed() );
MIDI.sendNoteOn(38,0,1);  //  off
}

// NEXT

if(NEXTbutton.isPressed())
{
MIDI.sendNoteOn(44,127,1);  //  on
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
do {
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
}
while( NEXTbutton.isPressed() );
MIDI.sendNoteOn(44,0,1);  //  off
}

// HALF

if(HALFbutton.isPressed())
{
MIDI.sendNoteOn(48,127,1);  //  on
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
do {
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
}
while( HALFbutton.isPressed() );
MIDI.sendNoteOn(48,0,1);  //  off
if (halfLEDstatus == 0 )
{
analogWrite(halfLED, 255);
halfLEDstatus = 1;
delay(BOUNCEDELAY1);
}
else
{
analogWrite(halfLED, 0);
halfLEDstatus = 0;
}
}

// REV

if(REVbutton.isPressed())
{
MIDI.sendNoteOn(49,127,1);  // record on
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
do {
delay(BOUNCEDELAY2);
}
while( REVbutton.isPressed() );
MIDI.sendNoteOn(49,0,1);  //  off
if (revLEDstatus == 0 )
{
analogWrite(revLED, 255);
revLEDstatus = 1;
delay(BOUNCEDELAY1);
}
else
{
analogWrite(revLED, 0);
revLEDstatus = 0;
}
}
}

EDP, welcome home

I am (re)starting a vox /acoustic loopy duo and decided if we were going to play summer fetes(!) etc. then the laptop was OTT and probably impossible to see in the sun. I had my EDP gathering dust in the attic so down it came. Bit of a learning curve since I haven’t used it for some years, but I’m loving the fact that there are so few distractions to using it, although some browing of the manual is required, since it’s feature set goes deeper than most people would ever need or want!

I’ve knocked up a controller using a few switches & resistors (a wonderful feature of the original) but may need to resurrect my midi based custom controller, since you can’t otherwise easily access reverse and half speed at the same time. It’s time I started work on mark 2 and tidy up the wiring, but I’ll need to get my hear around multiplexing in order to add more lights, since I need more pins than the arduino offers.

Echoloop comes round again

In my fairly obsessive quest to achieve quantise replace using ableton, I’ve tried to persuade the built-in looper to drop record in/out based on a dummy clip, that’s a goner. I’ve had a look at Mobius, which is a supremely powerful looper, but the one thing preventing me from going any further is the screen glitches I get when running it, parts of the display remain when I switch tracks and it’s just too annoying to live with.

So, I’ve come back to Echoloop, the VST equivalent of the Echoplex Digital Pro, both created by Matthias Grob. Last time I had a number of niggling issues getting in the way, but somehow (windows 10?) it has just started working exactly as I hoped it would. I’m now investigating the various QR parameters and looking as ever to videos my main QR-inspirer, Bill Walker to see what’s possible. Here’s some of his work collected together. Check him out (buy his CD!) and you’ll quickly hear how his rhythmical patterns lift his work out of the realm of frippertronics and the morass of swampy reverbs that many loopers seem satisfied with.

One reason for success has been to follow Andy Butler’s guide rather more closely than before (RTFM!) and to have the FCB1010 send mid notes on a different channel to the CC messages, with the mid input channel only passing on data on that midi channel. Previously, I had spurious CC commands triggering parts of Echoloop, doh…

Once I’m more familiar with it, this is likely to feature in my live set, along with a lovely octave shimmer reverb I’ve created using Ableton’s grain delay. Patience, waiting world 😉

COS gallery

colour by Jez, b/w by Gavin Morrow

Combat Astronomy contribution

I‘m delighted to appear on the latest release by Combat Astronomy “Symmetry Through Collapse” (on the tracks “Kyber” & “Hik Mahl Hisze”) recently released by Discus Music.

It’s fascinating to hear the finished results of an Archer production, since I contributed at an early stage (pre-vocals, courtesy of Dalila Kayros) so you never quite know how your performance will be used.

The results are dark and dense – it’s safe to say this is challenging music (my metalhead son has just been driven out of the room!) but who wants to play it safe??

Cloudberry Cake

Is the name of a wonderful blog run by Roque, who has a real passion for obscure indie bands. I discovered it whilst searching for old band sleeves and there’s an entry about Typhoon Saturday (with a picture of Active Gliders, but what the heck).

She (?) shows a rare sensitivity for the genre, clearly aware that although small potatoes to the world of musical movers & shakers, these bands meant the world to a select few and we treasure our memories of them, which take us back to younger, happier, healthier(!) days…

Anyone remember Vena Cava?

Happy Birthday Elaine

Readers will no doubt be enjoying the earth-shattering news that Red Zoo have reformed (albeit with “new” bassist Max). Well, it’s singer Elaine’s birthday today, so here’s a shot from the good old days, when we played at the Lion on the Wicker on the 80s.

lion on wicker