Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Spectrasonics's Stylus Rmx is a great piece of software for all things rhythm-oriented. It's a great way of centralizing your drum loops in a single place where you can experiment with layering, effects, and even the structure of the loops themselves. In the latest version, they added some great new features that allow you to produce instant variations on any loop to expand your options still further.
But, before this feature was added, I liked to experiment by triggering one loop's slices from another loop's MIDI file. This is kind of a variation on a trick I know a lot of fellow musicians used to do back in the day of hardware samplers. Just for the hell of it, I'd occasionally load up the sequences for a song, and then load in the wrong samples for each track to see if anything interesting came out of it. A lot of times it was garbage, but quite a few times it also produced something cool and unexpected. Here's how to do it in Stylus.
1. Open up an instance of Stylus RMX and select a loop.
2. Drag that loop from the MIDI file drag and drop window (the little blue box with the name of the loop in it) and drag the MIDI file from Stylus's interface to the software instrument track Stylus is assigned to in your DAW. This creates a MIDI file that will trigger the slices of your selected loop. As you can imagine, this gives you more flexibility with loops and allows you to actually edit them to your heart's content. But we're not interested in that for now. Hit play in your DAW and you should hear your loop play as expected.
3. Now, select another random loop in Stylus and hit play again. Stylus will trigger the slices from your newly-selected loop with the MIDI from the first loop you chose. You can keep selecting new loops until you find something interesting. Because every loop will have slices of varying lengths, often the results are very strange and off-kilter - perfect for IDM stuff. Some results will be more musically coherent than others, but remember if you get something that's cool, but not quite there yet, you can move notes around in the MIDI file using the piano roll editor in your DAW.
The more loops you have, the more variations and happy accidents await you!