Organization for "songs"

Hi folks! I’m a musician starting to use the Pyramid to build flexible sequences of bass and drums for me to play/loop Rhodes piano on top of, also looping percussion, sax, flute, voice, whatever with a boss looper. Kind of making electro/analog chill-out music, but live.

The question I have is this: is anyone else doing anything similar which requires lots of different songs and how are you going about this? Putting all of the songs into separate projects doesn’t work because of the load time pause/glitch when clicking the “load/save” menu. So I’m trying to incorporate lots of songs of a similar style into one project. Do you have any suggestions for me? Using patterns on the bass track works well for me to switch between tunes, however I fear after adding 100 songs in 20 different projects I’m going to have a lot of trouble remembering which pattern goes to which songs/which part of a song, especially since I can’t name the patterns.

Ideas…? I’ll keep experimenting anyways, but maybe someone can give me some tips. Cheers!

This is an excellent opportunity for discussion, thank you for raising the question. I’m a big picture person and it took me a long time to figure out how I wanted to interface with the Pyramid. More convos like these might help others down the road.

I use an outboard MIDI controller processed through a Event Processor to control Mute states for Tracks on the Pyramid. In my most recent previous set incarnation, I had all Pattern01’s belong to Song01, Pattern02s to Song02, etc. This left me with 64 Tracks to manipulate for each ‘song’/presentation, and then a quick press of one of the Pyramid Pads to select a new ‘song’.

Unfortunately I wanted to get more creative with MIDI Fx and I easily use 64 Tracks in one song so I switched to one song = one Project.

Note: I don’t use loopers, but Track Info are basically snippets that I re-arrange on the fly based on a set of logic functions and input from a MIDI Controller into aforementioned Event Processor with all data manipulated via 4 “meta-controls” which can affect multiple Tracks based on Preset parameters in the Event Processor.

That’s great. An other answer saying exactly the same. Anyway, here you go. Cheers

Hey, I use rc300 for looping with pyramid, groove box and synths. Midi master clock is the looper, midi keyboard goes to rc300 as well. Pyramid receives both midi merged. No DAW.

My way to remember things (let’s assume 2 songs called “Loopy1-2”)
Looper:Loopy1
Pyramid:Loopy - I will use pattern 1 of tracks***
Groove box:Loopy1

Looper:Loopy2
Pyramid:Loopy - I will use pattern 2 of tracks
Groove box:Loopy2
etc. etc.

Usually won’t remember the synth patches so better to rename Looper and Grovebox project names for important notes, i.e. Loopy1 A121 B008 (it means the first song on looper has lead synth patch A121 in track 1 and bass patch track 2 B008). Program changes saved at track level into tracks of pyramid is good as well see *** (don’t forget to save track setting before you turn off pyramid). Written on paper, notebooks, wallpaper doesn’t work for me.

*** good to use different sequence for every song. It will switch the patches accordingly and no delay with loading

How long is a reasonable gap between songs? Do they need to run together with zero gap always? What situation calls for this?

If a small gap is OK sometimes, you can group your songs into projects, each one acting as a “set”. You can have 32 songs (called “sequences” in Squarp-speak) in one project. Surely that is enough?

In the olden days I would create a template file with pen and paper, photocopy it, and then scribble in the info I needed to recall each patch. On mixers we used scribble areas or stuck masking tape down for custom marks. Nowadays it might be easier to have a document on your phone that you can refer to. But people still use printed set lists with annotations.

Hey Robin,

I think I’m going to take the drum duty away from the Pyramid so that I can have my MFB Tanzbär keep the groove going while I’m changing bass patterns. I’m using the drum machine as the tempo master now and slaving the Pyramid.

Question to anyone that’s reading: When I load up a project while my drum machine is already rolling, it seems the Pyramid syncs up ok. However, when I go to hit “play” and drop in a pre-recorded bass line the Pyramid often hiccups and the bass comes in half a beat, a beat, two, three beats later! Totally not gonna work for what I’m doing. Any ideas?

It seems there’s a lot to discuss in this thread. I don’t want to over do it, so apologies in advance if I start answering the wrong question.

The question I have is this: is anyone else doing anything similar which requires lots of different songs and how are you going about this? Putting all of the songs into separate projects doesn’t work because of the load time pause/glitch when clicking the “load/save” menu.

What’s this pause/glitch when clicking the load/save menu? You mean the little hiccup? Or is it the thing where you go to the load menu and then suddenly one of your prized devices stops playing? Anyways, I’m aware of those glitches, but I also don’t have 100’s of songs, I have 10’s of songs on a card.

I rarely need to play them all at any one time so I do a little bit of card management. My current thing is that I regularly copy them into a directory on my computer (which happens to be a git repostory). Anyways, I manage what’s on the card, the active playlist - at least if I’m playing live. When i’m just writing lots of music and not performing live the glitches don’t bother me and so I just amass songs on a card.

Though what I’ve found is the more songs on a card there can be subtle problems that start to occur. I’d recommend making sure you have a really fast SD card too, that also helps with load related glitches I find.

– So how do I organize songs though?

Most of the time I use a single song per file, I can put 40 on a card and mix between them in various ways so that’s usually fine. That said, sometimes I like to stack multiple songs on a single file - usually I do this when I’m re-using a lot of the same sounds. I like to do this because it provides additional mixing options, so I maybe stack 2 or more songs on a single file 10-15% of the time.

however I fear after adding 100 songs in 20 different projects I’m going to have a lot of trouble remembering which pattern goes to which songs/which part of a song, especially since I can’t name the patterns.

Yep. You need to build yourself a workflow. I do a lot of things the same every single song, in terms of the workflow so that I don’t have to remember what goes where.

So first and foremost, I always have the same track layout. Track 1 is always the same synth, on midi channel 1. The midi channels don’t always work out, but that’s fine - that’s why you have labels. Anyways, generally I have one page of tracks (say page A) is always the same thing. Then on page B i’ll do extra tracks where i’m doing weird things, usually I can remember that page B is something special.

If i’m stacking songs on a single file, like I mentioned before - I’ll do things like keep specific ranges of sequences as well as a page of tracks for a specific song. So let’s say I’m going to have 4 songs on a single file, what I might do is have Tracks page A be song 1, B be song 2 and so on. Then, for my sequences, I’ll have like 1-3 for Song 1, 9-10 for song 2 – I’ll put them in little blocks that are separated, this separation helps me remember that they’re probably separate songs when I come back to the file in 3 months (I write so much stuff I forget where things go, thus the system I use).

All of this organization is built on the way I like to use the squarp and play my synths - and this also depends on the type of gear you have, the way you’ve configured it, what priorities you set for how things are going to work in your synth ecosystem - so, ‘ymmv’ and you should experiment a bit.

Also, I think I saw something about you wanting to program your drums external to the squarp - I do that too - I use an analog rytm and I sequence all my drums on it. The squarp merely sends that a play/stop, I do the sequence changes on it manually, manipulate mute states and so on directly on the device. I love the squarp, but it’s not the best at everything so I like to play to the strengths of individual pieces of gear if I can.

Shoot, I hope I was answering the right question - anyways, good luck on your journey friend.

Hey mate, thanks for the response! Lots of good things to check out in there.

Regarding the load/save menu, is Squarp completely aware of this? I find it hard to believe on a device this expensive and this specific for sequencing that they could allow such a problematic bug to exist after multiple updates. Even when I’m using my drum machine as the master and the only thing the Squarp is doing is a couple of MIDI bass tracks it still ‘hiccups’ when pressing the load button. Craziness if you ask me.

I will definitely check out the speed of my SD card. I think I’ve got a super-fast one for a DSLR camera laying around here that I’ll try.

I definitely agree with the workflow comment. It pays to be consistent here.

Regarding your setup with the Pyramid/Analog Rytm, are you using the Pyramid as the master and the Rytm as the slave, or the other way around? You said you’re sending a start/stop from the Pyramid so…? And about the strengths, the grooves coming out of my Tanzbär sequencer seem a bit tighter than the ones coming out of the Pyramid. Then again I’ve spent more time with the Tanzbär programming grooves so take that with a grain of salt.

Thanks again for the reply!
Rick

Regarding the load/save menu, is Squarp completely aware of this?

Yep - they said they’re working on a fix too - assuming we’re talking about the same glitches. I spent a lot of time diagnosing it for them.

Also, it’s not that hard to believe a device this expensive has flaws. You just haven’t worked with that many devices, I find hardware bugs in shit constantly - gear that’s much more expensive than the pyramid.

That said - my primary issue with the squarp is it’s commitment to accurate clocking. I love the workflows though, I hope they fix it.

Regarding your setup with the Pyramid/Analog Rytm, are you using the Pyramid as the master and the Rytm as the slave, or the other way around? You said you’re sending a start/stop from the Pyramid so…? And about the strengths, the grooves coming out of my Tanzbär sequencer seem a bit tighter than the ones coming out of the Pyramid. Then again I’ve spent more time with the Tanzbär programming grooves so take that with a grain of salt.

The pyramid is the master - it works better for how I think about things. IT sends the play, it sends the clock, it sends the stop. All my other devices don’t.

I’m not sure how to comment on the ‘grooves’ thing. I find to keep things in time, there are about 3 offsets in either direction for a given note to create groove. This certainly doesn’t give you as many groove options as say ‘logic’ or a system that does really granular nudging, but I find i’m able to get grooves that make me happy. That said, I have never tried the Tanzbar - I think relative to logic and ableton, where I come from as a producer, I think the midi programming is adequate for good grooves.

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its great that squarp are going to address this…

but actually it’s very common that performing IO will cause timing glitches on hardware.
I suspect what Squarp can do is reduce it in this particular scenario where there are a large number of file… but i’d would not be surprised if there is still going to be a slight ‘hiccup’ (due to IO, loading files) but hopefully to a more ‘acceptable’ level.

I think this particular issue was only reported fairly recently…

but ‘such a problematic bug’ really comes down to your use-case - its only an issue if you are trying to load projects whilst running a session… as has been detailed on this topic, this is only an issue for live use … and most have got around this by keeping their sets in one project to avoid this type of issue. ( * )

so whilst, I can see its important for you… its hardly ‘crazyness’

( * ) in previous firmware releases the Pyramid used to stop the clock during projects loads so this was not possible at all

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Definitely trying to load projects while it is running. And the reason I bought the Pyramid was because I read that an update at some point allowed it to continue sending clock while loading projects. I am using it for live use so yeah, the hiccup is a bit of an issue.

I think I may need an external MIDI clock to keep things true with the drum machine and make sure to stop all of the Squarp tracks before loading a project. At least until the issue is resolved a bit.

Well, it will if your processor is way too under powered, you’re missing out on a few 1980’s memory features, or you don’t write good interrupt routines. In general though, barring some specific hardware design choices, this is a very solvable problem. You never know though, sometimes things don’t have dedicated IO controllers with these long blocking requirements to do the IO transaction. That said, I think you could solve this too by simply pre-loading the file list when the system isn’t busy. I imagine the total load necessary is on the order of bytes because all you really need to do is create a table of names to display with addresses on the card should a load be chosen. Anyways, without knowing how the hardware is made I can speculate out the wazoo - but I would think that the clock issues are solvable… in part.

And I mean, I definitely think the pyramid could use some more cpu/memory for sure. I do imagine that this will get better, though true to what you said - I doubt the mk 1-3 pyramids with the hardware they use is going to ever be perfect. That said, I’m not sure I’d split hairs over an external clock source for live playing over the workarounds suggested (then again, they are my workarounds lol).