In preparation of going out to play I realised that my lockdown-at-home-recording setup consisting of muliple devices is going to be a pain to take down, carry and reconstruct with the risk of forgetting key cables and all that.
I worked out a while ago that a single Windows laptop isn’t much good as there’s not enough control to make things co-exist easily. I’ve had good experiences with Raspberry Pi - the only downside being it still involves multiple bits of hardware: screen/keyboard, multiple PSUs or laptop and network kit.
Yesterday I gave Ubuntu Studio a whirl, and I’m impressed. All the audio experience I built up using the RPi is a direct read-across e.g. how to use Jack for audio and midi, controlling latency, getting pulseaudio to shutup etc. So this is my new best friend - a complete setup on one PC. Quite an old laptop in fact.
Sonic Pi is the heart of it, of course, providing the beat and some useful voices. Then multiple PureData-based voices including a couple of conventional-sounding analog synths and my own granular synth to provide pads/throbs/sliced samples that I can play in the moment like an instrument. Those can be all be driven from midi routed out of Spi, or from the little Akai midi keyboard - I’ve also written a PureData midi note recorder/looper that can drive them, switched in/out during play.
I’m making the SPi and PureData patches specific to the Akai hardware, e.g. the choice of midi channels and routing the midi cc knobs to a few specific parameters.
This is a complete instrument. Although not as flexible as the home/recording one as it’s missing VCV Rack, a key component. But I think it’ll be a good compromise.
Only thing is it looks a bit boring - one man and a laptop. Fortunately my colleague will be playing his home made instruments which are more eye catching. But I might take some redundant kit along just to have around. Ideally I could do with an old reel-to-reel and some old electrical lab equipment…maybe ebay will supply.