BrotherSync – the impulse of looping together
I feel its time to mention again what I consider the most important and still difficult evolution in Livelooping:
do it together!
I am worried that LiveLooping caused musicians to play alone at home instead of going out to meet friends. I find the most enriching experience with music is to improvise together. while in some phases it seems like a conversation, one is answering the other, but the culmination is when both speak together and add up to some music which each one would not have been capable to imagine and often both are surprised about the result and the public is fascinated by the development and the joy of the musicians when they reach this state of unity…
before I created the LOOP delay I had my Lexicon PCB 42 working, modified with Record and Multiply functions which was satisfying for solo playing.
in 1988 I visited t.c. electronic’s founder Kim Rishoy and contacted Roland and Lexicon and they all said there is no market for Livelooping – although for them it would have been a lot simpler to upgrade one of their products than it was for me to create a new one!
so the main impulse to do it anyway was the necessity for a sync option to play together!
I had been playing with other loopers and recorded nice music, but it was very limited because we looped mono into one unit and my parter only had a volume pedal to add or not his playing into the loop which otherwise I operated. so the dream was to at least have independent Overdub and Feedback functions but common timing.
this is why the first real livelooping unit with a Record function was also the first and almost only to have a connector to sync 2 or 3 units. with this feature it became possible to play for example this music live!
I called it BrotherSync because I studied MIDI and other Sync systems and found that they all were based on Master-Slave and since slavery is abolished for a long time, I had to find a way to sync in both directions – between BROTHERs
the basics are simple as social: the quickest unit slows down to the slowest. sample clock is on the tip and the hardware can detect whether there is a brother unit holding down the line while we would want to go up again. so we wait for the brother and such the units are synced on sample basis (just as its necessary between any digital audio machines and the existing standards are not easy because they need to define a master…)
so this grants that once the two players loop the same amount of samples, they stay together forever.
now we need to make sure that the player that starts transmits his timing to the others so they have the choice to join into the same rhythm or continue or establish their own. so we need a second sync signal on the Ring of the stereo 1/4″ BrotherSync connector which is transmitting the loop start point. again, the hardware can distinguish between a timing signal coming in and our own being sent. so in the earlier software, the Record function was quantized to the incoming sync signal which means that it started recording at the next pulse and stopped at the over next pulse. but the final version of the Echoplex EDP is smarter: recording starts immediately at the first press and is rounded to a full amount of cycles at the second press of the Record button. so its like multiplying over the loop of the brother. very intuitive…