The Loop Sculptor is a flexible effects module in a self-contained Max patch. Sounds can be recorded and triggered to create multi-layered loops (up to five layers in the current version), but in contrast to commercial loop effects, each layer of the loop has its own playback parameters that can dynamically altered. The speed and pitch of each layer can be controlled independently using SuperVP for a high-quality phase vocoding. Speed and pitch values can be defined as constants or as ramps, for smooth glissandi and accelerandi/decelerandi. A “drunk” function also exists for a random walk within a limited range. The length of the loops can also vary between layers, the length of new loops can be set as a fraction (shorter or longer, 3/4 or 3/1) of the original loop. Finally, each loop has an independent gain control, so that static levels or envelopes can be applied independently to separate layers.
The Loop Sculptor is laid out as a grid, where each column represents a single buffer. By using only the top row, we hear one iteration of each buffer in the classic loop station setup. Moving in the vertical direction however, each loop can heard in multiple iterations, with transformations of pitch, speed, or envelope. The entry point of each iteration can also be set as a ratio to the initial loop, or “linked” to synchronize the start point with the next triggering of the base loop. Gain levels and envelopes can again be tweaked independently.
Record, Stop, and Playback controls have been separated for a wider range of possibilities. One can, for instance, set and trigger a loop but continue to record into a buffer; this way, a loop that plays further into the buffer can be defined at a later point in time. Or, to give another example, record and play can be triggered at once, but with a slower playback speed, for an instant mensural canon.
The Loop Sculptor can be either programmed in advance or controlled in real time with a MIDI controller or pedal board.
To hear the Loop Sculptor in action, listen to the layers of guitar effects as played by Tom Pauwels here (starts at 32:55):