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Impact XT's Secret Clip-Launching Talents


By Craig Anderton

Impact XT can launch clips, which is great for songwriting (see the blog post Songwriting with Impact XT). But few people realize that Impact XT can also launch scenes that trigger multiple clips simultaneously. You can even trigger and play back multiple scenes at the same time.

Although the functionality isn't as deep as programs with dedicated clip launching, Impact XT offers features that other programs don't have. So, this tip is uniquely suited to a variety of improvisational and compositional techniques.

Here's a download link for CA Scene Launch, a basic scene launching template for Studio One version 6.X. This will make it easy for you to become familiar with the process of launching scenes using Impact XT. Please note that this tip is compatible with Studio One Professional and Studio One+, but not Studio One Artist.

What Are Clip Launch Scenes?

Scenes trigger multiple clips. For example, one scene might launch a mixed drum loop, percussion loop, and bass line loop. A different scene could trigger the same clips, but add a rhythmic synth or guitar part. Another scene may be similar, but switch out the drum loop and bass line for different drum and bass loops. Choosing different scenes lets you build a set, or improvise a song structure in real time. You can also record your live improvisations. It's a lot of fun, as well as inspirational.

The Clip Launch Scene Solution

The solution is using Chorder to trigger multiple Impact XT pads from a single keyboard key. This tip covers a way to launch four loops simultaneously per scene, with up to 7 different scenes. However, the principle is expandable for more complex clip launching (e.g., trigger more scenes, or more loops in each scene). Even better, this approach can play back several scenes simultaneously. As far as I know, no other program with a clip launcher can do this.

Getting Started

Suppose you want to be able to call up seven different loop combinations, building from simpler to more complex loop combinations. Start with kick and hi-hats. Then, trigger another scene that adds percussion, so triggering both scenes builds on the first scene. Different scenes could have different bass lines, synth pads, or whatever. So, you can build loop orchestrations in real time.

For my particular application, all the pads had the same triggering characteristics (fig. 1). Of course, you could instead have scenes whose pads have One Shot, Normal, or Toggle responses.

Figure 1: Initial pad setup. Loop and Follow Tempo are enabled, with Quantize set to Bars.

Pads, Meet Chorder

Next, assign the Impact XT pads to note triggers (fig. 2). Then, create a Chorder Note FX preset.

Figure 2: The trigger pad note assignments work in conjunction with Chorder. Note that two scenes are playing back at the same time.

I wanted to use only white keys as triggers, to keep the process simple for live improvisation. The bottom Impact XT row assigns pads to C1, C2, C3, and C4. The next row up assigns pads to D1, D2, D3, and D4. Each successive row assigns pads to the next higher note octaves on a keyboard, up to B1, B2, B3, and B4.

Chorder is programmed so that when you play a note on the keyboard, it plays notes on the octaves that trigger the clips in a scene (fig. 3).

Figure 3: Playing E on a MIDI keyboard sends triggers on E1, E2, E3, and E4. This triggers four clips in a single row of pads.

Now we have a basic setup for triggering scenes from keyboard keys. An octave of white keys (C1 to B1) triggers 7 scenes. Including black keys could trigger 12 scenes from an octave of keyboard keys.

Going Further

This technique offers many options:

Program Chorder to trigger up to 31 four-pad scenes, or 11 eight-pad scenes, if your keyboard can transpose over the range from C -2 to G8.

Once Chorder is set up, you don't need to interact any more with the pads. It's not necessary to change banks to trigger scenes in different banks, or have the triggered bank be visible.

However interacting with the pads can be pretty cool. For example, you can Mute or Solo pads prior to triggering and alter what a scene plays back. If you have a touch screen or control surface, playing with parameters like pad Pitch while clips are looping is big fun.

Bring mixing into the picture by assigning pads to specific Impact XT outputs. One application is assigning all bass loops or pads to the same mixer channel. Then, you can fade the bass or pad in and out without having to call up a different scene.

This isn't only an EDM technique. For rock, each scene can be drums and a couple different types of percussion loops for song sections like intro, verse, chorus, solo, bridge, outro, etc.

About the CA Scene Launch File

This Song has a pre-programmed Chorder Note FX and Impact XT, ready to be loaded with your favorite loops. Connect your MIDI keyboard. C1, D1, E1, and F1 trigger the Bank A rows in Impact XT. G1, A1, and B1 trigger the bottom three rows in Bank B. Once you've loaded your loops on the Impact XT pads, you're ready to start hitting keys and triggering scenes.

Download the CA Clip Launch file here.
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