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How I perform Live Looping with FCB1010, Push, Violin, Bass

Posted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:27 am
by patrickstinson
This post is the culmination of a few years of work fine-tuning a stage setup for live violin / bass / soft synth looping using the FCB1010 midi pedal board, and now the Push. I will tie in my other forum threads that helped arrive at this concept.

The goal is to be able to improvise bass guitar and violin with multiple loopers while focusing completely on the music and none on the computer. While very complex, this setup is quite mature with lots of subtlety so I thought I would share my time-tested lessons. This tutorial also covers lots of major Live tips. It will be worth the time learning. Enjoy!

Download the Live set:

Video example (it moves slow so feel free to jump around):

Birds-eye view once all the pieces are assembled:


And here is how it works…


The core of the setup is the track labeled “** Bus” which contains a rack of Loopers. Each chain in the rack has a number and an instrument label, for example “1 - Violin”, “2 - Violin” - the numbers are important but we’ll come back to that. All Loopers are set to:

- Song Control: “Start Song” so the first loop that is recorded starts the song.
- Tempo Control: “Set and Follow song tempo”
- Record X bars and then: “+”
- Each Looper’s big “Multi-Purpose Transport Button” gets mapped to midi notes 1-8 as sent from the FCB1010. More on that later.

Chains 1-4 are for violin and have no effects. Chains 6-8 are for bass and have my bass effect rack (FCB expression pedals mapped to effect 1 & 2) before the Looper so those effects are recorded into the loop.

The parent rack’s first macro is mapped to the Chain Select Ruler, which makes sure that audio input is only going to one Looper chain at a time. Chain “Auto Select” is enabled, the chain ruler is hidden, and the whole rack is showing devices (see screenshot) - this is important and I’ll cover this later.



This is the white track group that has raw hardware input and instrument-specific pre-processing. You won’t interact with it in live performance so it’s labeled XXX to be obvious in Push and always collapsed. Tracks are:

- M:CC - global midi control - this one is important (and awesome!) and I will describe why below.
- I:B - bass hardware input and preprocessing
- I:V - violin hardware input and preprocessing
- O:B - bass post-processing to master
- O:V - violin post-processing to master
- I:R - resampling record for when I want to record a whole session’s master :)

Since we are physically only able to play one instrument at a time, both I:B and I:V are channeled into the Bus “Track In” and monitor is set to “In” so it’s always on.


Now this is the crux of the whole setup. M:CC has my special “PK Button 2 CC” M4L device that allows you to bind computer keyboard keys to midi CC values 0-9. M:CC’s output is set to “IAC Loopback” so that I can map those CC values to the chain selector in the Bus track. This allows you to only be recording one instrument at a time.


To setup the IAC Loopback device on mac, go into the Audio MIDI Settings app and set it up like the following screenshot. Then you will be able to send CC and Note messages (any midi, really) to the IAC Loopback, and then map those messages to any other control in Live. For example you would be able to send clip automation values from one dummy midi clip to any Knob in the Live set. Just imagine the possibilities…



I’ve not tried it but I heard you can do the same thing with MIDI Yoke on Windows.

Here is the “PK Button 2 CC” Max patch:

Code: Select all

I map the number keys on my keyboard to the buttons on the “PK Button 2 CC” max device, set the CC to 125, and then map the first macro on the Bus track’s rack to CC 125. Now I can switch between Loopers by hitting the number keys! Soon we’ll also map the FCB1010’s pedals to the same functions, but hold tight on that. (Now the track numbers in the “PK Looper” rack’s chain labels should make sense!)

Additionally, you can also include an empty effect rack to I:B and I:V with the chain ruler mapped to CC 125 in order to mute the instrument inputs when they are not needed (See 1st image in “White Inputs Group” section above)


The FCB1010 is a complex, but excellent controller. My advice - just bite the bullet and learn to program it using the pedals. There is a short learning curve, but programming it will quickly becomes second nature and you’ll be able to fix problems and make adjustments on stage very quickly. The Behringer manual is very good.

For this setup, all of your programming will go in a single bank on the FCB. For each pedal:

- Pedals 1-10: Emit CC 125 each with the value of that pedal’s label to activate the corresponding Looper’s input.
- Pedals 1-10: Also emit a note value according to the pedal’s label - 1 = E1, 2 = F#1, etc, to start/stop recording on the corresponding Looper.
- Expression Pedal 1 = CC 126
- Expression Pedal 2 = CC 127

This setup will simultaneously activate the desired chain and start recording on the corresponding Looper. But since you have the FCB sending out CC and Note values simultaneously, you’ll have to use some kind of midi simulator to send only the exact message you want while in Live’s midi map mode. I use MIDI Simulator for mac: Sorry, I can’t find the original author’s download link.

Then in Live’s midi/key map mode:

- CC 125 => Bus rack Macro 1 (chain looper select)
- CC 126 => Bus rack Macro 2 (bass effect 1)
- CC 127 => Bus rack Macro 3 (bass effect 2)
- Note D2 (pedal 5) => “clear” button on all Loopers
- Note A1 (pedal 10) => “stop” button on all Loopers
- Keys Q,W,E,R,T,Y,U,I to corresponding Looper’s reverse buttons (for fun!)



These tracks are the post-processing for each Looper and are made to be easily accessible from Push. The key here is that the inputs are set to “** Bus” and then the “Post Mixer” for each looper. Then each track can have a special effect that you like to tweak during or after playing a loop. The violin 1-4 outputs are set to O:V, and the bass 6-8 outputs are set to O:B.



Having a fast audio interface is absolutely essential for live looping. For example, I frequently play in time with a ping-pong delay, and if you want to do this you need < 4ms *actual* round trip latency. Using my top of the line macbook pro, my old Edirol FA-101 didn’t cut it but my RME FireFace UCX is solid. It’s so fast I can’t tell Live’s output apart from the instruments’s ambient sound!

Another nice side-effect of having a ridiculously fast audio interface is that you can use real hardware send/returns using internal routing and zero-latency monitoring. For example, I run my violin into channel 1, but then internally route channel 1 => output 5, then to an effect pedal (see “Violin Sound” below), then back into input 5 from which I read from in Live. This also solves the problem of using an effect pedal on a high-impedance condenser microphone! So awesome.

Original forum thread: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=201466


I own a wonderfully crafted violin by local Alaskan maker John Osnes (, but honoring it with quality live sound has been a journey. I tried a piezo bridge pickup with matching DI but the results were mediocre. Then I bought the incredible DPA 4099:V ($499USD). The sound is absolutely phenomenal, and a close mic is essential for live looping since you have to minimize ambient noise.

I also use a POG 2 octave pedal for the violin. It has a -1 and -2 octave, which is perfect for cello or string bass sound, and the tracking is the fastest out there (as far as I know) - maybe 2-3ms. The quality of this pedal was an incredible innovation for looping with the violin.

Original forum thread: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=197207


I also have an electric piano track on track 9 that has it’s own Looper. I use Push’s note mode to play the instrument, and the FCB’s pedals to record just like the other loopers. Insert your own soft synth here.


While this setup is very complex, in live performance it is very easy to forget the tech and focus on the music:

- Lower your monitor’s screen brightness to the minimum value. You will only need it for basic visual cues.
- Read the Live Manual on how to use the Looper’s “Multi-Purpose Transport Button”. You can start/stop recording, start/stop overdub, and clear the looper all from one midi pedal.
- While playing, leave the Bus track selected so you can see which Instrument chain you are currently on, as well as a visual cue of the tempo on the Looper itself.
- Push is now your mixer. In Push, you can adjust mixer levels, sends, device effects, mute/solo, etc very easily. This is especially nice for adjusting (top-level) track effects in device mode.
- There are exactly 7 instrument tracks + 1 Bus track so you don’t have to scroll side to side in the mixer. We don’t have the brain cells to deal with extra complexity.
- After you are done with a song, hit pedal 5 to stop the transport, then pedal 9 to clear all the Loopers.
- When you create a song you like, drag the sample from the Looper onto the corresponding Instrument track. I use this feature to keep a log of my brainstorming.

Again, here is a video example of it in action (it moves slow so feel free to jump around):

If you made it this far, I am impressed. Please feel free to rip this post to shreds, and offer suggestions or comments. Thanks, and have fun!

Re: How I perform Live Looping with FCB1010, Push, Violin, Bass

Posted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:38 am
by chapelier fou
Thanks for the very impressive, comprehensive and detailed thread. I got to admit i didn't read the whole thing with paying the necessary attention.

The first thing coming to my mind is that you could use the m4l API to directly map your pk2 button to the chain selector, so you don't have to use a virtual midi port. You could also make your m4l device more open so you could easily change the number of chains.

The other thing is that i am pretty much convinced that working with audio clips instead of loopers is much easier. Having an input track routed to recorder tracks. Then you can map the scene up/down buttons and navigate through the session.

Anyway, congrats for your work !

Re: How I perform Live Looping with FCB1010, Push, Violin, Bass

Posted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 2:32 pm
by Jekblad
I too enjoy clips because it feels more like the hardware looopers, the length of the loop being independent on each overdub. A bunch of loopers in a rack is something I've never tried which is currently blowing my mind for some reason haha. The clips allow you to move back and forth between a few sections which was important to me.

Great write up, thanks!

Re: How I perform Live Looping with FCB1010, Push, Violin, Bass

Posted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 9:48 am
by patrickstinson
I decided to start putting this sort of stuff on my blog so that it is more legible. Here is the post for this topic: ... 0.html?m=1

Re: How I perform Live Looping with FCB1010, Push, Violin, Bass

Posted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:41 pm
by Mané Diaz
I'm very interested in this. Would be cool if you post a video of your performance as well!

Re: How I perform Live Looping with FCB1010, Push, Violin, Bass

Posted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:04 pm
by patrickstinson
Mané Diaz wrote:I'm very interested in this. Would be cool if you post a video of your performance as well!
I will do soon. I have since added a rather complex Max For Live device to bring the loopers onto the Push's grid which keeps you from having to use the computer at all, as well as some other tricks to load or reload the set or settings via ClyphX or remote AppleScript via an iOS device. All of this will go into a bigger video or set of videos probably on my blog: I'll be sure to ping the relevant forum posts when I do.

Re: How I perform Live Looping with FCB1010, Push, Violin, Bass

Posted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:04 pm
by Sham Getz
Excellent tutorial! I've been playing the the Bit Voltage looper pack for a few weeks and made some tweaks of my own, but this has given me some real food for thought. Thanks very much for posting.

Re: How I perform Live Looping with FCB1010, Push, Violin, Bass

Posted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:22 pm
by patrickstinson
Sham Getz wrote:Excellent tutorial! I've been playing the the Bit Voltage looper pack for a few weeks and made some tweaks of my own, but this has given me some real food for thought. Thanks very much for posting.
I hadn't heard of Bit Voltage before, it looks like they had a lot of the same ideas that I did, including the customization of the APC40 (although I use a Push). I'll have to read into their source code and see if I can add anything to my M4L device (of which I'll post a tutorial for soon).

Re: How I perform Live Looping with FCB1010, Push, Violin, Bass

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 12:52 am
by livereactor
I have a few questions for you, I actually just created my account to ask you. I'm just starting out with ableton and looping and trying to get an idea for a live performance set up for my own songs/arrangements. Can you answer these questions about your setup for me, Q and A style? Here are my main questions in "yes or no" format, feel free to expand though.

1. Can your setup create loops of varying lengths that loop "right" (e.g. one loop of four bars looping in 4/4 while a 16 bar loop goes about its business)?

2. Can your setup start/stop recording, start/stop overdubs, start/stop loop playback without recording anything, all with one FCB1010 button?

3. If the answer is "no" to #2, is there a workaround to get these 3 functions for each loop using the FCB1010?

Actually, those are my key questions. Your original post is very thorough, sorry of you covered these questions somewhere and I missed it- its a bit Greek to me as a newbie and I'm looking for black and white, "specs" type answers at this point.

I started out looping with a boss rc2 and it drives me bonkers how you can't intuitively do loops of varying lengths in a live performance setting. I'm looking to progress with ableton and a foot controller but worried the record/dub/playback functionality on each pedal isn't doable.

Extra credit question: Using your setup, could you only have 5 inputs to 5 loopers and use 1 FCB1010 pedal to "solo" loops 1,2,3 and another to solo 1,4,5? Or would a mixer/controller with mutes/solos be better suited to this in conjunction with the FCB1010?

I ask because I'm looking to essentially have songs with a stable drum loop of 4-8 bars, and an A section of looped instruments, and a B section of instruments. Toggling between A and B while keeping the drums constant. AND dropping in with various live instruments over/with the loops.

Your insight and advice would be greatly appreciated!

Re: How I perform Live Looping with FCB1010, Push, Violin, Bass

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 4:54 am
by patrickstinson
livereactor, you can do everything you asked for. I use Ableton for looping over a hardware looper so that I can:

- Have different loop lengths
- Have different signal processing on each Looper
- Use Max For Live to customize the whole workflow, for example by customizing Push.
- Easily save session snapshots of ideas to rework into finished songs later.

All in all I wanted more creative freedom provided by a programmable environment and I definitely believe I have it with Live. As for your questions:

- In my setup you get a different Ableton Looper device per track, which in no way communicates with the other Looper devices so different loop lengths is not an issue.
- The FCB pedals just click the Looper device's multi-function transport button and can switch between the play/dub/record/stop states like you ask about. My upcoming Max device also customizes Push's grid to provide instant access to each looper's state which makes this much easier.
- Never underestimate the power of the computer keyboard. Muting/soloing can be easily handled by mapping additional qwerty keys to the channels, or with Push's standard buttons for this sort of thing. For example I have the number keys across the top arm a track, then the first row of letters trigger reverse on that looper. The third row could solo or mute that track if you wanted.

Stay tunes for the Max device that customizes Push's grid. Just a few more features and I'll post another tutorial on my blog which will allow you to leave our laptop completely out of sight on stage, even when switching tracks.

Re: How I perform Live Looping with FCB1010, Push, Violin, Bass

Posted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 6:07 pm
by livereactor
Great, thanks for the answers! I have an fcb1010 on order now and its going to be a steep learning curve/setup period but I think this setup can do what I'm going for.

Great tip with the computer keyboard. Essentially with the mutes and solos, once all my instruments for the A section are complete I want to mute them so I essentially have a beat breakdown. Then, I build the B section. After all loops are created, I will then solo the beat for a breakdown or to play live over, or toggle mutes between A loops and B loops for seamless song transitions. Using the keyboard is a great idea, I'm sure I can find a way to mute/solo all tracks and also mute/solo the A and B labelled tracks as a sub mix.

Thanks for the help! I really like the embedded track in the thread by the way and will check out some of your other links when I get some time