The ‘Quad Buffer’ (circa 2005) was an investigation in live time-domain manipulation of audio stored in buffers. The system allows a user to compose by creating complex looping structures and playing with them in real-time using a standard gamepad as an interface.
Audio is streamed into the system from disk or live input and the user is able to capture snippets of the signal in one of four buffers. New audio can either overwrite or overdub the buffer content and it is also possible to replace sections of the buffer with silence.
The buffers are constantly looping and are of a variable size, allowing for polyrhythmic or phasing structures. It is also possible to set buffers to the same length, or a multiple of this length, to create more regular rhythms.
As well as allowing the buffers to run in loops, the performer can also nudge the play position back and forth, reset the loop to it’s start point and play the loop in reverse. Another playback method is a crude time stretching algorithm where the performer has direct control over the ‘block’ and ‘hop’ sizes. All playback manipulations can be recorded back into the buffers and re-processed, causing all kinds of glitchy, unpredictable and unrepeatable transformations to the original sounds.
The system was written in Pure Data.
Here is a Soundcloud playlist of studies/tracks created with the Quad Buffer: