Launchpad for iOS’s FX section has undergone a fairly radical overhaul since
it’s release. The addition of a gorgeous delay, flexible new stopper FX and fully customisable effects have only helped further cement it’s position as one of the most popular music apps on iOS. In this installment of FX Secrets, we’re going to examine the old stalwart of Launchpad for iOS, the mighty Stutter FX.
Anyone who’s played with Launchpad for iOS for any length of time will be aware of the basic premise of Stutter: hold down any of the built-in presets and the whatever is currently being played is sampled and repeated in a DJ mixer-style burst of pulsating percussion.
Now, that’s all very well in small doses. But we’ve all overdone it at a party in the small hours after a few too many. It’s a great feeling when a groove really comes together - it can be considerably less so when it’s being constantly interrupted by an impetuous Stutter jockey. Unlocking Stutter’s full potential (should you choose to do so via Launchpad's in-app store) can make it considerably more valuable musical tool than you might think - here are a few simple hints to get you started.
One of the most useful things that can be done with the customisable Stutter is to simply disengage the beat channels in some instances of the effect. This is achieved by selecting the effect in question in Edit FX, and utilising the yellow track buttons across the top. (You can swipe these buttons to toggle multiple channels quickly).
Some timings tend to work better than others. For example, the ¾ length Stutter works extremely well as a way of embellishing bass lines in many genres of electronic music. If you cut the drums, and maybe channels 7+8 (if they contain useful cymbal crashes etc), the stutter fx will continue to pulse away while the rhythm of the melodic elements sparkle around it.
Another approach well worth trying is to have two copies of the same Stutter effect, one which applies only to the beats, and one only to the bass and harmonic content. This approach works very well as a way of performing fills and emphasising structural changes, allowing you to juggle the beats around without frying everyone’s brain (too much).
If your head does get a little tired, try to remember what channels are effected at any time. Don’t forget, above every channel to which an effect applies, a small red dot will appear when that effect is active.
Vocals can be a lot of fun to play with in Stutter. It’s worth arranging all the vocals on one channel, and making sure you have a Stutter or two to hand that applies to them, but not the beats and bass lines. It’s a great way of ‘grabbing’ snippets out of vocal loops and re-arranging them on the fly, especially with short duration Stutter FX.
Multiple Stutter FX may be engaged at the same time. If you really wanted to, you could in fact have a different Stutter effect on every single channel, and engage them all at the same time. However, just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should. It’s an oft-repeated truism in music production: less is more.
If you hold down one Stutter, then engage another one with overlapping channel assignments, both will operate, but the overlapping channels will be 'grabbed’ by the last Stutter. Any channels that do not overlap will continue to be effected by the first Stutter effect. It’s button will turn orange until the other Stutter is released, at which point the loops grabbed by the second stutter will be re-effected by the first.
It’s also worth knowing that if you hold down a Stutter, and then stop or change the loops which feed it, the effect will persist regardless. The change of loops will only become apparent when the stuttering ceases.
With a little considered preparation, an unlocked stutter can help you deliver anything from subtle cross-rhythms and fills, to instant gut-wrenching, crowd pleasing breakdowns at the drop of a hat (especially when combined with a bit of clever delay trickery and filtering).
Shuffle over to the in-app store and check it out today.