I found my answers to the original question and thought I’d share. When reading this, keep in mind that one of my main goals is to build loops live with minimum fuss or subjecting the audience to unnecessary loop rotations while I prepare and tap dance. And with no obvious breaks in the song or interrupting the flow. Over the last few days I’ve learned a lot of the strengths and limitations of Aeros. I was determined to make something work, and I have gotten to the point where I have a pattern of using Aeros and MIDI to get a performance together (Which I will record soon after I’ve rehearsed a bit more).
The tl;dr; version: jump to the last bolded section to see what I ended up doing.
1x6 using MIDI Mutes
My first plan was to just stack all my loops into 1 part using Mutes to control which sections of the part would play. You can’t do this efficiently using only the Aeros footswitches in 6x6 mode, I’ll never be able to get to the Mutes/Unmutes in time or keep it all straight. The MIDI pedal would be programmed as needed to Mute and Unmute tracks with one touch to give each song the structure it requires. Short of it is, the MIDI Muting strategy won’t work reliably due to the lack of specific Mute states per track (it’s toggle only).
2x6 with MIDI Part changing
I thought at that point perhaps I needed to add a part in a more traditional Aeros way. I could still stack tracks like in 1x6, but 2 parts would allow me to be more effective in doing the shifts in the song. I had this crazy idea in my head that I could queue up Mutes before shifting to the next part. This one wasn’t on Aeros, I had to realized that, while you could queue a Mute, you couldn’t do so for the NEXT PART. I tried playing around with a sequence of MIDI commands that would allow me to go to a Part and immediately Mute once it changed over. There was some limited success with that, but it wasn’t going to be reliable and was very accident prone. Through this process though I really got familiar with what is and is not possible over MIDI with regard to recording new Parts and Tracks. If I’m going to use Parts, I have to do it over MIDI to be effecient.
Nx6 with Locked Parts
I discovered that if you had some locked tracks, you could Mute them regardless of which Part you were currently in and the Mute would carry through to Part changes. That’s really cool. So I worked up a MIDI workflow where I could record the bass tracks as 3 separate locked tracks in combination with the “Mute All” while first laying down the tracks. Basically, I would record 2 measures, then in the next 2 measures of playback, I’d queue up a “Mute All” and “Next Track”. The bass part I just recorded would Mute and I’d be on to the next locked track. Repeat until All the locked tracks are made, and then I could go on using the rest of the unused Parts and Tracks for the melody loops, and in each Part I could queue Mute/Unmute for the locked tracks so only the one I wanted would play. I was pretty excited about this one, but in the end it was the Muting strategy that let me down. It’s fine at first, but once you start adding the additional unlocked tracks to a parts, being able to Mute/Unmute the locked tracks reliably using only the “Toggle” interface is unmanageable.
6x6 with MIDI Part Management only
This is were I ended up and it worked out the best for me and will allow me to complete my compositions and loop them live. This is what I’ll show in practice when I shoot the video. I basically avoid doing any Part Management on the Aeros itself and I program my MIDI controller buttons for all of that instead. It’s probably a bit more like the use case devised with the Maestro, but with some added twists of my own.
I have 1 MIDI button programmed to record “New Part”. I go through that in sequence quickly until I have my bass track (creating 4 parts in this case). As I perform on the guitar, I have 1 switch programmed that toggles between just 2 parts. Songs often toggle between 2 parts a lot, so I can just concentrate on using that 1 switch. But I also devised it so that I can substitute which 2 parts are active in the Toggle strategy (I’m a programmer, so flexible controllers like the Liquid Foot and Morningstar give me a lot of room to explore ideas). Basically, it’s 1 switch to toggle and 1 switch to replace which parts are being toggled by that switch, so I always go back to using that 1 toggle switch for actually changing parts (I really like it when there is 1 switch I can focus on for a common task, like switching parts). There is a moment in the song where I just bring in a part for a couple measures, it doesn’t need to be part of a toggle strategy, so I have just 1 switch programmed to jump straight to that part.
If I need to record or overdub a track in a part, I use the Aeros switches.
At the end of the song, it winds down with a special MIDI button that mutes some tracks in the last measures.
So far so good. I learned a ton and left a lot of ideas on the table for now. It was pretty frustrating at times knowing that most roadblocks to my ideas are simply that the MIDI Implementation in Aeros is not what it should be. But at least I’m on my way with this device finally. I really want to see it succeed (my measure of success will be doing with it what no other looper can do).