Musolomo (free) is an Audio Units plug-in that, in the words of its developer, is designed to get you away from the computer screen and back to playing. It is the brainstorm of Keith Lang (aka SongCarver) and was brought to life by Airy Andre, the programmer who brought you Speedster and four other free plug-ins covered in September 2004's Download of the Month (visit emusician.com). Musolomo is available from Plasq (www.plasq.com), a consortium of software developers offering a host of innovative and inexpensive products.
The heart of Musolomo is a sampling engine optimized for grabbing rhythmically meaningful chunks of audio, mapping them intelligently across the MIDI note range, and allowing them to be triggered and manipulated in real time with no mousing around. Clip recording and triggering can be synchronized to beats or bars at the host's tempo, and a clever prebuffering system allows you to be a little late and still record from the beginning of the beat or bar.
Musolomo has two record modes: Normal and Autolooper. In Normal mode, holding C3 while pressing any other note (called the trigger note) will initiate recording; releasing either note terminates recording. Thereafter, playing the trigger note initiates playback of the captured clip, and notes on either side that have not been assigned to trigger other clips will pitch-shift (but not time-shift) the clip. Autolooper works like a sophisticated looping pedal: a single MIDI note toggles recording on and off, and clips are assigned to consecutive keys for playback triggering. Clips automatically start playing after being recorded, creating overlays like a looping pedal does. Pressing a clip's trigger note turns it off.
Musolomo's built-in effects, which can all be assigned MIDI controllers, include a turntable-style scratcher, a tape-speed slider with momentum control, a bowing effect that allows you to navigate manually through the sample, and an x/y-control for independent pitch shifting and time stretching. The useful Digiskip feature allows you to offset the clip start by a variety of note increments.
Cramming a lot of features into a few words makes Musolomo sound more complicated than it is. You can master the basics in a few moments exercising its features at your MIDI keyboard. The advanced stuff may take a bit more wrist action, but it's loads of fun and well worth the effort.