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First Contact


I just recently stumbled upon the list after seeing it on the "Elephant 
newsletter.  Cool idea.  I submitted my looping demographics on the 
page."  This is my first posting, so forgive me for rambling a little.

In reference to the asynchronous looping, I'd love to find a drummer who 
keep track of beats and time signatures without help (isn't that what a
drummer's supposed to do--keep time?)  But I've not found one yet who can
play freely and creatively against a separate time signature or 

I recorded my album "Orion Ascending" with Pat Mundy, who played Indian 
on two cuts.  His ability to function in dense and intricate rhythmic
textures was phenomenal, but when we experimented early on with loops, he
just couldn't get used to it.  He felt too "exposed" by being out there 
no one else holding down the beat with him.  My concept was that the drums
create their own space while the loop makes a "context" for the events that
occur within its "domain."  It seems that drummers feel "naked" without a
bass player or someone else keeping time with them.  (I'd think that would 
liberating!)  On the CD, Pat ended up recording two acoustic (non-looped)
pieces with me.

I use both a 32-second Jam Man and a 4-second Digitech in my looped
performances, and I enjoy the way the loops interact when they're not 
I was jamming with a friend several months ago and we ended up creating 
kind of weird collage with two non-synced loops.  He wanted to stop playing
and try again, and I yelled (over the cacophonous din) "No,  keep it
going--watch what happens!"  In the moments that followed, in a manner
similar to which your vision resolves those computer-generated 3-D posters
into something discernable, the two loops created something new that was
glued together by the playing that occurred between them.  Our brains
naturally seek patterns out of chaos... and left with only chaos to 
the brain will create its own patterns.  In this manner, the audience 
a participant in the creative process and no two listeners will come to 
resolution in the same time or even the same way.  It's like quantum music!

When I recorded two looped pieces from my CD, I watched a cynical recording
engineer go from a "what is this crap supposed to be?" attitude to total
absorption into the looping process.  After recording  the second piece 
sitting next to her in the control room, she turned to me and said "Greg, 
so glad you decided to record your project with us."  I was flattered and
pleased to see how the process affected her.  That's what makes looping so
compelling and satisfying.  My whole philosophy is that music exists around
us like white light. My job, in performance, is to act as a prism that
refracts the music that exists in that time and place into patterns, 
and shapes that can be used to make "audible light."

Finally, someone discussed earlier how to get your audience more involved.
 Here's an idea I use.  Before launching into looped works, I briefly 
and demonstrate how the various pieces of technology work and show how a 
is constructed.  Typically, I take a short children's round, like "Row, 
Row Your Boat" or "Frere Jacques" and loop the melody and add the rounds.
 People can relate to that easily.  Then I work from that loop and change 
tonality to something modal, and begin to warp and twist it.  Audiences 

The other tip I had, is to explain briefly (accounting for non-musicians
present) that the octave consists of 12 tones, and how they are named.  I
then select four people at random from the audience to call out a note 
which I then enter into a loop of varying length.  The audience becomes 
involved in this, and members with musical backgrounds often try to
"sabotage" the process by adding intentionally dissonant tones.  The last
time I tried this the four notes I was given perfectly outlined a wholetone
scale.  This made a particularly monstrous loop which was delightful since
the concert took place under a full moon, just a few days before 

Enough ramblings!  This list is cool.  I enjoy your comments and will 
e-mail as often as time permits.


Greg West/Six-String Arts