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Re: Loop approach: Loop as effect

Hi Alex,

Alex Stahl wrote:
> When you get into the place where the creative decisions of the
> moment are about changing the timing, slicing and dicing, and warping
> a loop, as much or more than about playing into or against it, I
> almost think of this as something distinct from "looping".

I know what you mean here.  By the same token, though, I think an
argument could be made (and I'm not even arguing this, but it's
interesting stuff to think about) that this sort of thing is very much
part of looping, for a few reasons:

1) Very little real-time looping involves simply setting up a loop and
then letting it repeat over and over and over, with no changes made to
it.  Even overdubbing a new layer into a loop, or changing feedback
levels, involved changing (or "editing") the content of the loop in some

2) Ultimately (at least in the case of EDP or Repeater editing
functions) everything that's being done, in terms of slicing and dicing,
changing loop length, or otherwise chopping up the sound, is still being
applied to material which, left to its own devices, will repeat over and
over again - that is, loop!

3) One point of view might say that using a bunch of EDP editing
functions to chop up a loop actually represents a PURER form of looping
than does a system that applies serious processing or effects to the
loop.  The reason I say this is that things like reverb, pitch
modulation, pitch shifting, or other processing aren't really part of
"looping," per se - they're electronic treatments applied to sound.  

On the other hand, things like Unrounded Multiply, Replace, Substitute,
SUS-insert, SubCycle Multiply and the like are all intrinsic functions
built into a unit designed explicitly as a looper.  And all of those
fancy EDP functions are ultimately performing one of two basic
functions: changing the content of a loop by adding or removing
material, or redefining the length of the loop itself.  Even half-speed
on the EDP seems to fit into this criteria, because the effect is
obtained by playing back the loop at half the sample rate, rather than
applying pitch-shifting DSP.

> Probably the reason I sense some distinction is that the technology
> makes it possible to perform incredibly fluid and dense layers, and
> possible to perform awesome feats of rhythmic sample jugging, but
> it's still kind of hard to do both at the same time. Matthias' and
> Andre's playing at the LoopIV release party reminded me of this
> contrast, although I make no pretense to say that was anything more
> than my personal impression from a too-short evening.

I'd agree with this to a large extent; on the material we played earlier
in the evening, I felt like there was generally one of us who was at the
forefront at any given time, and the other one tended to try and find
ways of fitting "his thing" into the picture.  The best stuff we played,
I thought, happened after the party was over, later that night and the
next morning.  

Also, Matthias' whole "thing" is infinitely more finely tuned and
developed than my approach.  I pretty much started over from scratch a
year ago, and am still trying to figure out what my relationship with
the EDP is, and can be.  So I kind of feel like I'm growing up in public
with this stuff.  Listening to the videotape on the drive home, I often
felt like I was getting in Mr. Grob's way, or not leaving enough space
for the guy.  :(

And I have to say that seeing Matthias (and Amy X the next morning) do
their stuff up close was a serious learning experience for me.  They
definitely inspired me to stop thinking that I had to constantly slice
and warp the loops every time they were in danger of (shock! horror!)
repeating a few times.  Seeing how stunningly well Matthias and Amy were
able to use repetition in very musical, attention-grabbing ways was
tremendously educational.  I drove home from Oakland that day thinking,
"OK, Andre, enough fooling around.  It's time to get your act together
with this stuff."

--Andre LaFosse