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Re: why Kim why?
Kim has a point that talking about looping music is in many ways more like
talking about trumpet music than it is like talking about jazz or rock
music. This is particularly true if you account for the full spectrum of
people who use looping devices and the various ways in which they use them.
For many of those people, however, the looping device is frequently just a
way to create backing tracks or is an effect to supplement their primary
instrument. (The latter is how I would characterize Frisell's use.)
What you see amongst some performers and particularly at looping festivals
is a shift in emphasis. The evolution of the loop and the interaction with
the loop become much more significant. With some performers the loops can
come to overshadow the playing of the original sound source. It's
a meeting of process music and improvisational music. (Counter-example: Amy
X Neuburg) The music may draw from jazz or rock or classical or whatever as
its original genre, but as the loops come to the foreground the music
distinctly morphs into something else.
Who is the audience for such events? Certainly mostly other people using
looping devices. Certainly some times pretty small. But I've also seen
events where the music was dominated by looping and the audience was pretty
large and obviously made up of more than just other people in the
Over generalizing for each genre:
If I go to a jazz festival, I expect to hear improvisation. I probably
expect the beat to swing a bit.
If I go to a rock concert, I expect a certain simple tribal driving rhythm
and I expect mostly to hear songs that last under 5 minutes and focus on
If I go to a looping festival, I expect to hear creative use of repetition.
That's a relatively abstract concept but so essentially is improvisation.
Are Benny Goodman and Miles Davis in his Agharta/Pangaea era both playing
jazz? Are Kenny G and Pat Metheny on _Zero Tolerance for Silence_ both
playing jazz? (Okay. I've got reservations about Kenny G, but a lot of the
world thinks what he plays is jazz.) Those data points aren't even as far
apart as I could go. There's a lot of diversity in jazz. There's a lot of
diversity in rock.
So, in the long run, I don't think there's a big danger of coming up with
overly narrow definition of looping music. In the short run, certainly it
might be better if a festival that focuses on ambient music were to be
called an ambient festival rather than a looping festival. One could also
have live-glitching festivals. As long as the public keeps being exposed to
a range of music identified as looping, the genre such as it is isn't at
great risk of becoming exclusionary any more than jazz is exclusionary.
I think Kim's mission is even broader from the standpoint that he doesn't
just want to avoid pigeonholing looping as a particular narrowly defined
sound but wants to emphasize its use for a broad range of musicians. This
a good thing from the standpoint that it promotes sales of looping devices
which results in more and better options for the people who place their
focus on loops. I think that talking about looping as a genre, however,
runs counter to this if one says that only people in the genre use looping