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AW: ORGANIC programming and looping
you're leading us into deep philosophical territority here, and in
discussing it is hard to know where to start (and where to stop).
There are lots of thoughts in your message, like the use of statistical
effects on music (or audio signals, to keep it more general, or signals
to stay even more general), the work with serial structures (as
exemplified by many a looper (e.g. J.S. Bach) or electronica artist
(e.g. Karlheinz Stockhausen), and of course the influence of a human on
a performance (making it musical or flawed or musically flawed).
Music basically is about repetition and about static elements. This
becomes clear from listening to almost any music (and to abouth
everything I've heard from you loopers here). And this is only natural,
even if analyzed from a theoretical signal theory/entropy approach: I
remember Murray Gell-Mann talkin about the content of information in a
signal (using the example of a text if I remember correctly). You could
either use a very simple generating function like "take the letter a and
repeat it times, obtaining a clearly structured result which does not
contain very much information or in other words is boring. Or you could
take the generating function of "choose 100000 letters arbitrarily",
obtaining a completely unstructured result which again does not contain
very much information (which can be seen by the fact that the generating
function in both cases is very simple". Interesting stuff lies somewhere
in between, something like a Bach fugue or a piece by (say) Karlheinz
Stockhausen or Rick Walker.
This experience and the consequences we pull from it will not be new to
anyone here. And to come back to your example, taking "play Loop A
(length 4 bars) for 20 bars" might sound boring, while "play Loop A
(length 4 bars) through time-modulated effect A' (period 5 bars) for 20
bars" gives you both the repetitive elements about any music-listener
likes, together with 20 totally unique bars (an approach also used by
the minimal music movement).
Add to that the human performer element. As lots of us work in a
quasi-live setting for generating their performances, the looper gives
us the possibility to work with the contrast of the perfect repetition
vs. the flawed one. I recently worked with that effect consciusly by
recording a simple 4 bar bass/guitar loop and then alternating between
playing the recorded bass and guitar part, at the same time adding the
missing part "live".
And then add to that the real statistical element (although if we put
our filter or other effect devices into "random", hardly a mathematician
would agree that this is really random). Also this sounds interesting to
most ears if used properly (as you mentioned "tiny but constrained").
So what do we learn from that. For me, basically only what I already
knew: that it is necessary to use your brain to be able to make
interesting music :-)
(sorry, this message doesn't have a proper message. Count it as some
pseudophilosophical babbling or simply ignore it).
ps: regarding really artifical sound. I remember this recording by Jack
DeJohnette (can't remember the name of the album or piece) with this
p/b/dr trio plus big horn section (taken mostly from Carla Bley,
trumpets, french horns, trombone, tuba, flutes, bass clarinet...you name
it), all recorded in the typical ECM fashion - and on top of that a
70ies drum machine's hand clap sound! Yes, sometimes it is cool to sound
Von: loop.pool [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Gesendet: Dienstag, 30. November 2004 00:05
An: LOOPERS DELIGHT (posting)
Betreff: ORGANIC programming and looping
I've really been thinking a lot in my own compositions about what makes
Using the potentially overstatic techniques of live looping, sequencing
(all those repetitive things that we both love and that can certainly
I think any sophisticated electronica composer trys to figure out how to
simulate the live
performance of multiple real time musicians.
In drum computer programming, putting in lots of little tiny but
constrained random variations
in resonance, cutoff, panning, volume, timing can really fool people
thinking that they are listening
to a live drumming track.
The same is true of synth bubbles or arpeggios.
I'm still waiting for someone to incorporate some generated Boid
into some of the more
popular sequencing programs (including drum computer programs like
and Fruity Loops).
Those are the algorhythms created to simulate the variation in
birds as they flock and turn in the air.
In looping, obvious techniques like replacing, overdubbing, changing
lengths, etc. can help a
piece from being terminally static. I also love the addition of random
non-random addition of effects
and/or filtering to preexisting loops when I play or when I listen to
playing. Boy, my kindgom for
the random filtering algorhythm that is in that pricey Lexicon unit that
Steve Lawson uses live.........it's so
cool because the rhythms constantly morph in a seemingly 'organic' way.
I've also noticed that sometime the addition of merely one element that
changing can give an entire
static set of loops or sequences an 'organic' feel.
Then, of course, there is the addition of actuall real time (non looped)
playing over the top of
of static elements. Curious, though, if we use that approach alone
seems, after awhile to call more
attention to the stasis of the loop.
And finally, sometimes it's cool to be REALLY ARTIFICIAL and static
Lately, along those lines, I've been experimenting with and acoustic
drumset that sounds like
cheap analogue drum machines from the 70's. I figured everyone is
to sound organic with
their drum programming, maybe I should take the opposite tack and see
it leads me.
I've blown enough wind.............your thoughts?