Looper's Delight Archive Top (Search)
Date Index
Thread Index
Author Index
Looper's Delight Home
Mailing List Info

[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Date Index][Thread Index][Author Index]

Re: Ambient?

At 10:11 PM -0700 7/27/97, The Man Himself wrote:
>Two cents on the ongoing "tyranny of ambient" thread...
>People have wondered why so many assumptions tend to be made about
>"loop-based" music being equated with "ambient" music, and why there seem
>to be so many Big Three-wielding guitar players on this list.  I know
>that Kim has expressed a desire to lure some people from the
>DJ/Electronica side of things into the list discussions, which as far as
>I know have unfortunately gone largely unrealized (unless there are some
>techno heads lurking out there).

As Ian noted, there are a few electronica sorts floating about. There are
also a number of folks from other non-ambient genres, like bluegrass, world
beat, rock, jazz, etc.  But I do hunger for greater diversity on the list,
that is true. I think that Looping is practiced by a much more diverse
group than we have here so far, and I'd like to see the list open up a bit.

I don't think this problem is due to some inherent aspect of realtime (or
non-realtime) looping that makes it more ambient or guitar friendly. It's
really more like bad advertising. I haven't exactly been bouncing all over
cyberspace trumpeting Looper's Delight to every odd musical genre I stumble
across! The list started by me sending mail out to announce its existence
to a bunch of people I knew, who undoubtedly reflected my tastes to some
extent, and from there it mostly spread by word of mouth. So we end up with
a large majority of gear-head guitarists with weird musical tastes. :-)

The folks who stumble on Looper's Delight through web searches or whatever
oftentimes come from different backgrounds, and bring some interesting and
refreshing viewpoints. More and more people seem to be appearing here from
those directions. I think that's great; it helps us all see things in new
ways, and hopefully broadens our own music.

I'd like to see the list continue to grow in that way. Please help out if
you can, I think it will do us all good. If you know any interesting
loopers out there, or interesting people interested in looping, tell them
about the list!

I also think that Looping is something that can be useful and enjoyable to
musicians from all backgrounds. The more experimental folks have gotten
into it early, but there is no need to keep it a secret from everyone else!
I think the Looper's Delight list holds some great potential for improving
this. By discussing Looping every day, we are helping to define and develop
it into something more clear and accessible. This makes it easier and
easier for others to understand Looping and desire to join us or just enjoy
the music we create. It also makes it easier for us to show others what we
have discovered and get them to start looping too.

>There are a few things to consider here.  For one thing, we generally
>refer to what we're doing as "loop-based musi,c" given that most of us use
>some sort of real-time looping based around a delay unit or a Big Three
>item.  However, most DJs or techno artists aren't going to think of what
>they do as "loop-based" -- they're going to use one of the dozens of
>sub-genre monikers already floating around the atmosphere of that scene.

I think the word "loop" is pretty darn common in that scene so it's really
not that big of a stretch. Using real-time loopers is just starting to
catch on amongst the DJ set, as evidenced by the now commonplace simple
loopers and phrase samplers found on DJ mixers. Again it's a case of bad
marketing. The companies who sold many of the more sophisticated looping
devices did not understand this market or how to sell to it. They
understood the traditional guitar market, so that's where it went. How do
you explain the Invisibl Skratch Picklz to executives of Gibson Guitar? I'm
still trying to figure that out, and I'm sure Jon Durant had similar
experiences at Lexicon.

A lot of people involved in electronica, hip-hop, dj-ing, etc have never
even heard of looping devices like the echoplex, jamman, or boomerang. It's
such a great match, too, so it's kind of amazing. Instead, companies like
pioneer, gemini, and akai have begun developing simple loopers for the dj
market on their own. They seem to be doing quite well with it. Maybe some
of the people using those will get turned on by it and find some of the
more sophisticated devices out there on their own. Or maybe the guitar
companies will notice that rock is dead or on sabbatical or whatever, and
try to get a little of the electronica action. Or maybe things will cross
over in some other way. We'll see I suppose.

But I think it's wrong to draw some sort of line between one set of loop
tools and the other. "Big Three" doesn't make sense, because there are more
than three loopers out there! The feature sets vary, but the basic looping
idea shows up in many places. From simple delay pedals, to dj-loopers, to
echoplexes and jammans and boomerangs, to older guys like the
ElectroHarmoix 16 second and digitech timemachine delays, to the vortex, to
the akai remix16, to pro cd players with settable loop points, to
eventides, to tc 2290's....it's all over the place. One particular set of
features shouldn't be more pc than another. And really, sharing the ideas
and applications from different devices and genres can only help us all.

Even trying to draw lines between realtime and non-realtime looping seems
wrong. If you make a recording (or performance) by doing the loops in
realtime or by painstakingly cutting and pasting, what is the difference to
the listener? Different techniques and processes for creating similar
results. Why try to keep them all separate?

>Look at it this way -- a metal guitar player isn't going to describe his
>music as "amplified guitar-based music," he's going to call it metal.  A
>blues musician will call his music blues, rather than "folk-derived
>African-American guitar music."  Likewise, a techno artist won't call his
>music "loop-based," because the loop aspect goes without saying (just as
>the guitaristic aspect in the aforementioned examples does).  Besides,
>which *sounds* better: "timeshifted, sample-based cut-and-paste music" or
>"jungle"?  So a forum for "loop-based music" might well seem a strange
>place for a musician for whom looping is an almost unconscious and
>pre-ordained means of making music.

And they arrive here to find we're all babbling about guitars and get bored
and leave....:-)

Good points,though, but I'm not sure I agree with your premise. Defining
Looping as a genre unto itself seems odd to me, although many of you are
clearly trying to do that. That's fine. But much of what we talk about is
looping as a technique, or a process, or an instrument. The process of
looping in music is probably just as intesting to a drum n' bass musician
as it is to an ambient musician. In that respect it is like discussing
composition, or improvisation. The same ideas are applicable in vastly
different genres.

Discussing looping as an instrument is like discussing say, percussion.
Have you ever noticed that percussionists who play totally different kinds
of music talk to each other like brothers/sisters? It's like they are all
part of the same club. Guitar players for some reason spend a lot of time
talking about why their brand of it is better than the other guy's, which
is pretty lame. I'd rather see loopers following the
percussionist/brotherhood model!

>There's also a fundamental difference between the way that most of us are
>using the idea of looping, versus how most sample-based "music with
>looping" is made.  Basically, with most electronic loop-based music,
>you're dealing with someone sampling *somebody else's* music, which was
>*already made*, and then editing the sample in step-time via a computer.

You're not one of those people that gets all bent about sampling are you?
:-)  What difference is it really if the sample is recorded on a hard disk
or recorded on your brain? The loop is a sample of something. If its a
sample of you playing, chances are the thing you played is heavily
influenced in some way by "somebody else's music"!  I mean, I've spent just
about all of my musical life intentionally not learning any piece of music,
in the hopes that my own music would be more unique. Well, it doesn't quite
work. The things I've listened to are definitely there. But that's fine!
Using something familiar gives music a starting point.

A lot of electronica involves recontextualizing something familiar. So does
a lot of other kinds of looping. I think it is a stretch to say there is
some fundamental difference between creating a loop based on some funky
riff I play or some funky riff I sample off a p-funk album. The musical
purpose would be the same in either case. And what happens when I sample
something off p-funk and add my playing to it? Am I some kind of
mixed-breed, shunned by all?

>Most of this list seems more based around the "classical loop" approach,

Just because its gone that way so far doesn't mean that's all it has to be!

>which traces its roots back to reel-to-reel tape loop systems, which as
>far as performance applications are concerned basically involves creating
>(or, to use an old-fashioned term, *playing*) the music at the same moment
>that it's being looped, and doing any editing or re-compiling in real
>time.  It's a very different approach, which may explain why a lot of
>elecronica artists might not feel like they have a lot in common with us.

It seems rather biased to decide that this is the "classical" approach to
looping, as opposed to analog arpeggiators or turntable manipulations or
tape-and-razors or whatever. They were all developing in roughly the same
period. And much of that was just the application of new techniques and
devices to ideas that have existed in music for a long time. Different
people took different approaches. But why do you feel so compelled to draw
divisions between them and "us" whoever we are? It would seem more useful
to communicate with whoever "them" is and discover the ways in which we are
really doing the same thing.

And I haven't noticed that electronica artists don't feel they have much in
common with "us". In fact, many of us seem to be them, and many of us are
actively exploring one side or the other. Many of the more noteworthy
artists of your "classical aproach" seem to be collaborating with
electronica artists, with promising results. And I seem to get along fine
with the electornica folks I meet. Maybe they just don't like you,

Again, any lacking in the LD genre-demographics probably has a lot more to
do with a lower profile in some net communities than in others. When more
electronica artists know we exist, more will show up. It also has something
to do with the demographics of the internet. Male, 20-50, educated, middle
class income....sounds like every other place on the net. The kids in my
neighborhood probably aren't even finishing high school, let alone buying
computers and surfing the web. But some of them are probably creating
music, probably with loops, with whatever gear they can get, maybe even one
of the "big three". Just because they are not here, doesn't mean they're
not one of us!


Kim Flint                   | Looper's Delight
kflint@annihilist.com       | http://www.annihilist.com/loop/loop.html
http://www.annihilist.com/  | Loopers-Delight-request@annihilist.com