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Re: LOOPING PHILOSOPHY (ad infinitum)

I think this debate is pretty interesting, but ultimately futile because
we're treating music as an abstraction, and music is not an abstraction,
it's perhaps the most sensual and direct art we have. I learned years ago
to judge music on the sound I hear and not on the process that the musician
uses to create it. I totally respect Andre (The Man!)'s approach, and I'd
love to hear it applied to his music, but there is a danger in abstracting
an individual method into a rule for producing music. For example, Fripp is
an exemplary looping guitarist, his self-discipline is admirable, his
technique with looping devices is deep, etc, BUT, his last few Soundscape
CD's have bored me to tears. Why? Because there's no passion, no fire, no
grit, no funk, all I hear is theory and rules. Now, I'm not putting Fripp
down, his music has meant a lot to me over the years, and there are some
things he plays that still kick my ass, but I think he's got a tendency to
over-theorize, and needs the feedback of some more instinctive musicians to
really make interesting music.

Anyway, I didn't mean this to be an anti-Fripp rant, I guess what I'm
trying to say is that we have to judge the music on it's own merits. To use
Andre's "Black Dog" example, in theory every guitarist will bring his own
history, his own passion, whatever to the lick. In practice, I've heard too
many musicians who are too content to play something safely, to not take
risks, to be generic. I'd rather just hear Jimmy Page in all his sloppiness
than someone slavishly reproducing the recorded lick. As far as sampling
the lick, again it all depends on the creativity of the person doing the
sampling. DJ Spooky or Hank Shocklee would probably take it into an
entirely new direction. A lesser artist probably won't. I won't keep myself
from appreciating the person who takes the creative path because of his

I personally use real-time looping, sampling, midi looping, whatever it
takes to make music that interests me and will hopefully engage listeners.
I'm kind of an obsessive recordist/archivist, I ran a small studio for a
few years and I still do occaisional concert recordings, editing jobs,
whatever. One of the things that people who hire me have to accept, and
anymore it's mostly just friends that I do recording with, is that whatever
they record with me will be going into the sample mill, and who knows where
I might re-use something of theirs. Actually, most people totally respect
this, and are intrigued at the possiblility of what I might eventually do
with their sound, there have been a few that aren't into it. I have a shelf
of DATs of all kinds of music, classical recitals, punk bands, sound checks
from recording sessions, interesting licks dubbed off the multitrack master
when the band wasn't looking, whatever, and sometimes when I'm looking for
inspiration, I'll pull down a tape at random and see what I can find.
Because the musicians on these tapes are friends, there's a resonance I get
from working with the music that I wouldn't get from pulling samples off of
records, and I hope that this resonance carries through in the work.

Dave Trenkel : improv@peak.org  : www.peak.org/~improv/

"...there will come a day when you won't have to use
gasoline. You'd simply take a cassette and put it in
your car, let it run. You'd have to have the proper
type of music. Like you take two sticks, put 'em
together, make fire. You take some notes and rub 'em
together - dum, dum, dum, dum - fire, cosmic fire."
                                            -Sun Ra