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: Performing solo loop improvisations

>For those of you who perform solo improv gigs, just you and a mountain (or
>molehill) of electronics: how do you go about creating a composition in
>real time?

I have two rules when I do a solo looping gig: 1) all acoustic 
instruments, 2)
every sound generated live (no prerecorded stuff).  Probably silly rules 
they work for me.  I'm a percussionist so I use a lot of instruments (twin
peaks - one mountain of electronics, one of instruments).  I put the 
out front so folks see me knob-frobbing, just like it was another 

Originally, I got into looping so I could play Celtic music on my marimba 
accompany myself.  I still do but I've really gotten into the soundscape 
hence the mound of instruments (i.e., sonic textures).  The Celtic stuff is
probably only 10% of a show nowadays.

Most of the pieces (songs?  tunes? compositions?  what do you call them?) 
that I
play out are structured.  I do alot of experimenting at home but not 
in front of an audience.  Chicken?  Yeah, probably both me and the 
One of these days...

When I say "structured" it's a "bones only" kind of thing.  The "flesh" is 
during the performance and is always variable.  So the outcome is always
different even with the same bones.  I work alot with this idea of "bones"
(apriori structure) and "flesh" (in the moment improv) combined in 
One characteristic is that, if you're successful, the audience never sees 
bones or at least they don't get in the way.  But you have something to 
improvs onto.  This helps the improvs to be distinct from each other.  
Being a
percussionist, I don't generally have chord progressions like the jazzers.

I use this idea with group improvisations also.  Here is part of a 
"script" from
a performance recently with three musicians (guitar, keyboard, 
percussion), two
voices, and two dancers.  "Audience volunteers" are people from the 
audience who
volunteered to participate.  The performance was entitled "Seven in a 
hence the use of fast-food sacks.  This piece was probably the boniest of 

----------------------------------------- beginning of script
clip ---------------------------------
The Stage Manager herds the audience volunteers into a room.  The 
volunteers are
given seven fast-food sacks containing “idea” cards.  The cards are culled 
Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies cards.  Written on the cards are such 
things as
“Emphasize Repetitions” and “Water”.  By whatever process they mutually 
upon, the volunteers arrange the “idea” cards.  From a total of 21 cards, 
select a “hand” for each performer of three cards.  Each hand is placed in 
fast-food sack.  If desired, the volunteers may designate a hand for a
particular performer by writing the performer’s name on the sack.

8:10 – 9:00 PM SECOND SET

A. Card Game * (20 minutes) – a collective improvisation guided by “idea” 

Lights are up.  The Stage Manager gives each performer a fast-food sack.  
sack contains a “hand” of three idea cards in a stack.  The performer 
places the
stack in their easel and doesn’t know beforehand which cards are in their 
Only the top card of each stack is visible to all the performers and the
audience.  Each performer starts whenever they want and bases their
improvisation on their top card.  At any time a performer can remove the 
card, exposing a new card.  Further improvisation is based on the new card.
During this piece, each performer independently works their way through 
all of
their cards.  If desired, a performer may exchange their entire stack with
another performer.  However, the cards in a stack cannot be separated;
individual cards cannot be exchanged.  To end it, the Stage Manager enters 
begins taking-up the cards and putting them in a fast-food sack.  As the 
Manager picks up a performer’s cards, that performer stops (“No tickee, no
playee”) and begins following the Stage Manager forming a line of “stopped”
performers.  The Stage Manager randomly chooses the stopping order.  
all performers are stopped and the Stage Manager, with the performers “in 
exits the stage.
------------------------------- end of script
clip ---------------------------------------------------------------------

Hope you find this interesting.

Dennis Leas