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Re: another approach to looping

Dennis wrote:

>Also, I think we have some Indian musicians here with us.  Certainly, some
>the traditional accompaniment in classical Indian music could be termed
>a loop."  And some of us (myself included) play the didjeridu.  Which is
>"loopy" also.

Absolutely correct.  For instance, the wonderful stringed drone instrument
tanpura (aka tamboura, tamboora, etc.) is played by gently brushing the
strings with one's fingertips, repeating the same pattern over and over in
order to provide the background drone for the voice and/or melodic
instrument(s).  So in essence it's a manual form of looping.  In addition,
when Indian musicians play "compositions" (very different than the western
sense of the word) the tabla player performs a basic timekeeping pattern
called "theka" which is repeated throughout with very slight variations
(e.g., occasionally doubling a stroke, or leaving one silent).  Again,
real-time manual looping.  Finally, as a cue to the tabla player to begin
soloing, the vocalist or instrumentalist will sing/play the "gat" or
"bandish" (composition) over and over which serves to keep time while the
drummer does his polyrhythmic magic.

One of the most challenging gigs I ever did was a small tour accompanying a
great master of the pakhawaj (double-headed barrel drum, much older than
tabla) who performed from the solo repertoire.  I played the repeated
timekeeping melody throughout (sometimes as long as 70 minutes for one
piece).  It was very heady trying to keep perfect time while he stretched
and expanded the tempo and layered all sorts of mathematically contrasting
patterns against the basic rhythm.  There was also a very experienced young
tabla player who would sit onstage with us, just clapping the main beats of
each taal (rhythmic cycle).  For the majority of the tour he and I would 
there with our jaws drooping in amazement at the astounding rhythmic feats
we were hearing from the master drummer, trying our hardest just to keep

James Pokorny