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Always Something New

Date: Wed, 11 Sep 1996 07:45:39 -0400
From: Chris Chovit

Anyways, I have been running the Jam Man on the effects loop of a small mixer, with my bass and guitar and a microphone plugged into the inputs of the mixer. I usually start the loops with an acoustic drum, to create a groove, throw in a bass line, add some textures with an accordian, then jam guitar to my heart's content! At first, I was upset that I couldn't "edit" or "save" my loop with the jam man -- but I have found that this has freed me up: I'm not concerned about getting it "just right." I just play! I have had a lot of fun with this approach, especially when there is no-one around to jam with. However, I've also created some loops, that I enjoyed so much, it was rather painful to erase.

Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 03:29:43 -0800
From: kflint@annihilist.com (Kim Flint)

You know, I've had the same experience. I'm basically an improv player, and I find looping fits that just perfectly. During the echoplex development I created and destroyed thousands and thousands of loops while testing one thing or another. Some of them were really good, too. But I found that it didn't really bother me after a while. I developed a confidence in myself that at any given time I could make a pretty good loop right off the top of my head, so saving them wasn't so important.

The exciting and challenging thing for me is the creation of something new and interesting each time. The process of developing a loop is the fun part. Once I'm done with it, I'm usually not so interested in it anymore, and want to make a new one.

Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 07:58:59 -0400
From: "S. Patrick Hickey"

Sometimes I will invite some friends over, light some candles, and play what I call "a meditation".

Date: Thu, 13 Sep 1996
From: matthias@bahianet.com.br (Matthias)

Would this be a way to use real drums and percussion to combine the machine like steady rythm with the real punch of unacurate human hit drum?

It would give a nice stage picture, too: imagine the drumer walking around stage, grabing an instrument every now and then, hitting it short and intense. In between he has time to relax or act, but the sound slowly grows to hell...

Date: Fri, 13 Sep 1996 17:26:40 -0700
From: studio seventeen productions

I recorded and performed for five years creating live in-the-moment loops, Bryan looping drum machine and synth with a JamMan and a 16-second delay and myself on energy bow and guitar & synth with the setup noted above.

A BAND of loopers as it were! --- Most pieces started with one of us and the other could join in: however, at no time were our loops similar in any way, duration wise especially. It just WORKED. The best band I've ever been in, bar none (BINDLESTIFF). Generally, we never used miked instruments (except on some studio-ized overdubbed non-live stuff). Sometimes we started together, and prayed we'd stay in sync. Amazingly, in the main, we did. And if not, kill your loop and restart until you are...not too hard with experience.

Our setups are completely different: Bryan prefers REVERBING AND EFFECTING HIS SOUNDS and THEN looping them; I prefer looping them and then "treating them" a la ENO. I've often created a loop, and then made five or ten or twenty different recordings of it using the Digitech TSR-24S processor for different rooms, reversals, etc. The fact that we sounded so different helped, yet we PLAYED "together" even though the setups differ wildly.

The work with Bindlestiff is some of the most important I've undertaken. It freed me of old standard tuning: it freed me from my perfectionistic overdub-it-till-it's dead habit...and now I create (and destroy) loops as Kim was describing...I've often killed loops that were so beautiful it was painful. But you KNOW you can do it better, later...

IF NOT, you record them.

Date: 23 Sep 1996 13:21:36CST6CDT
From: ToddM@LaserMaster.Com

Ever have one of those experiences where one of your loops takes on a life of its own and becomes this THING that sounds like it was put together by decisions you guided, but is now its own THING?!?!?

Saturday I started doing a loop based on single notes of a guitar arpeggio. Then I started adding the added notes an octave below the root. Then I added notes two octaves above the root just to add a smooth texture.

All of a sudden I had this very animated, interesting loop. I just kept listening and listening and was amazed. Sometime this happens, but not typically this amazing - I was like "this should be on an album or something.."

I put my instrument down and just sat and listened. For a long time.

I walked off into the next room and my wife was saying "I really like that ..." so we just left it going.

My wife and I had some errands to do, instead of shutting the Vortex off, I shut everything else off but the looper and came back about two hours or so later.

When we came back it was still going...I figured if it was still interesting that maybe it was worth recording.

I checked it out again to see if I still liked it and did. I figured it was time to really mess with it. I then plugged my cheazo swell flanger pedal into the effects loop of my 4-track's mixer, then added the Boss DD-3 pedal after that set to maxdelay (800ms) and about 90% regeneration and added to it and mixed it about 50-60% to the original signal.

I had the most amazing animated texture going......I was like "sheeeesh! I need to get this recorded before it goes away..." shoved a blank tape into the deck and started recording until the tape ran out, all the while neat little variations on the main loop were occurring at the molecular level no doubt.

I'll probably add some sparse synth or guitar bits to it, but it's amazing how this technology can take something as mundane as a simple chord and make it this eerie thing of beauty.

Now I'm really hooked on this loop thing. Let's just say the Vortex turns out to be the best $150 I ever spent in terms of "best inexpensive musical addition"..now I have to get some more stuff to make bigger loops.

Date: Tue, 24 Sep 1996 01:35:07 -0800
From: kflint@annihilist.com (Kim Flint)

>Ever have one of those experiences where one of your loops takes on a life
>of its own and becomes this THING that sounds like it was put together by
>decisions you guided, but is now its own THING?!?!?

Yes, I love that sort of thing! This used to happen to me sometimes at g-wiz while testing new soft versions in the echoplex. Usually meant the testing got delayed a bit while I enjoyed the loop!

A couple really stand out:

One time I looped a little sound made by scratching the sixth string of a Les Paul with my fingernail, then letting it ring a bit. I reversed it, and suddenly it was a completely beautiful, mesmerizing noise. Hard to describe it. Sort of a cross between the om sound for meditating and a digeridoo. People walking by my office were transfixed, stopping for a listen. I let it go for a couple of hours while I did other work. Amazing how something so simple could sound so perfect.

Another time I was testing midi sample triggering. I had a max patch set up which randomly triggered one of the nine loops in the echoplex at some defined interval, which was sort of a stress test to see if pops would appear or anything would go awry after lots of triggering. I played a note into each loop and started the patch off. Trouble was, I forgot to set the delay between triggers, so MAX was sending the triggers at its maximum rate! The mac totally locked up and I couldn't stop the damn thing. I think max clocks every millisecond, so that's probably how fast the triggers were going.

And then I noticed the sound.....

It sounded like some strangely harmonic storm, with wind blowing and rain on the roof. Always evolving, yet always in a similar sound space. Really extraordinary, yet totally unexpected and quite beautiful. I'd like to try that one again, but somehow I think it won't come out so well. Maybe its better as a memory....

In case you're wondering, the 'plex survived all this. When I finally stopped it, all the loops were fine, and nothing bad had happened. It probably switched loops several hundred thousand times....

Date: Wed, 25 Sep 1996 12:39:06 -0700 (PDT)
From: The Man Himself

Kim sez:
> People get confused if they
> don't see you making motions that correspond to the sounds they hear, which
> is a problem for loopers.

This reminds me of a loop piece I did several months ago, at a Guitar Department concert here at Cal Arts, which requires different phrases to be entered into the Echoplex and then allowed to loop for a few times before the next phrase is played.

I walked on stage, plugged in, and played the first phrase, then began the loop and stopped playing. After a second or two, I suddenly heard a pair of people in the front row saying (at full conversational volume): "Oh, look at that! A guitar that plays itself!" They then began laughing (again, making no apparent effort to conceal this reaction.)

I suddenly looked over and stared right at them. When they suddenly noticed I was glaring at them, one of them uttered, "Oh.....!" and were immediately quiet. Then the whole house broke out laughing, myself included.

Date: Wed, 25 Sep 1996
From: matthias@bahianet.com.br (Matthias)

I made people laugh once when I played open air and suddenly had a heat attack under the lamps and during the song put away the guitar to take my sweater off. But some people dislike such thing...

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