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Interesting Posts Series:

Looping Defined

Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 18:11:54 -0700
From: studio seventeen productions

Discreet Music SHOULD be included. Someone else mentioned mechanically performed "loop" pieces, and sonically they are nearly indistinguishable from "electronically" created (be they tape or digital). a perfect example is the long piece on God Save The King/Robert Fripp (sorry title escapes me momentarily) wherein RF performs MANUAL repetition of the phrase for something like sixteen minutes straight. It SOUNDS like a loop, but it's not.

As Kim mentioned, the fascination is in REPETITION (and the way the ear perceives different permutations as the loop repeats)...the method of production should be considered IRREVELANT to the piece as music, but RELEVANT to us as a group exploring that rather large subject: looping.

I for one am ignorant of some of these early sources (Reich is mostly a name only to me) and would appreciate their works:

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

Shure! I think the crystalization point is not technology, but
How we do them and what they do to us -
including consideration of what goes on in the brain and such.

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

>Is looping a recording or a performance? It seems to me that the
>are dissolving........

This is a difficult question for all of us, and important when we explain what we use to play a whole orchestra live, in nearly real time (or for the manufacturers and stores: to explain it to customers).

It is similar to an effect only in its mechanic and electronic structure. The musical function has nothing of an effect, since it does not alter sound. I call it a RAM recorder, too. Spontaneous sound memory. Sound mirror. But none of the expressions so far is explaining what it does to whom does not know it. Any suggestions?

Date: Fri, 13 Sep 1996 12:17:02 -0500 (CDT)
From: Dave Stagner

An interesting aside... do you think of your looping device(s) as an effect, or as an instrument? For me, the JamMan and Vortex are instruments in and of themselves, not just processing for my guitar. They're just instruments that need an outside tone source.

Date: Sun, 15 Sep 1996 04:10:01 -0800
From: kflint@annihilist.com (Kim Flint)

>Or maybe the reality is that we're such a tiny subculture
>that there simply isn't a real market for such tools. :/

Not that tiny, really. Akai and Roland are on to something with the phrase samplers they've got for dj's and techno producers. Those things are loopers, with a different sort of interface and some different functionality. (they are pretty cool too) The trouble is that no one has figured out how to cross into all the places where loopers exist. Gibson/oberheim only know how to sell to guitar players, Lexicon sells to recording studios, Roland and akai to synth players. Loopers are in all those places and more.....

Its an instrument!!!!!! And like any good instrument, it allows the beginner to have a good time with just a few basics. Record a loop and play along with it. Anyone can do it and have a good time. Just like anyone can learn a couple of open chords on guitar and have a good time playing a few simple songs. But then, like the guitar, you can take it to much greater depth, expand your technique, and really develop your own musical voice with it. I really feel like these are the early days for a great new instrument, and we are the ones defining a vocabulary for the future. Its great to see all the conversation going on here, we've started kicking the pace up a notch or two!

Date: Sat, 21 Sep 1996 11:08:54 +0200 (MET DST)
From: Olivier Malhomme

I use my old Cubase.2 and my Roland Gr-50 guitar Synth to drive via midi delay the various synths. That allow to have upt to a full note of delay (I mean this note during 4 time we call "ronde" in french). Since it is tempo dependant with le lowest tempo (30) I have around 6 to 7 seconds of delay. Ok that cannot compete with either the Jamdude nor the Echoplex, but since i've nothing else, like Eno said once, from limitation comes creativity (I try to convince myself).

In another way I used a long time ago samplers to because when you repeat the sample on itself, you get tiny loops, and unless the technology of your machine is Roland's differential interpolation, then changing the note you play (i.e.transposing) changes the duration of this tiny loop.

That is an other way.

Then you could use multitracj recorder (I've an Akai 12 MG 14D) to add loops played without delay, I mean you just keep repeating a phrase thet seems relevant to you.

It allows to treat independantly by mixing each phrase as far as effects and dynamics and so on are concerned. That is interesting to. Thoise of you with mulitracker should try. That is different to rely on a delay unit to loop for yourself, and then having to play everything. Since you never play exactly the same way, it gives a very differently flavoured loop. More organic, but less etheral, I I can say.

Date: Sat, 21 Sep 1996
From: matthias@bahianet.com.br (Matthias)

This is interesting, isn't it? I do not like drum machines for its stupid repetitivity, but I like loops for it. As you say, it turns sound more etheral, but still not mechanic. I also felt this with the written loop compositions like Reich or Glass (minimal music). While the electronic loop bring me peace (usualy), the "human" loop brings the atmosphere of work of the poor guys who had to play the same stuff forever...

So what is the magic of the loop?

Date: Mon, 23 Sep 1996 00:40:46 -0700 (MST)
From: Dan Howarth

Excerpts from the liner notes of 'eberhard weber : pendulum' ECM 1518:

'solo pieces for single instruments are actually not my favorite music. i have always preferred orchestral sounds. strangely enough, i came across the double bass, of all things, that awkward instrument which, according to conventional understanding, can produce only dark, low tones.'

'obviously the first thing was to drag the instrument itself out of that murky cellar; to make it as easy to play as possible so it could serve as a solo instrument...'

'a desire to put all my musical ambitions and my function as a bass player under one hat made me enter the world of the loner. however in my case playing alone does not mean sending individual notes meaningfully into space. basically, there is nothing wrong with it, but who wants to spend a whole evening listening to individual tones, deeply fraught with meaning? i'd rather make music with the help of certain aids, that permit me to carry on a kind of dialogue with myself and liberate me from the isolation of a solo performance - at least acoustically.'

'the discovery of the echo unit was a turning point for me. being able to store sounds, tones, rhythms, and bass lines quite spontaneously during a live concert, and to replay them at will gives me almost unlimited exploratory pleasure. this is fundamentally different from using prerecorded tapes, because you can give free rein to your spontaneous creation.'

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