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Playing With a Loop (everyone read this)


FunkyLemz

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Nothing profound, but I just wanted to tell all of you guys (if you don't know already) how awesome it is playing with a loop station. Even if you don't get the best sound out there - It is a very fun and a great practicing tool. I picked up a boss rc - 20. It's a good little piece of equipment. Im not a big fan of boss stuff, but I would recommend this or any other functional loop to any and all bass players. I usually lay down a beat (bass/snare) by slapping and popping deadnotes, rhythm part, an accompanying part, and then solo over all of it. I use a few other wah/filter/distortion pedals in the mix too - Lots of fun and a great investment. Just some food for thought, Mike
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i find it's one of the most effective practice tools...it's fun, creative and versatile...it's a good excuse to practice chords you can solo on etc etc.... the only negative thing i can think of is that i know people who only play with loop stations and don't play with bands anymore ....
Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don't know and I don't care.
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The latest issue of another bass related mag includes an enhanced CD with some video of Steve Lawson demonstrating how to use loops. It definitly moved me from "Oh it's nice how Steve and Vic and Stu can do that" into the realm of "I can do that!" With the right tools.

 

The Boomerang is probably one of the more affordable tools. Steve uses a Gibson Echoplex - the pedalboard appears to be smaller and the brain is a rack mount unit.

- Matt W.
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This is something I'm considering getting into lately. Though I would need something that, I could sync to a sequencer. I'm getting very interesting in doing a DnB project. The cool thing is I know I can come here when I have the funding together to look up one of Max's great posts on the subject for ideas on which equipment to use. For those who don't know Max Valentino is the resident expert on looping.

Together all sing their different songs in union - the Uni-verse.

My Current Project

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"Resident expert"?...well, I don't know about that, but yes I do a "fair" amount of looping---and I am fortunate enough to actually make money at it.

 

Playing with loops is a great deal of fun, and it is a great tool for both practice and teaching. The little rhythmic and timing errors we are all suspect of become so evident and clear when working with loops. In the past ten years, since I began using loops, my rhythmic acuity has increased a thousand-fold.

I use my loopers as compositional tools as well. They make great "sketchpads" for exploring melodic, harmonic and rhythmic elements in a piece being worked on.

 

There is a tendency, especially with those new to the fold of looping, to try to go for the "one man band" kind of approach. And, while this is a valid way of approaching the techniques of looping, it really misses the point of using loops as an integral in interactive approach to playing. As opposed to sequencers, the "art of looping" is much like the "art of playing" and exists in the moment (altho' several new looping devices , like the RC20 and new JamMan pedal...and the much awaited re=release of the Electrix Repeater...do offer the capability of recording and storing loops); you "play" the looper, so to speak, and more likely than not you will never be able to completely re-create a looped performance identical to a previous one (much like conventional playing). But isn't that the whole gist of music in the first place?

 

Another nasty pit one can fall into is the tendency to "fill up" the sound (I actually was calling my Lexicon JamMan "Phillip" for a while....), where one continually adds to the looped parts with overdubs creating a dense wash of sound...then where do you go?

I tend to make my looping more interactive; aiming to not bring attention to what is looped---at times making it hard to discern a played part from a looped one. I also tend not to make static loops which run thru an entire piece. I am using an old Lexicon JamMan which has been modified by its inventor, Bob Sellon, to allow for multiple parallel loops, fades in and outs of loops, replacment of parts, variable feedback levels and placement of the loops in a stereo field. (yet there is a Gibson EDP arriving in the near future).This allows me to be quite interactive with looping process. I don't use any effects with it....rather using my hands and fingers (and the occasional alligator clip) to create multiple timbres, percussive sounds (even faux drum tracks) and such.

And, while I use these techniques in my solo performances to great extents, I also always have my looper in my rack ready to go in group settings...and usually can toss in a couple of looped parts in a standard performance. These are usually not "highlighted" looping, but rather subtle use of the technology to enhance a performance. My reference for this is the brilliant work Bill Frisell does with a DL4.

 

For you bassists out there curious about it...check out my buddy Steve Lawson's absolutely amazing looping work (go to his website NOW!!), or the works by Mike Dimin,Trip Wamsley, Scott Khunga Drengsen and others (go check out www.loopers-delight.com for more info)....

...and while yer at it check out the works of guitarists extraordinaire Andre LaFosse and David Torn.

 

The newer loping devices, like the new JamMan pedal, the DL4 and RC20 are all very good and most affordable. Things like the Boomerrang have been around for a while...and are quite easy to use (I know oif a quite a few folks who get great results with just a 'rang..... Mike Dimin for instance). The EDP is the Rolls Royce of looping devices, pricey but it does so much

...and trhe Repeater should be re-appearing soon.

 

Got Loops?

 

Max

...it's not the arrow, it's the Indian.
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oh...another thing....

playing loops with drummers/bands CAN be quite a task. One thing it will do is point out just how "off" a drunmmer's sense of time can be (something most are not too keen to be made aware of!)....and it will certainly show the guitar players how rhymically deaf they are (but WE knew that already!)

Drift can and will occur...but it is a great skill of musicianship to learn to adapt and change to cover it, whether that be by changing one's own "beat center" or by the loopist retriggering the loop to fit the beat of others.

 

Good monitoring systems are a must in these situations...as is a keen sense of diplomacy in helping the "non-looping" instruments undersatnd and learn to listen to what is going on.

 

While there is a great tendency for loopists to play solo using these techniques/technologies, I have been most interested in ensemble looping setups. At each of the infamous "loop-fests" I have played--and there have been many--I have pushed to do more group interactions. Most of the ime these have been successful. Just last week in Santa Cruz at the Y2K5 Festival, Swiss Loopist extraordinaire Bernhard Wagner(an amazing player as well with several CDs out worth checking into...) and I did an impromtu duet set of improvised music which was quite beautiful and wonderful(he using an EDP and me with trusty ol' JamBoy) In this case, we used no MIDI sync; we simply retriggered our loops when the eventual drift bgan to occur.(this takes a high level of listening skills and awareness...one particular skill which playing with lops greatly enhances). I listened to recordings of it and you cannot hear where any sync falls out.

In other instances, such as a "loop Trio" I did with Bill Walker (gtr/Repeater) and Jon Wagner (drums/percussion/EDP) we used MIDI sync to maintain the sync issues of the mulitple, and very different, devices being used.

Max

...it's not the arrow, it's the Indian.
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When i played g****r with my last band, I used the line6 delay/looper in a live situation. In our big balls-out finale song, I would "record" a high droning chord progression during the bridge, reverse it, then play it during the outtro while me and the band were laying into the main riff. With all the distortion, it was very cacophonous (is that a word??), but when we cut out and left the reversed chords going at the very end, it was very cool.

 

A friend of mine uses the same line6 pedal to incredible effect with his solo acoustic guitar work and with his band (he's the reason i got the thing). He has a much cleaner sound than I had, so he's able to layer harmonized guitar parts and make it sound incredible.

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Good monitoring systems are a must in these situations...as is a keen sense of diplomacy in helping the "non-looping" instruments undersatnd and learn to listen to what is going on.

Yeah, this is one of the things holding me back, all the extra curriculars in terms of equipment I'd need in order to do what I want to do. Not only do I want to loop bass tracks but even miked percussion, and midi sequences. The few trials my drummer and I have had has shown monitoring during heavy parts of our jams to be difficult, which results in us drifting from the clock. Its funny you mention difficulties with drummers because, This foray into looping and sequencing is also part of my secret plan to take over the world by getting my drummer's timing to be more consistent. Shhh....Don't tell on me. ;)

Admittingly, I have my own issues with getting in sync with the more mechanical approach to timing. I started out playing to a Dr rythmn, but its been a while playing to anything other than a very organic drummer.

 

 

In this case, we used no MIDI sync; we simply retriggered our loops when the eventual drift began to occur.
Thats amazing. BTW, I didn't mean to put you on the spot, but I consider you a go to guy for info on certain things and this is one of them. I should have also mentioned Steve. This place rocks, no doubt.

Together all sing their different songs in union - the Uni-verse.

My Current Project

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Well, my Zoom BFX-708 has not been very useful for looping. For one thing, the recording time is very short; not even long enough for 8-count loops. (The newer model can record longer.) The other problem I have is working the start/stop/play pedals. This often leads to loops that are 3 15/16 beats long (or whatever) when they are supposed to be exactly 4 beats. Finally, using the expression pedal to kind of "scratch" the loop back and forth is disappointing because the action of the pedal is not linear.

 

Yes, I've used it mainly in the safety of my own home to lay down a beat that I can solo on top of. It is fun, but sometimes it can take 10 tries before the loop is timed close enough to be usable. (It's not me, honest, it's the pedals.)

 

I haven't tried the other models mentioned; hopefully they are less frustrating to use. I'll have to listen to the examples mentioned and see if my BFX can make usable loops in other ways.

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Originally posted by Matt W:

The latest issue of another bass related mag includes an enhanced CD with some video of Steve Lawson demonstrating how to use loops. It definitly moved me from "Oh it's nice how Steve and Vic and Stu can do that" into the realm of "I can do that!" With the right tools.

 

The Boomerang is probably one of the more affordable tools. Steve uses a Gibson Echoplex - the pedalboard appears to be smaller and the brain is a rack mount unit.

Hi Matt,

 

I'm really glad you found the video useful - it was actually a two part video, with me playing one of my own tunes on the second half, but they didn't use that. At some point, I'll upload it to my site...

 

The Echoplex is indeed a rackmount unit with a pedal board - the pedal board is brilliantly designed, except for its reliability. You do have to be careful with them, and if they get dirty inside, they stop working properly...

 

if you've got any more questions, the forum on my site is a great place to start - www.stevelawson.net/interact/

 

Oh, and Max, thanks so much for the recommendation - I'm really looking forward to hearing your new music. How about starting up a MySpace.com page and giving us some previews??

 

(Oh2 - must also second the Dave Marks recommendation - a great player well worth checking out.)

 

cheers

 

Steve

www.stevelawson.net

www.recyclecollective.com

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I got to hear Mike Dimin use his Boomerang station at MPL on Saturday. It was fantastic to hear him lay out some serious grooves and then solo over it. I'm definitely tempted to get a looping station of some kind after hearing that.

Obligatory Social Media Link

"My concern is, and I have to, uh, check with my accountant, that this might bump me into a higher, uh, tax..."

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Originally posted by Max Valentino:

forgive my complete internet ignorance....

...but what is myspace.com?

 

Max (who still has dial up, no cable TV, and no cell phone...and actually still prefers to conduct correspondences via paper and quill...)

MySpace - incredibly poorly designed site for band-promotion and teenage social networking. Equal parts infuriating and rather a cool idea. Just wish someone would implement it properly and give it an overhaul.

 

The idea as a musician is that you set up a 'music' page, where you can upload MP3s, gig dates, a blog, details about what you're up to, and it acts like a miniwebsite with a referral program - so you can add people as 'friends' and they can add you, and eventually lots of people get the chance to hear what you do. It's pretty huge, and a bit of a pain to operate, and there are a heck of a lot of very very stupid people on there. But also some fantastic musicians and some great music lovers.

 

http://www.myspace.com/solobassstevelawson is mine - have a look, and see what's there.

 

And whatever you do when setting up your site, PLEASE don't upload some crappy background image that means you can't read the text (about 70% of all MySpace pages are unreadable), and don't embed MPEG files further down the page... ;)

 

It'll take you a while to get stuff uploaded there on dialup, but it'll be worth it, and it'll mean we can hear what you're up to.

 

Welcome to the new millennium, Max. ;)

 

Steve

www.stevelawson.net

www.recyclecollective.com

http://steve.anthropiccollective.org

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Originally posted by Nicklab:

I got to hear Mike Dimin use his Boomerang station at MPL on Saturday. It was fantastic to hear him lay out some serious grooves and then solo over it. I'm definitely tempted to get a looping station of some kind after hearing that.

Nick,

Thanks for the kind words. It was a pleaure to meet you, Maury, Tom, Wraub and the rest of the NYC LDL contingent.

 

About loopers and looping. The looper is just a tool and the ability to loop is just another technique. The key is the musicianship behind the loop. The looperg is a great tool for developing and demonstrating one's artistry.

 

Mike

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I've been using Acid Pro 4 for a few years now building loops and adding bass, guitar and vocals. I'm very interested in better ways to use these loops and can relate to what Max was saying about putting in too many things to the loops. I find that I'll end up with way too many samples in a particular song I'm working on.

I also seem to have huge learning moments once in a while that allows me to improve how the loop is being used.

Initially I thought I'd be the 'one man band' but am not sure how to make this work in a live setting.

Last year I was working with a soundman who had tons of songs programmed into a keyboard. He volunteered to play on our stage when an act fell through, which was a great help to us. He played his parts with the programmed other instruments and unfortunately didn't come off very well.

The crowd was not impressed that he was singing and playing keys while a non existant band played along with him. It's too bad because he did a good job.

I think non-musical folks may not understand the amount of time it takes to program the samples to get the final product.

I also agree that it is a great tool for practice and a sketch pad for building riffs and roughing out songs.

Long live the loop!

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Originally posted by owen's hound:

I've been using Acid Pro 4 for a few years now building loops and adding bass, guitar and vocals. I'm very interested in better ways to use these loops and can relate to what Max was saying about putting in too many things to the loops. I find that I'll end up with way too many samples in a particular song I'm working on.

I also seem to have huge learning moments once in a while that allows me to improve how the loop is being used.

Initially I thought I'd be the 'one man band' but am not sure how to make this work in a live setting.

Last year I was working with a soundman who had tons of songs programmed into a keyboard. He volunteered to play on our stage when an act fell through, which was a great help to us. He played his parts with the programmed other instruments and unfortunately didn't come off very well.

The crowd was not impressed that he was singing and playing keys while a non existant band played along with him. It's too bad because he did a good job.

I think non-musical folks may not understand the amount of time it takes to program the samples to get the final product.

I also agree that it is a great tool for practice and a sketch pad for building riffs and roughing out songs.

Long live the loop!

Keep each layer simple. Imply rather than play. The ear and the brain will fill in much that you leave out.

 

Mike

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That is great advise, thanks Mike. Can you give me an example of how to imply rather then play?

I'm finding that less is more overall in song writing and the songs that seem to catch on are usually rather simple in their use of notes/chords and end up being catchy and sticking in my head.

I also tend to overthink things from time to time.

Jason

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Originally posted by owen's hound:

That is great advise, thanks Mike. Can you give me an example of how to imply rather then play?

I'm finding that less is more overall in song writing and the songs that seem to catch on are usually rather simple in their use of notes/chords and end up being catchy and sticking in my head.

I also tend to overthink things from time to time.

Jason

For example if you start by looping a bass line and want to add the harmony - try adding just the "guide tones" (the 3rd and 7th of the chord). Don't add the entire chord, just two notes.

 

Mike

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  • 4 months later...

Bump!

 

I just picked up a used Boss RC-20 (not the newer RC-20XL) for a good price. It seems the older models are going for good prices now that there's a newer model. (And about the biggest difference between the two is about 5 mins of sampling time on the older model versus ~15 mins of sampling time on the newer model.) This is a pretty sweet gadget...not sure I'd want to attempt using it live (or at least, certainly not yet), but I believe this is going to prove to be a REALLY useful composition tool. I can put down a bass line as a loop, then work out harmonies, etc., either on bass as well or put the bass down and pick up the guitar to work out chords or riffs that jive with the bass line (when I do a composition, I generally start with a groove-oriented bassline rather than starting with a chord progression).

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Loopy-Loooo!!

Personally, I don't do it but I recently had an interesting experience at a concert.

There is a man named Keller Williams who opened for the band I had gone to see (Micheal Franti). This guy is a loop GURU! He would start with a guitar riff and then add bass, drums, keys, and all kinds of things that he just had laying around the stage - chimes, pieces of pipe, etc. The stage looked like a Gallagher set with a lot of guitars. All the while he would be singing comical lyrics. Before you knew it there was a great band laying down an incredible sound with grooves you could hide a Mack truck in. I was very impressed.

 

Loop on my brothers! Loop on!

"He is to music what Stevie Wonder is to photography." getz76

 

I have nothing nice to say so . . .

 

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I do a little looping myself. But the most impressive example I've ever seen is Kid Beyond, who beatboxes into an Ableton Live setup. It's unbelievable--sounds just like a real drum/synth setup, but he's doing it all with his mouth.

 

http://www.ableton.com/_common/downloads/pages/user-area/artists/kid-beyond/kid-beyond.wmv

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