Sound Check Loops & Loopers: Dan.Dan
posted by April 24 at 10:38 AMon
A loop is a sample or section of music that repeats seamlessly when played end to end. Loops can made and edited through the use of delay effects, looping based software, pedals, tapes, and record players. Looping is used, featured, and heard so much these days that it has practically become its own genre. Creating and playing with loops live is a beast. You have to be able to play, hear, execute the parameters, start, and stop the loop in time with what you’re playing.
Seattle cellist Gretchen Yanover (Built to Spill, KD Lang, KJ Sawka, Northwest Sinfonietta) uses a Line 6 Loop Sampler. She steps on the looper for a starting point, plucks a melody or staccato feel on her cello, and steps on the looper again for the stopping point of the loop phrase. Once that loop is going, she modulates down a third or a fifth, plucks the same melody in harmony, and loops that. Then she bows the original phrase legato, loops that, then bows the third or fifth that was modulated to, and loops that as well. There are four cello’s going at this point. Then she plays freely over the quadra-loop for twenty seconds and loops that for a fifth loop. Finally, she puts the bow down and plucks freeform notes and rhythms. It’s aquatic, layered, scenic, and incredibly beautiful. She can go ten loops deep and make her own symphony right before your eyes. Seeing her construct the loops live is like watching Edward Scissor hands trim the hedges. You’re like, “How is she doing that?” But she’s doing it right in front of you, so you see exactly how she’s doing it.
What will you be looping?
I’ll mainly be running guitar in, but also synths, toys, drum machine, vox, whatever. Expanding the parameters.
Yes. Parameters. And toys. Expand them.
I saw Katharine Hepburn’s Voice at the Blue Moon and their bassist/drummer was using an Akai Headrush. Talked to him a bit about it after. Looked pretty solid and easy. Maybe not as many bells and whistles as some of the others. Researched it online. Some reviewers loved it, some hated it.
Another Dan, Dan Rapport (Blue Scholars, Red Eye Flight) is a loop master. I asked him to talk loopers:
Rapport: Loopers are cool! I’ve been doing a lot of stuff down at the Triple Door just with and acoustic and a looper. They definitely take some practice to use (getting the loop to work in time) and I think it’s a lot easier to get a short loop that works over a longer loop. Long loops have more of a chance to get out of synch. I use the Line 6 Delay, which only has 12 seconds or so of loop time but it works well enough for me. I did notice when I saw Battles (who’s entire sound is based on looping) that they all used the Echoplex Digital Pro which apparently is the best and it’s midi synchable so there’s no way to get off on your timing.
No way to get off? Get off, Dan, get off on your bad self.