many brains thought about the principles and effects of repetition, before and after the creation of the brand LiveLooping and the electronic tools that spread the idea. It helps to create better music and trust its effect on the listener.
When did it all start?
Almost with the invention of the magnetophone. Scissors were used to chop out loops, splice them and repeat them (sample approach) or the tape was unrolled on one recorder and passed to another where it was played back and rolled up. The played back signal was recorded again on the first recorder, so the sound kept circulating for a while more was added (Terry Riley time lag accumulator and Robert Fripps Frippertronics). The loop length could only be changed by changing the tape speed, which also causes a pitch change…
In the 80ies, digital delays like Roland SDE 3000 (1981), PCM42 (1982), t.c. 2290 (1985) took over the tapes function. It became possible to change loop length, but still not intuitively. It was difficult to match a rhythm precisely into a long loop so they were rather used for a-rhythmic textures and experimental clusters.
With the Loop Delay (1992, became Echoplex digital pro in 1994), Lexicon JamMan (1993) and Boomerang (1996), the first dedicated loop machines hit the market and made consequent building of loops possible.
Those units first had a hard time to find enough clients. There was no name for what we call now Livelooping, musicians did not understand what the units where good for. They are not like an effect unit with a bunch of presets, that add beauty to what the musician is used to play.
A Live Looping tool is rather like an instrument: while anyone can produce a sound on a keyboard, it takes training to press the right key at the right moment!
The user has to relate to his loops and study the tool. Its not so much a technical but musical learning curve: what sounds good when repeated and what drives you crazy? Like life itself: start in chaos and repeat it until a pattern stands out and can evolve.
Now, there is a big family of experience loopers that prove how useful those tools are and what beautiful fresh music can be produced with small setups.
Matthias Grob, 2003