Making the technology ‘transparent’

Much is often said on in our community about the technology not getting in the way of the music…or making the technology ‘transparent’.

I’d like to offer a different perspective:

Modern software and hardware looping technology presents us with several different ways of manipulating the timbre and shape of our musical stylings.

You take someone like Steve Lawson who is as flawlessly transparent as any looper I’ve had the pleasure of seeing and he has seamlessly integrated that technology into his live solo bass shows.  Take away that technology and his shows would radically change…..

As loopers, frequently however, our technology is NOT transparent.

 I challenge the brilliant Andre LaFosse, as an example, to reproduce his early live looping recordings with anything but an Echoplex with Loop 4 software.

Our beloved, late, Richard Zvonar without his Eventides? Matt Davignon without his primitive 2 second stomp box antiquated digital delays. It just ain’t gonna happen, my friends.

None of this, of course, takes away from these wonderful musicians ability to make other music without their idiosyncratic gear, of course.

 My point here is that our individual sounds entirely reflect not only our artistry, aesthetics and technical ability but, equally, our technology, whether it is Les Paul putting an electro magnetic transducer on an acoustic guitar or a Papua New Guinea tribesperson skewering a giant Sargasso beetle and then maniplulating the overtones in a rhythmic way as the dying bugs wing spasms with the cavity of his mouth.

To badly paraphrase the late Frank Zappa

“If you want to know what timbre is take the Star Spangled Banner as performed at Woodstock by Jimi Hendrix and then play it, note for not on a clarinet.”

You are what you play………….You are who you are…………..You like what you like……….IT’s ALL GOOD because it is creative and an expression of your humanity.

 A lot of wonderful looping artists go to great lengths to eschew the repetitive nature of looping tehcnology.  Personally, I choose looping technology precisely because it IS repetitive and NON transparent. I like the juxtaposition of even static loops when it is done creatively………..from the simple high volume overtones created by Stan Card to the multiple layers and textures of my brother, Bill Walker

Transparent or Non Transparent technology………each approach just doesn’t take away from the value of the music……..it just speaks to each individuals take on the world, aesthetically.

To paraphrase Brian Eno:

“if every human being on earth took a red crayon and a white piece of paper and made a drawing of a house and a tree, we would have 6+ billion drawings of which NONE would look exactly alike…and yet a house and a tree are not made of red wax and white cellulose. Each person, therefore would have filtered there vision of a house and a tree through their individual experience and technical ability <or in our own case, what ever technology we use> and made a ‘creation’ that is totally unique.

He went on to say, “Human Beings are intrinsically creative, they just have to DO”.

Transparent technology; Non Transparent technology;  Organic or Non-Organic; Highly complex or the mere manipulation of the sine waves in guitar feedback………

It’s all good.

Rick Walker (aka Loop.pooL)