Over the last 18 months, I’ve made a gradual transition from rack/pedal to laptop-based rig. Here’s my current set,-up, which gives me almost unlimited flexibility at modest cost.
The “looper” device is basic by EDP standards, but still very functional. Features include;
record / playback / clear / undo / pitch shift up to 3 octaves above & below, in semi-tone intervals / reverse / double length / half length
You can quantise the loop to the current BPM, or have it set the tempo arbitrarily. It can also mute the input so the channel only plays back the loop, not the input signal. More info here.
Californian multi-instrumentalist Eli Salzman wrote a wonderful little article on how livelooping changed his music life:
“When the One comes around – How a Singer / Songwriter was changed by a pedal”
Eli Salzman at work (photo: Ben Jammin)
Here’s a great post by David Torn about the sad state of today’s looper pedal industry.
“dear folks who make looping-devices, esp. those which are marketed to guitarists:
your products are decades behind the times; decades.”
Here’s a great video example of how to build a conventional song structure via looper.
After a long learning curve I’ve successfully managed to live loop using the “looper” feature of Ableton – I’m using an old midi pedal to send patch changes to midi-ox, which converts them to CC messages so Ableton can respond to them. The features I control via foot include
record / playback / clear / undo / half speed or double speed (both multiple octaves) / reverse / half or double loop length
Of course, this is massively extended using the VST and native audio effects within Ableton, which are virtually unlimited. It’s a very flexible solution and has persuaded me to forsake my EDP rack for a laptop running XP. Touch wood, it’s worked fine so far!
If anyone is interested, I can explain how this is done at greater length. I’m not so savvy with making videos of the screen, so it would be text based.
Joe Gore’s Live Looping Lesson on Premier Guitar
Joe writes, ‘This one’s a labor of love: Premier Guitar just published my live looping lesson. Included are most of the hard-won looping techniques I’ve acquired over the last few years. I crashed and burned 100 times onstage so you don’t have to! 😉
The 20 audio clips embedded in the article were trickier than usual to prepare. Ordinarily when I record music mag demos, it’s simply a matter of plugging in a guitar, amp, or pedal and noodling around while trying to make it sound good. But here I had to demonstrate techniques that unfold over time, which is harder than it sounds, at least for me. But I’m reasonably satisfied with how they turned out.
My emphasis throughout is going beyond looping cliches and defying listener expectations. That too is difficult — by definition, loops are predictable! But I’ve been racking my brain for years, trying to come up with ways to bust out of the usual patterns. Most of my ideas appear here. Hope you find them useful!’
Anil Prasad just put his recent interview with Terry Riley online. A must read for everyone interested in this pioneer of livelooping
From Singapur based livelooper Randolf Arriola:
One of the most popular questions i get from fellow live loopers and new enthusiasts is why did i move from the Boss Rc50 to the Boomerang III instead of the RC300. So I post my most recent reply to this question here to share with others hopefully of use to whom it may concern;
I was previously using the RC50 since 2005 to 2010 and decided to move onto the Boomerang only when Rc300 was released as i realized that the Looper functionalities of the RC300 was not improved from the RC50 and it was basically a newer bigger model with added on guitar and vocal effects which i didn’t need as i preferred the use of other effect units like the Evenbtides and TC Electronics gears and so moved on to Boomerang III with the sidecar instead which imho is the best hardware live looper device for my puposes.
For what i do in my live looping art i do not rely on the use of any prerecorded tracks or tempo metronomes, so i don’t use tempo and midi quantize but instead i do use loop quantize. This method i feel is more organic sounding and always creative but also understandably not something most folks get it that in Live Looping it requires alot more attention to basic fundamentals in music especially concerning “TIME” and “Dynamics”.
In Live Looping you are venturing into new expanded and exciting creative territories because you are no longer just a guitarist or singer but also a producer, arranger and engineer at the same time live, on the spot, it’s almost like witnessing tight rope walker live. LOL
So basically the Boomerang doesn’t do midi quantize but i understand that their most recent firmware updates are addressing it to make it possible to do so. The Boss Rc50 and Rc300 when played with the onboard tempo drum tracks immediately enables the midi quantize to function. Which is best for the individual live looper it really depends on the each respective persons intention.
You guys may also want to seriously consider the new flagship model from TC Helicon, The VoiceLive 3 which is an incredible 3 in 1 Device that has TCH’s best Vocal Processing/Harmonizing effects and almost every imaginable voice tweakeroo possibilities + A Great sounding Multi Effects with lovely wide Amp Simulation choices and Acoustic Body Rez options + 3 Phrase Live Looper which i think is especially Midi Quantize friendly. This unit makes it possible to create entire ensemble pieces with just a mic and instrument and your wildest creative imagination from just one box.
A talk about the tape based delay/feedback system called “Time Lag Accumulator” by Terry Riley or “Frippertronics” by Robert Fripp, followed by a short demonstration. This was recorded during the LoopJubilee festival in Paris in May 2014