Looping is about nothing less than You and a Machine conquering the world – says Mister Tim.
At live shows and on YouTube videos I get a lot of questions about looping. Usually the question is “what gear do you use?”
But smart folks ask other questions:
How do I start?
You start. Get some gear. Software, hardware, old, new, plug it in and play. And play, and play, and play.
What gear do you use?
Wrong question! The better question should be “What gear should I use?”
There are a lot of good loopers out there and there are pros and cons about all of them. Most loopers I know have used or do use several different loopers depending on their needs and development. The important thing is that you get one, and that you use it.
How long will it take me to learn?
This long: push button, make sound, push button. YOU ARE LOOPER! You’re done.
The physical action of looping is simple. Absurdly simple. And quick.
Learning how to loop well, on the other hand… You have just begun the journey. Now to get ready to perform with looping… to make good music with looping… to learn to do something worthwhile with looping… how long will that take? If you’re lucky, your whole life!
How do I deal with looping mistakes?
Realize that there are many mistakes to be made! Try to deal with your mistakes before you ever get in front of an audience by practicing, practicing, practicing. If you are listening you will hear your mistakes because they will repeat over… and over… and over…
Ummmm – how about a mistake in a performance?
Try to cover them up, or build on the incorrect noise to add an unexpected layer to your song. If it gets out of control don’t be afraid to stop and start over. Your audience will be forgiving (too a point… don’t make a habit of this) and it will be more pleasant for everyone if you start over rather than let horrible sounds repeat over… and over… and over…
Some mistakes in looping will come because of your gear, or because of your sound set-up at a show. It will be worth your time to get a good quality mic, cables, looper, mixer, speaker(s), etc. A hum from bad gear can be ignored in most performances, but a hum will build up and get louder as you add layers.
How do I start mastering looping?
You first want to get comfortable with the functionality of your looper. Start with simply saying ‘1-2-3-4’ in a regular rhythm at a moderate tempo and capture it at the correct duration. If it starts or ends too early or too late, you will be able to hear it. Having a solid rhythm bed is crucial for your looping so be sure you know how to get it!
OK, what’s next?
- Now do the same thing counting to 8 and 16 (or longer if you think your loops are going to be longer).
- Now add the ‘and’ to the beat: 1+2+3+4+. Same thing with 8 and 16.
- Now do a simple beatbox beat. Boots and Pants or Pretty Kitty. Get the timing down.
- Now try the above at different tempos.
- Once you are comfortable with laying down a basic rhythm, you can then start adding layers. Try adding improvised lines and try building a recognizable song.
From there you should play around and try many different things. Try different songs. Try adding unusual sounds. Try writing a new groove and soloing over it.
Starting with the basics of looping really is that simple. We want to see what you come up with: please send us your videos! Don’t worry if it’s only a short idea, film it and send it to us!
My Reaction to This Week's Singing Competition Entry
Raoni Aldrich Dorim - Sympathy for the Devil
Solid coordination. You’ve got a good thing going on here. It’s a long performance with very little variation. Can you vary up the strum pattern, the percussion pattern, or change the texture-go a cappella for a section?
Mister Tim www.mistertimdotcom.com is a published composer, award-winning recording artist, and in-demand performer, teacher & performance coach. In addition to an active performing and touring schedule with his solo vocal live-looping/beatbox shows, Mister Tim sings with Boulder, CO-based Celtic Rock band Delilah’s Revenge, manages the… Read More