Monthly Archives: March 2009

Live looping

Live looping, like all similar kinds of live improvisation, must be one of the most hazardous things any performer can do on stage. Some live looping can be of the more structered kind, however, and here are some examples of this availiable today on Youtube.

Steve Lawson and Lobelia, “Love Is A Battlefield”:

This is looped tracks as a rhythmic background for melody, vocals and solo performances. Many buskers and one man bar bands use this method extensively in performance.

John Clarke, “Mosaic For Shadows”:

John Clarke is a skilled and talented guitarist focusing on flamenco guitar. In this piece he uses a looping device as an integral part of the writing and performance of the song, not layering loops as such but rather playing distinct parts, looping them and then playing a complimentary part or melody over it.

These are examples on using live looping as a songwriting/performing tool. On the other side there is live looping where the loop is entirely improvised and the loop itself is the musical piece. This approach was made famous by Brian Eno and Robert Fripp in the 1970’s on the albums No Pussyfooting and Evening Star.

Fripp later made the system of tape loops portable and called it “Frippertronics”. He toured with it and recorded several frippertronics albums and used it as backgrounds in songs in many other projects. In live performance he usually would rewind the loop and solo over it, as in the following clip:

In the early 90’s, he rebuilt his looping rig with entirely digital gear and now refers to his looping as “soundscapes”. Thanks to the availiablity of increasingly cheap and increasingly competent hardware, live looping and soundscaping has become more widespread. There are several recurring live looping festival every year all over the world.

There is an enormous wealth of loop music to be found out there – some of it complex and challenging, some of it sweet and gentle, but all of it taking a risk in being created right there, as you listen.

There will be more on this subject in the future!

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Dream U2 setlist

Okay, so this is bordering on fanboyism, but hey… it’s still about music. I posted this on the @U2 forums but thought it might be interesting for others as well. I won’t be seeing U2 on the 360 tour, but what would the ultimate setlist be, for me?

NO big intro, just a walk-on with the house lights on. As house lights are cut, only individual band spots remain – this is the Edge’s cue.

Out of Control
Mysterious Ways
In God’s Country
The Unforgettable Fire
The Fly
Stripped down part (a la Zoo TV)
White As Snow
Staring At the Sun (just Bono&Edge, a la Popmart)
enough with the stripping down
Bullet the Blue Sky
Running To Stand Still
Until the End of the World

Where the Streets Have No Name
Moment of Surrender
New Year’s Day
Love Is Blindness

I like my U2 rocking out and not pandering to the masses – pandering relative to U2 standards, that is. Thus, no “Pride” which I think got old 20 years ago and no “With Or Without You” or “Sunday Bloody Sunday” – they are fine songs but need the rest. Also, no songs from ATYCLB or HTDAAB because they are rubbish, generally.

This set/wishlist is geared toward emotional impact and points of strong contrast (“Fire/Mofo” which makes a smooth transition, “Running/Until” which does not). It starts as a kind of party, quickly gets serious and then even darker. The encore is perhaps a bit too uplifting but at least it ends on “Exit” and “Love Is Blindness”. It’s not likely to ever be played, but a man can dream right?

I have a project now: to put together an actual playlist of this with appropriate versions of the songs, give it a good listen and then make an real informed judgement of my judgement.

I’ve shown you mine, now you show me yours!

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I want to work with this drummer

Well, there’s not much more to say. I want to work with this drummer.

I love how both his and the guitarist’s performances are completely disproportionate to the actual song.

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The Telepathy of Music

Duetting guitarists playing the same melody show remarkably similar brain wave actitivy in this study. The synchrony increased with time and included the involvement of the same brain areas in both players. Fascinating!

I would like to see what happens with two guitarists playing an interlocking piece such as “Discipline” or “Frame by Frame” by King Crimson. Same, same but different?

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Webcomics, pt III

My thanks to commenter riv for reminding me of Pictures for Sad Children and for showing me The Secret Knots.

Pictures for Sad Children is a, you guessed it, pretty sad comic but still has a lot of humour in it. Dark, absurdist and sad humour, sure, but humour none the less. It begins with the story of Paul, who is a ghost, and then introduces other characters. Some stay and some do not. No one is ever really happy, but they are all to apathetic to really do something about it (although the recent squid storyline had a somewhat happy ending).

The Secret Knots is altogether different. Somewhat reminiscent of A Lesson Is Learned But the Damage Is Irreversible, but with several longer story arcs – “Unbreakable” is both sweet and unsettling at the same time.

In Anders Loves Maria the two protagonists have a difficult relationship, to say the least. The comic has several different artistic styles and an extensive cast. In the artist Rene Engström’s words, “It is a story about “adulthood” in a modern age where coming-of-age seems to be completely arbitrary” which sums it up very well. No one is a real “hero”, no one is a real “villain”, it’s just life unfurling.

Happy reading.

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Parceled Perfection: Björk, “Hyperballad”

“Hyperballad” was my favourite song off Post right from the start, and it still is. The music is actually very interesting in a subtle way: listen to the verse. Instead of the usual four notes to a phrase, the bass only does three, descending (in the chorus it changes to four, with a different beat) which gives a subtle sense of urgency to what at first sounds like a rather withdrawn arrangement.

The lyrics are an illustration of the very human tendency to imagine the worst, even when we are happy. In this case, it is to be able to be happy.

As usual, most striking of all against the solemn, serene musical background is the empassioned voice of Björk herself. Below is a fantastic performance from Later with Jools Holland with an absolutely amazing drummer.

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