Pattern Obsession and Music Weaving

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Using a digital looper is a great way for a solo artist to add depth and variety to a performance. Looping is an alternative to playing with backup tracks, which many people find to be “cheating.” Since the loops are produced live, the element of live performance is retained somewhat.



Soloing without a backup track is difficult to pull off for one person. Since a good solo needs space to breathe, the awkward silences between phrases do not work.


Record the rhythm track in one pass and then go back and play the solos. Switch sounds on an electric guitar to make the second line stand out from the background, or change the EQ on an acoustic.


Some practice will be necessary to learn to set the loop times exactly to avoid glitches at the transition point. Do not try to do anything fancy on the backing loops, and play exactly in tempo.



Playing rhythm along with a looped rhythm part also adds some depth to a performance. More advanced loopers allow multiple layers. Record in the rhythm part, then go back and record in a bass line. Another layer might be a simulated percussion part. If the looper allows voice input, try beatboxing.


Audience Reaction

When people hear electronics used in a live situation, they tend to believe the hardware is doing all the work and the player is cheating. Actually, the exact opposite is true. Learning to play with technology is a difficult, learned process.


Explain to the audience that you are using loops and not tracks. Make a joke that, “this venue does not pay me enough to afford other musicians, so I use this stuff.”



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