I enjoyed playing modern and jazz and dance classes for a decade before I ever got into looping. It really helped me build my solo acoustic chops. I would play guitar and ankle bells+footshaker, while singing, some congas, and some occasional exotic strings like Chinese Zither, etc...Tough gig-jamming original improvised music in odd time signatures (sometimes) for college chicks bending over in their leotards...
I eventually quit when I realized I was making more $ on a single college gig than an entire semester of dance classes...but the classes helped me get there...
Last semester, I did a single class again as an experiment to try to build chops with my new EDP and guitar synth/drum machine set up...
It was pretty bad... I could not keep up with tempo changes and the teacher kept stopping and starting before I could get things going...Sometimes the teacher would count off at a tempo where I would start my loop and then immediately (unconsciously) rush the beat when the dancers started...Playing a drum you can flow with those insconsistencies...my EDP chops were not tight enough to nail most of it...
I could see how you could blend some looping in with a lot of live stuff, but to do it totally with looping would be a trick.
Maybe there is some software for laptop looping that lets you change tempos on the fly?
In a message dated 9/21/2002 2:08:41 PM Eastern Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
>Mark <RandomLFO@aol.com> said:
>>Mixed meter phrases would be very difficult to work with on a
>>looping device though.
>is that needed for techique classes? well, EDP has Next functions for this ;-)Well, you never really know what a dance instructor is going to throw at you. One week, all the instructors may be very conventional rhythmically. The next thing you know, you could have a 12 measure phrase that is 4 measures of 3/4, 4 measures of 4/4, and 4 measures of 5/4. Then you could have 9 measures of 3/4 + 3 measures of 2/4 + 11 measures of 3/4 + 2 measures of 2/4. Then you could have a 7 measure phrase that is 8/8, 7/8, 6/8, 5/8, 4/8, 3/8, 2/8. -
I remember a combined class that I played with the current music director of VCU dance. In this class the instructor developed a mixed meter phrase like the 7 measure one mentioned above. She added an 8th measure of 1 beat to it. Then she paired the students up, and had them face each other so that one student was dancing backwards. The student dancing forwards did the combination from 8/8 down to 1/8, the student dancing backwards did the combination in the opposite order (from 1/8 up to 8/8). The music director followed the forward dancing group of students, and I followed the backward dancing students.
This past Friday, I had a pretty basic mixed meter phrase. It was 2 measures of 5/8, followed by 2 measures of 6/8. One of my favorite phrases was actually thought up by a student. It was only a 3 measure phrase 6/8,7/8,6/8, but there was something about the flow of that phrase that was really beautiful. Any combination can come your way though. It could be 3 measures of 5/4, + 2 measures of 7/4, + 4 measures of 3/4. Sometimes the instructor is just trying to get the students to really concentrate on complex music structures, other times they will give them something odd just to get them to let go, and not think about counting.
The challenge that this presents to loopers is that you will have very little time, if any, to prepare for this. On top of this the instructor may show the combination at one tempo, but then start it at a faster tempo. The instructors also tend to repeat combinations at faster speeds (without warning), or sometimes they will even slow it down. I have played for one instructor that would speed-up a combination with every repeat to a very fast tempo, then gradually slow it back down. Again, this is all done on-the-fly. Another catch is that you could have a phrase like the 12 measure phrase mentioned above, (3/4 - 4/4 - 5/4). The instructor could demonstrate it at a moderate tempo with a triplet feel to it, and have you perform it with the class that way. The next thing you know, they are giving you a 2 measure count-in to a faster version with a duple feel to it. Very rarely will you ever have an instructor mention anything about a mixed meter phrase, m! uch less anything else, to you before class starts. They walk in with a plan (most of the time anyway), and expect you to follow along immediately.
I recommend that anyone interested in this arrange to sit-in on some modern dance classes, at a local university, with an accomplished modern dance drummer. This will give you time to think about how you might approach some of these situations with the safety of knowing that you can sit-this-one-out until you come up with something that you think might work.