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Re: Looping percussionists

Hi Paul -  (I'm on junk-music too)

> That started me thinking *again* that I should ask on the group if there
> anyone here who is a looping percussionist.  There seem to be lots of

I'm looping live acoustic percussion.   I've been stubbornly rooted in
working with mic'd percussion (even though many people who see me recommend
trying out an electronic drum set).  I started with just a djembe and an
EDP, and have progressed from there as I've learned more looping 
There is definitely a learning curve to working with mic'd instruments and
looping.  Like Rick mentioned, my akg C1000 mic is totally awesome for gain
before feedback, and it sounds great with everything I use it with.  I
usually keep a volume pedal on this mic, so I can easily mute it when I'm
not using it, and adjust it depending on what I'll play into it.  I use an
EDP, repeater, and a mackie 1402 board.  I'm working on building a little
jungle/drum-n-bass kit with 3 snares: 8",10",12" and a 16" kick.  I'll use
D112 on the kick, and a pair of SM57s to pick up the hihats and snares.   I
tried out parts of this kit at Loopstock, along with a little table off to
my right with a C1000 + volume pedal.  I've been finding that a medium 
monitor mix works well, and if I need to really hear it better, I pop on my
pair of headphones.

The real key to my setup when I'm looping the drum kit, is my custom midi
trigger pads.  I have built 6 little piezo pads that trigger midi events to
control my loopers.  Its really just like a midi footboard, but I can use
sticks on it.  I use that to trigger record, overdub, multiply, insert, and
undo on the EDP and many repeater functions.  Before this I was doing the
play with one hand, and use my left hand to control my loopers thing, which
kind of worked - and as a side note always seemed to provide the crowd with
a lot of entertainment watching me do three things at once and somehow be
musical too...

Creatively, I've found that it is very important to know and understand the
sonic characteristics of the percussion you want to loop.  I don't really
plan out a piece before I play it, but I do know that I'll want to include
at least three basic parts in the mix:  Some sort of low/bass tones, a pad
or stretched out sound, and a sharper attack rhythmic sound.   So it could
be bass drum, shaker, and doumbek.  I try not to layer several sounds that
are similar because rhythmically it starts to get very confusing.  For
example, once there's drum kit in the loop, I haven't found it effective to
add more...  This isn't really a rule, but just what I've tended towards
after a few years of trying things.

One of my personal favorite techniques is to set the feedback to 0 on my 
and set up a 1-4 bar loop (overdub is on).  Then anything I play, will play
back exactly once.  Then I try to use two different timbres on the same
instrument and play something with timbre 1, then while that's playing back
play something complimentary on timbre 2, and keep going.  It ends up
sounding like an improvised duet, but if you pay attention to what you're
playing - it can sound like the two duet players have esp or something.
Examples of multiple timbres are the "doum" and the "ta" sounds on the
doumbek; or hihat/snare/bass versus open snare and rim clicks; or tabla
versus bayan; or playing on the edge and middle of a frame drum; or or or

One other thing Rick didn't mention (but he would have if I didn't I bet) 
yet is a comment on one thing you said:

"I only have a DL-4 but I have found it very workable as long as you're
accurate on the initial recording pass"

Rick is the prophet of "lumpy loops"  I and because of him a whole new
rhymic world has emerged for me. (something new after 20 years of
drumming???)   I urge you not to trash a loop that isn't accurate in the
initial recording pass.  Trust me there's charm in those loops, and its one
thing that will set you apart as a live loopist, if you can take a lumpy
loop and play along with it!!!  Once it repeats a few times, it becomes
totally "in" and groovy. Somehow this is the essence of looping for me -
humans dig familiarity, and after a few times through a "totally out" loop,
people start liking it, and expecting all the little things that are about
to come around.

Another thing - after being a part of several looping festivals and
performances I have noticed one common theme.  Many performers at some 
make some mistake, and apologize to the audience for it - or even stop the
song and start over.  Nobody even knew they made a mistake, until the
apology.  If you assume you did it on purpose, so will everyone else.  If
you make a lumpy loop - you did it on purpose and let everyone marvel in
this new odd-time signature they never knew existed -smile-

Ok, I'm rambling.  talk to you later Paul, and yes, there are plenty of
looping percussionists around.  If you have specific questions, just ask
maybe someone will have some advise.