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I've done a LOT of looping in free-improv bands in the last few years. In
most cases, it's been a fairly new group of musicians each time.
Some things I've learned to do in this context:
-Play my instrument (usually turntable) without effects more often
-Back off a lot, allowing space for the others
-Use the loops as interactive instruments with the group - occasionally
sample other musicians with a microphone.
-Use the loops as a source of subtlety, not the main musical process as I
with solo live stuff.
-Exercise more control over volume & pitch. Rather than let the loop
and repeat I'll fade it in and out at different points. Another fun thing
to get 2 or more loops of different pitches and fade those in and out.
-During loud sections where I can't compete, I'll often create loops with
the loop volume turned all the way down (ie, creating them "blind), then
fade them in to have a larger role when the other members move to a
-Sometimes throw away that really cool pattern I just created, since
suddenly it doesn't fit with what everyone else is doing.
Things I've learned NOT to do:
-Start playing a rhythmic loop that has nothing to do with what everyone
else is playing, turning up the volume louder and louder, trying to get
-Let the group grow too dependent on a loop - don't want to fall into a
when it's time to move on to something else.
-Try to be the entire band as much as you would for a solo show.
I'm one of those out-numbered people in the SF bay area that plays
"free-improv" but not "free-jazz".
By the way, Sound/Shift Big Sur is coming up next month. (May 31st/June
1st.) It's a two day improvised (experimental?) music festival. Amidst the
90+ musicians on the bill are Max Valentino, Tom Heasley, Wobbly, David
Nadal, Matt Pogue, Tom Dimuzio, Pablo St. Chaos, myself, and a few other
loopers (not counting the people who listed "laptop" or "electronics")
playing in constantly-changing groups with other improvisers. Check out
www.paxrecordings.com/soundshiftbigsur.html for more info. It promises to
a great show!
Since i know some of you are into live improv.,
how do you deal with improvisation
if you are the member of the group and not a solo performer?
I remember a funny tale i'd read in some Cage book when he refused to lead
free jazz band because all they played all the time with the same
seemed not to like free improv. saying the subconscious will led your mind.
Though in another writting (which i don't remember where) he said he'd
interesting way to deal with it. May anybody point me to the original
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