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Re: PrePrepared vs. Improvisational Live Looping Performances
Rather like Zoe, I come at this from a classically trained background
where I played everything straight from the composers music for about
20 years! When I started some tentative improvisation it was in a
group and not solo, which somehow felt easier. In that group I got the
looping bug from Steve Lawson, but didn't feel confident enough in my
own compositional/improvisational ability to go for completely free
My solo gigs also tend not to be entirely loop based, I also play a
range of classical and non-classical unacompanied violin pieces (Bach,
Piazzolla and so on). I think this really adds variety to the shows
and also allows me to keep my 'classical' identity, which is still an
important part of what I do.
With the looping I have built up a load of arrangements of various
pieces - Beatles stuff, Nirvana, minimalist things by Glass and Reich,
folk tunes, and pieces written specially for me - which involve fairly
complex pedal setups. There can be some improv within them (and
usually there is) but I have to stick fairly closely to the 'script'
to keep the loops working correctly for the arrangement. I enjoy the
challenge of working out these arrangements and they go down well with
audiences (so far anyway!!). Again like Zoe I want to win over the
audience straight away, and for me that means playing something I know
really well (I know - scared of taking risks! But there's always a
risk with looping however well planned....), at least for the opening
More recently I've been adding some of my own pieces to my sets, but
I'm a long, long way from a totally free set: I'll probably never get
there, maybe just a slight change of balance as I explore some freer
Basically I really love doing the worked out arrangements, which
always feel slightly different in every show, and I keep getting ideas
for more pieces I want to arrange.
I'll even admit to playing the Pachelbel Canon in some shows (!). As
it's originally written for violins (and continuo of course) it seems
to work well. Also I play it entirely in the original form, ie. bass
line and then 3 canonic violin parts (no blazing electric violin
improvised virtuosic solos for me in this one!). Audiences tend to
fall into 2 categories here: There are always lots who love the piece
and come up to me to thank me for playing their favourite classical
work. The second type come up to me and say "I'm so sick of that
piece, but it was great to hear it done by just one person"!
Me - I quite like the piece anyway!
For me looping (and my musical career in general) has been, and
continues to be, an evolutionary process: Nothing is out of the
question, it's just that it may take me a while to get around to some
things (although listening to some of the music mentioned on this list
is undoubtedly speeding up the process - thanks!).
But you wait, if I'm still looping when I'm 90 it'll be a whole
different ball game........
Best wishes to all,