Live looping is the recording and playback of looped audio samples in real-time, using either hardware (magnetic tape, dedicated hardware devices) or software. It is a process with numerous sonic directions, open to instrument textures, improvisation and composition techniques.
Performers who use this technique include beatbox artists such as Dub FX, Beardyman, Shlomo, THePETEBOX and MC Xander, as well as folk/rock artists Ed Sheeran, Ari Herstand, Andrew Bird, Brother Bastion, Kishi Bashi, Katie Kim, Kimbra, Imogen Heap, Theresa Andersson, Emily Wells, Keller Williams, SpiritCool, and comedian/musician Reggie Watts.
Bobby McFerrin imitates live looping by using the crowd, repeating his own voice and sometimes by his sound-man adding echo.
There has been software developed dedicated to live looping, such as the commercial Abelton Live, and the open source Mobius looper.
Since the arrival of the iPhone there have been several available apps focused on live looping. It seems the first one was Everyday Looper created as early as 2009 and still probably the most versatile on-screen multitouch controllable one. Other apps came after, some focusing on looks (e.g. Loopy) or on handsfree control and pro-user workflow integration (e.g. Loopr Live Loop Composer). But there are many others that focus on specific characteristics of live-loopers and their instruments.
Dedicated music hardware and looping instruments
Live looping software list
For the PC
- Circular Labs open source Mobius - with pre-windows like user interface but includes scripting language for full control externally.
- Abelton Live
- Repetito - a live looper for Windows and Mac
- Livid Instruments LividLooper
- SuperLooper for Linux and Mac
- Loopy Llama for Windows and Mac
- SampleWiz from Jordan Rudess' company, Wizdom Music - a unique Sampler and Musical Instrument on the iPad, can be used for live looping.
- Motu Digital Performer's Polar plugin, enables live looping while recording. Effects can be added to input, output and there is an option for automatically saved multi-takes without overdubbing.
- Everyday Looper – a multitouch optimized multi-track live-looping app
- Loopr Live Loop Composer – 64 tracks multiple phrase MIDI enabled iOS live-looping app
- Loopy – a visually focused live-looping app, introduced on the iPhone and iPad only
- TC-Helicon's VoiceJam
- Qneo Music's Voice Synth – specialized synthesizer for creative voice sculpting
Live looping hardware list
- Boss (Now Roland) RC-2, RC-20, RC-3, RC-30, RC-300 RC-50, RC-505 and the COSM guitar effects stomp boxes: GT-10 and ME-70
- TC-Helicon VoiceLive Touch 2, VoiceLive 2, VoiceLive 3
- Korg Kaossilator, Kaoss Pad
- Digitech Jamman Jamman,Jamman Stereo, Jamman Solo XT, Jamman Express XT
- Pigtronix Infinity Looper
- Gibson/Oberheim Echoplex
- Akai E2 Head Rush
- Lexicon Jam Man
- Line 6 DL4, JM4, M5, M9, M13
- Electro-Harmonix 2880, Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai
- Damage Control (now Strymon) TimeLine
- Boomerang Phrase Sampler
- The Korg Microsampler's documentation and support are still online.