A floor-based Boss RC loop pedal.
|Developed||Late 20th century|
Live looping is the recording and playback of a piece of music in real-time using either dedicated hardware devices, called loopers or phrase samplers, or software running on a computer with an audio interface. Musicians can loop with either laptop software or loop pedals, which are sold for tabletop and floor-based use.
History of the looping device
By the late 19th century, jazz and blues had heavily influenced popular music, encouraging musicians to experiment with rhythm, repetition, and musical improvisation. With the advent of sound recording on gramophone record, invented in 1887 and first marketed in 1889, came the tape recorder and the development of pure electronic music.
In 1963, musician and performer Terry Riley released an early tape loop piece called “The Gift”, featuring the trumpet playing of Chet Baker. It was the first piece ever based on a tape delay/feedback system with two Revox tape recorders. (Riley used to call this system the Time Lag Accumulator. Unsurprisingly, the name did not catch on amongst other performing musicians.)
Even by the early 1990s, when dedicated loop machines first went on sale, the term "live looping" had not yet been coined. The first dedicated loop device was the Paradis LOOP Delay. The Paradis and other models had volatile memories, forcing composers to develop fresh loops live in front of their audiences — and thus, live looping came into existence.
Roland and Digitech loop pedals entered the market in 2001, around the same time DJ mixing gained popularity. When the 2002 Repeater introduced real-time studio looping, looping devices became affordable enough for aspiring at-home composers to enjoy.
As laptops gained popularity in 2004, computer software began to emulate the 1990s effects of early looping devices.
Modern live looping tools and applications
Live looping has become increasingly popular in recent history[when?] as it offers the ability for a single musician to create multiple layers to their live music, resulting in a sound close to that of a "full band". Notable manufacturers of looping devices are: Boss Corporation, DigiTech, TC-Helicon, Boomerang, Electro-Harmonix (EHX), Line 6, Pigtronix, TC Electronic (Ditto) and Vox. One device that is no longer manufactured but still[when?] has a significant number of users is the Echoplex Digital Pro. This unit was manufactured by Gibson until 2007.
In a 2012–13 poll of 1000 singers, 11% stated that they used live looping while 51% did not know what live looping was. Artists known for their use or advocacy of the technique include:
- Howie Day
- Keller Williams
- Ed Sheeran
- Rishi Roy Doped Jesus
- MC Xander
- Dub FX
- Ambre McLean
- Jacob Moon
- Amy X Neuburg
- KT Tunstall
- Kid Beyond
- David Torn
- Spirit Cool
- Reggie Watts
- Rick Walker
- David Ford
- Netta Barzilai
- Val Vigoda
- Jarle Bernhoft
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- Ed Sheeran
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- Battino, David; Richards, Kelli (2005). The Art of Digital Music: 56 Visionary Artists & Insiders Reveal Their Creative Secrets. Backbeat Books. pp. 106–. ISBN 9780879308308. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
- Richardson, John (2012-01-26). An Eye for Music: Popular Music and the Audiovisual Surreal. Oxford University Press. pp. 246–. ISBN 9780195367362. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
- Werner, Matt (2012-05-15). Oakland in Popular Memory: Interviews with twelve cutting-edge artists from Oakland and beyond. Thought Publishing. pp. 70–. ISBN 9780982689844. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
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- Tarbuck, Sean (February 13, 2018). "Israel: Netta Barzilai wins HaKokhav HaBa!". escunited.com. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
The performer wowed audiences and the judges in The Next Star with her unique uses of sampling, beatbox and live looping of her voice …