The Tech Zone
Transforming Instruments - Live Looping
With a few small gadgets, a whole new world of musical possibilities can be opened up! This week's Tech Zone is about looping pedals - something most guitarists are familiar with, but which can quickly turn any solo instrument into a band or ensemble. Not only are they great fun to play with, but open up lots of possibilities for creating new styles of music that may not normally crop up in music lessons, and bring a whole new dimension to the one-man-band concept.
Pedal prices start from around £100 for a basic one, and you can plug an electric guitar or violin straight in, but for acoustic instruments you can use a mic. There are alternatives to the pedal (looping software for PCs or smartphone looping apps). Four examples in completely different styles of music for inspiration - give them a watch!
The range of sounds you can get from a French Horn make it ideal for looping!
Meet "Mr. Curly" the homemade contra-bass clarinet, and a feather duster clarinet. Combined with a looping pedal and some beatboxing, a career was launched. Here's an excerpt from his show "Breaking Wind":
How to perform Philip Glass's Violin Concerto with just one person and a looping pedal:
Beatboxer "Kid Beyond" gives a demo/lecture at Harvard University on how he creates whole songs with backing tracks using just his voice, a foot pedal, the HotHand controller and Ableton Live software:
This is similar to the setup I use, and although it takes some time to get the hang of it, you can do much more with it than a simple looping pedal!
Smartphone Looping Apps
If you want to try out looping without buying an expensive pedal, you can search for "free looping software" on a search engine for your PC/Mac. Or you can get Apps for smartphones:
You can find more info and resources by logging on to the MusicTech Learning Zone on Music Cornwall's moodle. If you need the enrolment password, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (free access for Music Cornwall schools and staff).