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What is Live Looping?
Live Looping is about creating and juggling with dynamic loops to create complex music on-the-fly, normally without using pre-recorded material. This is not the same thing as the static loops typically heard in most contemporary music, repeating in the background through out the piece.

looping rig
A typical hardware based looping rig
To play live looping music is similar to standing by the edge of a huge canyon and sing back to your own echo. However, we looping musicians take it one step further by cutting the bouncing loops and building new music out of them. Then we keep on playing on top of that building, thus creating new material for building the next floor.

To loop live you need at least one loop based real-time sampler, or software loopers in a computer. By controlling recording, looping and editing with your feet you will keep your hands free to play instruments.



Why Live Looping?
For ages musicians have been experiencing physical limitations of their creative flow at a certain level. When the music became too complex to play directly by arms, legs and lungs, the musicians were forced to write it down. By doing so a more complex music could be performed "second hand" by a larger orchestra. But some of the creative flow was lost by splitting the process into the two roles of musician and composer. Live looping can mend that gap and make instant composing possible by improvisation.

A Time Machine
To loop is not only to improvise with sound but also with time. You can play a phrase, loop it and store it away with the specific purpose of bringing it back a while later after you have built a completely new context for it. This means that snippets of sound might take on new content as the musical piece evolves.
You may also play something into a loop that will make sens to the listener a minute later, when you add the next layer to the loop.
  Software based looping rig. Usually you
   also add a set of MIDI foot pedals


Philosophy
You may have noticed that I'm writing a lot about improvisation. Looping technology can of course be used also for composing but I really do not see any point in that. It would be like starting to draw a road map of how to transport your newly received wings instead of just strapping them on and start flying. But then I'm heavily biased being an impro and Zen nerd.


A new way of listening
For an audience a live looping concert can be an incredibly inspiring experience. You are not presented a finished artwork that is locked into its composed form. Instead, you are able to follow in detail how each musician is adding his parts to the music - note after note, loop after loop. It is like an instantly evolving ritual of magic that never repeats itself


To learn more about Live Looping you can visit Loopers-Delight.

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Per Boysen & Costas Andreou releases the album Nanetora.




Shopping for a looper?
Yes, it not easy to decide which looping device to go with. There are so many out there, both hardware boxes and software applications, and they all have different feature sets. Here's a Comparison Chart of Looping Devices to help you. Good luck!