Loop (music)

Loop example: "Home Base Groove" by Kevin MacLeod (recurring after 22 seconds)

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In electroacoustic music, a loop is a repeating section of sound material. Short sections of material can be repeated to create ostinato patterns. A loop can be created using a wide range of music technologies including digital samplers, synthesizers, sequencers, drum machines, tape machines, delay units, or they can be programmed using computer music software.



While repetition is used in the musics of all cultures, the first musicians to use loops were electroacoustic music pioneers such as Pierre Schaeffer, Halim El-Dabh (Holmes 2008, p. 154), Pierre Henry, Edgard Varèse and Karlheinz Stockhausen (Decroupet and Ungeheuer 1998, pp. 110, 118–19, 126). In turn, El-Dabh's music influenced Frank Zappa's use of tape loops in the mid-1960s (Holmes 2008, pp. 153–54), and Stockhausen's music influenced The Beatles to experiment with tape loops; their use of loops in early psychedelic works (most notably "Tomorrow Never Knows" in 1966 and the avant-garde "Revolution 9" in 1968) brought the technique into the mainstream. The stereo version of The Kinks' 1967 song "Autumn Almanac" (which appears on the 1972 compilation The Kink Kronikles) also features a psychedelic tape loop during the fadeout.

Another approach was the use of pre-recorded loops, exemplified by Yellow Magic Orchestra (Condry 2006, p. 60), who released one of the first albums to feature mostly samples and loops (1981's Technodelic) (Carter 2011), and Grandmaster Flash's turntablism. Producers and artists, both mainstream and underground, often create their own sound loops then incorporate them into songs.

Modern looping

Today, many musicians use digital hardware and software devices to create and modify loops, often in conjunction with various electronic musical effects.

In the early 1990s, dedicated digital devices were invented specifically for use in live looping, i.e. loops that are recorded in front of a live audience.

Many hardware loopers exist, some in rack unit form, but primarily as effect pedals. The discontinued Lexicon JamMan, Gibson Echoplex and Looperlative LP1 are 19" rack units. The Boomerang "Rang III" Phrase Sampler, DigiTech JamMan (Ross 2010), Boss RC-300 and the Electro-Harmonix 2880 are examples of popular pedals. As of December 2015, the following pedals are currently in production: TC Ditto, TC Ditto X2, TC Ditto Mic, TC Ditto Stereo, Boss RC-1, Boss RC-3, Boss RC-30, Boss RC-300 and Boss RC-505 (Anon. n.d.).

There is also a lot of software real time loopers, SooperLooper is an emulation of the Echoplex, it runs in Jack as Linux or OS X standalone, or as a plugin. Logelloop is a standalone multitrack emulation of the Echoplex running under Mac OS X.

The musical loop is one of the most important features of video game music. It is also the guiding principle behind devices like the several Chinese Buddhist music boxes that loop chanting of mantras, which in turn was the inspiration of the Buddha machine, an ambient-music generating device. The Jan Linton album "Buddha Machine Music" used these loops along with others created by manually scrolling through CDs on a CDJ player (Entropy Records 2011).

Loop-based music software

Music software to create music using loops range in features, user friendliness, and price. Some of the most widely used are AVID's (formerly Digidesign's) Pro Tools, M-Audio's Ignite Sony's ACID and Sound Forge, Steinberg's Cubase Cakewalk Sonar, Apple inc.'s GarageBand and Logic Pro, Image-Line's FL Studio (formerly "Fruity Loops"), Propellerhead's Reason and ReCycle, Ableton Live, and Cockos's REAPER.

See also


Further reading

External links

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