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Fast & Trashy, Slow and Chaste

Hoo boy...  ;)

Per said,

> I guess the "washy ambient style" is so over
> represented among looping musicians only because we're kept in a
> stronghold by all this gear that just takes too long time to
> manipulate.

"Takes too long to manipulate," huh?

Just last night, I saw a friend who's started taking guitar lessons, and
she was complaining about how difficult it is to play a barre chord.  I
explained to her that building up the necessary hand strength for this
is something every guitar player has to struggle with early on in their
development, and that once you get over that hump, it becomes second 

Can you imagine if guitar players decided that barre chords were "too
difficult" to learn?  Think about being able to quickly switch from one
chord shape to another, in different registers, in different voicings
and inversions.  You don't just sit down and start comping through
"Autumn Leaves;" you build up the necessary mental and physical
coordination to do so.

There's no reason you can't do that with a looper, too.  But if you want
to deal with it as an instrument, with the depth and flexibility of an
instrument, then you need to treat it like that, and practice it in the
same way that you would one that's made out of wood, skins, and strings.

One other thing to consider is that "the washy ambient style" isn't
necessarily easy to play, in terms of gear involvement.  Some of the
most in-depth and complex EDP technique I've ever seen is the ambient
stuff Matthias Grob plays; it's so smooth and subtle that it's easy to
overlook just how deeply and intensively he's using the interface of the
Echoplex for that sort of thing.

Andreas said:

> but when I'm in the thick of an improv going: a) which preset am I in? 
> b) where do I have to go to to get INSERT=REPLACE? c) stepping on that 
> damn thing to finally arrive there and d) executing INSERT=REPLACE in 
> a meaningful way is just to much. 

Then how about narrowing down your available options, so that you don't
have as many mental obstacles to trip over?

The only parameter that will directly affect how Insert=Replace operates
is Quantize.  So, if you want to do Replace stuff in an improv, you can
go over to the front panel, hit the Parameters button, double-check your
Quantize setting, double check your Insertmode setting, change either of
these if necessary, and then get out of parameters to start playing.  No
need to worry about presets for something like this.

If you know your way around the EDP, then all of this can happen all in
a few seconds.  This doesn't need to take any longer than stepping on a
few different stomp boxes, putting a mute into a trumpet, putting a capo
on a guitar, retuning a string, reaching over to a guitar amp to change
a setting, changing a patch on a synth module, or any other one of
dozens of things musicians change on their instruments to accommodate a
sudden whim in the heat of performance.

> I could rather recall the changes of the bridge to 
> "Guineepigs on the moon" in the recorded version by 
> Lester Parker on Steeplechase (the April '63 version, 
> not the August '64 where he wore those red boots all 
> those critics rave about) and play them backwards in 
> quadruplets than doing that. 

And how long did it take you to cultivate the necessary physical and
mental technique to be able to pull that sort of thing off without
thinking about it?

> Hell, no way around programming a Midi-pedal??? 

It depends on what you want to do.  If you're intimidated by MIDI, you
might try starting by connecting a simple controller (like an Oxygen 8
keyboard, or a drum machine) and setting a few keys to simple commands
like half-speed, reverse, or different loop numbers.  Even small things
like that can make it easier to navigate the EDP, because you know that
if you want to go into half-speed, for instance, you can always just hit
that one button on your MIDI controller of choice, rather than have to
go to the front panel and scroll through layers of parameter columns and 

> Andrč, what are you using these days?

I use a PMC-10, but 99% of everything I do with it could be done just as
easily with a Behringer FCB 1010 pedal.  

Rather than setting up presets to switch between insert modes, a good
MIDI pedal could give you ALL of the different insert modes available at
the same time, all on dedicated pedals.  One of the main banks I use has
half speed, reverse, sus-insert, and replace all set up next to each

It took some time to mentally learn how to use these banks in
performance, but once you do that it becomes a lot more fluid from a
performance point of view.  The ironic thing, though, is that because I
started off changing parameters by hand on the front panel as fast as I
could, I understand the EDP as a whole better than I might if I'd
started off doing everything by MIDI in the first place...

And I promise that the new album will be one of the fastest (and
DEFINITELY one of the trashiest) looping discs you'll hear...

--Andre LaFosse