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RE: Fear of "canned" loops

While I have no philosphoical arguments with the use of “canned loops”, 
there  are some issues to address:

When I first started doing live, solo looping shows I relied heavily on 
use of drum machines and fx processing (sometimes 3 drum machines 
simultaneously!).  As someone already pointed out, the use of a drum 
does constitutes the use of “canned” loops.
I used these to help provide some textural/rhythmic diversity to the 
performance.  While I felt this was all well and good, and certainly 
the challenge of programming complex and coordinating sequences, one thing 
did notice was the audience’s apparent apathy with the use of pre-recorded 

As Rick stated, there are audiences who have come to expect the use of 
prerecorded tracks, and their added complexity, in a performance.  They 
to have no problem with the use/hearing of them.  I wonder if these 
audiences are somewhat “regional” (i.e. urban)? Or, if this is generally 
found to be accepted when the performance is vocal-oriented (and thus 
offering the most “human” of sounds for which the audience to relate to, 
offsetting the automated quality of “canned” tracks)?
What I have found is that regardless of the use of live lops, canned 
or sequencers in a performance, most audiences care very little about the 
hardware used, but rather about the nature of the performance and its 
of entertainment.

Yet, my own experience has shown that a great number of audience members 
my shows have been quite put off, even alienated, by the use of 
sequencers/drum machines.  In my performances, an audience which was 
enthralled, or at least captivated, by a solo bass looping piece, would 
immediately find something else to hold their interest the moment the drum 
machines kicked on.

It would seem that most can accept, even if they don’t understand, a 
device being used when they can “see” the original passage played then 
looped back, yet, the sudden addition of textural, harmonic, rhythmic, 
melodic, or even timbral complexities, which far  exceed the bounds of a 
“single” musician, confounds them; leaving them feeling a bit “cheated” by 
the loss of a live performance.

I also found that rather than just kick starting a drum pattern, if I were 
to physically tap out the part on my little machine the audience became 
rather fascinated with the whole process.  It seems there is a definite 
relationship between the visual and auditory stimuli that an audience 

This led me to my current set-up where I tap out rhythm/drum patterns on 
bass using string muting, body thumps, alligator clips etc. creating 
drum-like cadences and phrases which are then looped.  Sure, it is 
different than “true” drum sounds, but the overall effect is the same, and 
this process seems to capture the audience’s attention, and imagination, 
much better.

I think a similar situation arises with complex fx/signal chains where so 
much sonic information is passed onto an audience that they cannot fathom 
how it is all produced by one, two, or three musicians.  Without 
understanding they they simply assume much of it to be canned, and again 
that feeling of being “cheated” of a live performance surfaces.


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