Live looping made its appearance in modern music in the ‘60s and has become one of the greatest innovations in musical production. As a composition technique, it is revolutionary and the possibilities are limitless.
Today, I’m joined by Jeremy Nattagh, who is one of the handpan scene’s most talented live loopers. Jeremy is known worldwide for his handpan playing and especially his live sets where his skills with a loop station have a way of getting people on their feet and dancing to his beats. His passion for looping is contagious and in today’s post he’ll be sharing his top 10 reasons to take the plunge and get looping.
1. Take your handpan to a new dimension
Whether you are a meditative player or a groove lover, using a loop station will immerse you in a new workflow and open up a whole new range of possibilities that will instantly allow you to find new ideas, add new layers and create new soundscapes.
On top of that, most loopstations include great effects. It will get you out of your routine and take you to a new dimension!
2. Combine all your instruments and talents together
Did you start out playing guitar or piano? Do you still own a djembe, a flute or a few shakers? Do you like to sing or beatbox from time to time but never dare share these hidden talents in your music?
Owning a loop station is like having a handy, user-friendly multitrack recorder with instant mixing functions. You can record, erase, and start again as much as you want and get an instant sense for the bigger picture.
You will be able to create new compositions and tracks with all your percussion and other instruments and you may even find yourself loving your old guitar again.
The sky's the limit as you become the orchestrator of your own musical world!
3. Practice with your favourite beats and patterns
One very practical function of a loop station is that it can play back any beat or pattern you want to play along to, for as long as you want.
Whether it is an exciting drum loop you found on the internet, a little beatboxing hook you had on your head or your favorite Kabeçao’s groove, you can import a pattern, play your own and put them on repeat while you improvise on top or do technical exercises from your favorite handpan course.
You can even put together an entire song using different rhythms and practice putting your melodies over the top. Your loop station is the perfect jam buddy!
4. Explore new harmonies
Using your handpan, your voice, or a synthesizer, you can lay down a melody and find the most beautiful chord progressions, or complementary melodic parts. Play your favorite chords and find out which harmonics extensions you can put on top.
Your harmonies will become richer and more sophisticated!
5. Instantly record and save new ideas
How many times have you found a sexy handpan riff, or a beautiful chord progression, only to end up not remembering it one hour later?
Don’t you wish that you had the software and set up to be able to easily record whatever goes through your head? With an easy looper set up, you can turn on the unit and lay down your latest ideas at any time without complicated gear. You really can just plug and play!
6. Create unprecedented soundscapes
If you know my music even a bit, you know that I brought the handpan to new dimensions, and more importantly, created my own musical signature. With simple gear, any musician - from a beginner to a pro - can develop his own musical universe and create sounds that no one has ever thought of before, because each one of us is unique. It gives you the opportunity to materialize what you have in your mind.
Also, it triggers unexpected inspiration. Ideas will keep coming day after day as you try things, and sometimes you will discover new paths by mistake. It has happened to me more than ten times. Serendipity!
7. It’s all about that bass !
Have you ever felt that you wanted more depth and bass in your music, or wished that you could make your handpan sound an octave lower?
With a loopstation you can lay down bass riffs and deep pads underneath your handpan melodies. On some machines, you also have an octaver built in and you suddenly get that fat sound that makes everything round and rich.
8. Become a one (wo)man band
Have you ever been frustrated because no musician friends are around on weekends? Are you quarantined but still want to create complete tracks with a full band? Do you want to go on stage without having to tour with 3 people?
This is the only tool you need to be a one (wo)man band, to create full orchestrations of your compositions and to be able to play on stage as a solo artist.
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it is very satisfying bringing your whole vision to life!
9. Have fun
From your most serious compositions to your craziest and stupidest ideas, you will find it so satisfying to express whatever you want to. You can try anything - scream into the looper, use your kitchen utensils, paper and scissors, bring your kids around and create music with them (I’ve done it!).
A loopstation is a wonderful creative toy that places no limits on your craziness!
10. Pump it up! Get people dancing!
A large number of my videos and live performances are inspired by groove and trance music. There is no greater joy than seeing a smiling audience dancing and jumping in front of you, and watching them move to your beats!
With a loop station, you can launch the fattest drum beats and most exhilarating percussion parts that will bring your audience to ecstasy. From an ambient drop to the most frantic build up, you won’t believe how much power you'll have at your fingertips!
Oh and by the way...
11. I can help you get started from day one
It is my pleasure and privilege to announce that in a few weeks I will be releasing a Masterclass entirely dedicated to the topic of looping on MasterTheHandpan.
It’s simple - my aim is to help you along the way - from choosing your first looper to polishing your first live set.
Whether it’s your set up, microphones, your cables, your looper, how it works, exploring possibilities, adding effects, organising your ideas and much more. You will be equipped with what you need to have fun and explore this incredible universe which - believe me - will make others want to join you on your journey!
Thanks Jeremy ! It’s such a privilege to be able to benefit from your knowledge, your teaching skills and your talent.
Dear readers, don’t forget that in addition to these great insights, Jeremy has released a Masterclass entirely dedicated to live looping. It’s all happening on MasterTheHandpan!
Many thanks again, Jeremy.
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