"Children, everybody, here's what to do during war: In a time of destruction, create something. A poem. A parade. A community. A school. A vow. A moral principle. One peaceful moment." -Maxine Hong Kingston
There's a lot going on in the world, and especially if you live on Turtle Island AKA North America and more specifically the United States, where I am. There's been a tremendous loss of life due to the pandemic, and disproportionately poor, Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people are affected. There's the elections in Georgia, good news to me despite my reservations about electoral politics. And there's this recent white supremacist attack in DC [edit: see here why I'm no longer saying "terrorist"]
Right now, I know how important it is for QTBIPOC artists to keep creating, keep taking up space and being visible (without compromising their safety), and keep shining their light. That's what I'm going to do. And that's what Arlo Parks does.
I had so much fun honoring her work by covering it. She's amazing. Check out more of her work on her website. And her music video for Caroline. This song brings me so much life force. I especially love listening to it loudly while riding in the car with the windows down.
Check out the video above and read more about the video in its description.
Ok tutorial time...
Looping is SO MUCH FUN.
I've been using the Loopy HD app for awhile now, but I put it down because I thought there were more robust, options out there. My cover Pa'respirar/Woh Lamhe Woh Baatein was recorded using Loopy HD. I've experimented with the BOSS loop stations like the RC1 and RC300. I've also experimented with Logic loops and even Ableton Live.
But honestly comes close to the Loopy app for me in its ease of use, lack of latency, and also its ability to support my musicality. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube as to how to use Loopy itself so I won't go into to many details about it.
I used a Yamaha Reface CP, Sennheiser Mic, and Mitchell Acoustic Guitar w/ Fishman Magnetic Pickup into a Mackie 8-channel Mixer. From the headphone output of the mixer using a TRS balanced cable, I went into an IK Multimedia iRig 2 into the iPad running Loopy HD app. I output with another TRS balanced cable into the Focusrite 2i2 interface. Also into the interface was my Rode NT2 mic. The interface plugged into into the Macbook Pro recording the whole session in two tracks (Loopy session and main vox) with Logic Pro X.
I recorded the Loopy HD session using the built-in iPad screen recording feature. I recorded myself using an iPhone X connected to my MacBook Pro via USB cable. Using the EpocCam plugin and app, I recorded video using OBS. This allowed me to not need to worry about iPhone storage and easily let me see what the video looked like in real time to make an adjustments.
Pretty simple setup in my space. I hung a scarf in the back to cover all my "clutter" using some command clips. And used some red lights to provide extra moodiness. All in all, It came out really well!
I mixed the song with Logic Pro X and edited the video using Davinci Resolve. See previous blog post about my foray into this amazing, free software.
At another time and in another post, I will do a break down of how much this all costs and what my thoughts are on what you need or can get for the least amount of financial and time investment.
As you can see on the video, I pre recorded some of the sounds to save time but recorded many sounds live. I did like 40 takes( lol. "rehearsal.") because I wanted to do the whole thing live without stopping and starting again.
I knew that I wanted to use guitar and some vocal sounds. I didn't want the sound to be too muddied so I used minimal vocal percussion and ooh/hum vocal harmonies. I stuck with two guitar patterns and used the Yamaha Reface CP to provide a simple baseline. This song was perfect for looping because it maintained the same chord progression throughout.
I made things more dynamic by introducing some loops later in the arrangement. The "Oh Caroline, I swear..." vocal harmonies came in at the end. I also started and stopped loops to break up the song. And cut out loops to create drama and contrast.
At the end, I created an outro but cutting away the guitar and percussion to have more of a smooth pad-like backing.
The key for me is to not do too much so that the listener doesn't know what to focus on.
For me, Loopy HD software allows for easy loop syncing, adjusting the length of the loops, changing the tempo, allowing for the importing of sounds (if necessary), combining loop phrases of different lengths, and also allowing for turning on/off loops. I can also sync the midi clock with Logic Pro X. I'm sure I'm missing something.
And the key: low latency and an amazingly simple user interface. These two factors are so important in live performance.
I've tried many, many loopers and nothing beats it. And it's one-time fee of a few bucks in the app store.
All in all, looping seem like it'd be limiting but the "limitations" provide a structure for endless possibilities to create intrigue. I wouldn't do all my performances with looping, but I have so much fun using it from time to time.