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Looped Drum and Bass solo act?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by j_sun23, Nov 3, 2003.

  1. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA
    Ok. I have this idea cooking in my head to do a live drum and bass looping solo act. I wanted to know if anyone here has ever done something similar or knows of someone who has. I'm sure I won't be the first to attempt it, and that's not what this is about. I feel like I have to do this, and I want to glean any knowledge and advice I can from anyone who's gone before me. I want to know what problems to anticipate or what things to look for or avoid (gear-wise, setup-wise, hell..diet-wise).

    I'v got all my usual bass gear (bass, line6 dl4, pre, power, 2X10,& 1X18,), plus a nice yamaha drum kit, some cheap but decent drum mics (CAD), and head full of determination. The main things I'm lacking are a mixer, some speakers, and a looper that I can put in the mixer's effects loop (maybe the dl4 would work, but man wouldn't an Echoplex or Repeater be SWEET).

    The plan is, mic the drums, d.i. the preamp, into the mixer, into the looper in the fx loop, back into the mixer (duh), and so forth. I'll be able to loop either/both the bass and/or the drums, as well as play one or the other live with the loop.

    This is about where I'm at. Any suggestions? Advice? Moral support?
  2. i've seen a few people do it as a duo, but never a one man show. sounds like a hell of an undertaking. but, it would be freaking cool.

    i suggest pulling a drum machine or two into it, and one can never have enough dl4's when doing a one man show. with live drums, go with a basic kit (three or four piece) and tune it to sound real good. you probably want a sampler in there somewhere.

    practice, practice, practice. if you're doing something alone with a lot of gear, one thing could go wrong and screw up everything. know your gear, and good luck!
  3. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA

  4. PhilMan99


    Jul 18, 2003
    US, Maryland
    Add voice and call it "rap"?
  5. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I have thought of this too. When I did my senior project,
    I had an idea, that I didn't have an time to practice for, where I would Start at the drum kit, move to the hand percussion, move to the bass, the move to the guitar, I had some of it worked out, but not enough to perform.

    To make things easier perhaps you should look into a stand up drum kit, I think they are called martini kits or something.

    that way you could move between the drums and bass easier.

    The thing about live looping is, the more you add, the more is at stake if you mess up, or messed up slightly in the beginning.

    it's a very tough thing to do, requires a lot of practice and CONFIDENCE. if you aren't confidant about it, then you will risk messing up.

    also, it is a challenging thing to keep JUST drums and bass, interesting to a live crowd for very long.

    Victor wooten and JD blair did it for a while, but while that is pretty neat, and they did a great job at it, I still inevitably found it way more boring than listening to vic with a full band.
  6. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA
    Thanks for the replies, guys.

    I plan on sitting at the kit, with my bass on a stand behind or next to me and just staying seated, switching back and forth when it's neccessary.

    I already set up loops with my bass and a dl4 and then get behind the kit and jam with the loop, and although fun, it's pretty limited, cause once I stop playing the drums, they stop. I want to be able to have either looped so that I can play the other. And I never planned on making it exclusively drum and bass. I have thought of looping various other things, like hand percussion, or keys/synth, or any other noise I can make.

    To tell you the truth, I'm not real interested in whether people will be able to watch it for long without getting bored, or whether they'll like it at all for that matter. Some will appreciate, some won't (This applies to anything outside the normal idea of live music). I'm doing for my own fulfillment and enjoyment.

    And I don't plan on sounding anything like Vic Wooten and JD Blair :bassist:
  7. justBrian


    Apr 19, 2002
    Kansas City, MO
    Hop on over to the other forum (HCBF) and do a search for Clatter. She and her husband are a touring drum and bass thing. And the wail.
  8. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Yeah, I'd recommend what WR said. Work on more than drums and bass if you want to keep it interesting. Guitar, Keyboard, Vocals, Horns, whatever.
  9. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA
    Thanks for the replies. Keep it coming guys.
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yeah - but do you really want to be in the situation where you are on your own, with a large amount of fairly expensive gear and you have a hostile crowd, who start to turn ugly... :meh:

    If I was in insurance, I wouldn't give you much chance of coming away with all your gear, unscathed.....something to think about!
  11. ceeprm


    Jul 15, 2002
    Edinburgh Scotland
    How do you plan on looping drums on the fly?? If you were to sit down at a kit, hit record- record a few bars to be looped how do you guarantee that you get you loop points exactly right?? cos if you don't your music will sound like youve got some very interesting time signatures going on!!
  12. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA
    Good question.

    At first all I'll have is my dl4, which definately means I'll have to get my loop points exactly right. I guess it'll just take some serious practice, and a dose of confidence.

    Now, if things go well, I can justify investing some cash in a nice, full featured looper, like the Echoplex Digital Pro, or Electrix Repeater. Both have features which allow you to start/stop recording the loop to the nearest beat, or something like that. I believe it's called quantizing. They also have undo capabilities, as well as a host of other functions to help the process.

    To tell you the truth, I have thought about all sorts of problems that might arise, and though I have ideas, I really won't have good solutions until I actually encounter them.

    Hah....funny....never thought of that.

    (I'm assuming you're at least half joking :) )

    As for this actually being a real possibility, Bruce, well, I hope to not perform for any hostile crowds. I don't REALLY think it'll be a problem, at least not around here where I live. I could see people walking out, but not attacking me! :eek:

    I mean, I guess if I tried opening for some metal band or something, people might get a little unfriendly, but then it'd be my fault for opening for a metal band. :bassist:
  13. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA
    Anyone have any experience with a Gibson Echoplex or an Electrix Repeater?

    The Echoplex (esp. the newer one) sounds like a fantastic creative tool, but the Repeater keeps calling me with its four tracks per loop (so I could put the drum loop on a separate track from the bass).

  14. Check out www.loopersdelight.com my friend, if you haven't already. The Boss R20 is calling to me. Steve Lawson is involved in this site.
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I was being serious - I used to play a duo with a female singer who was quite small and 'feisty - I had quite a bit of gear with me and a big thing was 'protecting' the gear!!

    So we played various places - but usually people are having a few drinks and even if they're not outright hostile, they can get impatient when things go wrong - which tends to lead to panic in the performers - in my exerience!!

    The other thing is that people who have had a few drinks can get clumsy - will sit near the stage - if there is one and will spill drinks, bump into stuff etc.

    So - I can remember one gig where the stage area was just level with the audience and some people fooling around, knocked over my reel-to-reel tape recorder which had large chunks of backing - drums etc. The shafts that drive the spools got bent and it woudn't play - the crowd got impatient and it turned pretty nasty, quite quickly!!

    We had loads of problems - and discovered why you shouldn't open for a 'Goth' band, for example!! ;)
  16. Clatter thread on Steve Lawson's Forum:

    Tosya is a TB member and is fairly up on the looping bass and drums thing.

    Another option you might like to think about is to pre-record a variety of drum loops / percussion loops / FX loops then run a laptop with Ableton Live which would allow you to trigger loop samples, play in some bass, loop that, add effects etc. then you could play along to that. It's a very neat piece of software and certainly worth checking out the demo. www.ableton.com. I know this gets away from the visual aspect of playing drums live, but it has other benefits - you can "record" your sample triggers in Live and then save and edit them afterwards. Neat if you want to keep hold of sets that work well. The downside is that you need to have a stable laptop and audio interface that you could take to a venue and be sure it wasn't going to suddenly crash. Then you're back to Bruce's problem.

    The EDP is an absolutely wonderful piece of kit. It has enormous flexibility and potential to do LOTS of different stuff. Check out Andre Le Fosse's stuff for examples of extreme use of an EDP. www.altruistmusic.com. Note though that it only has one input and one output, so you'd have to employ some kind of mixer first if you had a drum kit miced up and a bass. You would need some piece of kit to generate MIDI tempo messages to get the quantise part to work though (IIRC).

    HAHAHAHAHAHA..... "Snakebite and blackcurrant in your effects pedal?"
  17. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA
    Thanks for the replies.

    I've been to loopers delight, and they're probably at least somewhat responsible for me having a dl4 and wanting an Echoplex/Repeater.

    One, yes it gets away from the visual aspect of live drums, but, more importantly, the SOUND of live drums, but even more importantly (perhaps most) is that it abandons the idea for it to be all improv, all off the cuff. This is one of the things which is most appealing about the whole idea for me. I am tired of playing in a band, playing songs that I'm never satisfied with over and over. Ok, yeah, I might eventually come up with some ideas to keep in mind and use each time to base the improv off of, but I want it to have that off the cuff, on the spot element.

    I've checked out Andre, and he's a big inspiration for my endeavor. I had planned on getting a mixer so I could route both the drum mics an my bass, and whatever else I have to make funny sounds through the looper of choice. I was gonna go with a Behringer ub2442fxPro for its features, signal routing capabiliities, and PRICE. It really seems like I read that you can set the number of eigth-note beats in the measure and the Echoplex will quantize to it. I could be wrong. Maybe it's just the newer ones with the new software.

    Man I want one......baaaaaaad!
  18. I can see what you mean. I wonder if people who do improv have a completely blank sheet of paper when they start, or whether they have some "cells" or ideas that form the starting point of their improv. Perhaps Steve Lawson or Michael Manring may be able to shed some light on this.

    What I'm advocating with Live is not to have long sample loops that you stick to rigidly, but rather some cell ideas or sounds that you can use as a jump-off point for your improv, or can punctuate a bass improv. The nice thing about Live is that you can tweak the samples/loops in an enormous amount of different ways - changing loop length, pitch, speed, envelopes, cut them up, re-arrange, add FX...

    My own pipe-dreams for this would be to use loops from Live, feed them through the EDP to chop, glitch and generally **** them up then resample them back into Live for further manipulation. It's this cell->loop->resample->cell->loop... cycle that would mean that I could conceivably get really far from the original sample loop. If you use fairly abstract / non-standard rhythm loops them I would think this could add a lot to a performance.

    Anyway, I really hope that this takes off for you. Sounds like a blast! Be sure to keep us up to date with how you get on.

    All the best,
  19. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA
    Thanks for the words of encouragement MKS.

    Yeah, the things I could do with the Echoplex is what really gets me excited when I think about this whole undertaking. Straight looping will be fun, but the ability to take these loops and "chop, glitch and generally **** them up" is what I also see as a real jump off point for improv and exploration. Unfreakingfortunately this means finding $800 or so for and EDP+.

    I guess its the age old plight of the stubborn musician.

    The other thing in the back of my head is a little voice questioning whether once I dump all this money into specialized equipment, will I even be able to pull this kinda thing off and make it kick ass like I know it can. I mean, I'm a decent bass player, and a less decent drummer, so I have my doubts.


    oh yeah, as an update, I just bought a powered mixer on ebay. The Etek MA400 Notemix laptop mixer. $700 street. $200 ebay. :bassist:

    Check it, it's sweet.


    and more info at

  20. Aaahh... I know this feeling well. ;)

    Practice. You may not sound like Andre Le Fosse or anyone else but you'll sound like *you*. And if you get within 80% of what you want to do with it (to the sound that's in your head) then you've achieved a *lot*. I think the most interesting thing that I read about the EDP is that it should be regarded as another instrument and not just a "tool" or set of presets. As such it pays to take time to learn to play it. I guess this applies to everything. Steve Lawson often says that what you're holding in your hand isn't a bass guitar. It's a combination of different woods and bits of metal which you can use to make sound. What you do with that depends on what you want to achieve with it. Andre Le Fosse's work often doesn't sound *anything* like he's playing a guitar. But that doesn't mean he's not playing a guitar. Hmmm... I think that last paragraph is almost too zen. Time to log off and go practice... :D