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Notating Looped Compositions

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by dhodgeh, Jun 11, 2005.

  1. dhodgeh


    Jul 15, 2004
    Hey Steve,

    I'm just getting into this looping thing. Been playing with some software looper, and have just purchased a Boss RC-20XL and am getting to know it.

    I'm curious though as to how to notate looped based compositions.

    I assume one could use either standard notation or tab, but what is a good method organizing the phrases on paper?

    Oh, I just downloaded your 'Grace and Gratitude' CD and really dig it. Keep up the good work.


  2. Hey I am thinking of buying this Boss too!

    Can you put layer on layer looping? With just your foot?

    Sorry for disturbing your post but I had to ask :D
  3. Simple repeat signs will work for notating loops. Just write it out once and bracket it with a pair, writing the number of repetitions in. You'll have trouble with that if you try to write the melody line to align with the looped line. Then you'd have to write the loop out each time, which would be a pain. I'd probably just leave a big space and write something about how it repeated. You might also give a name to each loop, or a number, or a letter, and write something like "A x 3, B x 4, A, C x 2" at the top of the page, then write the melody line seperately. You could then write out each loop once with a note of its name.
  4. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    There's no convention as yet for notating loop tunes, so I'd do it as you see fit... if you're using the Boss looper, then notating what goes on the loop would be fairly easy as each loop will be the same length.

    You might want to notate things on two pages, open next to each other - have page on for all the loop layers, and page two for the melody etc. and use signs to say when you switch to the next loop layer...

    I'll have to tackle this at some point when I get round to doing a transcription book, but I'll leave a lot of it wide open, as improv is a pretty big element in most of what I do - I'll notate it as I was thinking about it when I played it, rather than transcribing what's on the CD...

    keep us posted on what you decide!

  5. I would have thought any notes, symbols etc. that help you remember what you did would be a good thing. You could write the traditional double bar with dots for a repeated section. If it gets complex then writing the performance advice in a different colour might help. Question is: Is this an aide-memoire for yourself or are you thinking it might be a good thing to share with others? The way you approach notation in both cases might be different.

    Steve - with the EDP the notation would get even more complex when you have to notate button presses as well. Perhaps some kind of drum notation would work where each button lies on a different line of the stave... That would allow you to notate some fairly complex stuff. It would hurt to have to read notation for some glitch stuff though. :D
  6. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    A few guys on LD were looking into EDP notation a while back - you might be able to find something in the archives.

    I'm not sure the returns would be worth the effort, trying to work out how to do all that... ;)

  7. HEY!! Wait a second I've just realised I can do this right now! Since my FCB1010 floorboard sends out MIDI note information and I am using Mobius as an EDP emulator it'll notate my button presses straight away in Sonar. All I would need to do is notate the "musical" portion. COOL!
  8. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Just relying on repeat bars might be confusing - you are repeating but also building more layers on top. I think a few extra symbols for events like 'start recording', 'close loop', etc might do the job - the details probably depending on the complexity of the looping devices used. I'm thinking along the lines of the Ped. marks used in piano scores.


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