The Birth of Loop by Michael Peters


Brian Eno – Decay and Delay, a 1968 score involving three tape recorders

“This page tries to summarize the steps in the history of music which led to the distinct style and technology of Looping Music. Looping Music today typically employs tape delay/feedback systems, digital delay devices, or computers to create repetitions of sounds. These repetitions can either remain limited to simple repeated phrases, or they are allowed to add up to a complex sound texture which either stands for itself or is used as an atmospheric or rhythmic background for soloing or other musical expression. … Musique Concrète and Tape Music. The beginning of the fifties brought the first tape music compositions (the first one being Edgard Varèse’s Deserts (1954)), based on the new possibilities for sound modification using tape recorders. Tape music composers (such as John Cage, Edgard Varèse, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Mauricio Kagel, and others) used tape recorders to change the speed of sounds, or reverse, edit, and superimpose them. Pre-existing sounds could be altered, combined with electronic sounds and real instruments, or assembled into collages. … Echoplex tape delay. Tape delay exploited the short distance between a tape recorder’s record and playback heads. As soon as tape recorder technology became widely available to studios, sound engineers and musicians such as Les Paul started to build machines that could produce a short echo. In the early 1950s, small and portable tape delay machines with a closed tape loop and adjustable head positions were developed. The sound of tape delay became the trademark sound of early rock ‘n roll music. … A tape delay/feedback system based on two tape recorders was invented by an anonymous sound engineer who worked for Terry Riley during the Paris sessions for Riley’s Music for The Gift in 1963. Of course, this invention drew upon previously invented tape techniques such as closed tape loops and tape delays, especially tape delays involving several tape recorders, but it introduced a simple and elegant new way to control feedback and long multiple delays of live audio input – livelooping was born. … Eno and Fripp. Brian Eno was always fascinated by tape recorders and the different things one can do with them. ‘I had wanted a tape recorder since I was tiny. I thought it was just like a magic thing, and I always used to ask my parents if I could have one but I never got one, until just before I went to art school I got access to one and started playing with it, and then when I went to art school they had them there. I thought it was magic to be able to catch something identically on tape and then be able to play around with it, run it backwards; I thought that was great for years.”
The Birth of Loop by Michael Peters (Video)


Eno and Fripp’s Signal-Delay System Used For “(No Pussyfooting)”

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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