Somewhere in the growing house that Tommy built (this forum) lay’s a comment to the effect of, “I struggle with loopers and getting the end right.” I’m paraphrasing this, as well as am by no means trying to call anyone out. However, I think that a looper pedal is such an indispensable tool that we should really take the time to learn them and use them–here is my looper evolution, and believe me, I struggled to get it right too. But know, when practice time seems to be non-existent, I can loop a comp and practice a melody or some single note lines, or chord ideas in just a few minutes. Even if I only get 8 minutes, I can be sorta productive with that.
I started out with a boss RC looper pedal (funny story about that actually, but I’ll leave that for another post if you guys want to hear the story). While I, sorta, tackled the small learning curve to get loops made and stored, it was just cumbersome enough that I didn’t use it everyday and thus I would have to spend time relearning it when I decided to use it. And ultimately I didn’t use it that much. Gone are my days (hopefully they’ll be back some day) of having spare time to just pickup and practice whenever I get the urge.
Fast forward to Tommy introducing me to the Ditto looper. First off, everyone should have one. The Boss, while it have a quantize feature (adjusts the ending time with the total time of loop to make the time even–a cool but actually funny and difficult feature (like training wheels on a bike that you already know how to ride)). Learning the Ditto did take a few tries because the time thing is different than the boss, but the Ditto makes sense. The Ditto is Dumb and only does what you tell it. I quickly learned that to get the timing right I have to hit the end on the 1 of the next start–example:
Take a 12 bar blues–you end the loop on the First beat of the first measure after you gone all the way around–the easiest way to do it is to play through it.
The boss, especially with the quantize feature seemed to want to end at either the last beat of the last measure, or the “and” after the last beat–then it would “quantize” it to correct time. (Again that kind of felt like training wheels to me.)
Some fellow “geeks” here have commented that Tommy’s backing tracks are great, and they are really quite good. However there are useful things for us to learn by using a looper, especially a dumb one like the ditto. First off, backing tracks especially ones like Tommy’s (because he did such a good job with the band feel) give you the opportunity to feel your way around in a group setting–the rhythm and drums are giving those turn around accents for landmarks and such (obviously not to the total live extent, but they definitely breathe and are not stiff).
This is great, but the looper takes a different approach. You have to keep track of where you’re at in the song and with the looper you don’t have those accents and landmarks that you get with backing tracks. This is especially important when you’re tyring to improvise over your backing tracks or loops, and you’re using your mental concentration on your improv and single note playing–you really have to keep count in your head.
(I’m beginning to think that this is one of those reasons why you hear so many people say, “You got to start playing with others, and out and live” so much. You get into the feel so much more when other musicians are playing through the song–and providing landmarks to the tune.)
Learning to play with a looper really forces you to maintain the count in your head and leave a space in your mental concentration to maintain where you are at in the song. Whit Smith’s advise on this seems to suggest that you should be solely focusing on the melody until the melody starts to evolve into something different–you solo. But let this happen naturally (as in playing the melody of the tune like 200 times) and you’ll always know where you’re at.
Okay, I talked (typed) enough.
I’d like to see some loops of what everyone here (all us Geeks) is working on. Get a looper if you don’t have one. If you have tried them in the past and didn’t jive with it, get a Ditto–it is really so simple and easy and dumb (in a good way).
Post what things cause issue with you and your loops. Let’s have fun with this.
Also, lets welcome feedback from our fellow geeks as well. We are all hear to learn, right?
Here is a quick loop of me working on “Flying Home.” I had about 20 minutes (wife took junior to the grocery store). This is just with the cell phone so no quality awards here, but I started the topic, so I’ll start with the first video.
I welcome feedback and hope you all post something too.
Nice! Sounded great. Bryan and I used to swap tunes back and forth, seeing how eachother approached tunes. I’m thinking we should do the same here in the forum. Flying Home is a great one to start with. I for sure need to woodshed the bridge of the tune, cool ideas and they move pretty quickly. So I’ll get cracking and see what I can come up with. Craner is right, the looper is a great tool. The Ditto is very intuitive. I also like the price tag, it’s not gonna break the bank. I think I have been able to learn how to apply lines faster and more effectively since picking it up.
In messing with my Ditto I got to thinking that the foot switch is causing some of my timing problems with it. I get the part about playing thru the final bar a half beat and developing the feel for the cutoff. The loop switch is stiff enough that the extra micro second it takes to punch it is causing a delay. I mean it’s REALLY stiff. Any pedal geeks out there know how to lube or mod the switch so it operates smoother. Maybe I got a lemon here. I don’t have another to compare it to and don’t want to destroy the pedal. Thanks, Mike
That is interesting, because the ditto I have seems to have the least stiff switch that I’ve ever come across. I’ve had to develop the routine of moving my foot completely away from the ditto as a posture change, or sneeze, on my part depresses the button. Maybe mine is an anomaly, or maybe yours is. I just figured that the soft button was part of the design–a good one too if that is how it’s suppose to be, as it is something that I liked about it.
Do you tap your foot/feet to the beat when you play? If so have you tried just hitting the button with you’re tapping foot? Maybe that will help you with the accuracy of the ending since you’re foot is ‘in time.’
Hey thanks for getting back on that Craner. Man I knew something was up with this. I’ve been fighting it for awhile. I’m going to pull it apart and try some non conductive silicon lube on it. Yeah I do the foot tap in time only when looping. Sometimes when learning something new. You’re Flyin Home is pretty good. You prompted me to print out the music on that and dink around with it. Just getting started. I have the Mel Bay Swing to Bop book and it’s all in standard notation so I’m SLOWLY getting started on that too and Flyin Home isn’t in there. There’s over 50 pages of analysis of his style in that book. Never seen anything like it and can’t recommend it enough. Mike
The chords are actually pretty easy. The A section just vamps (or maybe a better way to say it is, repeats a sequenced chord figure) on an E flat–since it is essentially Just E flat the entire A section (with a V chord at the end). The bridge is a I7, IV, II, V.
I play it:
|| Eb6-Cm | B7b9-B7 | Eb6-Cm | B7b9-B7 |
| Eb6-Cm | B7b9-B7 | Eb7 | B7 ||
that B7b9 is just a B diminished chord, however I’m compelled to write it as a B7b9 due the walking nature of the bass line (calling a Bdim still works in that regard). Though I have absolutely zero understanding about composition and I may be entirely wrong about writing it that way.
Those B7 chords I had in the chart are suppose to be Bb7 chords (the V of Eb)–keep walking the bass down.
Man what a difference a type-O makes.
Okay. Now I’m an idiot. That’s what happens when I spell this out with out my guitar in hand and not thinking straight. It’s Bb7b9 to Bb7
Eb6-Cm | Bb7b9-Bb7
Cool, got that B section and it sounds better than the Flying Home shown on the Solo Flight website transcription. Ditto looper’s working good. I’m thinking about giving the same treatment to my other pedals. The Ditto is now the smoothest operator in the group. I’m working on getting a smart phone to record video. I’m still using my vintage flip phone and it does a 10 second vid.
Check out the link for a discussion on B section and solong on Flying Home. Mike
When you listen to the original recording, you can hear the descending bass (in the A section). I don’t know if others play the A section like I have it written out above, but I came up with that from the realbook–which is very piano centric and thus uses too many colors (in my opinion). The realbook calls for: Eb-Eb7/Db | Cm7-B7 | Bb7-E7
I didn’t care for the Db in the bass in the first measure, and I just generally like the _7b9 chord, thus you can see how I interpreted the A section.
Well, I’ll go ahead and submit loop #2. Was hoping some others would post their loops, but I’ll keep it going with more Charlie.
Here is my very rough attempt at CC’s solo on Rose Room: quite the study in 7 9 chords. With the exception of the minor and the tonic 6th, just about everything else if a 79 chord. I could actually study just this solo for months.
Here’s playin’ to the record (or rather, playing with training wheels (for me)):
And since this is a looper thread, here’s with the looper (or without the training wheels):
Sounds good man I think this afternoon when you come over we will pull out some more christianisms!
More Christian…um…yeah. I’m always up for that.
What’s funny (at least to me) is that I didn’t really set out to learn this solo note for note (though it was good enough for Jimmy Rivers), but I was intrigued with how he was connecting the chords–I just kept doing the, “Oh what does he do next.” His line that Runs from the end of the first B section through about half of the next A section just floored me. I had to finish after that.
Picking it up at the F chord of the first B section and going all the way through the 2 bars of A6 of the next A section is pretty genius–essentially a 9 bar run, overlapping a B section and an A section.
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