Friday, 12 March 2010

Boots 'n' Cats

As technology improves, so does music in both studio recordings and live performances.

There has been a dramatic increase, over recent years, in the amount of artists employing 'live-looping' techniques to enhance live shows and it has opened new doors for musicians wishing to explore the limits of live improvisation.

Finally, the one man band is cool!

'Live-looping' performers range greatly in the tools they use. Some, such as J'm Black (not a typo), will utilise a single instrument to produce rhythm, bass, harmony and melody (in his case guitar). However, I'm going to focus on vocalists.

'Live-looping' has provided new possibilities for beatboxers. It has allowed them to go beyond simply replicating rhythms and simple sounds on stage and, with practice, experience and a good ear, they can construct entire songs without the previous constraints (i.e. only having one mouth), and beatboxing becomes less of a limitation and more the foundations on which a piece of music is built.

One such artist, and arguably one of the best, is Beardyman. It would be impossible to encapsulate the variety of music he covers in one video but the following will provide a small example:

Beardyman has a tendency to perform either renditions of existing songs or willl (impressively) improvise songs based on audience requests. However, there are artists who write and record songs using the same techniques. I give you Dub FX:

Dub FX has wandered the globe performing his songs on street corners and has, in the process, gathered a substantial cult following. His instantly recognisable style has perfectly demonstrated the creative possibilities live-looping offers.

With vocalists using live-looping more frequently, beatboxing has gone from being almost a novelty act or simply backing, to being the basis of an art form in it's own right. Artists are no longer limited by the array of instruments they can cram onto a stage but, with a microphone and effects pedals, only by their own brains.

Beardyman has assembled a group of live-loopers using various instruments and I encourage anyone with an interest to check out Beardyman's Utter Shambles. Otherwise, simply explore the multitude of videos on YouTube. But not, of course, before thoroughly exploring Stuff and Nonsense.

1 comment:

Matt Stevens said...

I think Live looping is a fantastic opportunity for artists who can't afford a band to be able to play live and get a big sound

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