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Snowfall - Looping Textures



Recently we have had a few scattered flurries of snowfall, some have settled and lingered others dissipating in a mist of sleet and rain. There is certainly a deep annoyance in daily life in the idea of settling snow, will I get to work? The dogs need walked! Will it turn to ice overnight? But with all the possibilities of making life that little bit harder for a day or two, there is the undoubted feeling of calm to the perfect snowfall. Large flakes fluttering around in a gentle accompanying wind, not gusty but lulling the flakes into their resting place. On one such occasion over the last few weeks, I was inspired to experiment with another compositional idea this time incorporating an RC300 loop pedal and using Studio One 3 to mix and master the piece.


The RC300 Loop pedal offers the ability to layer multiple lines of audio across three separate pedals in one unit thus allowing for dynamic loops and especially creation of music textures. Musical loops can create long and repetitious phrases which can be associated with minimalist compositions. John McGrath discusses the ‘salient’ feature of repetition in pioneering minimalist composers such as Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Steve Reich and Philip Glass. When Keith Potter discusses these composers at length in his work ‘Four Musical Minimalists’ it is clear that they all had unique practice from the other and it was Steve Reich and Philip glass who highlighted the ‘minimalist’ techniques to a wider audience.


In Steve Reich work Drumming 1972, for example, percussion drives the structure of the entire piece. Voice and woodwind play legato parts which layer and interlock with the glockenspiels and marimbas.


Music with Changing Parts 1971 by Philip Glass is another work with features dense repetitive patterns and layers to create texture. Although the organ line may seem repetitive in in fact changes frequently throughout the piece. As this, sustained high notes provide natural overtones within the piece. Philip Glass blends, separates, highlights and hides instruments throughout the piece to provide a deep texture.


By using the loop pedal I began by playing a short fast picking pattern using chords Fmaj7 and Gm7. Over this I was able to layer short repeated lines diatonically which changes the sound of the chords without standing out from the music for example a line beginning on the D note over the Fmaj7 chord whilst the next loop pays a G note creates a maj13 chord.

Although mixed using automated panning to create a deeper texture, I will next look at adding further minimalist features such as a drone, note addition and phasing to add greater depth to the piece.

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©2017 by Jacob Hodge