Loopers and phrase samplers can be fun tools, but odds are you’ve wished a hardware or software looper would work more musically. Aaron Leese has designed a prototype system, combining a piece of USB hardware, wireless USB pedals, and Windows software, that intends to do just that:
Imagine seeing a musician who could play a bit of music, loop it, add another bit, loop that ….then add a longer loop ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ then some drums and a solo ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ maybe change the volume on that second loop ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦. turn the first one off ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ then play the third one backwards ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ speed it all up ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦. Scratch the third loop as if it were on a turntable ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦. Then add a couple more loops ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦. Delete a few ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦.. speed this one up ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦..add effects to a couple loops ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦. Wherever you imagination takes you .. this device will let you do it. If it wonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬™t ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ send me an email, and I will do what I can to change the code.
There are some demo videos on his site that look promising. Also interesting: he plans joystick compatibility (for scratching) and open source code (so you can create your own plug-ins).
Apparently, he’s hoping for a fall release, and is still looking for feedback. Head over, let him know what you think, and give him some encouragement:
For other takes on software looping, definitely check out Looper’s Delight, and see also Zone Mobius on Windows, and my personal favorite, Musolomo on Mac. Both are free. Ableton Live is also capable of some, but not all, of these functions, and Native Instruments Guitar Rig has a simple but excellent hardware-style looper plug-in. Ultimately, it comes down to how you work. I think there’s room for more development in this area, as many people wind up forgoing the computer entirely and sticking to the classic Boss LoopStation hardware for its simplicity.
Looper’s Delight also has a wiki page with looper reviews. It’s further evidence that people’s needs are quite individual. Thanks to everyone for the comments.