Live looping

Live looping is the recording and playback of a piece of music in real-time[1] using either dedicated hardware devices, called loopers or phrase samplers, or software running on a computer with an audio interface. Musicians can loop with either laptop software or loop pedals, which are sold for tabletop and floor-based use.

Looping device
Boss RC-50 Loop Station.jpg
A floor-based Boss RC loop pedal.
Electronic instrument
DevelopedLate 20th century
Related instruments

History of the looping deviceEdit

By the late 19th century, jazz and blues had heavily influenced popular music, encouraging musicians to experiment with rhythm, repetition, and musical improvisation.[2] With the advent of sound recording on gramophone record, invented in 1887 and first marketed in 1889, came the tape recorder and the development of pure electronic music.

On 1 October 1947, Bing Crosby became the first American musician to release music via tape broadcast. In 1953, Les Paul demonstrated live looping on the television show Omnibus.[3]

In 1963, musician and performer Terry Riley released an early tape loop piece called “The Gift”, featuring the trumpet playing of Chet Baker. It was the first piece ever based on a tape delay/feedback system with two Revox tape recorders.[2] (Riley used to call this system the Time Lag Accumulator.[4] Unsurprisingly, the name did not catch on amongst other performing musicians.)

Digital delay systems in the 1980s were experimental and not intuitive, but the equipment's limitations inspired innovators of the technique to find creative applications.[5]

Even by the early 1990s, when dedicated loop machines first went on sale, the term "live looping" had not yet been coined. The first dedicated loop device was the Paradis LOOP Delay.[6] The Paradis and other models had volatile memories, forcing composers to develop fresh loops live in front of their audiences — and thus, live looping came into existence.

Roland and DigiTech loop pedals entered the market in 2001, around the same time DJ mixing gained popularity. When the 2002 Repeater introduced real-time studio looping, looping devices became affordable enough for aspiring at-home composers to enjoy.

As laptops gained popularity in 2004, computer software began to emulate the 1990s effects of early looping devices.

Innovations and inventions leading to live loop technology

Modern live looping tools and applicationsEdit

Live looping has become increasingly popular in recent history[when?] as it offers the ability for a single musician to create multiple layers to their live music, resulting in a sound close to that of a "full band" experience . Notable manufacturers of looping devices are (in alphabetical order, and notable devices):

Akai ProfessionalEdit

  • Akai E2 Head Rush Delay/Looper: It has been used by artists like KT Tunstall.

Boomerang Musical ProductsEdit

  • Boomerang III Phrase Sampler and its extension pedal, the Side Car Controller.


  • The JamMan series (looping/phrase sampler devices): JamMan, JamMan Solo, JamMan Solo XT, JamMan Stereo, JamMan Stereo Delay, JamMan Express XT.
  • Trio+ Band Creator: It has a built-in looper.
  • DL-8 Delay/Looper: A multimode digital delay pedal with a built-in looping function, part of the Hardwire line of pedals.

Electro-Harmonix (EHX)Edit

EHX has been manufacturing a wide range of looping devices. Some of them based on very long echoes like the 16 Second Digital Delay pedal (capable to make Frippertronics)

Line 6Edit

  • DL4 Delay: Although it has been originally released as a delay pedal, it has been extensively used as a looping device.
  • JM4 Looper: Dedicated looper pedal, less known than the DL4.


Groove Loop Micro Looper



  • Infinity Looper

Roland / Boss CorporationEdit

  • The RC (also known as the Loop Station) series: Boss RC-1, Boss RC-10R, Boss RC-2, Boss RC-20, Boss RC-20XL, Boss RC-3, Boss RC-30, Boss Rc-202, Boss RC-300, Boss RC-50, Boss Rc-500,Boss RC-505

TC Electronic / TC-HeliconEdit

  • The Ditto Series: Ditto, Ditto Stereo, Ditto X2, Ditto X4.
  • The VoiceLive Series: Play Acoustic, Play Electric, VoiceLive Touch, VoiceLive Touch 2, VoiceLive 2, VoiceLive 3, VoiceLive 3 Extreme.


One device that is no longer manufactured is the Echoplex Digital Pro. This unit was manufactured by Gibson until 2007.

Notable artistsEdit

In a 2012–13 poll of 1000 singers, 11% stated that they used live looping while 51% did not know what live looping was.[8] Artists known for their use or advocacy of the technique include:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Aftab Ali (10 February 2014). "In conversation: David Devereux". Archived from the original on 8 March 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b Michael Peters (13 October 1996). "The Birth of Loop". Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "History & Concepts". Retrieved 2016-07-06.
  6. ^ "Growth due to limitations". Retrieved 2016-07-06.
  7. ^ "Looper Pedal Manufacturers". Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  8. ^ a b c TC-Helicon; Barker, Greg A.; Alexander, Kathy (2014-01-06). The Ultimate Guide to Singing: Gigs, Sound, Money and Health. TC-Helicon. pp. 191–. ISBN 9780992034405. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ "About | Howie Day". Retrieved 2017-12-03.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Howie Day | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-12-03.
  13. ^ Hans Morgenstern (2015-04-02). "Boxwood, A One Man Wall of Sound Releases Sun Garden City EP Today". The Independent Ethos. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  14. ^ Jose Martinez (2012-05-24). "Local Spotlight: Boxwood". South Florida Music Obsessed. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  15. ^ Hans Morgenstern (2015-03-26). "Boxwood Celebrates New EP at CandI Studios". The Miami New Times. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  16. ^ New Times (2015-03-26). "Best of Miami, Best Songwriter: Boxwood". The Miami New Times. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  17. ^ Ed Sheeran
  18. ^ "Dub Fx official site". Dec 12, 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  19. ^ "Canada's Best Kept Secret, Ambre McLean!". Dec 12, 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  20. ^ "Jacob Moon shines in Oshawa". Feb 21, 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  21. ^ a b Battino, David; Richards, Kelli (2005). The Art of Digital Music: 56 Visionary Artists & Insiders Reveal Their Creative Secrets. Backbeat Books. pp. 106–. ISBN 9780879308308. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  22. ^ Richardson, John (2012-01-26). An Eye for Music: Popular Music and the Audiovisual Surreal. Oxford University Press. pp. 246–. ISBN 9780195367362. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  23. ^ Werner, Matt (2012-05-15). Oakland in Popular Memory: Interviews with twelve cutting-edge artists from Oakland and beyond. Thought Publishing. pp. 70–. ISBN 9780982689844. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  24. ^ Lauren Beck (2011-05-18). "tUnE-yArDs Live-Looping Will Blow Your Mind". The L Magazine. Retrieved 2015-11-29.
  25. ^ [2]
  26. ^ Tarbuck, Sean (February 13, 2018). "Israel: Netta Barzilai wins HaKokhav HaBa!". Retrieved February 25, 2018. The performer wowed audiences and the judges in The Next Star with her unique uses of sampling, beatbox and live looping of her voice …
  27. ^ O'Reilly, Seamas (2019-01-22). "Is Marc Rebillet the funniest man on the planet right now?". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2019-07-02.

External linksEdit