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The Loop Station – a Powerful Tool for Mandolin…

I have started using a loop station about two years ago, and today I could not miss it any more. The loop station is a powerful tool for every musician, ane I recommend it for everybody who wants to add more color and diversity to his/her musical life.

My first video using a loop station was this:

Last year I have presented the loop station at the Mandolin Academy by Carlo Aonzo in Sorrento. In this post I will write about how to use a loop station with the mandolin and guitar for practicing and recording.

What is a loop station?

A loop station (or looper) is an electronic device which can record tracks, playback the recorded tracks, and record additional tracks over the first track. Loops can be stopped and started again, with some loopers you can use several different loops and switch between them for different parts of your song.

Loop stations have become very popular in Pop Music, Artists like Ed Sheeran use them a lot. Typically a short sequence of chords, a baseline, a riff are mixed up with rhythm to prepare a background for a song.

A nice example by CATT a singer from Germany is this:

Setup

You need:

  • A loop station with direct input for a microphone: I am using the Boss RC 30 (ca. 200,- €); another option is the Ditto Mic Looper (ca. 99,- €); the new Boss RC-500 does also have a microphone plug, but it is more expensive.
  • An amp – any acoustic / keyboard / guitar amp – will do – get a used one or a new one from ca. 50,- € 

So for little more that 300 € you can get a working solution.

You can also use any looper without a plug for the microphone – I have used the Ditto X2 looper first. In this case you need a small mixer for your microphone and an extra cable to go from the mixer to the loop station. You can use any cheap mixer, you can get something from ca. 40,- €. The cheapest looper by Boss is the RC-1. 

But I would recommend a looper like the Boss RC 30 which has the option to store up to 99 tracks. And it makes the setup much more easy compared to an extra mixer.

Additional information: https://www.boss.info/us/community/boss_users_group/1317/

Link collection: https://pinboard.in/u:mandoisland/t:looper/

You can find many youtube videos explaining how to work with a looper for live looping and using a looper for performances. There are also many videos explaining special loopers like the Boss RC-30. I have compiled many of the best videos in the following playlist.

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historical instruments

The Sound of the American Mandolin

The following video has recently been uploaded to youtube.

2018 North Carolina Heritage Award recipient Tony Williamson is a visionary musician, composer, musical instrument expert, teacher and mentor. He has played stringed instruments, most famously mandolin, for six decades and has been receiving awards and honors for his music for nearly 50 of those years. Never content to rest on his laurels, today Tony continues to perform live and travel internationally and has recordings with fresh new concepts in progress. In this documentary from 1995 Tony goes through the history of the American mandolin and plays quite a few examples of different instruments that demonstrate that history. Check out Tony’s website at www.mandolincentral.com

Tony Williamson starts with the earliest American mandolins – American bowlbacks, cylinder back, Lyon and Healy models. He then shows the whole line of Gibson instruments beginning with very early mandolins built by Orville Gibson. He plays many different instruments – mandolins, mandolas and mandocellos, mandolins with and without a Virzi Resonator and tells many interesting stories about construction, details and players.

A great video that you should not miss!

If you want to hear more music played by Tony Williamson – here is my long playlist:

Additional Information

CD

Marijke und Michiel Wiesenekker – Compilation – Wouldn’t Listen…

Marijke and Michiel Wiesenekker have sent me the following review of their compilation Wouldn’t Listen 2000 ~ 2020 by Rick Bella from the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra.

New album from Marijke and Michiel Wiesenekker

Marijke Wiesenekker and her brother, Michiel, have released a compilation album that samples the
best of 20 years of recording together.

Wouldn’t Listen 2000 ~ 2020 is Marijke and Michiel Wiesenekker’s latest digitalrelease album, featuring a wide-ranging, 21-piece compilation of ear-tickling remakes and originals.

The esteemed Dutch brother-sister duo now based in Wuppertal, Germany, has performed together for 21 years, deftly entwining Michiel’s inventive guitar musings with Marijke’s musical dance on mandolin.

“With this album, we celebrate the 20th jubilee of our duo,” said Michiel. “We have made friends in the U.S.A., Japan, Germany, Italy, Austria, Russia, Finland and Spain, — all connected by the pleasures of making music. Now, it’s time to look back and dress up some of our old favorites with new outfits. We hope you will enjoy the music.”

Started young together

Marijke and Michiel began playing music together as children growing up in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. They both studied at the Music Conservatory in Cologne, Germany, and later thrived in the dynamic music scene percolating in nearby Wuppertal.

After playing together so long, there hardly is a genre of music the duo hasn’t explored — and Wouldn’t Listen touches on most of them. Marijke and Michiel feel at home playing pop and rock, bluegrass, folk, light jazz and classical, performing on a variety of electric and acoustic instruments.

They also sing, with Michiel doing a credible job on growling, American-born blues. On some pieces, Marijke adds sweet, clean harmonies over Michiel’s baritone.

A menu of good listening

Wouldn’t Listen 2000 ~ 2020 serves up a tantalizing mix that draws from earlier albums: Family Life (2020); Saevis Tranquillus in Undis (2016); Baumstrasse 14 (2013); May We Have This Dance (2010); Beresjiet (2008); The Inner Sound & Beyond (2004); and Wouldn’t Listen, the Wiesenekkers’ debut album of 2000:

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free sheet music

More Italian Folk Songs for Mandolin – Free Download

Years ago I have scanned parts 3 and 4 of a collection of Italian folk songs “Celebri Canti Popolari Itaiani” published around 1900 by Schmidl & Co. in Italy. Now recently I have got part 1 of this collection of Italian folk songs and have made it also available on my website MandoIsland.

You can find all 3 parts on the following page: Celebri Canti Pololari Italiani

I hope that I can get the missing part 2 some time and make it available too. I have collected videos of some of the songs in this first part of the collection.

No. 1 – Addio del Giusti / Addio all’Italia

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