Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Tape loops are loops of prerecorded magnetic tape used to create repetitive, rhythmic musical patterns. A measure of recorded magnetic tape is cut and spliced to end to end, creating a circle or loop which can be played continuously, usually on a reel to reel machine. Tape loop effects are often combined with glissando, a technique wherein the playback speed of the loop is increased or decreased over time.
Simultaneous playing of tape loops to create phase patterns and rhythms was developed and initially used by musique concrète and tape music composers, and was utilized by Steve Reich for his "phasing" pieces, and by Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Beginning in the late 1950's the BBC Radiophonic Workshop began using tape loops for to add special effects to some BBC programming.
In the early 1970s, musicians Brian Eno and Robert Fripp created Frippertronics, a system for creating tape loops during a live performance. A few years later, Mission of Burma began using loops on their albums, and also began feeding snippets of vocals and guitar recorded moments earlier back into their live mix, thereby introducing live loop effects to punk rock. Experimental noise musician NON aka Boyd Rice played loops of speeches, radio broadcasts and conversations just under the threshold of comprehensibility in his live shows, starting in 1977. Since then, he's created loops to evoke a hypnotic, trance state in his audiences.
Digital sampling -- which can generally provide similar results with less effort -- overtook much tape loop use, beginning in the mid 1980s. Some musicians and composers, however, continue to use tape loops for various reasons.
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