Creating live performances using loops recorded on the fly is quite an art form but you only have to witness a well-honed performance by a beatboxer or solo musician to realise the creative possibilities. Essentially, this involves recording loops as you go, playing back a first loop while you overdub a second, third or fourth (and so on) and then dropping loops in and out of the mix to build up your performance.
There is dedicated hardware available for doing this (Boss and Digitech make suitable examples) but there are also quite a number of ‘looper’ apps on the iTunes App Store. One example is Tristian Zand’s Loopr Live Loop Composer app and I was impressed by the app – both in terms of features and price – when I reviewed Loopr back in late 2013. The app is currently priced at just UK£2.99/US$3.99, requires iOS8.0 or later, is a 57MB download and is universal.
Like most looper-type apps, Loopr provides an environment where you can record loops, overdub new loops and then mix and match the playback of those loops in real-time to create a performance. While the obvious application of this is in a live performance context, the concept is also a very creative one when used for song creation or in the studio as all sorts of interesting ideas can pop out as you just allow yourself to experiment and improvise.
Anyway, the app received its first update in over 12 months when v.1.2.5 was posted on the App Store a couple of days ago. There are the usual tweaks and fixes under the hood to ensure smooth workflow under the latest versions of iOS but, for me at least, the key new thing is the introduction of a new file system that makes it easier to archive and share your creations. This is particularly significant with Loopr as it doesn’t include Audiobus or IAA support. That’s perhaps understandable as Loopr is intended as very much a live performance/composition tool, and so is intended to be used ‘stand-alone’. Anyway, exporting audio data from the app is now even easier if you do want to eventually take your Loopr compositions onwards and upwards.
The app is certainly very capable and, while the slightly quirky interface requires a little time to find your way around (read the documentation a couple of times; it does help), the ‘phrase’ feature is a very neat idea, opening up the ability to switch between different loop sets (which could easily represent different ‘song’ sections) in real-time and in sync. Check out the original review as much of that is still relevant to the current version.
Loopr makes for an interesting comparison with other looper apps such as Loopy HD but, given the pricing of both apps (Loopr is just UK£2.99/US$3.99), then I suspect most people won’t actually have to make a choice; they’ll just buy both if they are interested in experimenting with looper-style composition and performance on their iPhone or iPad.
Loopr Live Loop Composer