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Theatre & music

Ruby's Wish

Loops and repetition as a composition tool

In the show Ruby’s Wish performer Holly Austin plays a character called Dot who has an alter ego named Dr Audio. She wears a special custom-made jacket, which has six loop pedals that can repeat, delay and reverberate her sounds.

Dr Audio’s live music compositions are based on making loops of sounds. These are short grabs of sound she makes with her voice that she records and plays back as a repetitive loop. She can record numerous loops on top of each other layering an improvised composition, all with her voice and her loop pedals.

To break this down we will start simple and look at physical and vocal activity that will allow you to create a series of physical and vocal loops which you can then improvise with.

Exercise details: 123 sound and movements

Get into groups of two (you can do groups of three if you want)

If you are in a group of two face each other and count, in turn, to three.

Person 1 starts with “one”, then person 2 says “two” and person 1 says “three”. Keep going. Person 2 says “one”,  keep going, counting up to three as fast as you can as many times as you can before someone gets it wrong!

Once you have done this, now replace number “one” with a movement and a sound. This movement is now performed instead of saying “one”. It’s always the same movement and sound for both people. Keep counting to three as your pair. But instead of saying one you do your movement and sound. Both people should do the movement and sound as the cycle goes through. Now replace number two with a new movement and sound. Now instead of saying “two” you have a new movement and sound. Then do the same with “three”. You now have three movements  and three sounds that are being performed as a cycle or loop.

Play with how slow you can do these, or how fast. Do the cycle again but really focus on the sounds and the vocal quality. Can you sing your sounds? Try standing side by side and doing the movements. Try standing back to back, or far apart?

How can you use your cycle or movement and sound loop to make a short dance or song with movements?

What if you beat boxed? Would that change it? Can you add it some vocal tricks, or words to lift your movement and sound loop into a longer more complex composition? 

Loops can also be described as repetitive sequences. Repetition can be found in many art forms. Can you search for examples of loops or repetition in visual art, music, writing? A lot of electronic music is based on sequences or loops. Visual art is full of repetition. Here is a fun hint. Do an image search on ’op art’ How can you use loops in your creative work?