Peter Arthur Loeb Web Site


Musical Style

Acoustic, Instumental, Post Be-Bop Jazz


Saxophone, Piano, Bass, Drums


"Rahsaan" Roland Kirk, Jaki Byard, Booker Ervin, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Roy Haynes, Horace Parlan, Richard Davis, Duke Ellington, Wynton Kelly, Alan Dawson, Hank, Thad, and Elvin Jones, Ron Carter, Johnny Hodges, George Tucker, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Eric Dolphy, Béla Bartók

Similar Artists

None, that I know of. However, on individual instruments, you can hear echos of various influences.

Why I Overdub

I love music, both listening and playing. Over the years, as I listen to music, or when I play with other musicians, no matter how wonderful they may be, I often think to myself that's not the way I would do it. By overdubbing, I can create music exactly the way that I want it.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the music which some call jazz is the interaction between the musicians. In overdubbing, there can be no interaction, only action and reaction, which is in no way the same thing. Creating the illusion of interaction is the greatest challenge of overdubbing.

Many people have asked me which instrument I do first, which second, etc. Over the years, I have tried just about every possible combination of orders of instruments, both with and without a metronome. For most of the tunes on my new CD, there is no metronome and the order of recording is: drums, piano, bass, sax. The exception is Timeless (track 12), which was done with a metronome and a different order (bass, drums, piano, sax, I think).

How I Started and Developed My Overdubbing

In 1961, my dad got a new tape recorder with a sound-on-sound feature. He needed it for his work. He used it once. I found a variety of uses for it.

At the time, I was just beginning to play the sax and I played a bit of piano. When I discovered improvising, I recorded a very simple blues progression on piano, which I could then practice with. I used the sound-on-sound feature to record the sax along with the recorded piano. Thus began my career as an overdubbist.

In 1967, I heard the Bill Evans album, "Further Conversations with Myself". In general, I was underwhelmed. (I am not a particular fan of Mr. Evans.) However, one part of one track, "Blue Monk", caught my attention. On one part, he plays little more than a bass line, while in the other part, he plays a regular two-handed piano part. Hey, I could do this! I recorded several tunes using a metronome and bass line for the first part, with a two handed piano part on top of that.

I knew that I had something, but at the same time, something was missing. I acquired a second-hand Ampex (home model) tape deck, which had a sound-on-sound feature. I was very disappointed to find out that it could only do one sound-on-sound, which was no more than my dad's machine. I looked over the wiring diagram, took it apart, and rewired it so that it could do sound-on-sound in either direction (left to right or right to left), which meant that I could do more than two parts.

It was in the summer of 1967 that I did my first overdubs with a "group" concept, bass line played on piano (with metronome), piano part (two-hands), sax, and a drum part played with a borrowed drum set. At the time, I was thinking in terms of making demos of some of my tunes, but in retrospect, these were not good demos. Rather, they were a first attempt at making music using the medium of overdubbing.

Over the next several years, this idea began to crystalize. I used excuses to overdub. In several cases, I called the tape a "progress report". In 1974, I got my first multi-channel tape deck, a Dokordor 7140. With this, I made a lot of overdubs. At first I had an electric bass and a Fender Rhodes piano, but the concept was there. In 1978, my wife and I moved into a loft on 36th Street, (Manhattan) where I got a real piano (an old Steinway upright). I also got my first acoustic bass (a Kaye plywood, blonde bass).

The acquisition of acoustic instruments changed my approach to overdubbing. With the electrics, I started with the bass with a metronome on a different track. Then I would add piano and sax. Finally, I added the drums on the same track I had used for the metronome. This erased the metronome. It also meant that I could not hear the metronome while doing the drums, but I could hear all the other instruments. With the acoustic bass, I needed to hear the piano to have any hope of intonation. So, I wanted to start with the piano, but I still needed the metronome. (I didn't feel that my time was good enough on drums to get by without it.) My metronome was electric, but not electronic; that is, it did not have an audio output, it just made a clicking noise. I put the metronome in a closet with a microphone and a long cord leading back to the recorder. This allowed me to isolate the metronome and start with the piano. During this period, I experimented with various orders, but settled for the most part on the order of piano, bass, drums, sax.

At some point, I realized two things. My ability to keep time on the drums (without the aid of metronome or other instruments) had improved to the point where I was ready to try doing the drums first without a metronome. Also, I realized that in almost all of my overdubs, I just about never laid out on the drums. Once I understood these things, I tried a couple of tracks with the drums first and no metronome. It worked. I was free of the metronome. This was a big step.

My skill as an overdubbist grew. When we bought a house in Brooklyn in 1983, I knew that I needed better equipment (also the Dokordor was dying.) I got a Tascam 38 eight-channel (on half-inch tape) deck in 1986, along with a Tascam M30 mixer, DBX, some better microphones, etc. I made a lot of overdubs on this machine.

Around 2004, I switched to digital, using a Delta Labs 1010LT input board and my old Tascam M30 (for the mic preamps).

I have learned a lot about music through overdubbing. In particular I have learned about musical interaction. At first, this may seem strange, since there can be no interaction in overdubbing. However, there are many ways of simulating interaction. In learning these methods, I have improved my ability to make music with others.


I particularly want to thank the people who help me with my various instruments. Dr Rick (of Village Flute & Sax) takes wonderful care of my woodwinds. Bill Merchant (of Merchant Vertical Bass Company) is entrusted with keeping my basses playing well. Barry Greenspon (of Drummer's World) helped me get my drum set together. Peter Moffit helps with my piano.

This document last updated on 2012-12-08 by PAL.
© Copyright Peter Arthur Loeb, 2003