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Help! I can’t make myself use loops!

Brian2112

Active Member
Please don’t think I am being judgmental. I have absolutely no right to be. Many if not most professional musicians use loops these days and there is an art to assembling them into an original and artistically legitimate work.

I was just emailed a rather funny add from Native Instruments making fun of people who don’t use loops. I wasn’t offended, I thought it was hilarious.

I am just speaking for myself here. I can’t make myself use loops unless I made them myself. This is time consuming and puts me at a great disadvantage. Whenever I buy a DAW I delete all the loop content. I have tons of “free loop” packs that I have never downloaded. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had fun playing with them and occasionally they have inspired a few ideas. But I just can’t make myself use them in my compositions. I have used DAMAGE and other orchestral percussion loops with the intention of playing parts on my EDrums but sometimes never get around to it (I’m a drummer so ironically I spend less time on drums and percussion than anything else except piano of course).

I guess I just need someone to tell me it’s ok, that it doesn’t diminish my work and that perfectly original and good compositions can be made by creatively using loops. I guess I know this already but could use re-enforcement. Does anyone else have reluctance to use loops?

Thank you friends. I hope I haven’t offended anyone. :blush:
 

NekujaK

Member
i've always avoided using loops, but recently started to find them useful in certain situations, namely, if I'm under extreme time pressure to complete a project, or if I'm unable to adequately play a part and can't find someone who can.

That said, I would never assemble an entire composition out of loops - not for any creative, philosophical, or ethical reasons, mind you, but simply because I find the process to be mind-numbingly BORING and thoroughly unsatisfying. Every time I've tried, I quickly lose interest and go do something else.

On the other hand, I have a friend who has no musical training or knowledge of theory, but his head is full of musical ideas and thanks to loops, he's been able to cobble together some pretty amazing tracks. In his case, loops have clearly empowered him to express his musical creativity.

Ultimately, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with using loops, and there's also nothing wrong with not using them. If they fit into your creative workflow, more power to you, and if you avoid them like the plague, well that's okay too!
 

dzilizzi

I just hang around pretending I understand any of
I try to use loops, but they never seem to fit with what I'm doing. Or I'll find one I really like but I can't match it with other loops so it's not boring and still fits with the song.

I'm not counting VSTI's that play a phrase, because it is usually easy to switch up the phrases and have them still go together.

I did have to use loops for school projects (part of assignment requirements) I'd end up with a drum or percussion loop most of the time.
 

Jimmy Hellfire

Senior Member
I can't user them either. I find them boring and not worth the hassle, and usually I cant't find the place for them. I don't think it's anything to be concerned about. Loops only work if your music is dead-set in a certain time signature, tempo and unchanging uniform structure. Further, the more interesting the actual arrangement and musical elements are, the less a pre-manufactured loop will fit into it.
 

Mike Fox

Senior Member
I NEVER understood loops, (unless you lack the ability to compose music yourself :P)

I've tried using loops before, and the biggest problem is that I could never take any pride in doing so, because I knew that I didn't write it.
 
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gsilbers

Part of Pulsesetter-Sounds.com
im guessing many traditinal orchestral composer might see loops as some kinda of garageband composers. laying down a drum loop, over that a bass loop and so on. or that sort of mentality.
using loops is key to making your hyrbid scores sound more authentic, real and cool. but you have to learn how to process them and learn how to use loops to enhance your compositions.
here are a few ways
https://www.musicradar.com/how-to/9-ways-to-customise-loops-and-make-them-your-own
https://blog.discmakers.com/2017/08/producing-music-with-loops/
https://www.dittomusic.com/blog/how-to-use-loops-samples-creatively-in-your-tracks
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
I NEVER understood loops, unless you lack the ability to compose music yourself?

I've tried using loops before, and the biggest problem is that I could never take any pride in doing so, because I knew that I didn't write it.
Have you ever written a stock accompaniment figure (like a march, alberti bass, Trommelbass figures, waltz, or a thousand other dance forms)? A standard drum pattern? Arpeggiator sequence? Those are all proto loops.
 

chillbot

Sock Muppet
I hate when I get pulled into this conversation... must resist... ugh... ok.
I use loops all the time. I may literally own the entire Big Fish Audio library, which is considerable. There are so many misconceptions about loops, where to start...

First we have to separate how some people use loops and how most people think loops are used, which is the "hold down one key on the piano" method. Or the "buy a construction kit" method. Yes, this is lame and I think we can all agree on that. This is not using loops in the proper sense though.

A "sample", as in a sampled instrument that we all use is essentially one note. There are hundreds of pages of threads about note attacks and releases and legatos and connections between these notes. A "loop" is more than one note, which, first off, solves this problem. Yes often it is an entire melodic phrase. No you do not need to use the entire phrase or use any part of the melody in the phrase in your composing. Our job as composers/producers is to use every possible tool that we have at our disposal to make the end product sound as good as possible. If that's a sampled instrument, great, if it's something you pick up a mic and record yourself, great, if it's an old Roland Juno synth, great, if it's a loop, great. It's just another tool.

Two things that are misunderstood about loops:

1) You have to be really really really f-ing good at editing audio to use loops. It's a skill that takes many many years to learn. And Melodyne, so much Melodyne. And be really good at pitch-shifting and time-stretching, it's not just pushing buttons on a plugin you have to know all the principles behind every instrument and what each instrument can and can't do. And it's a very creative process in a lot of ways. "I have X and I need it to be Y how can I make this happen". Sometimes you have to find a way to turn X into Z first and then into Y. OK I'm getting too abstract, but it is actually fun and can be satisfying.

2) Using loops properly is HARD and super time-consuming. People have the idea that you hold down a finger on a keyboard and that somehow you're cheating or not actually "writing". Here's the one thing I wish people could understand: we don't use loops because they are easy... "easy" would be playing the line in on a sampled instrument... we use loops because THEY MAKE THE END PRODUCT SOUND BETTER.

Lastly, you have to have a lot of loops at your disposal. If you have one library it's only going to do a couple of things. But if you have a thousand libraries that cover every instrument and virtually every key and tempo, you can see the difference it would make.
 

Wally Garten

Active Member
I guess I just need someone to tell me it’s ok, that it doesn’t diminish my work and that perfectly original and good compositions can be made by creatively using loops.
Right -- both things are definitely true. You don't need loops, and people can make interesting and original work using loops. It's all a matter of preference and workflow.

I used loops a lot when I started out, just learning to arrange chunks of music into something resembling a song. (Put me in the camp of "garageband composers" @gsilbers mentioned. :grin:) As I learned more about music, I started to feel like I needed to write or make everything myself in order for it to be mine. But, in the words of Marsellus Wallace, "That's pride, fucking with you." So I've come back around; I'm happy to use an Apple Loop or sampled phrase if it works for what I'm doing. I may cut it up or put some effects on it... but I might not, too. Really just depends. The bigger problem, as @dzilizzi says, is finding loops that actually fit what I'm doing. But at that point I look at it kind of like crate-digging; you have to do a lot of sifting to find the right thing. Sometimes that's worth it; often, it's not. Really, as others have said, it's up to you.
 

chillbot

Sock Muppet
You have to be really really really f-ing good at editing audio to use loops.
Oh another misconception about loops that adds to the "hold down one key on the piano" image:

I've never once used a loop in kontakt. I purchase all my loops in wav format to save time, but when I do have a loop in kontakt I immediately render it as audio. If you're trying to use loops in kontakt or another sampler you should probably reconsider. In addition, the tempo sync function in kontakt will never be as good as if you manually do it yourself. Again... it ain't easy and it takes a lot of time.
 

jmauz

Active Member
I suck at guitar but a lot of my clients have pegged me as the 'organic instruments guy' so I get hired to write tracks featuring guitar ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME.

It's a good problem to have. ;)

I have three options:
1. Hire a guitarist ($$)
2. Play it myself (frustration)
3. Use loops (editing)

When starting a project I consider how much my budget is (if I even have one), how much time I have, and how good my fingers are feeling that day. Some bizarre formulaic computation occurs in my subconscious, I choose from the options listed above and then I get to work.

If the part is at all complicated I almost always start with option #3. I actually really dig using loops as it gets the creative juices flowing. It also keeps my editing chops sharp!
 

chillbot

Sock Muppet
I have three options:
1. Hire a guitarist ($$)
2. Play it myself (frustration)
3. Use loops (editing)

When starting a project I consider how much my budget is (if I even have one), how much time I have, and how good my fingers are feeling that day. Some bizarre formulaic computation occurs in my subconscious, I choose from the options listed above and then I get to work.
Wow deja vu. This is me exactly.

Another factor that comes into play is that hiring a guitarist, which would seem to be the most ideal option, and I do quite often, has 3 issues:
1) The cost that jmauz mentioned.
2) The amount of editing you still need to do anyway, depending on the skill of the player, but in most cases is still a fair amount.
3) The fact that the loops may have been recorded in much better quality with better equipment and a better engineer. Stuff like harmonica or an ethnic flute or vocals aren't as much of an issue, but I find it particularly hard to get a killer acoustic guitar tone with my setup, whereas it's already right there for me with loops.
 

dariusofwest

Active Member
These days, I tend to use loops more as extra layers when putting together drum parts for electronic type tracks (usually play in a kick, snare, hats pattern and add some loops on top- which then get tossed through a filter and or glitch fx). Otherwise, I tend not to use any loops besides electronic percussion parts.
 

Desire Inspires

To the stars through desire....
I NEVER understood loops, unless you lack the ability to compose music yourself?

I've tried using loops before, and the biggest problem is that I could never take any pride in doing so, because I knew that I didn't write it.
See, that’s your issue. You work too hard. You have to learn how to coast. Pride in your work is holding you back.

Writing music is 10% inspiration and 90% duplication, imitation, and speculation.

Don’t worry. I will show you the way.
 

Polkasound

Senior Member
I can’t make myself use loops unless I made them myself. This is time consuming and puts me at a great disadvantage.
If my ultimate goal were to create the best music possible regardless of means, or if my job were to create music as quickly as possible, then I would defer to using loops. But neither of these has ever been my goal or job. I'm a traditional recording artist who produces and releases albums without time restraints, and as such, my conscience will not allow me to use construction kits or loops. I have to create what I release. If I hear something I like in a loop or a construction kit demo, I take the time to recreate something similar to it from scratch.

I make exceptions for:
  • MIDI patterns of single instruments, such as banjo rolls and drum grooves. I could recreate the patterns verbatim and end up with the same exact result, so instead I'll import the pattern just to save time. Even then, I rarely do this, and when I do I always make creative edits.
  • Short recorded phrases of single instruments/sections, such as string runs or choir arc phrases, since the quality is so much better than relying on, for example, a library's scripted legato.
Using loops would improve the quality of my product, but what's more important to me than the quality of my product is how I achieved it. One of my favorite compliments ever received was for an album I created a few years ago -- a friend naturally assumed I used loops and kits to create it. When I corrected him by saying I did it all with virtual instruments over 370 hours, he just stood there with a dumbfounded look on his face. To me, that was priceless.

I can afford to be anti-loop, but if music creation and sales were my primary source of income, I'd be open to using loops.
 

bryla

Senior Member
I thought using loops was cheating, so I programmed my own using samples. I then thought using samples was cheating, so I recorded real drums. I then thought that programming it was cheating, so I learned to play drums for real. I then thought using bought drums was cheating, so I learned to make my own. I then though using premade skins was cheating, so I killed a goat and skinned it. I then thought that that was cheating too, so I grew my own goat from a baby goat. I also think that is cheating, but I'm not sure where to go from here. I haven't made any music lately, what with the goat farming and all.
 
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