If you love working with loops but are sick of the same old techniques of mixing similar loops together or even using cut-up edits, then LoopMash might offer a refreshing alternative to the norm.
And if you are thinking about Cubase as your new music production tool and use a lot of loops in your projects then LoopMash could just be a great reason to migrate. So let’s take a look at how this innovative loop tool does its thing...
Step 1 - The LoopMash Concept
Most loop tools rely on the automatic syncing of various grooves and loops. This is all pretty impressive when done well and can be very inspirational to work with but this is pretty old news now and most applications are able to synchronize material in this way.
Steinberg (in my opinion) has actually managed to come up with a new way of mixing your groove-based material with LoopMash and you may be pretty surprised when you learn how simple the whole thing is.
Rather than simply syncing your loops, LoopMash actually works by focusing on the differences and similarities in each piece of audio. Of course it knocks everything in to time but is able to pick out musical differences between the loops and produce a result that is a mixture of these differences. Clever stuff indeed.
This might mean that you mix two loops together and get the hats from one loop, the snare from another and two kicks mixed. How intense this ‘effect’ is can be controlled and mixed with the dry loops themselves, so ultimately the possibilities are literally endless.
Step 2 - The Main Interface
Apart from a pretty funky color scheme LoopMash doesn’t look hugely impressive or overly complex. It really consists of eight loop tracks and a parameters and controls section in the lower part of the interface.
One thing you may notice is the apparent lack of parameter names or text based info in the upper part of the interface. This is probably to make the interface less cluttered but if you need to know what a certain thing does during a session, simply float your mouse over a parameter and you should get a tool-tip to help you out.
The lower section of LoopMash contains the majority of settings and preferences you’ll need to fine tune your session. There are actually a number of tabs in this part of the instrument but we’ll dig a little deeper into these as we go.
Step 3 - Loading Your Initial Loops
As LoopMash fully supports drag and drop I find it works very well with Steinberg’s MediaBay system. Alternatively, you can drag and drop audio from anywhere in your arrangement or from your desktop, etc.
Once your audio is loaded into one of the LoopMash tracks you’ll immediately see a graphical representation of the audio and playback will be possible. Load another loop into a second track and you’ll start to see highlighted areas of each loop appear.
These highlighted areas are the parts that contain "similar" sounds to the master loop, which in this case is the first loop loaded. More or less of these similar sections can be added or removed the slider on the left of each track.
This simple editing process can make a huge difference in the overall output and can be pretty rewarding. Of course to get the most out of LoopMash you really need to use multiple loops and differing material. We’ll take a look at that next...
Step 4 - Mixing Larger Loop Counts
LoopMash really comes to life when using larger track counts and really complex sonic textures can be created in this way. Try loading different kinds of percussion loops and samples from different styles.
As you bring a new loop in, try completely altering the amount of previous loops and you’ll see how varied the result can be. You should also try using a healthy mix of instrumental and percussive loops as this will bring about the most interesting results.
LoopMash works by treating one of its loops as a ‘Master’ sound source. The rest of the loops loaded are then treated as slaves. Essentially the master loop acts as a reference point or anchor and all the similarities and differences are related to this original audio.
A vocal-based loop is introduced:
... And finally a piano-based loop:
You can change the master loop at any point and this will change the entire reference for the whole composition. In fact by doing this the entire sound LoopMash produces can change.
Step 5 - Transposition and other settings
Once you are happy with your mix you can continue to effect the output with LoopMash’s controls. Some of the most straightforward edits you can apply are the transposition and level controls that reside on the right of the main interface.
Each loop can be transposed in real time; this is great for tuning musical or tuned percussion loops to fit with the entire part. It is also really easy to achieve a solid relative mix using the level controls here.
Beyond these simple controls there are more in-depth parameters that reside in the lower section of LoopMash. Here you can time stretch, offset and quantize individual slices or entire parts.
There are also a good deal of controls dedicated to performance, allowing you to store specific setups to be called up via keyboard shortcuts when performing live. I will delve into all of these more advanced parameters with a hands on tutorial aimed at more experienced LoopMashers in the near future!
Learn more tips and tricks on LoopMash and Cubase in the Cubase 6 303 - Cubase TNT1 video series.