Music Production Tips: Getting Past The Loop

It's easy to get stuck in loops when making music. You know, composing and arranging everything in 8- or 16-bar looping segments. G. W. Childs explores ways to break out and complete the song itself.  
"Title image" via Shutterstock

Out of all the software applications out there for making music, very few of them have offered a valid solution for getting past the loop. What, specifically, do I mean when I refer to '

Sound Designer, Musician, Author... G.W. Childs has worn many hats. Beginning in the U.S. Army back in 1991, at the age of 18, G.W. began learning electronics, communications and then ultimately audio and video editing from the Department of Defense. Upon leaving the military G.W. went on to work for many exciting companies like Lu... Read More

Discussion

TORLEY
G.W., I enjoyed your article because today, there is an overabundance of low-cost (and free!) tools. What you write about with self-imposed limitations also recalls several "minimal equipment" albums that have been released lately, like Alessandro Cortini's Sonoio and Surchai's Ritual, both of which were essentially created with one main synth (and some effects modules). There seems to be a parallel to certain lifestyle philosophies, whether that is "living in the now"/Zen Buddhism or outright pragmatic minimalism.

I'm a big fan of spending a few hours listening to a lot of sounds on existing gear, then picking faves to shape "What is my signature?" This kind of preparation can also work well for those who are uncomfortable flipping between "sound playing" and "sound making" modes during the production process. I'm thankful some of the girthier collections (like Omnisphere and Alchemy) have built-in rating systems to make this easy.

It's an interesting inertia that comes with making a catchy 8-bar loop, huh? I find (at least in my own workflow) that part of the problem comes with establishing too many looping layers early on, which increases the complexity of tracks that need to be changed.

Refreshingly, sometimes the best solutions are the simplest, namely: more loop-centric EDM/electronic producers would benefit from learning about "through-composition" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Through-composed and performing/jamming an extended improvisation, be it melody, bass, or drums. Then, it's easy to cut smaller variant loops out of that (as is usually the case with sampling). It can help overcome a psychological mountain of expanding shorter material to fit a longer time.

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