5 Ways to Use Loops More Creatively
Loops have become an essential part of today’s music production landscape. Platforms like Splice and Loopmasters are now a goldmine for producers in search of inspiration, with thousands of new samples being uploaded every day. However, as a producer, it’s always an awkward feeling when you’re listening to a track and think, “I’ve heard that sample on Splice the other day”, or even worse, when you’ve heard that exact same loop in another track. To avoid this, here are five ways to get more creative with your loops so that you stand out from the crowd. Of course, all of these methods can (and should!) be combined together to create even more interesting results.
Chopping and Reversing
Chopping up a sample is generally the starting point in order to make something new out of it. Start off by cutting the loop on each beat or half-beat and re-arranging the order to get a new melody. Don’t be afraid to select just a few slices to create your new melody, especially if the progression of the initial loop is overly complicated for the genre you are making. In addition, you can also reverse some of the slices, which can lead to some interesting dynamics and movement (but don’t overdo it!). This is particularly suited for turnarounds and transitions at the end of 2-bar or 4-bar progressions.
Creating Pads and Atmospheres
One interesting way to use your loop is to turn it into a pad. This works especially well with piano and vocal loops. In FL Studio, you can use the Blur function within Edison to achieve this result. In Ableton, a similar result can be achieved with the Convolution Reverb tool by playing with the decay setting. Combine this with some volume and filter automation to create lush atmospheres.
Pitching sections of your loop is one of the best ways of creating entirely new melodies. However, in the case of loops that feature multiple layered sounds, you will need to be careful in ensuring that your loop remains in tune with the key of the track. Try pitching a minor or major third up (3 or 4 semitones) or a perfect fifth (7 semitones) for interesting results.
It goes without saying that general purpose processing is one of the key aspects of making a loop unique. EQ, delay, reverb, and other flangers and choruses can all play a role in turning a loop from boring to exciting. EQ can be, for example, used to isolate just the high notes of a melody, while a wisely-used delay can make an otherwise slow-moving note progression more dynamic and interesting.
Explore Other Genres
One of the best ways I have found to counter a writer’s block and use loops more creatively is to explore other genres, especially those with tempos that are quite different from the track I am working on. For example, speeding up a techno melody, which is at 125 BPM to fit into a drum&bass track that is at 174 BPM can yield quite unique results. Incorporating elements from other genres in this way will give your tracks a unique flavour that will make you stand out from the crowd. In the example below, the melodic loop was sped up, high-passed, and pitched to create something entirely new.
What are some of the ways that you have found to use loops more creatively? Let us know in the comment section down below!
Simon is a musician and produces Drum & Bass under the name Millstreet. You can find his music on Spotify and Soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/millstreetdnb), and you can follow him on social media by looking up “/millstreetdnb”