Stuck in a loop

Computer Music - - The Drop -

We’ve all been there, lis­ten­ing over and over to a finely crafted eight-bar loop that sounds amaz­ing… but it’s not a whole song, is it? If break­ing your per­fect loop is giv­ing you sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety, you’re go­ing to need a tac­tic to spin it into a full-blown track.

A com­mon ap­proach is to cre­ate the drop first, craft­ing your idea at its fullest, with all the el­e­ments in place. Next, du­pli­cate the loop out to the de­sired length of the track, and start re­mov­ing el­e­ments of the track at the points at which they’re not re­quired.

This tac­tic of sub­trac­tive ar­range­ment can cre­ate a ba­sic skele­ton of a track ex­tremely quickly, and all that re­mains is to smooth tran­si­tions be­tween sec­tions and add el­e­ments to keep in­ter­est where re­quired. While quick and ef­fi­cient, this method can some­times leave you with a track which doesn’t evolve much. Im­por­tantly, your track must de­velop through­out – just tak­ing things away then bring­ing them back is not enough.

An al­ter­na­tive method is to cre­ate the build-up sec­tion first. This way of do­ing things is use­ful if you’ve started with a melodic idea which you feel to be the track’s ‘hook’. By start­ing with a build-up, you give your­self a cen­tre – a fo­cal point of the track that you can work up to. Ex­per­i­ment with ramp­ing up the ten­sion, and you may dis­cover some great sounds and tex­tures that can be used through­out the rest of the track. But re­mem­ber, a build-up is noth­ing with­out a drop, so it’s im­por­tant to think ahead and ei­ther re­serve some power for when things kick back in, or con­trast the build-up with a stripped back, clean drop.

If your eight-bar loops are be­com­ing like a bro­ken record, you’ll need a real way out

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