We receive a lot of uploads created entirely using loops at VIP HQ. While our tutorials tend to focus on creating beats from scratch, using loops offers a quick and easy way to create music using software.
That said, we run into the same problems over and over again with loop-based tracks submitted by our students. This blog offers some advice, hints and tips for teachers and young people starting out down this route.
How to use loops in the classroom:
1. Make sure your loops line up with the grid
Check that all of your loops line up with the grid of the software you are using. This is key to getting them in time with each other. If you don’t, your beats will clash and everything will start sounding really messy, really quickly.
2. Make sure your loops are time-stretched and fit
If you have loops with different lengths or tempos, you can often use the software to change or ‘time-stretch’ them so that they fit together. Do this! If you don’t, they’ll clash and sound terrible.
3. Make sure your loops are in the same key and work well together
If you are using collections of loops, they will often say the musical key in their name – e.g. C or E minor. Try to use loops in the same key if you can as this will avoid them clashing with each other musically. If you are using your own loops, or ones which are not labelled, use your ears to see if you think they sound ‘right’ together. If they don’t, remove the newest addition and try another until you find one that sounds good. Don’t just throw them in there and hope for the best. You’ll likely end up with a piece of music that is hard to listen to if you do.
4. Make sure your arrangement doesn’t jump around too wildly
One BIG problem we see a lot here is that students feel the need to change the drums every few bars – sometimes jumping from hip hop to rock to jazz, totally at random. This can be cool if you are doing it deliberately for a particular section of your track, but if you do it randomly, it will be hard to listen to your piece, impossible to DJ with, or for singers and rappers to write on top of it. Try to pick your main drum part and stick with it throughout the majority of your track. Trust us, it will sound better. If you think it sounds repetitive or boring, try using drum fills to break it up rather than changing the whole thing continuously.
5. Make sure your track is long enough
Don’t just throw in a few loops, export it and call it a track. Try to develop it into a full length piece of music that could be DJ’d, sung or rapped over, used in a film or something right for your intended audience. Writing full tracks is a really good habit to get into, whether you are using loops or not.
Most importantly, have fun creating your own tracks and we look forward to hearing them soon! If you want some to get started, check out these Grime, Hip Hop, Trap and House loops in the downloads section of VIP [login required]. Enjoy!