· By Jan Branicki

The Loop Revolution: What Is a Loop in Music And Why Should You Use It?

The loop is an omnipresent musical element in modern music genres. Purists hate them, but they're loved by many. Loops are powerful and versatile building blocks that form the bedrock of a track.

What is a loop in music? 

By definition, a loop is a repeating audio clip that creates a steady rhythm, keeping the listener engaged and music moving forward. It's made by recording a short segment of sound and repeating it throughout the composition.

Who is using loops and why?

  • Loops are used by music producers in Pop, Hip Hop, and Dance music.
  • They form the foundation of a track and are great as idea starters.
  • Loops can consist of any audible sound, even a simple drum beat.
  • Producers use complex combinations of various loops pitched into the same key.
  • This versatility has made loops an essential tool for producers looking to create innovative and unique sounds.

For example, in Daft Punk's "Around the World," a basic bass groove is looped continuously throughout the song, with additional synth melodies gradually layered on top. Meanwhile, Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It" employs a memorable and danceable horn riff looped throughout the song. Catchy loops like these have become a staple in modern popular music, as they add an instantly recognizable and groovy foundation to tracks. With a well-crafted loop, a producer can create a track that hooks listeners and keeps them engaged from start to finish.

Loops in Music Production

Here are some further examples of loops being used in recent hits - 

  • "Levitating" by Dua Lipa - The song features a sample from the popular sample pack "Vocal Hooks - Pink Label" by Crabtree Music Library.
  • "Savage Love" by Jason Derulo - The song uses a sample from the classic 1958 song "Suzie Q" by Dale Hawkins, which was also used in a more recent sample pack called "Nostalgia" by Splice.
  • "Blinding Lights" by The Weeknd - The song features a loop taken from the "Synthwave Essentials" sample pack by Loopmasters.
  • "Say So" by Doja Cat - The song includes a loop from the "Reverie" sample pack by Splice.
  • "Good Days" by SZA - The song uses a loop from the "Illa Fantasia" sample pack by Splice.

Is it bad to use loops in music?

Using loops to make music is a widely accepted practice and is not considered cheating. Professional producers and musicians often use loops to save time and create a consistent sound throughout a track or album.

Although loops are commonly used in music production, just their mere application does not guarantee a remarkable composition. Combining loops with other vital elements, such as instrumentation, arrangement, and production techniques, produces a distinct musical masterpiece. While loops can serve as a valuable resource, the innovative utilization of such resources separates the ordinary from the exceptional.

Using loops in music production

Loops have become a helpful tool for bedroom producers and seasoned pros alike in the ever-changing music production landscape. Using loops saves time and provides a quick and efficient way to build the foundation of a song. Producers can experiment with different sounds and rhythms without creating them from scratch. This is helpful for those lacking technical skill or resources to record live instruments. Loops allow a more streamlined workflow, allowing producers to focus on other parts of the creative process.

Furthermore, loops can help create a cohesive sound throughout a track, allowing for a more professional and polished final product. Producers can experiment with different genres by using a loop in music, incorporating different musical elements. This can help create a more unique and captivating listening experience for the audience.

Real Musicians Vs Using loops 

Using loops may not be the best choice for creating live-sounding tracks, and hiring session musicians may be preferable. Loops can result in a mechanical and unnatural-sounding final product lacking human touch that imperfections and errors give to music. Overusing loops can also lead to a lack of originality and the risk of using the same loops as other producers.

Using Loops in Music Production

The difference between loops and samples

The difference between samples and loops is that samples are typically taken from existing songs or records, while loops are created for music production.

The legal implications of using uncleared samples can be significant. Using an uncleared sample, a direct sample of someone else's music, without permission can lead to copyright infringement. On the other hand, using loops is considered legal as long as they were purchased from a legitimate source.

It is essential to read the licensing agreement associated with the loops to ensure that they can be used in a project without violating terms. 

Where can I find loops for my music?

Online marketplaces, such as Splice, Loopmasters, and Sounds.com, provide an extensive collection of loops that can be incorporated into a project. These marketplaces feature loops from professional sound designers, which can be an exceptional resource for discovering distinctive sounds.

Sample packs, collections of loops curated and organised around a specific theme, can also be an exceptional source for loops. These packs are available for purchase online and can provide a vast array of pre-organised ready-to-use loops. The Sample Lab is a great example of an online store selling highly niche sample packs

Digital audio workstations (DAWs), software programs used for recording, producing, and editing music, are another source of loops. Most top DAWs come with built-in loops and samples, accessed from within the DAW. A few popular DAWs with loops include Ableton Live, FL Studio, and Logic Pro X.

Using Loops to Make Music

The art of collaboration

In addition to these places, many producers also share their loops, providing a wide range of collaboration opportunities. Some producers offer their loops for free on their Instagram or Tik Tok pages, while others may charge a fee for using them. Collaborating with other producers is great way to access loops that may not be available to the public. Many of today's top hits are created when a producer specialising in drums works with a producer creating samples. The finished product is a true meeting of the minds.  

In conclusion, loops can be found in various places, providing many opportunities to speed up the music production process. Whether purchased online, accessed from within a DAW, or created and shared by other producers and artists, loops can be a powerful tool for creating compelling and unique music.