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Thoughts on creating captivating, expressive, and entertaining Looping Songs!

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Proton Lenny, Aug 13, 2016.

  1. Proton Lenny

    Proton Lenny Supporting Member

    Apr 24, 2006
    Portland Oregon
    Hey Guys,

    So I thought I'd share a post I just made over in reddit's r/bass. I've had a lot of bass players and guitar players asking me about how to make their loops turn into more of an actual song (rather than longwinded noodling). I thought maybe I'd share my thoughts, and you guys who loop could share yours. Maybe we could build a sort of collective set of ideas on healthy looping practices! Anyway, all of what I'm posting here is of course only my opinion, and is not meant to be gospel. It is only my thought process when looping. Hopefully you find it helpful and entertaining.

    For examples of my looping style check here:
    Performances - YouTube

    Here is the question that sparked the response:

    "Could you give some tips? I guess just anything. But one of the main problems I have is that once I set up a loop with Bass/chord/rhythm, I then have trouble finding interesting places to take it other than just dropping one track out. I have an RC-300 btw, so I'm not limited to just one track."

    My response:

    "Ok, well first off, when making a loop performance I really don't want it to sound like a loop performance. Meaning, I try to avoid this cliche at all costs:

    Take twenty seconds to record bland chordal part Waste twenty second prepping the next part while the loop repeats Take twenty seconds to record 'bass' part Waste another twenty prepping the next part Take twenty second to record percussive backbeat Waste another twenty seconds waiting for the loop to come around Finally get to the melody or line that is driving the jam

    In this scenario, the listener has had to listen to almost 2 minutes of filler before you get to the part that you really were excited to show. So I always try to make each part interesting enough that it could stand alone as an interesting line. That way when I'm layering, I'm building interest, not just buying myself time to get to the melody. I also REALLY try to avoid sitting through parts that have already been looped. I try to prep the next part while I'm playing the current part so that I can begin recording it immediately. Sometimes this isn't possible, and sometimes I want to let the loops play as a breather, but most of the time this is one of my goals. Another trick to avoid spending too much time layering is to try to do two parts at once. For instance, I see many bass players do this: record a bass line, then record a clicking-sound (like a pop, or plucked string) on the 2 and 4 backbeat. Why not just add a percussive 2 and 4 noise into your bass line! Then you only have to record one loop to achieve both of those sounds, and you aren't wasting your time and boring your listener.

    I also always try to structure my looping jams as if it was a whole band. So if I feel drums should drop out, I drop them out. If the melody was played with bass and chords the first time, maybe I'll drop a part out for the second time the melody is heard. If I just played the melody one way at the beginning, I'll add a harmonizer or delay, or something to give it some flair at the end of the tune so it isn't the same boring thing again.

    This brings me to effects. One of the main reason I use effects is to alter the timbre. Guitar or bass by themselves really only have so much to offer in terms of different sounds available. With my rig I practically have a symphony's palette at my fingertips. This allows me to bring in big gorgeous swelling pads, sub-sonic bass riffs, percussive effects, melodies higher than a guitar could play, etc. This may seem cheesy or even like 'cheating' to some. But to me it is just adding to my creative possibilities. Also, effects are practical when looping. It allows me to seamlessly add things to loops that I couldn't do otherwise. Meaning I could have a high pitched harmonized sound floating above my bass line (this would allow me to record bass and chords simultaneously). As I said before I can use effects to alter the same part, so that it sounds fresh again without have to do anything different. I use time based effects to impart a rhythmic feel while recording a chordal part. These are only a few examples, but the possibilities with effects are truly endless."
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