5 ways to speed up your Loop Production Process

Featuring Loops In Worship Posted on February 17, 2011

I‘ve been using and creating loops for the past 9 years.  I’ve created 100′s of loops and learned alot about the production process along the way.  This Christmas I had to create a loop for an arrangement of “What Child is this”.  The arrangement was finished Wednesday night and I had to have the loop created for our Thursday service.  I had a few meetings and a class to teach so I wasn’t going to be able to start it till about 3:00 and practice starts at 6:00.  I asked our Worship Leader if he was okay with me not starting it till then, but assured him it would be ready. The loop was created in an hour, and it turned out great. Without the tricks and tips I’ve learned along the way, I never would be able to successfully create on demand like that. Here’s a few of the things that have helped me speed up my loop production process:

Don’t get stuck

As you’re creating you’re bound to get stuck.  Whether it’s with the drum part or the Pad sound for the bridge..don’t get stuck.  Do what you can, do what you know.  Get a pad sound that you know may work, and move on to the drum part that you know will work.  Or start with just a simple beat.  Odds are once you move past what you’re hung up on, and create a few more parts, something will dawn on you.  After a couple more parts, take a look at it again, you’ll have a lot more clarity this time.

Create and save your own Presets

This has become one of the biggest time savers ever.  I’ve now moved my music production/creation process almost exclusively to Ableton Live.  I spent time creating presets for Operator, trying to create the thickest, smoothest sounding pads you’ve ever heard.  They’re wrapped in Instrument Racks and carefully routed through a few effects, and located conveniently in Live’s browser.  When I need a sound, I hop over there and dial up exactly what I need.  I’ve got enough sounds created that at the least I always have a good sound/place to start from.

Be okay with Beta

Beta is a term used in the computer programming world.  It essentially means the application being released is still under development.  If you download a beta release of software there’s bound to be bugs, and mistakes, there’s no guarantee for it to be perfect but there’s enough to work with that it’s ready to ship.  Treat your music creation as if it’s in a beta testing stage.  Be okay to release/create something while it’s still in beta. We’re often afraid to do this because we’re searching after perfection, we really want to do our best, but in turn end up getting stuck, and never creating.  Don’t create crap, but create something, and then “test” it.  Export your loop and start listening for a few days.  Test and tweak your mix, change some sounds, but start somewhere.  Even after you use your loop for the first time, go back and make changes.  Treat all your work as a work in progress, or in the Beta stage and constantly look on how to improve it.

Keep your parts in MIDI

Whenever possible keep your parts as MIDI.  If you create a keyboard part, leave the original MIDI notes there.  If you want to go ahead and print your sound (record your MIDI parts with your desired sound to an audio track) do so, but keep your original MIDI track with the sounds and notes intact.  If you do so you’ll always be able to go back after the fact and tweak your sounds.  If you leave your material in the beta stage, then leaving your sounds as MIDI will allow you to always go back and tweak. You won’t have to worry about getting the perfect sound, start with a Preset you created that you gets you close but come back after the fact to tweak if you need to.

Create more Frequently

This is probably the most important loop creation technique I’ve learned over the past few years.  The more I create the faster I can create.  I’ve found that  Creativity tends to be a more a byproduct of perspiration then of inspiration.  We often create only when we feel “inspired” or catch the creative bug.  If you schedule a time to create music everyday, your music will get better.  You’ll be able to capture ideas quicker and your playing and composition skills will improve, you’ll be a better musician, creating better music!

Here’s two freebies:

Listen to more Electronic Music- Grow your ear.  Listen to music that’s heavily influced by computer production.  Learn the techniques they use.  Learn how to do 3 things, Filter Sweeps, Builds/Drops and Side-Chain Compression.  Master those techniques and your production toolkit will grow immensely.  Here’s two of my Electronic Music Favorites:  BT and Deadmau5.

Get more loops- The same way you need to create more Presets, make more loops.  Spend time creating a few loops everyday or every week and build a stockpile.  Sort them by style or tempo, or vibe.  If you don’t have the time or ability to create your own, check out Subscription service, 30 loops every month delivered to your inbox.  Puremagnetik and LoopMasters are pretty great as well.

What tips and resources have you used to speed up your loop creation process?

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