What is Looping and How to Use it In Your Music Production

06/24/2020
Покупатель: Admin Admin

Looping is a revolutionary music production technique.

Loops, loopers and looping tools are essential to how we make music today.

With such a big subject, getting started can seem intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be scary.

Looping is an inspiring creative tool that can benefit every producer. And If you’ve used a DAW before you’ve probably already done it!

In this article I’ll go over everything you need to understand loops and start looping like a pro.

What's Looping?

Looping is recording on the fly into a seamless phrase that plays continuously over and over again.

Looping can be done with a dedicated device like a looper pedal or sampler or in your DAW using a plugin.

Sound-on-sound looping means recording additional passes over top of the original phrase. You can create entire songs using sound-on-sound looping.

Looping originated with tape experiments in the 50s. It’s called looping because back then the two ends of a section of analog tape would spliced together to form a literal closed loop.

It’s called looping because back then the two ends of a section of analog tape would spliced together to form a literal closed loop.

Tape loops were first used by composers of the earliest electronic music, but they began to be used more commonly in pop and rock in the 60s.

Since then looping has seeped into all genres of music.

Looping the way we know it now was created by Robert Fripp in his tape experiments with Brian Eno.

Since then looping has become a staple of music production, performance and composition.

Why Use Loops?

Using a looper to compose or perform music has lots of benefits for your workflow.

Coordinating bandmates for rehearsals and shows is hard. But you can create a compelling live performance all by yourself if you can build entire tracks live using a looper.

Even if you’re just writing a song, looping can be a powerful composition tool.

Staring at a blank DAW session can make you feel helpless. But improvising with a looper is a great shortcut to inspiration—it’s like jamming with yourself!

Improvising with a looper is a great shortcut to inspiration—it’s like jamming with yourself!

Plugin loopers in your DAW can give you a great starting point. Drag your loops onto the timeline and rearrange them to get started composing from your creations.

Looper Pedals

Looper pedals are one of the easiest ways to get into looping.

Loopers in stompbox format are designed for guitar, but you can usually plug anything with a ¼” output into them.

Some looper pedals even offer specialized inputs for microphones. This capability allows you to loop audio from sources like vocals or drums using a mic.

Loopers with microphones make it possible for one performer to build an entire track from scratch in front of a live audience. Looping performances can be extremely impressive!

Looper pedals come in a wide range of formats. Everything from simple single switch pedals to powerful multi-track loop stations.

If you’re just dipping your toes in the world of looping you might want to start with something simple.

But if you’re a dedicated looping artist you might want something with more capabilities.

Creating Sample Loops

Hardware samplers have looping and sequencing tools built in.

Sampling devices like Akai’s MPC range made the first loops of breakbeats from vinyl records possible.

Sampling devices like Akai’s MPC range made the first loops of breakbeats from vinyl records possible.

Looping the breakbeat over and over again provided a steady groove for hip-hop artists to rap over. Looping samples kicked off the development of hip-hop as we know it!

Today’s hardware samplers can still loop samples and patterns in the same manner. Most samplers allow you to record your source material, set the start and end points and loop the sample seamlessly.

Many producers still swear by the unique workflow of the Akai MPC, but modern samplers like the Korg Electribe or Roland SP-404 are adept looping devices for music production.

Plugins for Loops

Looping can take place just as easily in your DAW. DAW looping setups can be even more flexible than high-end pedals.

Many looping artists rely on Ableton Live for looping.

MIDI and audio clips can be looped easily in Ableton’s Session view and the dedicated Looper plugin can be used just like a traditional stompbox looper.

Other DAWs have their own dedicated loopers and there’s plenty of great VST looping plugins from independent developers. If you’re looping in your DAW you’ve got plenty of options!

You can always create loops from segments of audio you’ve already recorded by carefully editing their start and end points on the timeline and setting the regions to loop.

How It Works

There’s lots of different loopers, but they all work in essentially the same way.

Looping devices typically have a few basic functions:

  • Record loop
  • Set loop end point
  • Overdub recording

Depending on what you’re using to make your loops these functions could be handled by footswitches, pads or MIDI control.

In a typical pedal-style looper you might have just one footswitch to start recording, close the loop and initiate overdubbing.

Larger devices might include effects like reverse and half-speed recording.

Loop Time Baby!

Looping is one of the biggest music production innovations of the last few decades.

Whether you prefer to use a looper pedal, a plugin or a sampler, there’s as many ways to use loops as there are producers.

Now that you know the basics of this powerful technique, get out there and start looping.