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why do i keep writing 8 bar loops - oh, i see why. Drum Machines & Samplers
Old 3rd September 2011
  #1
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blinky909's Avatar
why do i keep writing 8 bar loops - oh, i see why.

i have been giving some thought to how easily it is to become trapped in the 8 bar loop and why i fall into that "trap." in the other thread i offered some advice that has worked for me, but i find that i still discard 5 or 6 loops before i get down to finding a direction and follow it out to some point greater than a repeating loop.

i believe it all has to do with my approach. i don't walk into my studio and say "'right, time to make an acid techno track" - that has never worked for me when i have tried it. the first thing i do is sit down in front of a synth and start making sounds and then little sequences and then ta-da, and 8 bar loop with the same 808 or 909 beats. i'm so chuffed with the cool noise and neat sonic texture, i have no idea where to go from there since that sound is so cool and deserves to be heard endlessly for 20 minutes, right?

when i look at my studio, i have to laugh at what i see, no really. i am very much into beat oriented music, but my studio is teeming with synths - there are 3 drum machines - 808, 909, and the RX-5 plus the MPC 2000XL. compare that to physical synths (13) and the number after adding all the multi-timbral parts up (58). it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to see that the number of synths to explore leads me to creating fun, empty loops. sure i can make percussive sounds with my synths and sample them and build up a beat with that, but i'm not that creative. synths are for making wild crazy cool noises, not snares or blips and bleeps that a robot drummer would make. that's what 808 is for, those very electronic drum sounds.

when i listen to the stuff i find inspiring, the number of synth sounds to percussive elements is the opposite of every track i've every done. no wonder my tracks are lifeless and repetitive - i spend all my time exploring sounds and modulation matrixes instead of digging into percussive elements.

i just hit play on one of my favorite CD's - Speedy J's G-Spot. no notebook in head, just a Jack and Coke and a candle. maybe one day i can get to the point where someone will be listening to my stuff in a candle lit room enjoying a cocktail.
Old 3rd September 2011
  #2
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The Beatsmith's Avatar
 

i think the key is to arrange as you go

i suffer from the issue that making that 8 bar loop takes me so long, i run out of steam and need to 'leave it for the day', then the next day i do something else
Old 3rd September 2011
  #3
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duggabax's Avatar
You know...the sequencer I use, Numerology, is very linear. So like, you write some loops, and then you place them on a timeline. But once you finish where you've placed your loops, you get silence. You have to make an active decision regarding what should happen next, you're forced to.

You should try it, dude. Take those 8 bar loops, sample them, get an eight bar sample, and trigger that sample using a linear sequencer. You'll have no choice but to take control of the track.
Old 3rd September 2011
  #4
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pseudonym813's Avatar
 

See, for me, it's sort of the other way around. I have trouble finding the right sounds. With a good sound I like coupled with a nice melody or bass line, I am really productive and everything just works. But unfortunately, these times are few and far between. Most of the time I end up playing around with the same loop for a few a days and move on, though I am pretty desperate to change that. It's probably got something to do with my relative inexperience with synth programming.
Old 3rd September 2011
  #5
restpause
Guest
If you feel like getting rid of the overload of synths you have, I'd be happy to take one off your hands for ya
Old 3rd September 2011
  #6
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sleepwalker's Avatar
 

That's honestly why I now play with a drummer. I can play melody with interesting rhythms, but I cannot for the life of me properly sequence drums that don't sound wack.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blinky909 View Post
i have been giving some thought to how easily it is to become trapped in the 8 bar loop and why i fall into that "trap." in the other thread i offered some advice that has worked for me, but i find that i still discard 5 or 6 loops before i get down to finding a direction and follow it out to some point greater than a repeating loop.

i believe it all has to do with my approach. i don't walk into my studio and say "'right, time to make an acid techno track" - that has never worked for me when i have tried it. the first thing i do is sit down in front of a synth and start making sounds and then little sequences and then ta-da, and 8 bar loop with the same 808 or 909 beats. i'm so chuffed with the cool noise and neat sonic texture, i have no idea where to go from there since that sound is so cool and deserves to be heard endlessly for 20 minutes, right?

when i look at my studio, i have to laugh at what i see, no really. i am very much into beat oriented music, but my studio is teeming with synths - there are 3 drum machines - 808, 909, and the RX-5 plus the MPC 2000XL. compare that to physical synths (13) and the number after adding all the multi-timbral parts up (58). it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to see that the number of synths to explore leads me to creating fun, empty loops. sure i can make percussive sounds with my synths and sample them and build up a beat with that, but i'm not that creative. synths are for making wild crazy cool noises, not snares or blips and bleeps that a robot drummer would make. that's what 808 is for, those very electronic drum sounds.

when i listen to the stuff i find inspiring, the number of synth sounds to percussive elements is the opposite of every track i've every done. no wonder my tracks are lifeless and repetitive - i spend all my time exploring sounds and modulation matrixes instead of digging into percussive elements.

i just hit play on one of my favorite CD's - Speedy J's G-Spot. no notebook in head, just a Jack and Coke and a candle. maybe one day i can get to the point where someone will be listening to my stuff in a candle lit room enjoying a cocktail.
Old 3rd September 2011
  #7
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DarkPlasma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepwalker View Post
That's honestly why I now play with a drummer. I can play melody with interesting rhythms, but I cannot for the life of me properly sequence drums that don't sound wack.
Its more than just sequencing...its about tweaking them all until they sound right.

A 1-bar loop, if synthesized correctly, can be heard for much longer than 8 bars...

But sometimes a real acoustic drummer is exactly what you need.
Old 3rd September 2011
  #8
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You just need the right 8-bar loop:

Old 3rd September 2011
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Beatsmith View Post
i think the key is to arrange as you go

i suffer from the issue that making that 8 bar loop takes me so long, i run out of steam and need to 'leave it for the day', then the next day i do something else
Ha! Been there in younger days!

Posted via the Gearslutz iPhone app
Old 3rd September 2011
  #10
Gear Nut
 
pseudonym813's Avatar
 

Haha, no. I'm actually pretty limited as far as synths go. I've only got Synth squad and a P08. I really love the prophet, but sometimes I feel a bit limited. I also find cypher, the deepest synth I have, a bit hard to use. I'm thinking about some sort of pad machine for ambient, breathy type sounds, but I don't know...
Old 3rd September 2011
  #11
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I find it hard to sit down and make a "real track" as well. I really need to work on my drum programming. Usually i sit and tweak knobs and end up with ambient drones and movie score-esque type sounds. i try not to worry as long as i'm having fun.
Old 3rd September 2011
  #12
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shadowfac's Avatar
 

I don't think a large amount of synths forces you to make 8-bar loop songs. You just do not dedicate enough time to other aspects of composition.

In my last two albums I decided to go for a straight linear recording approach, avoiding copying and pasting loops as much as possible. Even if a track came from a 16-step sequencer, instead of recording a 2-bar loop and copying it all over, I would record a performance instead, tweaking both the sounds and the sequence. The results are IMO much more interesting and much less static - there are a lot of accidents, too - the bad ones may get edited out, the good ones become part of the song.

I also became bored with mechanical beats, so I decided to buy a Roland HD-1 V-Drum kit and add some live drumming in my latest album. For my next project, I'll hook the HD-1 to my Nord G2 and see what happens.
Old 3rd September 2011
  #13
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turn off loop mode
Old 3rd September 2011
  #14
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rasseru's Avatar
use fruity loops.

write loop.
move to loop 2, write loop 2.
......
finish loop 20 or so...

arrange song with loops.

automate loads of stuff in the arrange page and cut everything up

? profit ?
Old 3rd September 2011
  #15
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FUBAR's Avatar
 

In my book the key to getting momentum from a basic idea is the speed you can create your building blocks, failure to do so can be frustrating and a good idea can turn sour very quickly. I use Abletons session view for track building blocks and then I start experimenting with a basic arrangement. Once I have some solid arrangement ideas going on I switch to samplitude for actual track creation.

Imho It is imperative that you move quickly when creating the building blocks as these are the parts that give your track it's back bone and I don't find it enjoyable listing to a stagnant loop for hours on end whilst trying to build ideas around it, if it's not working it's out.

basic idea + momentum in creating the building blocks + arrangement experimentation = SONG

If you spend hours perfecting tones you are ultimately killing momentum.

Old 3rd September 2011
  #16
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Lute's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jessem View Post
turn off loop mode

Yep. Don't restrict yourself to 120/140bpm either. Slow it down/speed it up. Don't stick with 4/4 either. Who says everything you do has to be a dance track? How about no rigid time signature at all? How about 2 bars of 12/8, and 3 bars of 9/16? Experiment
Old 3rd September 2011
  #17
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by rockmanrock View Post
You just need the right 8-bar loop:

Isn't that 4 bars?

I don't think in bars. I usually start with a one bar loop. Next part is 2 bars... next is ... you see what I mean.
Old 3rd September 2011
  #18
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Silas Holmes's Avatar
 

I use arrangement templates. I collect Midi files of songs and I study them. Then I create templates from them. That really helps me a lot.
Old 3rd September 2011
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djugel View Post
Isn't that 4 bars?

I don't think in bars. I usually start with a one bar loop. Next part is 2 bars... next is ... you see what I mean.
Listen to the choir chords, 4 bars of 'up' followed by 4 'down'. Other parts are probably 4 bars repeated but overall it sounds like an 8-bar loop to me.
Old 3rd September 2011
  #20
Gear Addict
 

I know everyone has their own way of working, but this post seems to be an invitation for suggestions for a different way. Hope it helps:

1) plan out the structure of your song. Will there be an intro? how long? verses, choruses, maybe a prechorus? Have anything cool in mind that is structural? Maybe you've got a cool idea about building a bigger climax by creating a prechorus that does x,y, or z leading up to a modified chorus the last time around.
2) Lay down a simple kick, snare, and high hat pattern for each section but don't mess with the sounds themselves. They are just a placeholder. They should change from section to section, and they should represent the different feel of the section.
3) however the material comes to you, in whatever order, write a)melody, b) bassline, c) harmonizing chords. Even if you delete the melody later and only use the bassline, it is still a good idea to write one at this stage.
4) organize this material into the order you want it, filter, modify, vary it, etc - focusing at this stage on only the bones and soul of the work, still ignoring the production. you still haven't thought about what these elements will sound like, just what they are.

5) Now is the time for you to indulge your inner tweak-head and spend as much time as you want diving into crafting mind-blowing leads, thundering basses, whatever.

In my humble opinion, from the frequency of these types of posts, it seems many people are skipping straight to step 5.

Step five my be the most fun for you, so that is understandable. But it will be even more fun after 1-4.
Old 3rd September 2011
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SonicAlchemist View Post
I know everyone has their own way of working, but this post seems to be an invitation for suggestions for a different way. Hope it helps:

1) plan out the structure of your song. Will there be an intro? how long? verses, choruses, maybe a prechorus? Have anything cool in mind that is structural? Maybe you've got a cool idea about building a bigger climax by creating a prechorus that does x,y, or z leading up to a modified chorus the last time around.
2) Lay down a simple kick, snare, and high hat pattern for each section but don't mess with the sounds themselves. They are just a placeholder. They should change from section to section, and they should represent the different feel of the section.
3) however the material comes to you, in whatever order, write a)melody, b) bassline, c) harmonizing chords. Even if you delete the melody later and only use the bassline, it is still a good idea to write one at this stage.
4) organize this material into the order you want it, filter, modify, vary it, etc - focusing at this stage on only the bones and soul of the work, still ignoring the production. you still haven't thought about what these elements will sound like, just what they are.

5) Now is the time for you to indulge your inner tweak-head and spend as much time as you want diving into crafting mind-blowing leads, thundering basses, whatever.

In my humble opinion, from the frequency of these types of posts, it seems many people are skipping straight to step 5.

Step five my be the most fun for you, so that is understandable. But it will be even more fun after 1-4.
I want to print out this post and tape it to my studio wall.
Old 4th September 2011
  #22
TC5
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TC5's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FUBAR View Post
In my book the key to getting momentum from a basic idea is the speed you can create your building blocks, failure to do so can be frustrating and a good idea can turn sour very quickly. I use Abletons session view for track building blocks and then I start experimenting with a basic arrangement. Once I have some solid arrangement ideas going on I switch to samplitude for actual track creation.

Imho It is imperative that you move quickly when creating the building blocks as these are the parts that give your track it's back bone and I don't find it enjoyable listing to a stagnant loop for hours on end whilst trying to build ideas around it, if it's not working it's out.

basic idea + momentum in creating the building blocks + arrangement experimentation = SONG

If you spend hours perfecting tones you are ultimately killing momentum.

Good post.

Generally at the initial composition stage if I spend more than 10 minutes on a basic idea (chord progression, melody etc.) and it hasn't gelled then I let it go. The initial idea should be sorted in minutes. It either works or it doesn't. You can later on spend days or even weeks tweaking and refining things but the initial concept needs to gel fast.
Old 4th September 2011
  #23
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The Beatsmith's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GearOnTheGo View Post
Ha! Been there in younger days!

Posted via the Gearslutz iPhone app
Any sage advice to share on how you overcame this? heh

My problem is not endless tweaking of patches etc, i usually record hardware in as i go, and that's that really. I use software too, but i don't tweak endlessly

I think a lot of my problem is a fear of commitment/failure. Committing to the arrangement/structure that will do my 'masterpiece' justice. Muuuch easier to 'leave it for today' - it's usually like 4-5am at this point, too! (I mix during the day, i find it hard to be creative during the day)

I'll make a 'great' loop and what i usually do is keep layering, and then when showing it to label guys/friends, i'll mute parts and be like 'this is maybe the verse' and then un-mute other bits and 'this could be the chorus'

But getting to this stage itself takes me quite a long time, and i'm pretty 'exhausted' mentally (if you know what i mean) . Sometimes i either don't feel exhausted or - whatever - and i arrange as i go, and good things seem to happen. But forcing myself to do this is really hard, sometimes i try to force it and i f*ck it up.

A friend to help me arrange would be good, but with my electronic stuff, i don't have anyone to run things buy that's on my wavelength

It's that mindset of setting things in stone and grinding through past the 'fun creative bit' of composing, and turning to the arrangement stage that i'm not so good at

I.e. finishing the song!

Cheers

P.S - i also make hiphop music, as well as (largely) instrumental electronic stuff. With the hiphop stuff, it's much easier - because there's a vocalist. I can power through that. The only time i will over-tweak or go on for days is if i'm over-thinking the mix and fretting about some hi-hats or something.

P.P.S - sorry if i'm derailing the OP's thread!
Old 4th September 2011
  #24
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P.P.S - i arrange/produce a lot of other peoples tracks, and i have no problems doing this and know what to do straight away. I think it's because i'm not really emotionally attached and can be way more objective, and less worried about f*cking it up
Old 4th September 2011
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
hazabikit's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SonicAlchemist View Post
Step five my be the most fun for you, so that is understandable. But it will be even more fun after 1-4.
Thank you! I needed to hear that.
Old 4th September 2011
  #26
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Acid Hazard's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jessem View Post
turn off loop mode
Hehe

heh
Old 4th September 2011
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blinky909 View Post
sure i can make percussive sounds with my synths and sample them and build up a beat with that, but i'm not that creative. synths are for making wild crazy cool noises, not snares or blips and bleeps that a robot drummer would make.
Haha, just lower the decay. :wipeshands:

Quote:
Originally Posted by duggabax View Post
You know...the sequencer I use, Numerology, is very linear. So like, you write some loops, and then you place them on a timeline. But once you finish where you've placed your loops, you get silence. You have to make an active decision regarding what should happen next, you're forced to.
Wow, not how I use Numerology at all. Nothing wrong with your method, but I never even considered working like that. I setup a bunch of sequencers and modulation and have them effect each other in various ways, jam out, record MIDI and audio that I sculpt (remove elements) later.

On a general level this mindset has worked for me:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward D. Wood, Jr.
[on phone with Mr. Feldman] Really? Worst film you ever saw. Well, my next one will be better. Hello. Hello.
Old 4th September 2011
  #28
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Beatsmith View Post
P.P.S - i arrange/produce a lot of other peoples tracks, and i have no problems doing this and know what to do straight away. I think it's because i'm not really emotionally attached and can be way more objective, and less worried about f*cking it up
Well im glad you figured out the secret yourself, and this is it. A great article once told me, you've got to make **** before you make gold. So don't attach yourself to anything - you should mark ALL of your projects now as "crap I have to make before things get good", and use this mindset to blaze through arrangement and create full songs. You should get so good at this that you can take one project and churn our 3-5 arrangements out. Say "f*** it I'm a man, I'm not married to these bull**** songs, not afraid to f*** them up and thanks to computers, I can always fix them later when I get better".

This way when you get good enough and want to stop treating your projects as learning/scratch projects, you can tone down the skill you have and go back to your old habits - except this time you'll have the power to make 1-2 arrangements you'll be happy with.

The best parts of making a song are:
The beginning, when you have no idea how something could end up but you feel it could be magical.
And the part where, AFTER arrangement, you pick sounds and tones and mix.

The most difficult thing in the world for a musician is having a good idea, and executing it poorly.
The most difficult things in this universe have been mastered - with practice and strong godlike mentality.

Same reason we went to the moon.
So take your songs to the moon.

Old 4th September 2011
  #29
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Beermaster's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SonicAlchemist View Post
I know everyone has their own way of working, but this post seems to be an invitation for suggestions for a different way. Hope it helps:

1) plan out the structure of your song. Will there be an intro? how long? verses, choruses, maybe a prechorus? Have anything cool in mind that is structural? Maybe you've got a cool idea about building a bigger climax by creating a prechorus that does x,y, or z leading up to a modified chorus the last time around.
2) Lay down a simple kick, snare, and high hat pattern for each section but don't mess with the sounds themselves. They are just a placeholder. They should change from section to section, and they should represent the different feel of the section.
3) however the material comes to you, in whatever order, write a)melody, b) bassline, c) harmonizing chords. Even if you delete the melody later and only use the bassline, it is still a good idea to write one at this stage.
4) organize this material into the order you want it, filter, modify, vary it, etc - focusing at this stage on only the bones and soul of the work, still ignoring the production. you still haven't thought about what these elements will sound like, just what they are.

5) Now is the time for you to indulge your inner tweak-head and spend as much time as you want diving into crafting mind-blowing leads, thundering basses, whatever.

In my humble opinion, from the frequency of these types of posts, it seems many people are skipping straight to step 5.

Step five my be the most fun for you, so that is understandable. But it will be even more fun after 1-4.
Bang on !


There are a lot of pitfalls with using looped sections:

1. Doing so usually makes you write the track so that bar 8 links to go back to bar 1 ( instead of using bar 8 to go somewhere else harmonically which might not feel right going back to the chord in bar 1 ) - this creates a nice eight bar sequence that loops but it also creates much more of a groundhog day closed loop.

2. If you're learning how to make music and extend your abilities beyond the eight bar loop you need to see how using a different chord on bar 8 or bars 7+8 can create a pathway to a new section..... the looped 8bar scenario detracts from ever getting these end bars to turn in down a different route.

3. The more you listen to a repeated section the harder it is to break out of it and come up with new ideas to change the end of the sequence.

4. The more you listen to a repeated section the more 'OK' it sounds even if it's not really that good. Repetition ad nauseum is the devil !
Old 4th September 2011
  #30
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blinky909's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jessem View Post
turn off loop mode
the problem isn't loop mode on the machine, it's loop mode in my brain.

i keep wanting to draw out the track, as groups of 16 step patterns in a spreadsheet. maybe it's time to really start using a linear sequencer in a computer since that's what i'm really using the spreadsheet for.

damn, i hate being a visual learner.
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