by Chris Lowry
Sometimes while I am mixing music and albums, I feel like a NASCAR driver. I feel as though I am going around and around the same loop for hours. We need a break from the loop! It’s not just a feeling, it is an unfortunate reality of todays music. I get to have an insight on the music that makes the radio and the ones that don’t come close. What separates the two?
I think digital production has made it easier for people to make songs faster and without putting all they have into their music. Without a doubt it is easier than ever to make a song using modern software like fruity loops and Reason or workstations like the MOTIF Keyboard. Just because it is easy and we get it done, doesn’t mean it’s right.
I support the use of loops and tracks as a means to start a base for your song. I have even heard great songs that were mostly loops. When you use loops or “beats” to make your song, there are some very important things to remember if you want to appeal to more people and stand a better chance of radio play.
Make enough tracks to change things up. If you have the entire song as four or eight bars that just keep looping the same sounds, you will bore people and they will lose interest. That is unless you are making a club trance song. If you do rely on the same eight bars looped, just add enough instruments to be able to change-up multiple sounds for different parts of the song.
Real instruments can save your song. You may have every instrument you want on your loop, but you don’t have a human feel. Humans are slightly imperfect at everything. It is in some of the imperfections and inconsistencies that we find interesting. Drummers do keep time, but they are not digitally perfect. That is where the human feel is necessary to make a song feel right. Musicians can play different music on different parts of your song and make it feel awesome. Having two or three musicians add their touch to your songs will give it life.
Avoid using the same octave for the entire song. If your song is using lots of different sounds that are all in the same octave, you will lose any kind of movement and clutter the song. People need highs, lows and in between. They need to experience a range of sound. Give them a variety of sounds and pitches to keep them happy.
When used correctly, loops can make great songs. So don’t get frustrated, it only takes a few steps to punch it up and make it so much better. Use some outside opinions from people who will tell you the truth. Pretty soon it will come natural to you and the song helps write itself.