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How To Turn A Loop Into A Full Beat

This is how you turn a four bar loop into a full beat quickly!


To some this might be really obvious. To to others it might pose their biggest challenge. In the very beginning I struggled with this, too. But I eventually overcame this problem by analysing dozens of song, mapping out the arrangements with blank audio/midi clips in my

DAW and soon understood the patterns and how and when to break them.


Here is a process that will help you finish your ideas, quick and easy:


Step 1: Establish Your Loop

  1. Start by creating a 4-bar loop that serves as the foundation of your song.

  2. This loop should include all essential elements like drums, bassline, melody, and any additional layers you envision.

  3. After your first session, export it and don’t listen to it for at least 3 days.


Step 2: Listen back and make a list

  1. While listening to your track, really listen to what is coming out of the speakers. Don’t listen to the thoughts you have while listening. Let me say this again: Listen to the music! Be present with what is coming out of the speakers. Thoughts you're having while listening (i.e.: "Oh this is great, everybody's gonna love me" or "fuck this is garbage, I will never make it, who am I fooling here") are usually completely worthless. You need to hear what works and what doesn't and then guess what you can do to make it work!

  2. After listening, write a list with all the ideas you have. Make the items on your list actionable! If you don’t know, just make a guess! All knowledge comes from guessing first.


Doing this will always give you a starting point for your next session. You'll never have to sit there again wondering what to do now.


Step 3: Expand the Loop

  1. Duplicate your 4-bar loop multiple times to create a longer sequence, typically around 60 to 68 bars.

  2. This will give you a canvas to start building the structure of your song.


Step 4: Add Variation

  1. Introduce subtle changes to different sections of your expanded loop to keep the listener engaged.

  2. Experiment with altering drum patterns, adding or removing elements, or adjusting melodies to create variation.


Step 5: Arrange the Song Structure

  1. Divide your expanded loop into sections like intro (4 bars), verse (12 to 16 bars), chorus (8 bars), bridge (8bars), and outro (8 bars).

  2. Decide on the arrangement order and the number of times each section will repeat. 

  3. A post-chorus can serve as a transition between chorus and verse. It can be an alternative for a bridge (just a bit shorter). A post chorus you can repeat at least twice. I.e. after the first and second chorus.


Step 6: Create Transitions

  1. Smoothly transition between different sections using effects, fills, or breakdowns.

  2. Build tension and anticipation as you transition from one part of the song to another.


Tip: Make a small fill in every 8 bars and a bigger one every 16 bars. It'll smooth out your entire production.


Step 7: Develop the Arrangement

  1. Flesh out each section of your song by adding or removing elements to enhance dynamics and progression. Small changes can go a long way.

  2. Experiment with layering different sounds and instruments to create depth and richness.


Step 8: Refine and Polish

  1. Fine-tune the arrangement, paying attention to flow, coherence, and overall impact.Really listen to the music and feel what is happening. Don’t listen to your thoughts about the music.

  2. Make adjustments to levels, panning, and effects to achieve a balanced mix.


Step 9: Finalize the Song

  1. Listen to the entire song from start to finish and make any necessary tweaks.

  2. Consider adding finishing touches like automation, transitions, and mastering to polish the final product.


Step 10: Export and Share

  1. Export your finished song as a high-quality audio file.

  2. Share your music with others, whether it's uploading to streaming platforms, sharing on social media, or sending to friends and collaborators.


Step 11: Reflect and Iterate

  1. Reflect on your songwriting process and identify areas for improvement.

  2. Use feedback from listeners and fellow musicians to inform your future projects and continue growing as a beat maker.


By following these steps, you can effectively turn a simple 4-bar loop into a fully realized and engaging song. Remember to stay creative, experiment with different ideas, and enjoy the process of bringing your musical vision to life!

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