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Turn a loop into a song

songwriting
turn a beat into a song

In this article, you'll learn 12 different techniques to turn a loop into a song. You can combine these to turn any 8-bar beat into an interesting, evolving masterpiece! You can choose to use just a few these of these tips, or all of them if you want.

It's up to you, which is the beauty of being a musician!

And if you'd prefer to hear what each of these tricks sounds like, be sure to watch this video where I walk through each of them.

Note: this article may contain affiliate links, which mean that I receive a commission for any purchases you make, at no added cost to you.

 

 

1. To Turn a Loop into a Song, Streamline Your Arrangements

 

With this technique, you simply experimenting with removing instruments that are included in your original loop. So let's say your loop includes a drum beat, bass, piano chords and a synth lead.

Well you could space that out!

First the song could be bass, drums and piano. Then after 8 bars the lead could come in. Then the song could break down and just be a drum break. Then it could build all the way up again.

You could even do things like have a section where the hi-hats are muted, but the rest of the drum plays. Or you could just solo the kick!

By artfully arranging your loop and being selective about what plays when, you can add way more interest.

 

2. Intro Fade In

 

All good song need an intro. One of the easiest ways to create an intro is simply to automate the volume of your song! 

Voila! 

The song will fade in over 4 bars, for example, and this will add some nice interest without too much effort.

If you're looking for an even more incredible intro, though, be sure to check out these 5 Ways to Make an Amazing Song Intro

 

3. Add a Drum & Bass Break

 

 

We've already touched on this a bit in the arrangement section, but one of the easiest ways to add interest to a song is to create a drum and bass break.

To do this, it helps to have a relatively up-tempo track (probably above 100 BPM). Then just isolate the drums and bass. It might help to also introduce a percussion part at this point for even more groove and swing.

 

4. Chopping Plugins

 

Beat chopping plugins are one of the easiest ways to remix a song on the fly and quickly add interest to otherwise repetitive parts. These plugins allow you to easily trigger chops, filtering, gated effects and more.

They not only can sound great on an whole mix, but on individual tracks as well. For example, try putting Looperator or Stutter Edit 2 on your drum buss and pretty soon you'll have tons of great chopped beats that you can use in drum breaks.

 

5. Pad Breakdowns to Add Interest

 

This is another arrangement tip that always works well. If you've got a pad in your song, or maybe some strings, you can break it down to a section of its. Maybe just pads, some percussion, and a touch of whatever your rhythm instrument is.

By taking away a lot of the song's energy, it will only hit harder when everything comes back in.

 

6. Fade In New Instruments to Turn Your Beat Into a Full Song

 

Yet another arrangement trick to get even more bang for your buck. Instead of suddenly having a new instrument come in, fade it in over a bar or two. This will add movement and interest, plus it will make the song feel more cohesive.

This is great for percussion parts, pads, rhythm instruments, and bass. About the only thing I don't like to use this on is leads and vocals.

 

7. Use a Filter Effect to Add Interest to Sections

 

You hear this all the time in EDM tracks, but these days it really works for all genres. You a high pass or low pass filter to change the vibe and energy of a section, then slowly automate it to open (or close).

This can be used in conjunction with other arrangement tricks, like drum breaks and pad parts. Or it can be applied as its own section.

This is the type of trick that sometimes works better if you just filter individual instruments. But sometimes it's more interesting to filter the entire track. Experiment with this method to make your loops sound more interesting.

 

8. Fills and Hits Between Sections

 

Another really easy way to add interest and convert your beat into a song is to use fills and hits between different parts of your arrangement.

Typically, this would mean adding a drum fill after every four bar loop. Or perhaps a bass fill. Wondering what a drum fill is? Essentially, it's a snare roll, or some other rhythmic variation in the regular drum patter. Here's some more detailed info.

You could also add special hits like a crash cymbal between different parts.

Depending on the genre, you could even consider using effects like risers, whooshes and impacts to further add interest.

 

9. Add a Key Change For More Interest

 

If you feel like your song still isn't interesting enough with all of these tricks, you could try a key change. Often you can simply adjust all of your loop/midi data at once and get away with a decent key change effect (don't pitch shift the drums/percussion though).

A key change can make the repetitious parts of your loop feel fresh again. 

Some of my favorite starting points for key changes are +/- 2 semitones, +5 semitones and +7 semitones. However, getting a nice sounding key change will really depend on the key of your song, so be sure to experiment plenty.

 

10. Building a Climactic End to Your Song

 

There's several ways you can build to a climactic end. First, if you've raised the key of the song, it will already sound more intense. Second, to make it sound more intense, be sure that most of the instruments from your arrangement are present in the ending. Third, add climactic hits, like more crash cymbals or risers.

Finally, consider a slight volume automation of 1-2dB to make things sound more intense.

 

11. Build in an Ending Hit to Finish Your Song

 

To really make your song feel finished, you have to end your song! Don't just use a fade out! 

I find that it's usually best to end a song on the same note/chord that a bar starts on. But instead of short and pluck, I usually let and chord and bass note sustain.

In terms of ending hit drums, I always end with a kick and a crash, but no snare.

Spend some time experimenting with how long the notes should sustain. Also consider whether you should automate your reverb to make the tail of the song feel more atmospheric.

 

12. Use Vocal Samples to Add Interest to Your Beat

 

Even the most repetitive beat can sound more interesting with the creative use of a cool vocal sample (click here to see the best sites for free loops and samples). 

Adding in a sample or two will really catch the listeners attention and help them stay engaged with the song.

The Role of the Producer in Beatmaking

 

A producer is someone who helps to create a song. They are often the person who found the artist and they are the one who creates the beat that the artist sings over.

A music producer is someone who is responsible for creating beats, melodies, and instrumentals in order to help an artist produce their songs. Often a tiny idea will inspire the song, so it's the producer job to convert that idea into a full blown production.

Even if you're just writing music for yourself or for music licensing, knowing how to turn a simple idea into a full song will help you create compelling music that you can be proud of, instead of having to say, "oh, it's just a demo."

From a Frustrated Producer in a Ragtag Bedroom Studio to Major Placements on TV Earning $1,000s!

 

My name is Evan, and I've been making music since around 3rd grade. I'm from San Diego, California, but I've lived in Washington, DC for the last 20 years.

After 3 grueling years of grad school, though I had put aside serious attempts at making music. I found myself spending my days doing work that was dreadfully uncreative, with a ton of student student loan debt.
 
Which made me feel like my favorite parts of myself were withering.
 
But I didn't know what to do about it.
 
Being in my early 30s with tons of student loan debt, in a world where there is "no money in music," I felt like my youthful dreams of trying to "make it big" were dead. Like my music would remain unheard in my head and hard drive. 
 
Frustrated by my inability to get my music heard, I started researching solutions.
 
Instead, I wanted to find a way where I could focus on making the music and let someone else deal with promoting it. 
 
I realized the music licensing was the perfect opportunity for a solo artist like me to get my music heard, without having to do any promotion. I just need to focus on improving what I could control - my songwriting and my production skills.

While I still have a full-time day job, I have created systems that have allowed me to produce dozens of songs a year in my spare time.

My¬†songs have been on Netflix, TV shows like the 90 Day Fiance, an award-winning indie film, and NPR‚Äôs ‚ÄúAll Thing Considered.‚ÄĚ They've also been streamed millions of times.

In addition to being a music producer, I am passionate about teaching people how they can make professional-sounding music and earn money licensing it, all in their spare time.

Thousands of musicians, like yourself, have trusted me to guide their musical journey. My YouTube videos have been watched nearly a million times. And my story has been in Forbes, Side Hustle Nation, and the Side Hustle School.

You Can Achieve Your Musical Dreams Too - Attend the Free Music Licensing Workshop!