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Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

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Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby NinjaPower » Fri Nov 06, 2009 12:50 pm

Been thinking about this for a few days now...

I an a House music DJ by trade, but for a year or so now I have enjoyed a hobby of actually producing house music tracks of my own.

I use Ableton, a few software plugins, I have several new and old external hardware synths, outboard effects units, compressors, Midi Keyboard and synth keyboards, and I sometimes sample from old records and CD's.

I quite like making every part of my tracks from nothing. I like programming and EQing the drums, building the basslines and melodies, tweaking the outboard Synths and generally going through the whole process.

A few months ago however, Some friends of mine who are also DJ's/Producers got a Tech/Electro house track that they had made into the Beatport top 100. Nice work.

The track was really quite good, and certainly worth a purchase and a play for a few weeks by Tech/Electro DJ's.

Now, these guys aren't what you would call patient or technically minded. So, I saw them one day and we got chatting 'producer to producer' and I asked them how they crafted their nice little track. What soft synths do they have? What hardware synths do they use? Which drum programme do they prefer? etc.

The answer was: "Easy mate, We just downloaded a few of those big producer loop pack things and listened to hundreds of drum loops, melodies, pianos, FX, basslines etc until we came across a load we liked, pasted them into Ableton's audio tracks in blocks, added a few fades here and there to the tracks, few FX, built a couple of breakdowns using the 'breakdown loops' provided with the packs and bingo, decent banging track in a few days"

Now... I dont know whether to be impressed by them for being so resourceful of the tools that are now available in these Loop Packs, or whether to be disgusted that all they did was basically copy and paste perfect ready made sounds into tracks!

Or, should I be mad at myself for always spending hours and hours trying to home create drums loops, melodies, and basslines when I could just be auditioning a few hundred with a click of the mouse till one perfect one pops up out of these loop packs?

I went home, downloaded a couple of well known house music 'Loop packs' from the big names of this kind of thing. auditioned a few samples and loops for about 20 mins and then started banging the ones I liked into Ableton and guess what...within about 2 hours I had basically crafed a really funky little house track with some great drums, basslines, melodies, and complete with soulful and fruity horn and saxophone sounds. Amazing.

I'm not saying I'm converted... but it's really playing on my mind and irritating me...

And obviously the same applies to nearly all genre's now as well. Hip Hop, Dubstep, RnB, Soul, Pop... there are seemingly Loop Packs available for everyone.

So.. whats your opinions on all of this?

Loop Packs: "Great! they make producing electronic music really fun and easy, and with so many thousand loops and sounds available, its unlikely my professional sounding track will end up remotely like anyone elses! They allow you to create tracks you like the sound of without knowing anything about music which is fantastic."

Or somthing along the lines of...

Loop Packs: "Rubbish. Its basically a modern day version of Dance eJay! any idiot can knock a track up in an hour using someone elses hard work. Its like building a track from a Lego kit with instructions. If everyone did this and got their stuff published, all the tracks we hear would contain exactly the same basslines, drums and melodies."

I dont know what to think? Its cool, but somehow feels a bit lame at the same time... I wonder how many of the actual published 'chart' and club dance music out there was made either partially or in whole by using purchased royalty free loop packs?

Either way... My friends sold hundreds of copies of their track on a well known music website and I haven't! :headbang:
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby The Elf » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:05 pm

Creativity comes in many forms. If you mates have produced something 'original' then who's to argue? Some visual artists make pictures with stuff they find - it's not too much different.

Don't get me wrong, I have absolutely no love of 'dance' music in any of it's sub-divided, nothing but 4/4, hut-sss, hut-sss guises, but if you want your 15 minutes of fame it's a way in with minimal effort.

Then there are rappers who talk over someone else's music and walk off with the money. Creative? Arguable. Lucrative? Seems to be!
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby Michael Dow » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:14 pm

I;ve been a dance music producer for the lat 7 years now and mainly produce trance under my own name these days. I try and steer clear of loop packs, but every now and then if my percussion is missing something ill have a little look through. Rather than use loops whole, i'll usually slice them up and cut out the sounds i like. I usually end up processing them in a way that makes them sound quite different, ringmod and other sorts of weird effects.

You're right though, some people do actually just do almost nothing and use samples already provided. For me, this isn't making music for the love of makng music. Thats making music with no regard to how much you put into it, its just a way of promoting yourself to get DJ gigs. Which is fine, as long as you dont see yourself as a quality producer/sound designer. If you're just doing the producng to get more gigs (cuz let fact it, every DJ that gets anywhere prtty much, has to mae their own stuff aswell, and many turn to engineers, i've made loads of tracks with the DJ in the studio saying what he wants it to sound like etc etc). Tough one, but it's their call. Maybe it will inspire them at some point to make their own sounds

There's nothing more i love than to create sounds on synths, i spend way too much time doing it but at the end of the track i've got something at least slightly original sounding compared to picking a sound or 20 from a sample pack.
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby NinjaPower » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:16 pm

Oh I'm not nocking them at all.
At the end of the day, they have produced something good that people in that genre like and enjoy.
It's all good.

But I just wonder how much stuff we hear on radio/MTV dance or in a club etc is actually partly made by 'buying in' someones loop packs.
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby The Elf » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:20 pm

NinjaPower wrote:But I just wonder how much stuff we hear on radio/MTV dance or in a club etc is actually partly made by 'buying in' someones loop packs.
Almost all I would dare to suggest.

But then, we all use synth presets and sample libraries. It's not really that much different.
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby Darren Lynch » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:21 pm

Is not Brian Eno's defence of this approach that the artistry of the sample age is not in the playing but in the discernment. You could give me all the loops in the world and I'd never make a credible House track. Never served my times as a DJ, see. If your mates can exercise some informed choices and bring'em all together, good luck to them.

The downside off course is that once hooked on this approach, your sample collection dates in a matter of weeks, so you gotta keep on buying more.

I can only console you buy saying they will never know the satisfaction of programming a sound and a part from scratch to create something unique.


Chances are they don't care :headbang:
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby Pete Kaine » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:24 pm

Dj Shadow - Entroducing

Multi award winning and listed in the top 100 albums by a publication no more mainstream, middle of the road than "Time" magazine.

100% samples.

All he's done in effect is go out and find samples and build them into tracks.

Loop cd's surely all your doing is skipping a certain amount of finding the loops?
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby ken long » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:31 pm

Nothing wrong with music by numbers.
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby FutureRetro » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:59 pm

The vast majority of dance music is just a rehash of ideas the producer has heard elsewhere, very little of it is in any way new. We haven't had anything as interesting as hearing jungle or trip hop for the first time, since jungle or trip hop. Maybe dubstep but that's already getting old although I suspect it will have it's RoniSize moment and someone will create a stunning album which will get big and then the genre will immediately die off again as all the copy cats can't keep up.
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby ken long » Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:02 pm

FutureRetro wrote:The vast majority of dance music is just a rehash of ideas the producer has heard elsewhere, very little of it is in any way new. We haven't had anything as interesting as hearing jungle or trip hop for the first time, since jungle or trip hop.

Cause those genres (and I use the term loosely) weren't rehashed? :roll:

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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby markhodges » Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:08 pm

Personally I wouldn't use "genre" loops or a construction kit. I think it takes all the fun out of it. I enjoy mucking about with synths to create the sounds I want, and often I'll go off on a tangent and end up with something unique. It's also nice to get a jam going with real machines.

Taking a loop from something else and repurposing is different.
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby The Elf » Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:09 pm

trip hop... dubstep...

Wha? :crazy:

You know I’m convinced somebody, somewhere actually understands the difference between all of these ‘genres’.

But they all go ut-sss, ut-sss, ut-sss to me! :D

Is there somewhere I can go gen up?
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby The Korff » Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:16 pm

Dubstep is just like that, only it goes:

ut...







...sss...




...



.....ut...




....sss...sss....

And Ken, everything's rehashed to some degree, but I think there was definitely something a bit fresh about jungle when it first grew out of hardcore.

Cheers!

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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby Pete Kaine » Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:38 pm

Elf - http://techno.org/electronic-music-guide/

It's a few years out of date now (no Dubstep which has pretty much been the biggest thing since carved loaf the last 3 years) and he's working on Rev.3 at the moment but it'll give you the gist.

To be fair the vast number of those were made up by record shop assistants bored on a weekday afternoon but it'll give pointers on the difference between DnB and Techno to a workable exstent.
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby ill » Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:52 pm

Didn't the Pied Piper's number one "Do you Really Like It"
use the demo song from an EMU module?
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby ken long » Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:54 pm

Yeah, and Faithless milked the JV...

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Hi ill!
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby Darclinc » Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:17 pm

I prefer to do everything by hand, all sounds design, all drum patterns, all sound effects, etc. I try not to use presets. The only thing I don't do is go and record / create every drum hit I use, that would be nigh impossible.

In the quest for forming a unique musical identity I much prefer to look at a piece of music that I've written and saying "I did all of that", rather than "Look at what I've managed to build out of Lego".

Each to his own, I guess.

D.
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby NinjaPower » Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:28 pm

ill wrote:Didn't the Pied Piper's number one "Do you Really Like It"
use the demo song from an EMU module?

what? Seriously??! :ooo: :headbang:
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby The Korff » Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:30 pm

Yep!

It may have been a Korg Triton though... is that the song with the twiddly nylon guitar bit?
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Re: Producing electronic dance music using ready-made 'loop packs' - Cheating?

Postby ryan mead » Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:46 pm

The Elf wrote:Some visual artists make pictures with stuff they find - it's not too much different.
But those visual artists (along with folks who dig around in vintage vinyl crates) are one side of a gulch, on the other side of which we find these @#$%&* "construction kits". When did you ever hear of a successful visual artist going out and buying some sort of "collage kit" marketed as such?

The last few pages of the paper mag make me shudder sometimes. I've got the KJ Sawka CD on my hesitation list-- if I spring for it, it'll be my first. (But he's very human and I'll never play the drums like that!)

I've enjoyed the long slow (and as yet incomplete) process of figuring out for myself how to glue a few sparse drum hits together with dynamics processing to make a thick groovy paste, even at the expense of productivity.

And I gotta echo the Elf's sentiment about the trivial distinctions between genres! Hobbles creativity at times. I guess they're so rigidly and narrowly defined because ultimately they're destined for dance floors, where constancy reigns.
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