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Making Music with Loops & Samples: Beginner Guide

This blog post will give you all the info about how to produce music using pre-made loops and samples. Soundtrap's in-house producers have put together this guide to professional music-making using loops as a foundation.

A producer with headphones inside the studio

Published: April 28, 2023

This blog post will give you all the intel on how to produce music using pre-made loops and samples. Soundtrap’s team of in-house producers works relentlessly to bring you high-quality stem loops, samples, and instrument one-shots every two weeks. These are our tips on how to make unique and professional-sounding music using loops as a foundation.

What is the Difference between Loops and Samples

Let’s start off with the basics. Many people use loops and samples interchangeably, but what exactly is the difference between them? To understand how to make music using loops and samples, it’s essential to know the basics of each.

What are Loops?

A loop is a pre-recorded musical phrase or rhythm that can be repeated endlessly. It can be as short or as long as needed, though typically, a loop will consist of either 2 or 4 bars. 

Loops are typically created by recording an instrument, such as drums, in a specific length and then repeating it over again in a looped format. That’s why loops are commonly used in electronic music and hip-hop productions, where the drum beat, bass line, and melody often repeat throughout a verse or chorus. 

In the early days of electronic music and hip-hop, many producers didn’t have access to live instruments, so creating loops using a sampler became the norm. This way, musicians could sample instruments from other recordings and sequence them into loops that would repeat continuously, and thus create a new instrumental track.

What are Samples?

Samples, on the other hand, are snippets of audio taken from recordings of real instruments or voices. A music sample can be as short as one second or several minutes, and a sample turns into a loop if the sample is played repeatedly in a sequence. 

Samples are commonly used by music producers to create unique sounds and textures that could not otherwise be achieved by recording instruments directly into their software. Sometimes samples are used to create recognition of the new song, by re-using a part of a previously known song. This has proven to be a very successful method for many producers. DJ Khaled’s song “Wild Thoughts” with Rihanna famously sampled Santana’s hit song “Maria Maria” and became an even bigger hit than the original.

Benefits of Using Pre-Made Loops and Samples in Music Production

Using pre-made loops and/or samples in music production offers a number of benefits to both beginner and pro producers alike. For starters, it saves time! Let’s take Soundtrap users, for example. Rather than having to painstakingly create each sound from scratch, our users have access to an entire library of pre-made loops, instrument one-shots, and samples that they can easily drag and drop into their projects. 

This means they don’t have to spend hours or days creating sounds and coming up with new melodies, which can free up more time for them to focus on the creative elements of their song.

Additionally, using pre-made loops and samples offers a degree of flexibility that is difficult to achieve with other methods. With Soundtrap's Loops Library, producers are able to mix and match different sounds until they find the perfect combination for their track. They can also easily tweak the tempo or pitch of a loop or sample without any hassle, giving them complete control over how their song will ultimately sound.

Moreover, using pre-made loops and samples is often far more affordable than getting your hands on live instruments and setting up a studio to record your music. With a loops library, you are able to access professional-quality sounds without having to invest in high-end recording equipment. Plus, Soundtrap offers royalty-free loops and samples, so producers don't need to worry about copyright issues when releasing their music commercially.

Finally, utilizing pre-made loops and samples can help new producers get up to speed with the basics of music production quickly and easily. By experimenting with different sounds straight away they are able to gain a better understanding of how different elements work together in a track faster than if they were starting from scratch with no guidance or resources at hand.

A woman producing songs in Soundtrap on her laptop

Using loops and samples offers flexibility that is difficult to achieve with other methods.

Famous Music Producers working with Loops and Samples

From hip-hop to EDM, many of the world's most famous music producers have been using loops and samples to create their tracks for decades. Many of your favorite songs probably contain samples somewhere in their productions. It has become an integral part of the music production process, allowing producers to quickly and easily incorporate sounds and textures into their songs without spending thousands of dollars on studio time and equipment.

Dr. Dre is one of the most iconic producers in hip-hop history, and he has utilized samples extensively throughout his career. He famously used a sample from the 1975 track "I Want To Do Something Freaky To You" by Leon Haywood for his 1992 hit single "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang", as well as the recognizable intro from David McCallum’s “The Edge” to create his 1999 single “The Next Episode. 

The success of electronic dance music (EDM) has also been largely attributed to producers utilizing loops and samples in their productions. Skrillex is considered one of EDM's biggest innovators, and he heavily relies on loops and audio samples in his productions to create unique sonic textures that set him apart from other artists. And who can forget the late Avicii’s beautiful sample flip of Etta James’ “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” for his 2011 breakthrough hit “Levels”?

In conclusion, it is clear that famous music producers have been relying on loops and samples since the beginning of digital music production – making them an essential tool for music makers looking to get professional-sounding results quickly without breaking the bank. By taking advantage of resources like Soundtrap's royalty-free Loops Library, new producers can learn the basics while exploring more complex possibilities with minimal cost or effort involved – helping them achieve great results fast!

Different Types of Loops to Work with

Loops come in many shapes and forms, including drum loops, basslines, melodic phrases, vocals, sound effects, and more. Let’s go over some of the most common ones used in music production.

Drum loops

Drum loops are the most popular type of loop used in music production as they provide the foundation for any track. Drum loops typically consist of a 4 bar rhythm pattern made up of kick drums, snare drums, hi-hats, or other percussion instruments. Producers typically use them to construct their song's underlying beat structure before adding additional elements like basslines or synthesizers. The Soundtrap Loops Library contains a wide selection of drum loops ranging from lo-fi hip-hop beats to melodic pop drums.

Bassline loops

Basslines are another staple element in many genres of music and often provide the low-end backbone for a track's groove. Basslines range from simple rhythmic patterns to funk-style riffs with intricate note sequences. To create an effective bassline, producers should experiment with different notes, rhythms, articulations, and octaves until they find one that fits the rest of their tracks perfectly. The Soundtrap offers a large collection of both acoustic and synthetic bassline loops, like the 808 bass, perfect for any style of music production.

Melodic loops

Melodic phrases are an important component in many musical styles such as pop, rock or EDM tracks and can contain any instrument beside drums. The melody provides the listener with something they can sing along to or just appreciate as part of the overall song structure. Melodic loops usually consist of chord progressions played by either real instruments or synthesizers over a set period of time - usually 4 bars but sometimes less, depending on the style being produced.

Using Loops in Soundtrap is fun and easy. This video explains how to access the loops library.

How do Royalty-Free Loops Work in Music Production

Royalty-free loops can be used to produce and release music without having to pay any additional fees or royalties to rightsholders. This makes loop usage perfect for music makers who are just starting and do not have a large budget to work with.

Soundtrap's Loops Library is a great resource for royalty-free loops, offering a wide variety of styles and genres that can be incorporated into music projects. Any loop, instrument, sound effect, or sample in Soundtrap can be used to create and release original music commercially. 

Splice Sounds is another loop and sample library that offers royalty-free sounds in every genre or style imaginable. Samples from Splice can easily be imported into Soundtrap and incorporated into your project.

Soundtrap’s royalty-free loops can be accessed in the online studio, or DAW, directly from your browser. Open up the loop tab, search for your desired sound, and simply drag it onto the timeline of your project.

Read more: What Is Royalty-Free Music and How To Use It in Your Audio Productions

In addition to its library of royalty-free loops, Soundtrap offers several other features that make incorporating loops into your production workflow even easier. For example, if you want to create a custom drum beat using a single drum loop, you can use the "Patterns Beat Maker" feature which allows you to build beats by sequencing drum instruments into a playable loop. 

Read more about how our royalty-free loops in Soundtrap work here.

When do you need to and how do you clear Music Samples?

If you’re not using a royalty-free loop or sample library like the one in Soundtrap, it’s important to understand the concept of "clearing" a sample. Clearing refers to obtaining permission from the original copyright holder of a sample or loop before you can use it commercially. This means that if you plan to use the sample or loop in any form for monetary gain (for example, releasing an album or single on streaming platforms that contains a copyright sample) then you must first seek permission from the original copyright holder.

The process of clearing samples can be complex, depending on the country or the scope of your project, and the number of samples used. Generally speaking, there are three main steps involved in sample clearing: 

  1. Identify who owns the rights to the recording you’re sampling, is it the record company that owns the master recording? A publishing company that owns the copyrights to the actual music played in the song? Has the artist written the music themselves or have songwriters been involved in the creative process? There can be many stakeholders involved in a music recording and you need to identify all of the parties involved to know who can approve your sampling request

  2. Contact them for permission. Reach out to all the people and companies behind the song and ask for permission to use samples from it. There is usually a fee involved in clearing samples so make sure to obtain all the monetary information from the rightsholders.

  3. Obtain their written consent. Make sure to get a written contract allowing you to use the sample in your song, and to what extent. Leave nothing to chance; it is very important to get all the details in writing so that there are no legal ramifications for you in the future. 

It is important to note that different countries have different copyright laws when it comes to clearing samples, so make sure to research any relevant laws in your country before beginning this process.

In some cases, such as with Soundtrap's Loops Library, all samples are cleared by default. This means that there is no need for producers to seek out individual permissions, as they would do when sampling a recording from somewhere else.

It's also worth noting that even if you obtain all necessary clearances for a sample or loop, you may still be subject to legal action if another artist claims ownership over a portion of your track due to similarities between their work and yours. If this happens then you should consult an experienced lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law in order to protect yourself from potential litigation.

A girl producing music using loops in Soundtrap

The process of clearing samples can be complex depending on the country or the scope of the project.

Get Started with Loops and Samples in Soundtrap

In conclusion, sampling and loops usage is a great and fun way to get creative in your music making. It helps you with inspiration and guidance throughout the production process. But make sure that you have covered all basis legally before releasing any songs using pre-made loops or samples. 

With Soundtrap, you have access to thousands of pre-made loops and samples inside the studio. Sign up for your account today and start exploring our wide range of instruments, loops, and other music-making tools. You can read more about our loops and samples library here.

Get started with Soundtrap today!