Your View: Is Using Loops Cheating?

Using loops and pre-made instrumental phrase libraries could save you time, but should you?

There’s no shortage of cinematic loop libraries for percussion, instruments, sections and soundscapes all at reasonable prices. If you’re on a tight budget or timescale you might consider using them.

But, Is it cheating?

The big question of todays ‘Your View’ is:

Given the time constraints of composers, is it unreasonable to use loop libraries in your music? If so how and where is it appropriate?

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

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Comments

  1. Anything that helps you write a melody quickly like a loop is fine by me – and I make part of my living as a session drummer.

    I think once you have a melody it’s always great to revisit the loop to see if it can be improved upon, especially with feel as the feel of loops cant really be changed. But if it works it works, No sense in fixing something that’s already fixed!

  2. Anthony

    To a certain extent it is, but there are multiple ways to use loops effectively in your productions/compositions. If the loop is being used to accentuate that overall arrangement, I don’t see any problem with the use. But, if there are tons of loops all over the track, and that is the main foundation of the arrangement, than I have a bit of an issue with that approach. So, like most things in life, balance is key. Take care. 🙂

  3. Cheating is a stretch. A good composition is a good composition. Granted anything can be overused or overdone but as long as it’s used creatively I don’t have an issue.

  4. It’s really not about cheating because you need to have the proper education and skills to do this type of music. Almost all pieces I’ve heard based on orchestral samples and loops sounds fake and crap to me. Either they haven’t put down the time needed or lack skills. To master both composition and production takes a lot of effort and time.
    I think you’re better off to think outside the box using the things you master, the instruments you can play or use other musicians, could be small arrangements and/or ensembles, this will probably also take you further if you’re on a tight schedule or limited budget.
    Cinematic sound shouldn’t be about copying the same large orchestral sound for the millionth time that has been out there for centuries, it should be about fresh ideas using audio to scenes in movie.

  5. Jacquard

    Loops, just like presets for synths, is the new cornerstone of music production. I don’t see using loops as cheating, for me it is in the end a “team effort” : a team of sound designers you have probably never met nor will ever meet, and you, the composer who is using them to craft a finished product.

    And if you look at it carefully, it’s always been about that team work. Someone builds an instrument (a guitar, a piano, a synth, a preset, a sample library, etc…) and you use it to create something unique and make it your own. How you use it and how much you modify those loops , that’s where you can cross the line and be considered as a cheater : if your music only consists in several loops copied and pasted, then you should start reconsider your career as an artist. Otherwise, they are just some useful and inspirational tools to create beautiful music.

  6. Duncan M.

    I tend to avoid using loops for this reason, but often they can be inspiration for something else.

    If I end up using a loop, I’ll normally process it so heavily that it’s unrecognisable, usually turning a drum loop into a pad or a bassline into a lead instrument. In this case, the loops can create some truly beautiful and unique sound.

  7. Rafael Nelvam

    I don’t like to use the expression “cheating” when talking about arts, because it gives the impression it’s a game.

    I understand that the expression implies that you’re not really composing that musical segment, but rather copying and pasting. But people did (and still do) that copy/paste process regardless of the existence of loops or computers. Let’s say they started a composition thinking “well, I need a salsa rhythm section here”. Without loops, there are two ways of doing it: getting a drummer who can play the beat or listening to a beat to get ‘inspired’ and do it yourself in the computer. Either way, that’s not ‘composing’, if we understand it as creating something completely original. It’s never original.

    The REAL issue with loops is that it limits your way of thinking musically. When people use it too much, they tend to compose in cycle segments even when there’s no actual loop involved, and then it’s always the same structure: a riff starts, repeats itself for 4 bars, then another instrument comes in, repeats other 4 bars, etc.

    Other than that, I don’t think it’s a real problem. It’s available, it saves time and it helps to create when you want to focus in other elements.

  8. Stan

    Hello,

    In my opinion, it’s cheating! Several composers try hard to make their living by doing everything by themselves but come up against fierce competition from composers who use high quality loops all the time.

    Moreover, composers are hired to deliver original music to the producer or the director, while the same loops can be heard in a lot of songs! Time is not an excuse because I think that it’s part of our job to tell the producer: your deadline is too short / your budget is too low, you can’t afford original music, you should buy licensed music 🙂

  9. Mark

    I’m not sure if it’s cheating or not, but I don’t like it; and this is coming from someone who has recently started using loops in my tracks.

    Before, I used to compose and play everything myself and my tracks had great detail, variation and emotion. Then I went down the loopy road, and now my tracks sound mechanical, boring and without feeling. The problem is, im finding it difficult to compose how I did before.

    My suggestion would be to stay away from them, as it affects your creativity IMO.

    Mark.

  10. In U

    🙂 Some of the loops are included in one package of software. So I think, the composer who make those loop have their own bussiness with the factory who make that software. That is the one of facilities of that software. So, If we got some loops from the many kind of software, we are not cheating. Its same as if we use many kind of “fonts” in the MS-word. But, for the notice, its not a best way to make our “Original” music even loop is a good stimulus to make a music.

  11. jacobo lopez

    i’ve a degree in music composition, i have studied deeply musical form, counterpoint, harmony, melody, history, instrumentation…

    and really, it is not cheating. maybe you can get great results without knowledge, it makes it easier in some ways. but it is only a new grammar in a new languaje.

    (if you have studied history of music you’ll know it isn’t so new)

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