How Does Contemporary Songwriting Define A Loop?

Posted by Mike Schuck

Looping is an integral part of contemporary song writing. It’s not only used to create catchy melodies or bass lines, but also as a way to tell a story through music!

A lot of artists use loops in their songs for this very reason- it gives your listener something familiar they can associate with what the artist is saying. For example, if you are listening to an upbeat song about love, then adding some sort of pre-recorded voice over that says “It’s hard being lonely” or “You’re the one I want to keep talking to” would make the song sound even more authentic.

Using a hook like this is actually pretty common practice.

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Finding the perfect beat

how does contemporary songwriting define a loop

A song is not a series of notes, it’s not a collection of sounds — it's instead one large loop that constantly repeats. The lyrics, melody, rhythm, and bass all contribute to this constant repetition.

A good drum groove or bass line will always stay in place while the rest of the instruments shift around it. This gives your ear time to feel settled on what part of the music you want to focus on at any given moment.

The drums play an integral role in defining how a song feels. They can be very repetitive (like a steady heartbeat) or more fun and catchy (like a simple pattern). Either way, they need to work with other parts of the song!

Music theory tells us that songs are made up of four main sections; verse-chorus-verse, prelude, and outro. A prelude is typically short and has no chorus attached to it, whereas an intro is longer than a prelude but doesn't have a second half like a full song. An outro is just the final part of a song, usually lasting for about a minute.

Take a break

how does contemporary songwriting define a loop

A loop is a little something that happens again and again. It’s usually a few notes or sounds, but it can be longer than what comes before it and more elaborate as well. Technically speaking, any song with a repeated element is a loop.

A lot of people associate loops only with music, but they also exist in other spheres. For example, when you repeat an action, like walking back and forth for a long time, then your walk becomes a pattern.

The same thing applies to things like eating, sleeping, and talking. If you do these things consistently – even if there’s no message behind them – then your repetition creates a rhythm.

This concept applies not just to shorter patterns, but ones that span minutes, hours, and even days. When you spend most of your life doing something, then what you are doing becomes part of who you are.

Music is powerful because it taps into all sorts of emotions and messages. What makes one song more effective than another is mostly down to personal preference, but some qualities help define a particular genre and style.

One such quality is the use of recurring rhythms and motifs. They give shape to the songs within that genre, helping listeners identify with their lyrics and how they relate to each other.

What is a lyric?

A lyric does not have to make sense when spoken out loud.

Make it unique

how does contemporary songwriting define a loop

What is the defining feature of contemporary songwriters? Beyond their impressive ability to craft catchy songs, they are very creative in how they write lyrics and music.

They use various styles and techniques to convey messages and express themselves creatively. Many use musical loops and patterns as part of that process.

A few examples include using repeated bass lines or chords as a background for a lyric, repeating sections of a verse or chorus, or even creating your own rhyming or non-rhyming pattern.

These types of songs become increasingly popular as artists add more and different components to the writing process. They’re called micro-genres because people often can only identify them slightly!

We will talk about some other terms you may have heard like “lyrical repetition” and what that means later in this article.

Work with a partner

how does contemporary songwriting define a loop

As we mentioned, songwriters work in teams at some level almost always! This is especially true of aspiring writers who must collaborate with other people to develop their craft. Becoming familiar with how others write and what styles they like helps you find your voice as a writer.

Finding a collaborator can be tricky though, so make sure that you do not get stuck because there’s no one around that you feel comfortable writing about or that fits your style.

If you are ever struggling to come up with lyrics, try talking to someone about something similar and see if it sparks any ideas for both of you. If nothing seems interesting immediately then throw out a word or two and see where it takes you.

This could mean coming up with a hook, or adding an adjective, or even creating a full lyric just using a few words.

Find your voice

how does contemporary songwriting define a loop

As songwriters, we are our songs’ biggest advocates. We spend hours crafting stories that convey messages to other people and for ourselves.

That takes work! It requires us to be honest with who we are as writers and artists, to develop and hone our skills, and to know when it is time to share our music with the world.

It also means knowing how to tell our story—how to use lyrics, melodies, rhythms, and sounds to bring out the emotions we want to express.

And lastly, it means developing a sense of what makes an effective hook or sequence of lyrics, notes, or sound. A strong chorus, melody, or instrumental break can help get the message across more quickly, so don't shy away from such tools if you feel they aren’t yours yet.

Finding your own unique artistic style is a process that will take years to achieve, but being aware of the artistry of others is a great way to start. - Sarah MacLean

Summary: Being a good songwriter isn’t about having the best talent in one area or another, it's about using whatever resources you have to create powerful tunes that connect with listeners.

This includes learning new tricks in the craft, like how making subtle changes to a verse will make it feel totally different, or how introducing unexpected harmonic or rhythmic shifts can add depth and interest.

Write as you hear

how does contemporary songwriting define a loop

As songwriters, we write songs that people can relate to or inspire them to do something. This is how it begins! Starting with an idea or theme first means starting with what you want to say and then shaping your lyrics and melody to match.

Your lyricist is usually given a topic or sentence fragment (a word or phrase with no special meaning) and they work from there. They add lyrics that are related to the subject and blend well together.

The hardest part is choosing which words go in and out — some needed to be left out because they already have been used before. this way, even though they are similar, new ways of saying them exist for the reader to discover!

Knowing when to use silence also comes down to telling a story. A lot of great writers use silence to emphasize something more than talking about it.

Don’t be precious

how does contemporary songwriting define a loop

As songwriters, we sometimes get attached to our songs. We develop strong relationships with them and strive to preserve what makes them special. This can often result in us resisting changing or even deleting something about the piece because we don’t want it to “lose its soul.”

It is very easy for this to happen when you have writer’s block and need some inspiration, so you start writing down what you know. Sometimes though, these familiar bits of music keep replaying in your head and you find yourself thinking, “Oh I could use that idea somewhere else!”

So you take those notes and begin to write your next song, but then you feel compelled to add another verse to the original melody or change the chord structure completely. It may even seem like there are no new ideas left, and you give up trying to create new lyrics or melodies.

Use samples

how does contemporary songwriting define a loop

A sample is when someone else’s music serves as the basis for one of your songs. Samples can include other artists’ songs, pieces of nature or natural sounds, or even our-of-the-artists vocals!

Most musicians use samples to create new songs or revamp old ones. As you probably know, songwriters are typically not the singers of their own songs; instead, they find lyrics that sound good together and blend them into their music.

As we live in an era where technology is accessible to almost anyone, recording yourself singing a lyric or taking voice notes is now possible. Using these recordings (a vocal sample) as part of your song gives it more weight and authenticity.

Samples also give your song some extra oomph by including another layer of musical content. For example, if your song contains a bass line, then adding a low pitched sample bass note will make your song stand out even more.

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