Making music the macro way

At the beginning, there was the tape

Back to the 80’s technologies

Of course, with some musical education, I believed, just like many other people in the trade, that this was not really music, just cheating: you did not have to care with any music theory, it could not be correct

Then the hit from MARRS: “Pump up the volume” came and after some debate everybody had to agree sampling other people audio (not just music, but also TV speech, radio commercials etc.) was there for long, and it was music. Hip-hop, initially based around playing records to get the beat, quickly adopted samplers as its core instrument, sampling past records extensively.


In clubs or within a hip-hop group, Dj’s had developed special skills to manipulate records playing on their turntables, and this set of techniques (including the famous scratching, and many other tricks) was named turntablism.

By analogy to turntablism, someone has coined the term loopism to describe this new way of making music by combining loops in realtime. Here is an example below, with a loop played live from the pads of an Akai MPC and recorded “on the fly” in a looper pedal. Once the loop is playing on and on, the Dj performs good old scratches on the turntables on top of it:

Going software

Preshish Moments: a combination of a custom MIDI controller and custom MaxMSP patches creates a custom overall instrument based on loops, with enough control to fully compose and remix live, with no interruption, for hours.

Wii Loop Machine 2.0 :: an intro from The Amazing Rolo on Vimeo.

A live, and wiimote-controlled loop machine: Wii Loop Machine by The Amazing Rolo.

As we have seen, a DAW such as Ableton Live or Reason can be seen at the same time as a studio in a box or as a new kind of musical instrument. The old saying of “playing the studio” (producers meant by that that the studio must be easy and intuitive enough so that one can create in a spontaneous fashion in it) has become litteraly true.

At the same time, the need for ready-made loops has created a huge new market. Loopmasters, PrimeLoops, Modernbeats and many other have jumped to that market. With every kid now willing to be the next Dre or Timberland, it is a good business for sure…

Not only for beginners

If anyone can create convincing music using the built-in loops of a DAW, professional producers can as well, and they do it! Logic Audio (Garage Band bigger brother) built-in loops have been used to create the biggest part of the massive hip-hop hit Love in this Club, by Usher.

The tutorial website mjtutoriels explains (in french, but this is easy to follow without understanding the words) how to do a remake of the instrumental track:


Software development, Domain-Driven Design, patterns and agile principles enthusiast