Get Looped

Last updated on 3/31/2016

Everyone is talking about loop-based composition these days. The good news for you is that you can get started working with loops in any Cakewalk product that supports digital audio including Pro Audio, Home Studio, Guitar Studio, Club Tracks, and Guitar Tracks. And with the release of SONAR, using loops has never been easier or more flexible.

I'm a good player. Why would I want to use loops?

  • If you have ever tried to record a perfect rhythm track before you probably understand how hard it is to play the same part perfectly, over and over again. For years audio software engineers have tried to find a way to make that part of song construction easier and less time consuming, so you can spend more of your time creating and less time trying to be a perfect rhythm machine.
  • There are a lot of great sounding drum loops available. Maybe you play guitar and find creating interesting drum parts to be difficult, so drum loops fit the bill.
  • Loops allow you to incorporate instruments you don't actually own in a song. You may not have a collection of exotic instruments, so loops will give you what you need.

Now that you know why you might want to create loops, it's time to learn how.

Creating and using loops is much easier in Cakewalk's new SONAR product, but you can complete basic loop trimming in other Cakewalk products as well. Here are the steps to trimming a loop:

Editing tip: If you find your loops pop or fizzle at the beginning or end you'll need to use our "snap to zero crossing" tool in the audio view. In Cakewalk 9, double-click the loop to see it in the audio view. When you are looking at an audio file the line that goes through the center is known as the zero crossing. The zero crossing represents absolute silence and with snap to zero crossing turned on any cuts or slip edits you do to an audio file will automatically fall onto the nearest possible point of silence. A quick fade-out using a Volume Envelope can also fight clicks & pops.

  1. Select the track containing the audio data you want to work with.
  2. Click and drag across the measure bar at the top from the beginning to the end of the portion you wish to loop. It's okay to be approximate; you'll tighten it up in step 4.
  3. Click the Loop On/Off button on the Loop toolbar, and then click the Set Loop To Selection button. The file will now loop during playback between the selected points, as indicated by the yellow flags on the measure bar.
  4. If the loop isn't quite perfect, drag the yellow flags to adjust the loop range.
  5. Once you've got the audio looping perfectly, right click on the clip and choose Split.
  6. In the Split At Time field, enter the measure/beat/tick of the beginning of the loop, as indicated in the Loop From field of the Loop toolbar. Click OK.
  7. Right click and choose Split again, this time entering the measure/beat/tick of the end of the loop, as indicated in the Loop To field of the Loop toolbar. Click OK.
  8. Select the clip in front of the looped area by clicking on it, then choose Edit | Delete to remove it.
  9. Select the clip after the looped area by clicking on it, then choose Edit | Delete to remove it.
  10. Drag and drop the remaining clip at measure 1.
  11. Turn off looping by clicking the Loop On/Off button on the Loop toolbar.

How is SONAR different?

SONAR employs a new technology called "Groove Clips". So what is a Groove Clip? A Groove Clip is an audio clip of any length that is "smart". How smart? Smart enough to remember the tempo at which it was played and smart enough to allow you to stretch that tempo without changing the pitch. You can change pitch if you like. Simply assign a reference pitch to the groove clip so when your song changes pitch your clip will follow it automatically.

You can easily convert any audio recording to a Groove Clip.

  1. Split the original clip, or use Slip Editing in the Track view until it's roughly a loop. If you slip edit, we recommend you right-click the clip and choose Apply Trimming
  2. Double-click the audio clip to open it in the Loop Construction view. The Loop Construction View contains tools that will quickly determine the number of quarter notes in a clip. A four measure clip in 4/4 time should have 16 beats. The number of beats in a clip must be specified for looping clips. SONAR will also determine the original tempo of the recording. SONAR uses the original tempo to adjust to your project's tempo. The original tempo must be specified for stretching clips.

For more information about SONAR's Loop Construction view, open the Loop Construction View and click Help, or push the F1 button on your computer keyboard.

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