I know this may outrage more than a few readers, some of whom are my friends, but I’m going to go out on a limb here. Loop music is stupid.
If you’re stupid and want to be a musician (or think you are one), then making music with sampled loops is great. You get to bask in the glow of having accomplished something or other, without the inconvenience of having to grapple with any of those nasty intellectual challenges. If you yourself are smart, but your intended audience is stupid, then again — loops may be an ideal solution.
But if you’re smart, and aspire to make music that smart people will want to listen to, then being seduced by the prevailing musical culture, which glorifies loops, would be a dreadful mistake.
Good music involves a dynamic interplay between repetition and change. Too much change, and the music will be incomprehensible. Too much repetition, and it will be boring. But how much is too much?
Ultimately, as an artist, the only thing you can trust is your own understanding of the materials you’re working with. And if you’re smart, you will have a great deal of understanding of musical materials — of harmonic and melodic relationships, of rhythmic interplay, of timbral color, of large-scale structure, and so on.
When you load up a few loops, you’re bypassing your critical intelligence. You’re failing to interact with the material. In fact, you can’t interact with a loop, not really. That’s the definition of a loop! Sure, you can ramp the filter cutoff frequency up or down. You can nudge the delay send or the distortion level. But it’s still a loop. It’s still stupid. At the point when you start interacting with the stuff inside the loop — cutting out a snare drum hit, changing a few notes in the arpeggio — it’s not a loop anymore. It has become interesting.
Making music with loops is seductively easy. You can make ten seconds’ worth of compositional decisions and let the music run for three minutes while you zone out on the groove.
That’s my definition of stupid.