Building full arrangements on the OP-1: tips, thoughts?

Curious if anyone has any tips for building a complete 6 minute arrangement on the OP-1. When I get to about 32 seconds I start to get confused about which bar I’m on and which track should I overdub. Also bouncing tracks down seems to be necessary, but I’m not sure of the best way to do this.

Ideas on arrangement, track management and keeping track of where you are in the song?


You can display about 24 bars if you expand your selection. Jump around with loop points, stop ad stop+arrow. But that is not a real solution to your problem
Know your project and you should intuitively know where you are and what track to overdub etc... etc...

Hey @djadonis206,

There are two main ways of bouncing, both end up with audio in mono.

You can either (1) record multiple tracks to album and then record back to tape using the white ear or (2) use the white ear to record up to three tracks onto a spare fourth track, if you have one.

When I record with the white ear, I reduce my drive to zero before recording and then reinstate my drive settings afterwards. This is because the white ear also records your drive (and also EQ and master effects). I also do a couple of practice attempts on the first 5 seconds or so to get the recording volume right.

I rarely do any bouncing in order to free up space these days. I think I start out with a loose intention of what elements I want to keep separate (eg, drums on 1, synths on 2, pan hard left on 3, pan hard right on four) and then do overdubs, doing a lift and drop before each overdub as a one-level undo.

It’s a virtual tape, not a DAW, so you have to develop that mentality of not being able to “see” everything.

That said, you can see cut points on the Tape, too, so you can break the Tape into segments at least. Might help some.
It's a virtual tape, not a DAW, so you have to develop that mentality of not being able to "see" everything.


It's a virtual tape, not a DAW, so you have to develop that mentality of not being able to "see" everything.

That said, you can see cut points on the Tape, too, so you can break the Tape into segments at least. Might help some.

That’s what I was doing last night - splitting takes at 8 bars. That’s short enough to lift and drop but also provided me with a reference for where I was at.

Great suggestions by the way!

You’ll also learn it’s much easier not to literally have the whole song tracked out, where you just press play and wait.

Lots of the structure you might have tracked out manually anyway can be done with live tweaking, muting/unmuting, etc.

One tip which you may or may not know: when you’re playing a loop, you can do shift+forward or back, and it will switch a “ghost loop,” the same length as the current one, right before or after the current loop. It will start playing this ghosted loop normally when it reaches the end of the current loop, or if you hit play.
So you can do things like switching live between 8-bar loops, or even things like switching to a different loop for only the last bar, as a fill or something.

The key to composing on the OP-1 IMO is the Shift+> to advance your loop. I work in 4 Bar loops. I start with say synth on track 1/drums on track 2/bass on track 3/piano on track 4. When those are full I copy and paste that to the next four bars. This is the next part of my song where I overdub a new sound etc etc. I usually have first 4 bars intro-second 4 bars-verse-then chorus-bridge- then Ill move back to the second 4 bar set for the chorus again and re start the progression. Using track mutes the whole time. This is also how I perform with the OP-1 so it makes it easy to improvise and perform the song in the future.

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@djadonis206: plenty of track building tips in this thread including “making a track from scratch”. Well worth a look.

Thanks for your helpful comments and suggestions. After spending some more time with the OP-1 over the weekend, I'm realizing my biggest hurdle to putting together a track is navigating between sections/loops.

Is there a way to jump to the end of a loop? That would speed things up and actually allow me to stay focused and not get confused about where I'm at in a particular track.


I don’t think that’s possible, but you can speed up the tape much faster when you hit forward or rewind and press number 4 of the 8 keys. Very helpful tip from lymtronics…

I’m still struggling to work out a nice workflow for building a track. I think I prefer a linear workflow rather than a loopy one, committing ideas to tape, even though I had some good experiences with playing loops with different effects with the white ear as a basis for further experimentation.

What I tend to do is experiment with an idea on a spare bit of tape and, if I like it, take it further, and if not, ferret it away for later… I almost always find a way for using it later when I’m totally out of ideas. And actually, when I get round to using them, they seem more special because they’re ready made audio that you can use guilt free because you made them!

I work on a section at a time and don’t care if I’m working on totally the wrong bit of track meaning I’ll have to do hundreds of boring, mindless shifting of tape over four tracks to achieve a nice segueway between sections - I reckon five minutes of pain is totally worth it!

Sometimes, I end up with disparate sections of audio that I have no idea how to combine in a nice way. One trick I love is to take a crash sound, perhaps with some nicely timed delay, play it to tape, lift and drop it into a drum sampler, set a key to play it backwards over four bars, add some spring and overdub a “lead in” to the next section. I shamelessly overuse that one :slight_smile:

you can jump to the end of the audio on tape by holding stop and hitting the right arrow.