Putting it all together?

Hey guys, help me! :slight_smile:

I’m right now at a stop sign, I create some nice sounds on the four tapes (typically one for drums, one for bass, one/two for leads or pads/sampled sounds), I get the sounds to blend quite nicely, but that’s it!
What do I do next?
How do I move forward with my song?
How does your creative process look like?

Right now (and this happens everytime!) I allways stuck at having four nice loops and nothing more, I find it hard to add layers to the allready recorded parts, how do you do it? :slight_smile:

Take a quick break from the OP1 and listen to a couple of records that you love. Listen to the arrangement, how the dynamics change, how the song flows. Now try and replicate that. One of the most important things I have learned is not to be so precious.

Transition into new melody? What kind of songs are you writing? Would verse/chorus etc structure be suitable?

+what ghostly said :wink:

Thanks for your replies! :slight_smile:
I’ll try to explain what I mean…
I’m pretty sure how I want my music to sound like (lo-fi/beatoriented/instrumental/moody/hiphop-music), I’m just finding it hard to layer out a complete song/sketch with the OP (that’s what I meant with coming up with those 4 loops), how do you guys proceed and what techniques do you use when composing on the OP? :slight_smile:

Any step-by-step guide is greatly appreciated! :smiley:

practice overdubbing onto recorded tracks.

remember to lift+drop track before you overdub. this way if u eff it up you can drop your old track and do it again.
once u start getting the hang of it, it becomes second nature

examine arrangements (as suggested)

making nice loops is a good start, then lay them out with some kind of structure

eg. 8 bars of this, 8 bars of that. maybe you’ll want an 8 bar transition to move from one to the other (maybe 4, maybe 6, depends)

think about elements that can unify the two different parts — i.e. if there are heavier drums in loop 2, maybe drop the drums out, or introduce a percussion loop that can tie the two together.

if the second part is more melodic, start teasing elements of the melody during the transition.

in the few bars before the change i often use (not an original idea, but one i stole) some long reversed cymbals or very slow attack chord pads to build a crescendo, then a moments silence and the new part.

in terms of doing these things within the op-1 workflow it’s all about the overdubs - as doc said. lift+drop is key. so is making mistakes, ditching everything you’ve just worked on and starting again (so many times!)

(on the flipside of all that, if your loop is dope enough… do you need a second part? :slight_smile: )

If you want to know how to turn your loops into songs, you should just look on YouTube for OP-1 videos. There are several people who take 4 or 8 bar loops across 4 tracks and spin them into tracks in real time. Check out DJ Thomas White and Zulu Monk, among others. MasonSelf is also really good at live ‘playing’ of loops.

Very true. Our very own @speckdrum has some terrific YT videos showing just this.

For me, the key to a solid realtime OP-1 arrangement is in the preparation of tape segments for each track. Since shift+loop (patch key #3) will make the loop length the size of the current tape segment in the currently selected track, I set up each track with different tape segment lengths.

Using mutes, solos, the mixer page, and rhythmic FX all combined to make a 4 or 5 minute performance the tune itself is something I’ve been doing for decades with other hardware. But this relationship between tape track segment length and the overall loop length is unique to the OP-1, and IMO crucial to getting the most from it.

Overall, I’ll have a 16 bar master loop of material to formulate a tune from.
The first track (drums 1) is usually cut into 2 bar segments, with every 2 or 4 bars having a variation on that beat.
Track 2 (drums 2, or bass) is usually cut into larger segments, typically 4 segments of 4 bars each.
Track 3 (melody 1, synth) I’ll have cut into either 4 or 8 bar segments, depending on the song.
Track 4 (melody 2, or FX sounds) will be one long 16 bar segment. Often for breakdowns, I’ll prefer a 16 bar loop, so a quick selection of this track and then shift + loop gives me an instant 16 bar loop length.

With my tracks set up in this way, I can easily change the loop length while muting and soloing tracks to get all sorts of variations. Using shift + > or < to navigate between looped regions.

My realtime arrangement gets hit with some nice gooey OP-1 tape compressor GR while being recorded to album, and then transferred to my Mac where I open it in Ableton.
Here, I add the last 5%…

One thing I’ve been doing to make my OP-1 compositions a bit more complex is using Ableton for additional layering, but using only the recorded OP-1 audio. I’ll copy material out of the breakdown and put into a new Ableton audio track in the arrange page. Then use the complex warping and pitch it around for chord progressions, and also filter it. This add some depth to the synth tracks. The panning of this added channel is inverted from the original material which gives it more stereo space.
Sometimes I’ll edit mistakes (unmuting or soloing a track to early, or late), or elongate phrases, or shorten phrases. All with simple cut/copy/paste commands.

As for sonic treatments in Live…
Since most of my drums were on one channel back on the OP-1, I often pan that channel slightly to the left on the OP-1, but then use iZotope Ozone’s Imager to mono everything under 300hz in the album recording. This puts the kick back in the center, but keeps the other drums on that channel slightly panned. Still in Imager, I push out the stereo width of the high mid and high bands as well, which helps with the next effect…
I’ll add a mid/side reverb (Ozone 4) to get more liveliness out of the track, usually reverberating the frequencies between 700z and 13khz only.
Some EQ cut corrections are also made here, and then some limiting.

Since shift+loop will make the loop length the size of the current tape segment in the currently selected track, I set up each track with different tape segment lengths.
Didn't even know this !!!
So far I was stuck with only one loop length....
And serious knowledge dropped underneath, Adam :)

Thx for sharing friend !

You might want to drop a line or two in the "Tips & Tricks" section so that one can find this again later, @AdamJay...

@AdamJay - some great tips in there, cheers!

You might want to drop a line or two in the "Tips & Tricks" section so that one can find this again later, @AdamJay...

The Shift+loop (patch key #3) trick is already on the first page there, posted by Spheric_El, who let me know about it when i asked in this thread Change quantized loop length while tape is running? - OP-1 - OP Forums

So much good info in that Tips & Tricks thread that it’s easy to overlook.

In the linked thread Speric_El also mentions another solution, which is useful. “You can also scroll green and shift + green ,for end and start points ,but not as quick.”

I knew about the green encoder tricks but never thought to set track audio clips to different quantisations, genius I say, well done @Spheric_El !

I knew about the green encoder tricks but never thought to set track audio clips to different quantisations, genius I say, well done @Spheric_El !

Ah yes, well that I could add to the Tips & Tricks thread.

Enough hijacking… Curious to hear other folks’ arrangement workflows also…

Respect where it due @Lymtronics gave me the original tip.


So many great tips and so much help, very much appreciated! :slight_smile:
When writing this my OP is powering up, time to make some tunes! :smiley:

Thanks again everybody!

@jimboeh hope you managed to get unstuck. I’m now at where you’ve been when you started the thread…

It sounds like my workflow is very similar to yours, the various length loops layout helps tremendously for live variation.

One thing I also do often is sample a fill (usually drums or lead synth) onto one of the DRUM sampler patches and set the first few keys to different start points within the sample.
This combined with some creative muting and tape breaks can liven up a jam.

Recording the tape loops to ALBUM then bouncing back to TAPE at various speeds is fun too, especially if you’re into chopped and screwed remixes. Slow drums with delay and CWO can yield some interesting results.

Whenever I feel like the track is stagnating I take a pause, copy the drums to a blank spot of tape, then practice my scales with a synth patch that’s not used in the previous loops. That usually sparks at least one positive idea and helps me move forward.
If I’m really stuck I just backup my files to the phone or PC, whichever is handy, then wipe the tape and browse Vinyl Archeologie on YouTube for inspiration.

…magic thread…

Great thread, really interesting stuff.