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Chapter 12. The Sound of Games > Creating Music Loops

Creating Music Loops

Much like tiles for the background of a Web page or those in a tile-based world, a music or audio loop is an economical means of creating a larger sound or musical idea from a smaller one. The goal is to make the loop seamless and interesting. In most cases, there should not be any sense of beginning or end to your sound because this very quickly creates monotony. Looping sound has been in use since the early days of electronic music and musique concrète (a form developed in the early 1940s, based on the recording, mixing, and synthesizing of sounds found in nature). In the old days, loops were created by splicing the ends of a tape-recorded sound and piecing the start and end segments of the sound together with splicing tape. This looked like—you guessed it—a loop. The sound designer would then set the looped tape on the reel-to-reel and hit the Play button, and there you had your repeated sound. Needless to say, this was a very time-consuming process, and any mistakes made in the cutting of the tape were very difficult to repair. Add to this the fact that there was no way to determine exactly where to cut the tape except by trial and error with a piece of chalk to mark potential cutting points.

Thanks to the awesome help of computers, this process has been made much easier, faster, and precise beyond aural perception. In digital audio the basic process is still the same as it was with tape, only we now have the ability to “audition” the loops before making the cut, and of course there's the magical Undo button. I will discuss two ways of making looped sounds on the computer: The first one is with beat-/loop-creation soft and the other is by editing preexisting sound and music with digital-audio editing software.


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