What Is The Difference Between A Loop And A Sample?

For music production, terms like samples and loops are something that are highly used. You may wonder what differentiates the two.

Don’t worry, this post has you covered. so let’s get into it…

What is the difference between a loop and a sample?

A loop is a composition composed in a way that allows it to orderly and seamlessly repeat to create a desired pattern. A sample on the other hand is portion of an existing song that is cut and lined up to be used within a new record. A sample can also be looped, which would then make it a “sample loop”.

It’s also worth it to mention that the word “sample” is also used to describe any piece of audio that could simply be a one-shot or a section of audio that can used to create a pattern or anything else. For example, to create a drum loop, you’ll utilize various individual drum samples.

Loops

Loops are the building blocks of any song or composition. They create the general direction of the music with regard to their repetitive nature.

There are various types of loops, which are used in music namely drum loops, guitar loops, piano loops etc. Most composers nowadays are creating loop packages that are made available to music producers either for sale or for free.

Once loops are acquired, the music producer can then build a song around the loop to create a fully fledged record.

If you’re a beginner looking to have a grasp on what a loop is;

An example ; the general groove of drum instruments that you hear in your favorite music is a loop, it plays over and over again thereby continuity.

Loops are also of varying duration, so there’s no specifics as to how long a loop should generally be. If it can be able to be repeated seamlessly, it constitutes and qualifies to be a loop.

For example a loop can be as short as 4 seconds and there are a lot of songs that utilize loops of such length.

Therefore the key take away here is that a loop is a composition created for the purpose of being seamlessly repeated through out the duration of record to create a song.

Samples as One-shots

I have gone the extra mile to basically differentiate sampling from what a single “sample” is.

With regard to this topic, a sample is also any piece of audio that can be used within a digital audio Workstation.

The kick, snare, cymbal and other samples that you use to create your drums are all individual samples that you combine together.

They can also easily be called one shots because they are most of the times a single individual element.

I have an article detailing what a one-shot is here, it will help you further understand this topic.

Samples from music

To give a deeper context to this whole topic, we also need to discuss samples from music and other compositions because they also called samples.

Sampling is an old technique that has its roots originating from Hiphop production because it is the genre that involved heavy usage of samples.

By definition a sample from a song is a portion of an original song or composition that is derived to be used in a different song. The goal is to basically create something new and unique while relying on the musical qualities of the sample.

Samples from music are usually looped to create a seamless repetitive pattern. This has to be very well understood because it can easily confuse you.

A loop is any composition that is composed carefully to make it repeat or loop coherently to create a pattern that can be used. A sample that is derived from a record can also be looped to make a full song of which the sample would then also be called a Loop.

Therefore, theres really no huge difference between a loop and a sample because they are often times the same thing.

Uses of Loops and Samples

Creating songs

The most obvious use for samples and loops is basically for the creation of songs.

Music producers, always utilize loops in their work because they provide the continuity aspect of music. They can also gather and carefully compose with various individual samples aswell.

Provide additional content

A key use that is related to loops and samples from the result of sampling music is to provide additional content that can be used in song creation to provide a more in depth feel or better context.

Collaborative tools

In relation to loops, they are also generally used as a way to collaborate.

For example, a music producer trying to collaborate on a project with a distant producer can simply create various compositional loops that they can send to their collaborator in order for them to pick the composition that they feel they can work on.

The result would then be collaborative.