Looping Techniques For DJs: Loop Move Macros

Today’s article is inspired by the king of loops: Mr Richie Hawtin, who masterfully moves around songs, layering loops into an energetic blend of drums that always stay in time. How does he do it? Fortunately for you, I asked him that exact question on the CNTRL tour. Today we’re sharing one important concept from Mr. Hawtin that is critical for DJs looking to play musically with loops.

SEARCHING FOR THE PERFECT LOOP

The basic concept behind this style of loop mixing is that when mixing in a second (or third, or fourth) track, being able to set a loop at a certain part of a phrase (often the beginning) and then moving the loop around the track in 16/32 counts keeps the loop phrased correctly. The process is as follows:

  1. Always start the track on a down beat. I use load markers set on the 1, with Traktor configured to always load to that marker.
  2. Set a loop that starts at that point (I macro-mapped my play button to also loop by default)
  3. Now move around in the track by jumping 16 or 32 counts. This keeps the beginning of the loop always at the start of a musical phrase.
  4. When it comes time to release that track, just release it on the 1 and everything will stay in time.

MAPPING LOOP MACROS

Just a few commands needed to map a loop move macro.
Just a few commands needed to map a loop move macro.

Making a Loop Move macro isn’t very hard – you’ll just need to map four commands in Traktor for it to work.

  • Loop Size Select + Set: (Encoder Press) Sets the first 4 count loop and activates it
  • Size Selector: (Encoder Press) Sets the move distance to 16 counts
  • Mode Selector: (Encoder Press) Sets the move mode to Loop move
  • Move: (Encoder Rotate) Moves the loop 

It’s important to hard code all the mode and size commands so the encoder works every time, even if the Move section was changed to a different type, like beat jump, or length. You want your mapping to consistently give you the same results, even if you’ve clicked around in the transport section.

Here’s an example TSI that has the exact controls above – good for building on top of, or integrating into your own mapping!

Next Tutorial: This technique works well with Ean’s Stage Mixing concept – click to watch. 

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  • Biosyntheka

    I have no idea how to do this in serato, anyone be a lifesaver? I have a DDj-Sb can it evern be done? There is extensive loop functionality on it so my guess is yes, but no idea how to macro map it – plzzzzzzzzzzz 🙂 peace everyone

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  • Ean I LOVE YOU!

  • Guest

    i love you

  • Coco Lupu

    did anyone manage to map something like this (the move selector thingy) in Ableton?

  • BinkC

    is there any mapping for the ddj-t1? i would love to do this on my controller

  • fmshred

    Ean can´t you get Richie to give us some insight in his techniques himself? That would be really great!

  • Sascha Plobner

    Can i do this also with Serato DJ?!

  • Francesco

    this is the standard on traktor s4, but not on x1. i recently bought a second hand x1 mk1 and audio 8 dj because i’m trying to change my actual s4 setup to a more modular one, and i was very, very disappointed when i found out that by default the loop move function on the x1 makes the loop jump by 1 beat only. it makes absolutely no sense to me, coming from an s4 controller. did NI change this behaviour in x1 mk2?

  • Sascha Plobner

    How can i do this with Serato DJ ?

  • Matthew Goldstein

    For those interested in using loop move macros with the X1 mk2 check out my latest mapping: https://maps.djtechtools.com/mappings/2442
    Enjoy!

  • Steve

    well if i turn the encoder it makes the loop longer PLUS the loop is moved. How can I solve this problem?

  • Aaron Zilch

    If you are using Ableton, think about “Legato” launching….

  • Vince

    how doe’s one integrate the example TSI with the loop macros into the factory X1 TSI settings? I know the provided loop TSI is an example, but this is my first MIDI mapping and don’t know the basics of mapping. When importing the example TSI, i get unexpected results… which i sort of expected. Anyone willing to give a step by step for a newbie? Thanks

    • Oddie O’Phyle

      preferences>controller manger>import tab>then search for un-zipped .tsi file. hope it does the trick for you.

      • Jakub Kroutil

        when i import your mapping, original x1 mapping disappears. Can i import your mappingi to the original x1 mapping? Or do I have everything mapped manually?

  • djsynth

    sorry guys for my inexperience but how can I integrate my mapping with these new commands without overwriting my actual settings? tnx so much

    • Stewe

      Simply add those commands to your existing mapping by using “Add In” tab. Ensure to create same button settings as in example .TSI.

  • Ulysses

    How do i map this on a S2 MKII? Is this possible?

  • Greg

    Does the tsi mapping provided work ok on the MK 2 Kontrol X1? I now realise the benefit of having the MK1

    • Greg

      i realised this is for MK1. Anyone any ideas on best way to map beat jump to MK II?

  • Clay Ford

    oohhhhhohohohohohho……this trick is dangerous in the right hands!!!! I LOVE IT!!!

  • Ulysses

    Can this mapping work on a Traktor Kontrol S2?

    • Clay Ford

      I can’t see why not.

  • b

    Its not so clear to me, does this mean that even if you have 4 beat loop, and when mapped this way that when you exit the loops it always jumps back to the first beat of a 16 or 32 beat phrase? Cause when looping with traktor and moving say a four beat loop 4 times..you know when to release it right? Have to say that that gets trickier with shorter loops 😉

    • Rayalon

      If you start the loop at the Downbeat your always going to be within the musical 4/8/16/32 phrase.
      The only issue is, some producers like to add a bar or two before the drop and by that they kind of blow this method away, unless you use hot cues for musically staying within the 4to32 beats count.

  • signaturex

    meow i thought this was going to be an RH demo ….. i would like to see his actions and the EDIT

    • signaturex

      i wish there was a t3 transport mode

  • Dual Citizen

    Another great tutorial! Thanks for this stuff.

  • RICO PRINZI

    You know, I was missing your tips.. But those two last “quick and dirty tips” are just awesome ! so keep it right and thank you 😉

  • Fatlimey

    That’s really simple yet fiendishly clever.

  • Oddie O’Phyle

    by far, my favorite loop guru/ dj/ producer/ label owner. some of my first memories of playing vinyl are of the “red and white” plastikman from +8. ritchie is one of the most level headed and easy going dj’s that i have met, it’s just a shame that running a label takes so much time away from his production. ty for the article.

  • chris

    this is very nice, that Richie Hawtin share his Tricks with us. I listen last week to an boiler-room session (Amsterdam) from Richie, and this shows me how much you need an heart for mixing music. I moved in the room to his boom 😉

    btw: Hater-music has already a big problem with smooth vibes, and i think is also a bit sick for the energy of the body.

    • chris

      Hey yo haters!
      I’m also an underground Dj, but i know, that i need some Vitamin D to have a clear mind.

      • sub-chris
      • Oddie O’Phyle

        hehehe… Vitamin D was one of my favorite dj’s in the 90’s.

        • chris

          it looks, that he had not finished his work

  • samsteeno

    What are the benefits of using a X1 mk1 over a mk2?
    I’m looking to go more modular from my S4, and I’m looking into an X1 for deck control
    Thanks,
    Sam

    • DJ Rob Ticho,Club mU

      This article (and the comments) may provide some insight. http://www.djtechtools.com/2013/08/13/video-review-traktor-kontrol-x1-mk2/

      Personally, I’m sticking with my original x1 for my modular set up but it does depend on your style. I’m actually thinking about adding a Behringer CMD PL-1 because it has a platter and I like to play a Capellas/Spoken word over techno beats. The platter helps me line up the timing nicely. I also have an S4 set up so i have the platter taken care of in that instance.

    • Chaser720

      The MK2 forces you to give up a loop size or move wheel for one deck (unless you run one unit for each deck). I haven’t used the touch strip but the click feel of the encoder provides touch feedback when your changing loop sizes or moving within a track.

      You know Ean has access to any controllers he wants and still uses the MK1s so that’s saying something.

      • Aken

        Yeah, and this video (http://www.djtechtools.com/2013/08/13/video-review-traktor-kontrol-x1-mk2/) where he promotes the mk2 is one another example about the integrity issue of the guy 🙂

        • Chaser720

          Well the touchstrip is cool tech but its just aimed at a different purpose. Also Ean does run a store and stocking a new product and telling everyone it’s useless wouldn’t be the brightest idea. ha

    • The X1mk2 is a very nice controller, however I really value the 4 total encoders with 2 dedicated to each channel strip for loop move and browse.

      • Coco Lupu

        HI Ean, Is there anyway of replicating this in Ableton?