Improvising in Loop-Based Programs

Improvising in Loop-Based Programs 

Eric Kay
[email protected]
Bethpage High School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Electronic Musical Instruments
Music Production


High School


Music Technology


Computers that can run Jam Trax, Garage Band, Super Duper Music Looper, or other loop-based software. Appropriate equipment for playback is helpful.


80 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Basic computer skills, understanding of loop-based music

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 2: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
MENC 3: Improvising melodies, harmonies, and accompaniments.
MENC 4: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.


An overhead digital projector is helpful, but not required.


SWBAT improvise over a multi-track song they create using pre-programmed loops in a loop-based program. SWBAT identify key signature, and transpose. SWBAT use a loop-based program to create a one-minute song to practice improvisation.


Teacher will demonstrate creation of a one-minute long 4-track song in GarageBand, and demonstrate how to track the time, transpose, and improvise using the black keys.
Part 1: 1) Drum track; 2) Low (bass) track; 3) Harmonic structure (guitar) track; 4) Ambiance, sound effects, counterpoint, or alternate guitar (picking funk rhythm, for example).
Part 2: Note the running time– make sure it is around one minute.
Part 3: Transpose to Eb.
Part 4: While playing back your song, improvise using the black keys.


Teacher will assess whether project goals were met satisfactorily in two ways: 1) By checking ongoing progress: A) Does each student have 4 tracks? B) Is the student aware of the length and key of the song? C) Has the student tried to improvise along with the song? 2) After all students have made satisfactory progress, each student will play the song through speakers and improvise on the keyboard.

Follow Up:

1) Students create an original melody to accompany their looping project, notate it using software (Finale or Sibelius, for example), and learn to play it on the keyboard. 2) Students create a sequence that includes an original melody, using software (Cakewalk, for example) .

Items to Purchase:

Jam Trax, Super Duper Music Looper, or other appropriate looping software.

When budget should be submitted:

Before budgets are submitted for review and approval.

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