It’s interesting how a lot in contemporary dance music is based on four-bar loops. Now, there’s more 1-bar looping happening, as well, and some occasional longer loop is in there.
Anyway, to make things interesting, there’s no need to always use bars evenly divided by four. A classical trick is to take a loop, such as a four-bar one, and just loop three parts of it. This makes it an syncopated loop that changes over time. With Ableton Live it’s really trivial to make such loops.
Or, as in the image above, this loop is not a one bar one, rather 3/4 bar long. Such syncopation loops are really good for changing drum sounds — resembling the effect with African drumming where these tricks are used. But it could be used for other cases, too.
Another example is a melody or a bass line that is seven bars instead of eight. I did a recording recently, a minimalist track, where by mistake I only recorded seven bars in Logic. I didn’t notice it until I placed out this melody loop, and it really worked out well as the variation happened over the whole track. A 9-bar track would do something similar, too. Or any other non-standard bar loop.
The key is to experiment and try out if it works. It’s true that the dancing audience kind of expects even bar loops, and the brain does not like too much non-organized material, but a strategically placed loop that is not normal will make the track much more interesting.