StrickMusic Tips: How to make beats Part 1
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Lately, I have been getting a lot of emails asking me how to make beats. While I truly believe there is no cookie cutter method to making hip hop beats, below are some tips that will get you on the right track. First, it’s very important that newbie beat makers realize that there are different types of hip hop producers. There are the sample-based producers like Just Blaze and 9th Wonder, and there are producers who like to compose such as Ryan Leslie. Using samples to make beats is an art that dates back to the origin of hip hop music. DJs would get a vinyl record and chop it up to compose something new. This is an art that is still relevant and if you disect many tracks that you think are totally original, you’ll see that many are actually heavily sampled beats. With the advancement of computers and digital music software not only has sampling gotten easier, but it’s not even necessary anymore. There are tons of VSTs that come with brillant sounds right out of the box.
Your first decision on how you like to compose will directly affect what equipment you will invest in. A sampled based producer will want to invest in an MPC or something similar, and a composer, will want to get a quality midi keyboard so they can actually play instruments. Personally, I use a midi keyboard and a software sampler because it allows me to play musical melodies and also lay samples across the midi keys where they can be triggered. I will expand more on this technique in a later blog post. After you know where your passion lies, you are ready to get started.
What is a DAW? Why do i need one?
A DAW is a digital audio workstation. This will be the software where you compose, record, mix, and master. This is a music producer’s home base. When you are learning how to make beats, it’s important to pick a software that is user friendly and doesn’t immediately scare you off when you load it up for the first time. (I’ve had this experience before lol) The advantage of learning an industry standard software like Pro Tools or Logic Pro is that you’ll save some retraining down the road. But the initial learning curve and expense will be much higher. Would you be better off with an app that is cheaper and less complicated?
Ultimately, that answer is up to you. These questions may help you decide.
1. What is your ultimate music production goal?
If your goal is to work in a studio, it may be better to jump right in with an industry-standard DAW like Pro Tools. On the other hand, if you will creating music at home, finding an app that fits your budget and works on your current computer may be more important.
2. Do you learn better by taking things step-by-step, or jumping in the deep end?
No one stays a beginner forever, and if you learn best by challenging yourself, consider starting with one of the big guns. On the other hand, the initial learning curve will be quite steep. Many people will find learning much easier on a “beginner’s” DAW. In fact, it may have all the features you need.
3. Are you ready to invest hundreds of dollars in software at this stage of the game?
Some of the big DAWs will set you back many hundreds of dollars. And that cost is justified – see it as an essential investment in professional quality software. But the investment also comes with a level of commitment. Once you spend that much money you’ll be reluctant to change programs later. In fact, you may not be able to afford to! Are you ready to make that investment at this stage of the game? Are you sure you’ll stick with music production? Will you invest the time it takes to learn how to make beats?
4. Would you like to do some more research before deciding?
Don’t feel pressured to decide right now. Before buying a car you want a chance to kick the tires. The same goes for DAWs. Many have demo versions. Some DAWs come included in other purchases, like a keyboard or audio interface. You might like to try a few before deciding to buy. Also, first spend some time reading about your options. Read users’ opinions in our Open Mic post, read through some tutorials for the DAW you think you might buy, or buy a book or visit the library. Give yourself an opportunity to make an informed decision….More atWhat Is the Best DAW for Beginners?
My advice to newbie hip hop producers is always the same: Take the time to read and learn your DAW software. You will be happy going forward that you read up on the art of making beats and many of the terminology and techniques that you learn early will still be applicable when you move to more advanced software. After you have picked your DAW, you need sounds. There are many ways to acquire great sounds and quality VSTs. But, a great place for beginner hip hop producers to start are the generic producer “beat kits.” A simple google search of the term “beat kit” will bring back thousands of results. Most of the sounds in these free beat kits are not very high quality, but there are many gems within them. When I started out, I downloaded as many beat kits as possible and went through them, keeping only the best sounds from each one. Eventually you will have your own personal producer pack full of quality drum and synth sounds.
Next, when you’re first learning how to make beats, you will want to round up the best free VSTs you can find. Here is a great resource to find free quality VSTs:
“Making commercial music is almost like graphic design, only instead of photoshop your using a digital audio workstation, but to have a professional sound you need good synths and samples. I am assuming if your reading this you probably already have a DAW and are looking for something to spice up your sound, but if your just starting out you probably don’t have a lot of money. So I’ve compiled a list of some of the best free vst plugins, solid resources to learn about free vst’s, and websites to download legit plug-ins….More atDay In the Life of a Commercial Musician: Best Free VST Plugins: A …“
If you haven’t realized yet, there really is no manual that will tell you exactly how to make beats. However, this article will get you started and guide you as you evaluate which tools you choose to invest in. Next, all you need next is inspiration! So… let’s sit back and watch Ryan Leslie create a hit song:
In my next post I will expand more on my personal beat making process and how you can apply it when you just starting out. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more blog updates on how to make beats!
Trying a new method to how I make beats. Gotta do something that works for me.
— DreBrownBeats (Bushido Brown) (@DreBrownBeats) Mon Mar 25 2013
Wish I knew how to make beats
— MilesBehavior_ (Ace Boogie 3/20) (@MilesBehavior_) Mon Mar 25 2013
RT @10at10calgary: Learn how to MAKE BEATS using Ableton 9 Tomorrow night at 6:30pm. Our homies at Beat Drop are hosting this ALL… htt …
— OneEntEvents (ONE Entertainment) (@OneEntEvents) Mon Mar 25 2013