This is a guideline for anybody looking to jump in and get started making their very own beats as soon as they possibly can. To do this there are just five key things that you need to know.
Or, in professional terms, your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW for short). Without a doubt, free software is definitely NOT the way to go! But no-one wants to start off shelling out huge amounts of cash for what may just be a hobby. That’s why I’d recommend the trial version of Image Line’s FL Studio 12. Some features will be limited (for instance, the ability to load your saved work. I mean, what’s that about!), but you can export everything you do in one instance so…yeah! However, if you own a Mac, then look no further than your friendly neighbourhood Garageband, which should already be installed. If not, then it should be free from the app store.
Samples and Loops
Samples and Loops are any producers best friend. They are audio files that have been previously recorded. Thanks to these bad boys, you don’t need to be the next Beethoven to use your own imagination to make a dope ass beat! The best sounds obviously come at a price but there is no shortage of folks out there donating and sharing their sounds online. It’s best to get them in packs to keep everything sounding similar (trust me, it make the editing a whole lot easier) but don’t be afraid of snatching individual sounds to add to your library.
Song tempo refers to the speed at which your song will play, counted in beats per minute or BPM for short. The range you’re looking for is between 75 and 95 bpm if you’re down to make some more “traditional” hip-hop, but don’t be afraid to go up to 115 if you need a bit more energy. Anything higher than that and you’ve entered into the realm of pop rock. However, Trap music (pretty much all you hear these days) sits comfortably between 135 and 145 bpm and follows a similar drum pattern and structure to Dubstep.
That being said, song structure is one of the most overlooked components. Anybody can make a 4 bar loop and let that repeat for three and a half minutes. Being able to properly define your verses from your hook will add a whole other dimension to your song. Verses are typically 16 bars in length with an 8 or 4 bar Hook/Chorus in between each. Later on you’ll discover the power of having a bridge or letting your song be led in by an intro, but just verses and a chorus are the best places to start.
Having a Vision
Most Importantly: Have a vision before you sit down and start banging away at your keyboard hoping that magic will appear. If you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will take you there. That being said, Know what it is you’re aiming for and make sure you hit it!
Feel free to leave any questions or comments below and I’ll get back to you soon.