Are you interested in creating songs and making beats? This guide is all about how to make beats, producing music and making simple songs for beginners. However, one thing you really should remember, your beats are going to be horrible in the beginning. You cannot be an expert in a day or two; in fact, you may feel stuck even after a few weeks. The only way you can excel in this is making beats every single day, as often as you can. You cannot just learn or copy making beats; you can only use the basics and practice your own music.
So, let us get started, shall we?
How Making Beats Works
It should start with a music or musical concept in your head. Even a melody, an inspiration, a movie, or a book will do. Your job as a beat maker will entail gathering instruments and creating sounds, such as:
– Create small musical loops or patterns, such as melody ideas, drumbeats, bass line etc.
– Arrange or combine the small musical patterns to produce bigger music pieces, such as verses, stanzas, chorus, introduction, and so on.
– Record songs or vocals.
– Adjust your music piece, add effects, and use mixing and mastering techniques to make it a complete product.
You can do all of the four things or just learn the basics and master in one.
Learn How Music Works
Before anything, you should know how music works. This doesn’t mean you have to go to a music school and learn the theory. Although music study gives a head start, you have to listen to the music you love every day. You have to figure out each beat, each note, each interlude, and each moving part of it to really understand music.
The sound used, the way the drums are put together, exactly where the intro stops, the chorus or verse begins, how the bridge takes place, the rises and the falls, and the changes in notes, key, emotion, and vibration are all part of the learning process. Study music practically and not theoretically.
That being said, if you have decided to get into the profession of beat making, you will have to start with the basic elements – understanding what beats, notes, time signatures, chord progressions, bars etc. are and understanding the structure of modern songs.
How You Create Beats
You can create beats in two ways: either recreate your melody idea or chorus line running in your head, in a studio (or) play around a bunch of sounds on the keyboard until you come up with something. The latter is also known as Freestyle beat making. Actually, there are more than a hundred ways to do it. It is a practice, trial and error process, where you add layers of beats – may be a piano or bass line, until you come up with a complete piece of music.
You will be using a lot of studio instrument and equipment, and software to get it done. Although the process seems complicated, it won’t cost you much money wise. However, you will have to be patient, passionate, and stay creative to follow it.
Getting it Started – What Instrument and Equipment You Need
Note: If you want to make BEATS alone and not willing to create a full composition, all you really need is a good laptop and few top-class beat making software.
The music industry is large and offers hundreds of choices in terms of music production equipment and software. You will have to do a bit of a market research, know your choices and learn the functions of each before you purchase your tools. Your budget and future goals should also be considered.
You will, however, need a few different things as a beginner if you are looking to make full songs. Today most studios are computer-based, however, a drum midi controller and a keyboard will make your work considerably easier.
There is no specification as to what kind of computer is required for creating beats and developing music. Don’t worry about the brand; a Mac can be as competitive as a Windows PC.
However, whether you need a laptop or a desktop it depends on your preferences. If you plan to travel often back and forth from studios, parks, music workshop, then you should choose a laptop over a desktop.
Your Beat Making Device
Your computer should have a dual-core processor, at least a 4GB RAM, a super powerful battery backup and a huge drive space to store your music. You should also try to invest in an external hard drive for archiving your music.
However, if you are okay to make some investments, we suggest that you choose a laptop that is run by the following:
– Intel Quad Core Processor
– 16 GB RAM
– 1 TB Regular Hard Drive to store your creation
– 250 GB Solid State Hard Drive to run the software
– 4 to 5 USB slots
Note: Don’t buy Tablets for music production.
Your Beat Making Tool
Now that you know (and have decided) the kind of computer you need for your beat making, you have to think about the tools to run the computer. You need a great (mind you, nothing lesser) software to load up your songs, create loops, arrange, record, mix and master your songs, and produce a result.
There are quite a few types of beat making software. Based on your requirement, you can go for one. For instance, if you are planning to create full compositions and record vocals, you will need a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Otherwise, for making beats alone, a beat maker or a combination is more than enough.
Why You Need Beat Makers
Software Beat Makers
Well, digital technology has made the work of composers much easier and fast. A modern music loop maker is a program that allows you to structure your beats in a laptop. You will be programming sound to repeat beats in different sequences with a MIDI hardware controller.
A MIDI controller looks like a keyboard or set of drum pads that control the sound in your beat making software. You can do a lot of stuff with the beat maker software, such as combine beats, stack one above the other, arrange them, and lot other stuff.
On the other hand, a software/hardware combo beat maker can eliminate the complication of getting certain hardware to work with certain software pieces. It happens when you work with MIDI hardware controller.
A software/hardware combo beatmaker has a MIDI controller hardware, which works with its own software beat maker.
Coming to DAW, a Digital Audio Workstation is an all-inclusive studio setup right inside your laptop. They have more power and more capabilities. If you plan to develop proper music and plan on setting up a proper studio in the future, you should consider investing in a good DAW.
Hardware Beat Makers
They give structure to your music, as in they are considered as the entire music production center systematically put together in a single piece of hardware, such as the music production keyboard or drum machine.
Since you are just starting out in making beats, we suggest that you stick with the software beat maker alone.
Other Pieces of Software and Hardware You Need
The additional pieces will act as your supporting cast in making your music better and rich. And, of course, faster and easier. But if you don’t have the money now, you can still run the show with just the lead characters, aforementioned. These additional tools are not required for beat making. So you can omit it altogether. They are:
– Virtual instruments/ sounds, such as loop libraries, single drum sounds, synthesizers, and pianos.
– Audio interfaces to handle professional audio production work.
– Headphones to hear your own music or playbacks.
– Studio monitors to give you the true colors of your sound, including the tiniest details and errors that are not distorted by your system.
– Studio microphones to record different sounds or instruments to use in your beats. This is necessary, even if you plan to make just beats. You should eventually purchase a great one. That should cost you a few hundred dollars.
Making Your First Beat Song
After you gather the required instrument, hardware, and software, it’s time for you to install everything and start making beats.
Every beat comprises of the following elements:
– Rhythm (drums, bass etc.)
– Accompaniment (harmonies, chords etc.)
– A Lead Melody
– Transitions (intro to verse to chorus to verse)
– Sound effects to spice up
– Proper arrangement of all of the above
You have to choose a synth to start with, go to the software browser and load some samples. Once you load your samples or sounds, you should try programming a melody within the sequencer. You can either play out on MIDI controller or click the boxes with the mouse.
You should be able to create different musical loops or long sections by stacking, arranging, or combining loops.
You should start with 4 bars loop at least. However, 8 bars loop is better and 16 bars loop is the best. The longer the better. Take out the different loops you have created and arrange them in the ‘arrangement window’ to produce a full song. Once that is accomplished, move on to add the finishing touches, such as add effects, remove or add drum parts or add a variety of combinations. Until it is interesting and engaging, you should keep trying.
That’s all it takes to become a beat maker.
Great Beat Making Tips for Beginners
- Find inspiration. Whether you are making Jazz, Hip-hop or Classical, find an influence and study what makes the vocalist, beat maker or musician sound the way they do. Listening to any style that inspires you, will bring a fresh perspective to the beats you are creating.
- Practice makes perfect. Clichéd, but true! If you practice every day for one or two hours, then within a month you will be 4X times better than what you were when you started. Don’t try to drag and drop pre-made loops into your sequencer. If you want to succeed, create music and learn it while at it.
- Play at least one instrument. Or learn an instrument. Learn the basics at least and not just the programming samples. For instance, if you want to build beat with drums, start with a drum track or play a launch pad if you are planning on bass beats.
- Leave the effects as a beginner. Focus on making beats when you are starting out. Effects are saved for mixing & mastering or producing certain sound on your beat. If you want to learn true art, start with raw elements. Effects are wrappings of a fresh beat. You don’t want that, do you?
- Amass a unique, deep and diverse sound library. Keyboard synthesizers sound from virtual instruments or any other source of music – make sure you have all unusual things stored in your sound repertoire. It will help you when you are looking for a creative loop.
- Start with your favorite song if you are having starting trouble. Sample your favorite record by adding a few drumbeats and some keyboard parts underneath and top of it. You can apply the technique to any genre. Just ensure the track you select has a good groove to it.
- Understand the difference between sampling vs. playing live. Sampling has been around for a long time. You take short snipped, chop it up and add the chopped part to a different key. Playing live is creating music from scratch.
- Focus on building Loops. It’s not about the entire beat, but it’s about the loop. Loops make a song, no matter the genre. Take loops and piece them together to make a song. You will understand what it actually means once you start practicing and creating.
Ask yourself, ‘what is the beat for?’ Only then you will be able to produce heartfelt pieces. Whether it is an instrumental album or rap, each comes with a style of beat. Or you can start with an empty canvas and go creative.
Carve your own path. Learn, explore and conquer your fears. Hope this blog helped you in finding your answers. Comment your experience in beat making and share the joy of music.