· By Jan Branicki
How to Make a Beat? Easy Steps to Get Going
Getting into music production can be daunting, especially to begin with. But creating your beats doesn't have to be complicated. With the proper guidance and essential tools, you can start making beats in no time. Here’s a guide on making beats for beginners.
What is beat making?
Beat-making is the creation of a piece of music's rhythm, melody, and structure. It serves as the foundation for a song. Imagine it as the backbeat you move your body to listen to music. A beat is typically composed of two parts, one is the rhythmic part, and the second is the melodic part.
Computer-based digital audio workstations (DAWs) allow musicians to start creating and recording music wherever they are. The hits are often now made at home rather than in glitzy studios. Thanks to modern technology, anyone with a computer or smartphone can start creating and marketing their homemade music immediately.
How to start making beats
Here's a simple checklist of things you'll need to begin:
- A computer or a mobile device is an essential piece of equipment you'll require to make beats. That will be the centre of your home studio.
- A digital audio workstation (DAW): This software will give you all the tools to start creating and programming your beats. Popular DAW options include programs such as FL Studio, Ableton Live, and Logic Pro X. They all have pros and cons, so research is essential to decide which is best for you.
- A set of headphones and speakers: You'll need these to listen to your beats while working on them.
- A MIDI controller allows you to control your DAW with physical buttons or pads rather than just pointing and clicking using a mouse. A great example of a helpful midi controller is the MIDI piano; you play the keys, and notes are transferred to your DAW as midi, which you can later edit and further manipulate.
- Sounds and samples: To make beats, you'll need to have a variety of sounds and samples to work with. You will need drum and percussion sounds which you will use to program the rhythmic elements of your beats, and you will also need sounds to create the melodic parts, for example, piano sounds that you can use your MIDI piano to play. You can find these sounds online or use the built-in sounds that come with your DAW.
- Digital Audio Plugins: A plugin is a piece of software that you use within your DAW to add effects to the sounds you are working on. Plugins can be used for various purposes, including processing and manipulating audio, synthesizing new sounds, and more. There are thousands of plugins available for different uses, but the stock plugins should be more than enough to get you started.
- Audio Interface: An audio interface is a piece of hardware you connect to your computer which essentially acts as a go-between for your computer and your musical instruments, such as a guitar, keyboard, or microphone. It also allows you to connect large speakers to hear what is being played on the computer. Imagine it as a translator that converts the sound from your equipment into a language your computer can comprehend.
That's it! Have fun, and don't be afraid to experiment and try new things! With these essential tools, you're ready to start making beats.
Making a beat step by step. A beat making guide
Set up your studio
Once you have all the essential beat making tools, you will want to connect all your equipment correctly using the user manuals, turn on your computer and launch your DAW.
Get to know your DAW!
Your DAW is your best friend! Put some time into getting to know its functions; Youtube is a great place to find beginner tutorials that can help you get familiar with the technical aspect of making beats.
Once you have explored your DAW and its functions, you will want to make a beat. An excellent place to start is by going through different sounds and samples: Decide what sounds and samples you want to use in your beat. You can find these online, or to start with, you can use built-in sounds that come with your DAW.
Build a groove
This isn't a set rule, but creating a simple drum pattern using basic drum sounds is an excellent place to start. The prominent drums sound is the kick, snare, and hi-hat. Alternatively, you could start using a drum loop to dictate the beat groove and build on top of it.
Once you have the rhythmic elements of your beat started, you can work on the melodic aspects of the beat. There's no one size fit's all way of approaching this, but an excellent place to start if you are a beginner is to go through some loops and samples until you find something that inspires you. Once you have found your loop, you will need to match it to the rhythm of the drums and build from there. Alternatively, if you play an instrument, you could start either by going through some of your DAWS stock sounds and triggering them using your MIDI controller or plugging in your guitar and playing to the established rhythm.
Time for FX
Once you have a basic beat with rhythmic and melodic elements, you can experiment with different plugins and effects to make the sounds more unique and exciting. Some popular and common FX include reverb, delay and compression.
Structure and arrangement
The next step is to arrange and structure your beat into something that would resemble a song. Most songs on the radio have some form of repetition, but they also have variation and are composed of several different sections. Try to make the structure of your beat as enjoyable as possible; a simple and effective way to do this is by adding or subtracting sounds for the different sections of the song.
Mixing and Mastering
The final step is mixing and mastering your masterpiece. This step is an art form, but patience and practice can make your tracks stand out. Mixing is essential for levelling the volume and frequency of the sounds in your beat in relation to each other. Depending on the genre of the beat you have made. Certain elements will be louder than others; for example, in Hip Hop, the drums would be the most audible element of the mix in a beat. This step will make sure your beat is polished and ready for sharing.
The most crucial aspect of beat-making is practice. The more time you spend doing it, the better you will become. Many elements and skills are needed to make beats, including musicianship, knowledge of your DAW and equipment, and the ability to hear and position different sounds. You will want to keep up-to-date with the latest plugins and equipment as you improve.
Each skill can take years of practice to develop, but the good news is, with each beat you make, you will be developing those skills.