One of the most common questions seen on the “net” these days in regards to music is; “How do I make a beat?”
This question is often repeated ad nauseam and without clarification as to what the person is actually trying to accomplish.
Most commonly this seemingly simple question originates from an even simpler reason, lack of knowledge (or understanding). This can range from not knowing what one “should” use in terms of gear and or production techniques, or even what type(s) of tools one would use.
This is the first in a series of articles which attempts to help answer this apparently simple question with a quick and easily understood (hopefully) answer:
Q.] How do I make a beat?
A.] Tell me.
This seemingly cryptic answer is in fact more appropriate and revealing then one might realize to the question. You, make a beat however you make a beat.
Now before you think that I’m being condescending or just trying to be “snobby” to anyone that’s asked this question before let me further clarify.
If you ask this question and your intent is to make a so called “hip-hop” beat, then you need to be more specific. Are you wanting to create a “track” for an M.C. to rap over? Do you want a particular type of sound (Neptunes, Kayne, Timbaland, etc)? Or do you just want to know how to deconstruct some samples to suit a particular idea? (Perhaps you want to know what the “best way” to sample is?)
Irrespective of the specifics of what you might be wanting there is one very important things to always remember:
There is NO one way to make a so called “beat” or hip-hop track.
There are so many ways to accomplish the task of creating a track for an M.C. that it’s almost impossible to list all of them. And doing so would in some cases stifle the creative process.
Some so called “hip-hop” producers create tracks based on a sample, others start with a melodic idea or vocal “hook”, or even some still just use a base song construct as a shell or outline and work from there.
The important thing to remember here is that you need to find what works best for you.
Q.] How do I know what works best for me?
A.] Try it.
What this means is that you need to try any and everything, any techniques you might read about things you think of on your own, never be afraid to try anything. Ever.
Q.] How do I know what to try? Or where to start?
A.] Good questions.
It’s often stated that one should always start at the beginnings (this makes sense), you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been (so to speak).
For those that are interested in creating “hip-hop” tracks I would recommend researching the history of the “genre” with some internet searching and or checking out your local library or bookstore that specializes in such subjects to learn more of the origins and evolution of the genre.
[Note: I would recommend not relying on a single source for any information you come across when researching any topic, try and cross reference that with other sites, articles, books, etc. This will help give you a more well rounded view of the material in question.]
The ultimate goal of this article (series) is to create a hip-hop *track from scratch, examining the various elements involved and how to accomplish certain tasks using a variety of software and hardware tools.
So I hope you’ll come along for the ride as we construct a track from the “ground up” and try and understand what available options currently exist for accomplishing such tasks.
See you soon!
[How To:] Creating Instrumentals (A Hip-Hop “Beat”) Part II… (Coming Soon)
*(I prefer to not use the term “beat” when referring to a hip-hop track for various reasons. I will elaborate on this later in the series and explain my reasons for this.)