Beat Making Tips
Tips and Thoughts on making Hiphop Beats by Phat Suspekt
The first step of making a beat is probably the selection of sounds.
The classic approach is sampling instrumental parts, drumbreaks, solos or intros of existing records. If you are going for boombap, you will find a lot of samples in jazz and soul records. But also modern beat styles like trap or grime benefit from the use of samples. In these genres, the selection of sample sources might be different, as the processing of the samples is.
Another way to produce melodies, chords and basslines is the use of digital/analog synthesizers and virtual instruments. With a little knowledge about different types of synthesis and digital processing, music theory and the functions of your DAW, you can reproduce almost every sound you have in mind.
Without musical knowledge, beatmakers have the option to download pre-made loops and melodies and drag it into their DAW. The use of pre-made loops might be a bit controversial, but it's easy to start for new beatmakers. You can still be creative and filter, chop, process and re-arrange these loops to get your own sound.
Finally, you can record musicians with „real instruments“. The challenge in this case is to obtain the desired sound quality from the musical skill, the audio gear and the recording rooms you are working with.
The sound selection is a „creative“ part itself and floats into the actual „creating“ part.
That's the most fun part for most producers. Here you can let yourself go and dive into production. Chopping samples, playing chords and melodies, tapping hard hitting drum loops and building big atmospheres can be considered as the core part of beat production. Sound design is important in this process, and musical understanding helps in creating tension and emotions.
There is no recipe for this part of beatmaking.You can start with a drum loop and add other instruments on top, or you can play a guitar melody and build an instrumental around it. Sometimes beats are built around acapellas, if you are making a remix for example. Why not starting with a sick soundscape or some 808s?
It's good to start a beat with an inspiration, an idea of a certain sound you want to create. Get inspiration in other music genres, the nature, from your emotions or in the work of other producers. Also, different approaches for every project can be inspiring. Sampling stuff, playing with synths, programming a drum loop, start every beat individually.
There is also no clear line between the creating and the arranging process in most cases. The arrangement can be quite challenging, and you need a good one to point out the different highlights of a beat on the one hand, and giving the performing vocal artist a good framework on the other hand.
If you are making rap beats, keep in mind to leave enough space for the vocals, regarding instrumental arrangement and frequency ranges. One technique is to get a rap acapella of the genre you are producing and make a beat around it. You can also rap or mumble along while making a beat, to get a feeling for possible rap flows and to see where the arrangement is too dense.
It makes sense to use reference tracks here. Check how pros are arranging intros, verses, bridges, hooks and breaks. And be creative. You don't need to follow the standard intro/verse/hook scheme to make interesting tracks.
For the mixing and mastering process of beats, i set up individual pages.