Beat-making is an art.
No, I take that back.
Beat-making is part art, part science.
If you want to become great (or even competent) with music production, you have to work both sides of the coin. Ignore either and pay the price.
To get an idea about what it really takes, I asked some of my friends to share their top beat-making tips, and have collected that wisdom here.
Mostly these are direct quotes, but with some small edits to emphasize the best bits.
“…practice this shit like it’s an instrument”
My advice would have to be, practice this shit like it’s an instrument. There’ s a lot more to producing than people think… You have to study it and take it seriously. So many different things tie into this , it’s not just laying drums and some cool sounds. Take some time to look into what makes these tracks you love so good, what makes certain sounds stand out, and actually figure out what you’re doing… Stay patient and dedicated and it pays off.
– Paul Collins (Katalyst) >> soundcloud.com/katalyst
“Don’t overthink it…”
I believe the best tip to producing is not to over-think it. Some beats are complex, some are simple. Just feel the music, make beats that make you move. Produce based off instinct. Also buy vst plugins instead of downloading pirated ones… If you buy plugins you will stand out because most producers are going to have the same free plugins.
– BenBen KOKY >> soundcloud.com/benben-koky
“Divide your sessions between sound sessions and composition sessions…”
I find it really useful in music production to have sessions where the producer is designing sounds to make sample packs. Drum kits, Bass samples, Pad samples, etc. Throw them in respective folders. Then when you are actually making a song. you can just throw them inside your session.
This make the whole process much more organized. For example, I will spend a night making bass patches and resample them into audio. then bounce them into into files I could use in a sampler. Same with leads, pads, Sound FX, etc. Then when I’m writing a track its just drag and drop and mix the sounds together.
– Lawrence Merken AKA XSTNZ >> soundcloud.com/xstnz
“…ignore the rules”
My tip is sometimes you should ignore the rules of beat making. Just do what you feel and be creative.
– Unknown Truth >> soundcloud.com/unnoone
“…learn the rules, then break them.”
My number 1 rule would be, learn the rules, then break them, meaning don’t be conventional.
– Mr. Reb
“Drop beats in the drums…”
When I start to feel that beat is getting a little to repetitive I go to the 8th bar of the drums and drop the last beat. Then I go to the 9th bar, remove the first beat and move everything over Example, 9th beat snare hits on three before the move, now it hits on 2 and 4. This is a fast and easy way to get more of a live feel from your percussion.
– Akal Dub >> soundcloud.com/akaldub
“Vibe out with an artist in the studio…”
Get their input… You get a different perspective.
– Carlos Espinosa
“…collaborate whenever and with whoever possible…”
It opens you up to totally different ideas and it can be insanely helpful for learning new things. That’s why bands change so drastically sometimes when a new member is added, it changes the dynamic completely. Sometimes it’s a good change, sometimes it isn’t, but it’s always a beneficial learning experience.
– Matt Sargent >> soundcloud.com/mattsargent137
“…it takes patience… to finish a beat.”
I don’t worry about fades or how loud any sounds are until the very end. Once I have my patterns linked up (intro,verse,chorus,bridge) I’ll play the beat through. When I play the whole beat I’ll realize where things need to be taken out or added… Sometimes I’ll change the second half of the beat to stop the monotony but that’s not often. I’ll play the whole beat including the loops and see how it sounds. This is where I make my adjustments to volumes and fades. After the beat is cleaned up and perfected I will export it and test the volumes in my car and on other stereos to make sure the beat is sounding perfect.
Presto Dimes >> prestodimes.wix.com/prestodimes
“Use Layering and Parallel compression on your drums.”
Do this to give your drums that extra oomph. Makes you stand out from the rest, Also when layering samples such as Kicks and Snares. It makesyour sound more original.
Tony Esco >> soundcloud.com/tonyesco
“Don’t force it.”
My word of advice would be not to force anything. Whenever I make a genuinely good track, it always flows from the heart as cliche as it sounds. If I don’t feel the vibe, I’m starting a new project.
Garret Cross AKA MUDmakeudeaf >> Soundcloud.com/Mudmakeudeaf
“Stay away from listening to whats hot and craft your own sound.”
Don’t copy anyone else’s music… if anything take a little from it and build your own.
Stay away from listening to whats hot and craft your own sound.
– Andre porter
“Work in a different location…”
I find that when I’m in a different place it changes my mindset and I’m able to create in a different way. It’s like physically getting up and moving to a different place forces a paradigm shift, then suddenly I’m seeing the same set of tools in a whole new light. Also, the type of location I’m in totally sets the mood, if it’s a fast paced environment I’m more likely to make faster beats, a quiet relaxing environment encourages a slower more ambient feel.
– Matt Sargent >> soundcloud.com/mattsargent137
“Organized drum/vst folders will make finding the right sounds…”
Customize your drums/vst folders into subfolders with a clean hierarchy system… Making music should be fun, straight forward and fast. Creativity is always flowing when you can access your sounds quick and easy. It makes it easier to create music rather than spending time searching for sounds.
G-Lo >> soundcloud.com/gcgarlow
There’s a lot of music production wisdom there from a lot of talented cats. Check out the links beside each producer’s name to hear some of their tunes – gotta say I was impressed with what I heard!
Add your #1 tip for beat makers in a comment below with a link to your music if you want in!
Jeremy @ SampleKitz AKA DJ Plan A
P.S. >> One more tip to add – and this one’s from me.
“Constraints drive creativity.”
In the old days, the early samplers could only store 5 – 15 seconds of sample time, but people were still able to make some knocking beats, right? Challenge yourself to make a beat with an unusual limitation. It could be something like:
- only using 15 seconds of samples as your sound source
- use an unusual, exotic scale for your melody.
Tell us the constraint your chose and post a link to the results in the comments below!
– DJ Plan A >> soundcloud.com/samplekitz
P.P.S. >> If you like what you hear from any of the beat makers quoted in the article, shout em out in the comments section!