I know the title targets hip hop instrumentals, but this method of building a beat can be used in a wide variety of genres, including R&B and Rap.
Now, before you can begin creating, make sure you have a DAW (digital audio workstation.) Whether that’s just a Mac sitting on your apartment floor, garage band on your iPad, or a small piano keyboard with some layered recording ability, you can do this project! If you have the capabilities, install a form of music production software on your device. If you need help organize a DAW, please view my post titled Understanding the Basics of Music Production. Let us begin!
Okay, So what’s my first step?
Welp, every artist has their own method of creating beats, as they should! However, I generally start with a sample. If you do not want to create your own, that’s totally fine! Check out musicradar.com. They have hundreds of free samples for artists to use and implement into their own music.
If you have the resources available to you, try to create your own! I’ve created samples with just a keyboard and the recorder on my phone, and some of those samples are epic! If you do decide to create your own, make sure you have a metronome to keep you on beat. There are free digital metronomes on the app store that I use all the time.
Take some time to find or create your sample. Find more than one that you like. You’ll be able to experiment with them as you build.
You Have the Foundation, Now Start Building
Alright, we got our sample. Next, we need to find a drum kit that suites your style. If you have music production software such as Garage Band or Ableton Live, you will have drum kits stored in your software. They are generally located on a sidebar or underneath the “Files” menu.
Find a kit you feel best compliments your sample and begin experimenting with one instrument at a time! Start with something that you think will keep the beat driving; such as a kick or closed high-hat. If you’re creating a hip-hop beat, find a good bass sample to ride with you beat. Hip-hop beats tend to be smooth and like to groove. A bass will help the beat smooth over. Again, I would suggest using a metronome to keep you on time with your sample.
Once you find a rhythm you like with the first instrument, move on to the next and build on top of your first loop. Keep this going until you’re satisfied. DO NOT over complicate the beat. This is a big mistake many beginning artists make. Find something you like and leave it! Walk away and do something else for a couple of hours before working on the track again. Artist who work on their tracks too long seem to become delusional, and begin to think they’re on to something….when…oh God.. They really aren’t.
Okay! Now what?
Now that we have a beat, see if you can get some feedback. I know, I know… putting you heart’s work in front of your friends and family can be really tough, especially if they don’t like what you’ve made. Trust me, That’s happened to me quite often. It’s like a dagger in the heart. But feedback is only going to make you a better artist. Learn to thrive on feedback and constructive criticism.
Make sure to checkout YouTube and Ableton to see how other artists begin their beats from scratch. They can offer awesome insights!
On paper, that’s really all there is to it! However, just because it seems simple, doesn’t mean it is. Creating music of any kind is a constant game of trial and error. But you must keep the end in mind! You have a ton of resources here at Sound of the River and across the Web.
As always, if you have any question or comments regarding music production, I would love to hear than at firstname.lastname@example.org.