Music Fundamentals: Five steps to create a great beat
STEP 1: Find Inspiration!
What kind of sound do you want? Are you making a chilled out or uptempo song? What style of music? Jazz? Rock? Complicated? Simple? Listen to songs you love and find one you want to emulate.
Do you want a 90’s vibe?
Or do you want the song to have a driving beat that stays the same throughout? Here are two examples:
Let’s pick a simple drum part to help us learn how to build a beat:
STEP 2: Break it down!
Did you notice that there aren’t any drums at the beginning of the song? This song does a great job of slowly building the intensity, starting from zero. Once the drums come in, listen carefully to the beat. In general, you’ll want to practice isolating and listening to just one part (or rhythm) at a time, but in this song it’s already done for you... only one drum is playing at first.
Here’s when the bass drum (also known as a kick drum) comes in:
Using a Lightpad Block M, this bass drum part sounds like this:
STEP 3: Start with the basics!
Keep listening for when the second drum comes in. This is the snare drum, which has a higher sound than the first drum.
Here’s when the snare drum comes in:
This part sounds “busier” than the first part, and adds a new dimension to the sound of the song.
Using a Lightpad Block M, this snare drum part sounds like this:
Did you notice that this happened eight bars (or measures) after the bass drum started? This song is in 4/4 time, which is very common for popular music. That means it has four beats in every measure and ticks along steadily at a certain tempo, or beats per minute (BPM).
You can set your tempo in the NOISE app using the Click tool, and overdub your parts so you only need to focus on and play one at a time.
Or to make things even easier, start with a Groove Kit in NOISE, which already has all of the drum parts synced to the same tempo!
STEP 4: Add in layers!
There are many different kinds of drums in the world. Besides the bass and snare drums, you’ll also hear other elements like tom toms, cymbals, and percussion... even hand claps!
The next part in this song (the chorus, or hook) adds the cymbals, driving at a steady pace to increase the movement of this song even more:
Using a Lightpad Block M, this cymbal part sounds like this:
The chorus also adds a tambourine to the bass drum part - try listening for it! Continue adding parts as you see fit, and start to make this beat your own.
STEP 5: Give it something unexpected!
When you’re putting together your song, feel free to add something unusual. Repeating beat patterns are great, but to vary it, you can add an unexpected sound or add some variation in which drums are playing at any given time.
You can also leave some space to change things up and to amplify the power of when the drums return:
Check out some of the interesting sounds you can get using [NOISE]