Beat making is a skill and like any skill
practice makes perfect. No GOOD practice makes perfect. Good practice comes from knowing what to practice in order to improve. I’ve got 4 tips for my fellow beat makers that I’ve used over the years to improve my beat making greatly.
I. Remake songs
This may sound counter productive as you won’t be able to do much with remade songs however remaking songs will teach you a wealth of things. The best way to learn an instrument is by learning songs with that instrument. The same applies to beat making.
Remaking songs will teach you how songs are put together giving you a thorough understanding of instrumentation; which sounds to use and which sounds work well together. Knowing when a beat is truly finished can be a hard concept to grasp but when learning how to remake songs you’ll begin to understand what a finished record should sound like.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: in the 21st century people have very short attention spans. Keeping listeners interested in your music requires change and lots of it. This comes through a songs’ arrangement. Remaking songs will teach you how to create a dynamic, interesting and engaging record through the recreating of arrangements. You will learn how to build songs, create drops, intros and more.
Lastly to remake a song you must first learn it. This will train your ear musically and teach you chords that you can then later use in your own beats.
II. Use loops
You might be thinking, “hang on, that’s cheating!” Well, I would beg to differ! I find using loops a means to an end, sometimes you want a sound that’s just not achievable with your current skill set. This is in the same way a music producer (in the traditional sense) will hire in musicians to recreate musically and record elements they are not skilled to. Timbaland and many other producers work this way. Or you could even say it’s the same sampling. I would agree with this. Download my loops here.
Don’t be afraid: There are many tracks in the charts right now that are using loops and loops that come free with Logic Pro X and Garageband (Apple Loops.) – Rihanna, T-Pain, Palow Da Don and many more have Apple Loops in their tracks.
How far is too far? In saying this I still do feel loops should be used sparingly where the beat should still be predominantly your own work. If someone can remake your track to a recognisable level with just loops then that’s probably too far. Think about tweaking loops, chopping them up and recording, applying FX etc.
III. Remix songs
I’ve personally spent many hours doing this because 1. It’s fun but 2. and most importantly it is a great way to gain inspiration. Sometimes it can be hard making music from total scratch, pulling music out of thin air as it would sometimes seem. There are also time when you just can’t seem to deviate from your current sound and you want that change.
When remixing a song you are forced to the restraints of the singers melody, harmonies and arrangement, which can often force your hand into a direction you wouldn’t normally take. Having vocals already laid will help you towards a more finished beat with all its trimmings and also prevent you from overproducing; adding too many elements. Once you feel the beat is finished you can then remove the acapella and you have yourself a finished beat to pitch to an artist or label.
IV. Use chord progressions from other songs.
The beautiful thing about chords is that they are public domain. You can’t have a copyright on a chord progression. Turn on the radio and you hear the same four chords being played over and over again, VI-IV-I-V or some kind of variation. This gives us beat makers and opportunity especially when endeavouring to make a beat in a specific style. This allows us to take chords from songs in the same style we are making, reorder them (or keep them the same) and use them as the foundation of our own music.
“That’s stealing!” No it’s not, it’s inspiration. I’ve heard many times, as a beat maker you often make what you listen to. All the music we input daily influences the music we output. The chord progressions I use in my music are a direct result of music that I’ve listened to and learnt consciously and subconsciously. With so much music out there is there a chord progression unplayed.
Like remaking songs this will teach you chord progressions that will stay with you for life. But if you want to speed up the process of learning chord progressions, check out our product Popular ProGressions.
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