How to Make Beats
The Best Beat Making Guide Online
Produce Your Own Beats and Music Even If You’re A Total Newbie!
Are you wondering how you can create music and beats using your computer, without spending WEEKS or MONTHS learning how to use complex and expensive music production tools?
Are you more interested in unleashing your CREATIVITY and banging out SICK sounding studio quality beats instead of becoming just another music software NERD??
It’s all about the MUSIC!
Because making beats is what really matters, right? Getting straight to the creativity and the fun, THE MUSIC, and not messin’ around with fancy gadgets and technology just because it’s the latest and greatest. Don’t fall into this trap like the rest of the music production GEEKS out there who never get anywhere, never improve their skills, and never seem to finish a beat or track.
Do you want to be a beat maker or what??
We’ve read all the other “How To Make Beats” articles on Google… THEY SUCK! Which is why we wrote this guide – It’s The BEST Guide Online for New Beat Makers. Straight up.
OH YA… IT’S FREE – Booya.
This article is going to take you by the hand, step by step, and show you exactly how to get your computer, speakers, and muthaf$@#ing brain setup for beat making and music production.
We’ll also quickly skool you on some basic beat making tips and methods so that you can dive right into the music making with some solid knowledge and sonic weaponry at your disposal.
There’s no excuses – With today’s technology… Even your Grandma can make club quality beats… FOO!
3 Steps To Making Your Own Beats
- Download Beat Making Software
- Proper Speaker & Headphone Setup
- Creating Beats – Learn The Fundamentals
1. Download & Setup Beat Making Software
Ok, so the first step is to find yourself some beat making software, download it, and set it up on your computer…
There’s an overwhelming number of music & beat making software tools out there, so we’ll save you the hassle by strongly recommending you check out our #1 top recommended beat making software tool…
Our #1 Recommendation is Dubturbo!
In a nutshell, this program is perfect for beginners… it’s straightforward and easy to use yet it packs a mean MEAN punch. So if you like the idea of creating sick sounding, professional quality beats TONIGHT and not 3 weeks from now, this is definitely the tool you want.
Whether you choose Dubturbo or some other music production software, make sure you read the next 2 sections to ensure you avoid some of the critical mistakes that new producers often fall into when trying to create beats. Apply this advice to save yourself time, avoid frustration, and make your beats sound their best right from the start.
2. How To Properly Set Up Your Speakers, Headphones, Volume, & EQs
Don’t be a chump…
You may be a new beat maker, but it doesn’t mean you have to fail before you even make your first beat…
Taking a few minutes to setup your sound will seriously improve the quality of all the beats and music you produce. You do it once and then it’s done!
So many people fail to take this into consideration, don’t be one of them…
The 4 Keys to Perfect Sound Setup
1. Position Your Speakers
It’s fairly simple really… You just want to position your speakers (roughly, doesn’t have to be perfect) so they create a triangle with your head. You can experiment with moving the speakers around so you can hear the difference, but it should be pretty obvious that the “sweet” spot is similar to the picture above. This creates the illusion that the sound is floating perfectly in between the speakers. This is your sound canvas!
2. If You’re Using Headphones
Making beats using speakers is preferable, but if you need to use headphones or would prefer to make beats in your headphones then that’s ok too…
Just make sure that you don’t let the volume get too loud, otherwise you will SERIOUSLY distort the “mix” and make it difficult to maintain an accurate view of your track.
Controlling Your Volume = Better Beats
Just because you’re making beats in your headphones and no one else can be disturbed by your thumping drums and nasty bass lines, doesn’t mean you should crank the volume too high.
So… resist the urge to continually increase the volume when making beats in your headphones (and when mixing on speakers too, but especially in headphones!)
3. Volume Considerations
Control your Speaker Volume or pay the price with WEAKER beats…
Of course it’s OK, once in a while, to crank up the volume on your speakers and blow the roof off your house so you can really feel and experience the sick ass beat you just made…
But 99% of the time you should have control over your volume and not let it get too high.
Why? No, it’s not to protect your hearing or anything lame like that… It’s because when you let the volume ride too high, it makes it difficult to hear your track clearly and properly. You lose perspective on exactly what you are doing, and the quality of your beat, track, or music suffers as a result.
What is too high?
If your mom or girlfriend was in the room, or in the next room, would they complain about the volume?
What is too low?
Are you struggling to hear the volume, or are you not “feeling” it enough? Push the volume up.
What is perfect?
Perfect is somewhere between the above 2 scenerios. Not so low that you struggle to hear it, or you just don’t “feel” it, but not so high that if someone else was in the room with you they would complain about the sound.
Use your common sense.
4. Turn off any EQs you have going
You should turn off or flatten any EQ’s that you might have going anywhere within your computer and sound system.
Why? Because when you’re making beats you want to hear the sounds you’re creating as accurately as possible. Imagine that you are working on a track, and the bass line sounds too heavy, so (inside the software) you turn the bass line down. But what you didn’t realize was that you have a “bass boost” turned ON either on your amp, on your speakers, or on your computer operating system. Now when you go and play this track on a normal system the bass line will sound TOTALLY WEAK ASS.
^ This is why you need to make sure that your EQs are as flat as possible. Otherwise your finished track will not be what you thought it was while you were making it!
- Go into your windows or mac sound settings, turn off all of your EQs.
- Go to your speakers, make sure you don’t have any EQs or “bass boost” or “treble boost” effects turned on, turn them off.
- Check your headphones, turn off any EQs or Boosts
- If you have an Amp, flatten (set to zero) any EQs or Boosts
Taking care of this now will save you from confusion and frustration in the future. Imagine finishing your track, thinking its the sickest beat since Dre, only to hear it on another system and think “WTF IS THAT!?”
If you want to hit that bass boost and see what your track sounds like, that’s ok, but only AFTER you’ve worked on it… then turn it off again when your ready to “work” on the track again.
3. Fundamentals of How To Create Beats
…take a few minutes – AND GET SKOOLED.
You could just jump right in and start playing around with your beat making software, clicking this button, clicking that one… seeing what happens and maybe you’ll have some fun and make something that sounds half decent…
OR – You could take a moment to absorb these very simple yet powerful beat production concepts which will really help you to 1) Have a lot More Fun & 2) Make Better Beats
Some of this might seem very basic to you… if so just make sure you have a quick read to be sure there’s nothing you’re missing.
In This Section
- Music Software 101 – Samples & Sequencing
- Beat Structure & Pattern
- How to Get Better
Ok so let’s get started then!
1. Tempo – BPM, Styles & Genres
Tempo is the speed at which the beats happen.
The faster the tempo, the faster the beat. You can experience Tempo for yourself right now by clapping out a steady rhythm to yourself. Now speed up your clapping, then slow it way down… By doing so you are changing the tempo.
Your beat maker software will have a “Tempo setting”, and this is one of the first things you will want to set when you start working on a new track. You can always change it, but it’s best to set your tempo right off the bat.
A great way to hear the difference in Tempos is to simply turn on the metronome (virtually every piece of music software has a metronome function) and then experiment by changing the Tempo. The metronome is just a steady “click, click” sound that makes it easier to hear and measure rhythm and tempo.
Here is a list of common Tempos (Approximate) in BPM (beats per minute)
85 to 105 – Rap & Hip Hop
85 to 115 – Downtempo & Chillout
120 – House
125 – Breakbeats
135 – Techno, Trance, Dance
140 – Dubstep (half-time beat is actually 70bpm)
160 to 180 – Jungle & Drum and Bass
So if you’re just starting a track, you can choose the tempo based on which style or genre of music you want to work on! Feel free to copy and paste this list so you have it for future reference.
2. Music Software 101 – Samples & Sequencing
This is verrryyyy simple…
You make music on your computer by utilizing 2 very simple production concepts. Samples & Sequencing.
The sounds you use to create your beats & music. Think of them as your building blocks, kind of like lego…
As you can hear, they can be very short sounds, long sounds, loops, sound FX, or even vocals! Samples are not any 1 specific type of sound… a sample is just a pre-recorded piece of sound that you put together with other sounds (into patterns) to make tracks…
But HOW do you put samples together to make tracks?
A sequencer is the tool that allows you to arrange sound samples into patterns and music.
It is typically a grid like layout (see pic below) that allows you to drag and drop sound samples with your mouse and place them onto the grid. And when you press “play” the sequencer will read the sounds from left to right… as the sequencer hits each sound (called triggering) it plays the sound file.
It’s really that easy… but as you can imagine, the possibilities are endless!
* A great example of an easy to use sequencer for making beats is DubTurbo.
Now that you have an idea of how sounds are mapped out and arranged on your computer using music software… the next step is to equip yourself with some basic knowledge of specific sounds and rhythmic patterns.
So that when it comes time to lay down your track you have a solid idea of how/where to begin… of how to create the beat or pattern you want… of how to get the result you want without getting frustrated…
You’ll know which sounds to use and where to place them in your sequencer to get a specific result.
3. Beat Structure – Rhythm, Patterns, Kicks, Snares, etc…
Don’t underestimate the importance of learning some basic knowledge of sounds and rhythmic patterns…
This way when you fire up your beat making software you have a solid idea of where you need to place beats and sounds in order to get certain results. Otherwise you will end up randomly placing samples until you finally get the result you want, which can get really frustrating and time consuming!
There’s nothing wrong with randomly experimenting, in fact we encourage it, but it also helps to have a “pretty good” idea of structure and pattern, it just makes things so much easier
To illustrate these concepts, let’s build a basic (REALLY BASIC) drum beat so you can absorb some fundamental rhythmic and beat structure concepts.
Building A Basic Drum Beat
*All of the concepts in this section are covered in a short Video I made to help you understand all of this and tie everything together…
The video is posted at the end of this section.
It would be great if you read the info first and then watched the video, but feel free to scroll down and simply watch the video
We measure rhythm by counting it. This helps us to better understand the rhythmic structure of patterns. Music is just patterns of sound.
* Let’s do a little experiment
a) Count to yourself 1..2..3..4..1..2..3..4.. repeatedly, at a steady pace.
b) Now tap your foot at the same time
c) Now tap your foot on the 1′s & 3′s only, and clap your hands on the 2′s & 4′s
You have just demonstrated to yourself the value of counting rhythm. Understanding rhythmic count allows you to understand music logically so you can work with it much more efficiently.
A software sequencer essentially lays out a graphical grid with the “1..2..3..4..” that you can see, allowing you to place sounds on the grid to create patterns..
It should now be obvious why it’s important to understand this very basic concept.
Why This Is Useful
Because you now have a frame of reference for understanding, hearing, and creating beats of any kind.
Imagine you’re listening to the radio and you hear a hot new track, you really like the beat. And you can hear clearly the structure of the beat. You can hear that the kick drum is on the 1, the snare drum hits between the 2&3, then the kick drum hits on the 3 again, and then there are 2 snares that hit on the 4 one after the other…
Or maybe you have an awesome beat in your head that you just thought up, and you open up dubturbo beat maker or any other beat making software and you want to get to work right away and lay it down quickly. Well,now you know exactly where to place the beats! You know that your first kick goes on the 1, then another kick between the 1&2 and so on and so on…
Such a simple concept, yet VERY powerful! And something that most beatmakers don’t even bother learning! It’s like wanting to be a painter without knowing your colors!
Drum Sounds- Kicks, Snares, HiHats
There are 3 main drum sounds that are basic to any beat, and it’s a good idea to familarize yourself with them, so read the brief explanations below and then watch the Video in the next section to hear these sounds for yourself and see them in action!
Kick Drum – The kick drum, also known as the bass drum, is a low boom sound that typical falls on the 1 & 3 in hip hop, rock, and pop music… It is also the boom boom boom boom that falls on the 1, 2, 3, 4 of House and techno music.
Snare Drum – The snare drum tends to be a sharp high sound, like a snap or a clap type of sound. It typical falls on the 2 & 4 b in hip hop, rock, pop music and techno. If you were to stomp your feet and clap your hands to create a beat, the clap would be your snare!
HiHats – The hihat is a sound that typically fills in the space between the kick and snare in order to give the beat more momentum or life. It tends to fall on not only the 1, 2, 3, 4… but also the spaces in between these rhythmic values.
* To Understand these sounds perfectly, watch the following Video…
VIDEO – Building a Beat using the Fundamentals
So now that you know the basic elements that go into building a beat, let’s put them to use!
This video will show you how I utilize the fundamentals I’ve covered in this section to build a very basic beat…
We will re-visit counting rhythm, the sequencer grid, the basic drum sounds, and tie all this together to build an original beat right in front of your eyes! (and ears!)
* The Beat Maker Software used in this video is Dubturbo 2.0
4. How to Get Better – Where to go from here…
So you’ve got the basics of making beats down, and maybe you’re someone who feels ready to start taking things more seriously , you’re creating some sick sounding beats & tracks, but you want to improve and take your production to the next level?
5 Things You Can Do To Take Your Beat Making to the Next Level
1) Learn Some Music Theory – Pick up a good music theory book or enroll in lessons with a music teacher to learn scales, chords, rhythms, time signatures, harmony, melody, arrangement, or orchestration… All of these things will make you a better musician and a better beat maker.
2) Copy The Pros – Listen closely to your favorite producers and musicians. Try to emulate them. This is the method that almost all musical geniuses and successful people use to improve themselves and improve their skills. Listen to every one of Dr Dre’s tracks and try to be as good as him. Try to copy him and re-construct one of his tracks from scratch. If you can, you will expand your skills and knowledge ridiculously in the process.
3) Think Outside The Box – Do you only listen to one kind of music? Start listening to other kinds of music… Most of the best music takes influences from multiple genres and styles. If you only listen to Dubstep how can you bring something fresh to your dubstep tracks? Try listening to classical music, reggae, country, world, or even pop… Let all music in to your heart and mind and allow it to re-express itself through your own personal style and tastes.
4) Make Beats Every Day – If you want to get better at something, one of the best things you can do is to work on it a little bit each and every day. So try to commit to working on music or beats for at least 30 mins to an hour a day as a minimum. Even when you don’t feel like it just take 30 mins to learn something about your music software or research a new production technique. All of these days add up and create momentum in your production efforts!
5) Have Fun and Be Passionate – The best music teacher I ever had wasn’t one of those stuffy by the book instructors that most of us think of when we think “music teacher”, and one of the best rules that he had for his students was that at least 60% of your music time should be devoted to playing and having fun. The other 40% was for rigorous practice and it wasn’t easy, but keeping things in perspective by always making sure to balance out the work with the fun and the passion was one of the things that would drive his students to continue to want to improve and get better without burning out.
You’ve made it through THE most comprehensive guide on beat making available anywhere online.
If you’re new to beat making then you’ve absorbed a lot of information and you may feel overwhelmed at this point so here’s my advice…
Just Start Making Beats!
That’s right… just start making your own beats…
Download your own beat making software and jump right in to it. The best way to learn is to just start doing it.
With this guide and a beat maker like Dubturbo, there is nothing stopping you from producing your own studio quality, sick ass beats starting right now.
Within 5 minutes… even if you have ZERO experience (and didn’t even read this guide!)
YOU WILL BE PRODUCING YOUR OWN HIGH QUALITY BEATS