*** ill o.g. ***
"You have to listen to this song", he said. "I had all their albums back in the day and this song was amazing".
The first thing I did was go on YouTube and look up the song "Tower" by the band called Angel. They were popular years ago (not on a superstar level), but I gave it a listen anyway. The first thing I noticed was how the intro seemed to take forever. "What the hell, this intro is 12 minutes long!", I said.
Then the song came in and I loved it.
Building Up Your Beat
I, like many other beat makers and Hip Hop producers, like to make loops and then transition off that. However, we're at a point in time now in the Hip Hop world that we need to take things to the next level. Loops are great and they certainly have their place, but wouldn't it be great to do something different with your beat?
This is what I thought when I heard Angel's song. Yes, the intro was long, but the song itself is really good. It's not just because it sounds good, but also because of what happens in the song - the buildup. They transition from one part to the next and take the listener on a journey, if you will, and it ends leaving you wanting more.
So, how can you apply this to your beats?
Most songs are built with loops, so the most logical thing that you can do is to build around them with various segments. For example, you could have your main 16 bar loop, and then 8 bars for your hook.
What would you normally do with those two segments? You probably just stack them after one another, right? That's perfectly fine, but what about transitions? What if you created pieces of music that can act as a bridge between those two segments? By doing that, you're setting the foundation of a full fledged song that can easily take the listener on a journey.
The Build Up
The best way to build any song is to think of everything as a segment. One piece fits into another piece until you've completed the puzzle. With that in mind, you could start your build up like this:
- 16 bars
- 8 bars
What you must remember is that I'm not saying you should just smash various segments together and call it a masterpiece. Because no matter what kind of bridge you have, it must blend nicely with everything else. So if you have 16 bars of a hard-hitting track, you don't want to suddenly stop that hard beat and bring in an R&B bridge. (It could work in some cases, I'm assuming.)
The bridge must also be a preview of what's to come later on in your beat. What I mean by that is you want to hold back a bit until you get to the final part of your beat.
For example, you might have three bridges in your song, so the first two should be just a few bars of it because you want to keep the listener intrigued enough so they're waiting for the final bridge. If your bridge is 8 bars long, then maybe the first two bridges should be 4 bars each.
Now, listen to that "Tower" song once again. Notice how they have their (long) intro and then they drop in a variation of their main segment? After that, they go into their actual bridge, which is a laid back guitar. What I like about this is if you listen carefully, you have to wonder which part is really the bridge. Is it the guitar solo or the part with the full band?
Because as it goes along, it's like they keep going back to the guitar solo, which kind of sounds like it would be the bridge. Regardless, they do this a few times until about ¾ of the way they have the final guitar solo and then the final hard-hitting segment that the listener has been anticipating.
This is what I mean when I'm talking about bars and segments. If you study a song like this, you can easily apply this formula to your own beats.
You may be asking yourself, "How can I do this with my beats?". Follow what I mentioned about having everything as a segment. As you go though, you can add other instruments to your beat to give it the appearance that it's coming together, or imore in-your-face.
With "Tower", they close out their song with lots of instrumentation and the segment seems to be louder than the rest, but a lot of that is because of the wicked guitar part that is on top of everything else. That's a part they didn't have earlier in the song.
Study this song and many others (don't forget to listen to different genres) and see how they get it done. If you apply these techniques to your beats, it's guaranteed you will be banging out top notch beats sooner than later. Good luck!
Further Reading Related to Hip Hop Production