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How to Make Beats - Part 5: Start With Drums

  1. Fade

    Fade

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    * This is part 5 of an 8-part series of articles on how to make beats. Mostly aimed at beginners, even experience beat makers can benefit from these articles.

    Part 5: Start With Drums
    Always Start With Drums

    If you're trying to learn beat making, it's best to start with drums. The reason for this is because you will get instant gratification.

    Think about it - by having a kick, snare, and hat, anyone can put together a very basic drum track. It's so easy to do something like this:

    KICK - SNARE --- KICK - KICK - SNARE

    Right there, that's your first bar. And if the drum sounds you're using sound really good, then your basic drum pattern will probably make your head nod.

    If you were to instead start your beat making journey by loading up a synth and playing with your keyboard controller, you might get a bit discouraged because most likely you'll end up playing a very basic pattern that could sound wack.

    Let's face it - beat makers are not known for their instrument playing skills!

    So start with drums and create a simple, 1-bar pattern. As your pattern loops over and over, you can start adding your hat, then a cymbal, etc. Then if you throw in an 808 kick drum, now you will have something that has some life to it.

    Here is a video I did explaining some of the basics of drum programming:


    Drums Are the Backbone of Any Hip Hop Beat

    Have you ever listened to a beat that had wack drums? I'm sure you have. I've heard plenty of beats where the melody was really tight but the drums were almost non-existent.

    It's a shame when that happens because not only does it make their beat not sound that exciting, it also tells me that the person that made that beat is not putting enough time into their drums.

    If you were to listen to some old school tracks, you can clearly hear the difference between their drums (most of the time they used drum breaks) and drums from today's tracks. Granted, if you use a classic drum break it will make your beat sound really dope, but it still shows you that back then they knew their drums had to be on point.


    There are some classic joints such as anything from Ultramagnetic MC's, where the drums are clearly at the forefront of their production. Many of their beats are heavy on the drums and just a few little sounds thrown in here and there. That's it! Throw a dope MC on top and you have a winner.

    So put enough time into crafting your drum track. Find some nice sounds and layer them, then play with the EQ and compression - you will eventually get a dope drum track that YOU created.

    Once you have that done, whatever other instruments you add will sound much better.

    Further Reading About Beat Making