The future of music

How to Make Beats: Comprehensive Guide

December 29, 2023
How to make beats

Making your own beats is a fun, creative, and exciting process.

And you’ll be happy to hear that it’s quite easy too.

With a variety of digital tools and production techniques, you can learn how to make beats in no time.

So in today’s article, we will introduce you to the basics of beat-making and help you get started.

Everything You Need for Making Beats

Beat-making is a form of music production that uses digital tools to create a final piece of music. 

But the process for making a beat these days is not as difficult as you might think.

If you’re just starting out, things might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but the moment you start making your first beat, you’ll realize it’s not that hard.

You just need to take it step-by-step.

And you need to learn the basic techniques.

But before starting anything, you need to make sure you have the right equipment, and you need to get to know its features and functionality.

If you want to make beats from the comfort of your home, you’ll need:

1. Computer or Laptop 

First of all, if you want to learn how to make beats at home, you’ll need to have a computer or laptop to work on.

You don’t need to have anything special  – anything you can use for downloading audio editing software will do just fine. 

Software setup is the first thing you should do, as this will be the foundation of your beat-making process.

And you can’t download anything without your computer or laptop. 

2. DAW

Besides a computer/laptop, one of the essential pieces of beat-making equipment is a Digital Audio Workstation or DAW.

A DAW is a piece of software that producers use to record, edit, and create their beats. 

In other words, a DAW contains everything you need to produce music.

man creating beats on computer

Whether you decide to make music on your PC or Mac, a DAW is the most important tool you’re going to use.

Therefore, it’s important to find a DAW you’re satisfied with, and that can be challenging for beginners since there are multiple DAWs on the market.

Some of the popular beat-making software include:

  • Logic Pro X
  • Ableton Live
  • PreSonus Studio One
  • Apple GarageBand 

Regardless of what you opt for, you should familiarize yourself with the basics of your program before doing anything else – you might end up confused otherwise. 

You can simply read your DAW’s manual or watch YouTube tutorials. 

But with their intuitive interface, smooth workflow, and modern editing tools, these DAWs are relatively easy to use and therefore great for beginners.

Some of them are a bit pricey though, but there are also some free beat-making programs you can check out. 

You can also consider using AI production tools –  by analyzing large amounts of musical data, an AI can help you easily create new sounds. 

It all depends on your goals, abilities, and preferences.

Either way, besides a DAW you’re happy with, you’ll need some other basic tools for making beats. 

3. Sample Library

For example, you’ll also need a sample library.

A sample library is a collection of sampled sounds producers use to create their beats. 

These sampled sounds include instruments, vocals, synths, sound effects, field recordings, and so on.

And they’re usually royalty-free, so you can freely use them in any way you want.

As a beginner, you can start with a Hip Hop/Trap sample pack.

But generally, there are many different sample libraries out there, and they are usually characterized by the instruments that they contain.

For instance, you can get an Orchestral sample library, Instrument Groups, and Solo Instruments.

That said, you should opt for a sample library that fits your style and genre. 

4. MIDI Controller

Another piece of equipment you should consider purchasing is a MIDI controller

This is an optional piece of equipment, but having a MIDI controller will ultimately make your sounds more complex and unique. 

A MIDI controller keyboard is used to send MIDI data to a computer or other hardware.

As such, they generate no sound on their own, but they trigger sounds from an external source.

In a sense, a MIDI controller will help you to turn your ideas into music as it will allow you to communicate in a language your computer understands.

So if you push a key on the MIDI keyboard, you’ll send a message to your computer.

In music-making, MIDI controllers are better than using a mouse because they’re more tactile and intuitive, so they will make your workflow more musical.

music pad with headphones

MIDI controllers come in all shapes and sizes, from portable MIDI keyboards to full-size 88-note models with weighted hammer-action keys.

If you’re just starting out, we recommend getting a MIDI that is quite basic and easy to use.

And there are many excellent options for newcomers on the market. 

Nevertheless, one of the questions that usually comes up is: can I use a MIDI without knowing how to play the piano?

Well, it’s possible to use a keyboard without knowing how to play notes.

However, understanding the fundamentals of music theory will generally help you in your beat-making process. 

Music theory can help you understand different sounds and how they work together, and it can ultimately help you find effective ways to turn your vision into reality. 

But it’s necessary for making beats.

And the same goes for MIDi controllers – it’s possible to make music without them. 

You can use a piano roll editor or an on-screen keyboard. 

However, MIDI keyboards can add more nuance, expression, and dynamics to your beats, and that’s why many producers can’t imagine making music without them. 

5. Beat Sequencer

Another tool you should add to your beat-making ‘shopping list’ is a beat sequencer.

A beat sequencer is a tool for creating, editing, and arranging beats.

In most cases, you can create drum patterns by tapping squares or steps in a grid; each grid row controls a different drum sound, and each column is a beat in the pattern.

Any type of audio editing software will allow you to create beats, but with a good beat sequencer, you can make your beat arrangement much easier.

Most DAWs have built-in sequencers, but you can also find a sequencer that suits you best.

6. Headphones

If you want to start making music, getting a quality pair of headphones is a must.

headphones and cellphone on the table

Headphones will allow you to make beats without distractions.

Plus, they will help you to work on your beats without distracting others – that way, you can work anywhere, without worrying about making too much noise. 

More importantly, good headphones will allow you to hear your beats clearly and accurately.

And making sure you’re hearing every detail is essential for making quality beats. 

That said, we recommend investing in durable headphones that will allow you to create beats properly. 

7. Mixing and Mastering Program 

If you want to learn how to produce music, you’ll need to get a good mixing and mastering program.

Even if you just want to make simple beats, you’ll have to finalize your work – and that means you’ll have to mix and master your beats.

In music production, mixing usually involves volume adjustments, balancing levels and panning, and generally blending everything together nicely. 

Some of the tools producers use in mixing include:

  • EQ – manipulates the frequency and shapes the sound
  • Compressor – helps you even out dynamic spikes and adjust the volume
  • Reverb – provides a sense of space and natural depth

And mastering involves enhancing the overall sound and optimizing the sound quality.

With mastering tools, you can prepare your tracks for distribution. 

How to Make Beats for Beginners

It’s true – making beats in your home studio has never been easier.

But it does require certain skills, time, and persistence. 

The truth is, there are many things you need to pay attention to if you want to make a good beat.

You need to familiarize yourself with your software and editing tools, but you also need to think about your ideas and the general vibe you want to create.

On the other hand, if you take it one step at a time, you shouldn’t come across too many obstacles.

And if you follow these steps, you’ll be on the right path to success:

1. Define the Atmosphere

Before starting out, you need to define the atmosphere or the mood you want to create.

The vibe of your beat will help you determine other important elements, such as tempo, instruments, effects, and so on.

laptop and headphones on the bed

Try to think about the following questions that will help you define the vibe:

  • What music genre does feel most natural to you?
  • What kind of mood do you want to create with your music?
  • What emotions do you want to evoke?
  • What is the essence of your music?

If you know what kind of music you want to create, it will be easier for you to determine your target audience.

And the whole beat-making process will be more smooth.

For instance, if you want to create a lively mood and a beat that people can dance to in clubs, you’ll probably opt for a faster tempo.

So, defining the vibe of your beat will ultimately help you find the correct BPM.

A BPM (“Beats Per Minute”) is used to measure the tempo of a song in music production – the higher the BPM, the more energetic the song will be. 

All in all, the atmosphere you want to achieve should be the foundation of your beat-making process.

2. Create a Bassline

As long as you have the general vibe, it doesn’t matter where you start.

The thing is, some producers start with a melody and others start with creating a drum beat. 

When you gain some experience, you’ll know what technique suits you best.

But for now, you can start by creating a bassline.

As one of the most important parts of the beat, a bass line will be the foundation of your track.

It will also define the overall feel of the song – and that’s why we suggest thinking about your vibe beforehand.

If you know your vibe and genre, you can choose your bass sound accordingly.

You can experiment with different bass sounds to find the one you like, and you can play with layering, echoes, and so on.

Also, try to keep things simple, but also try to add some complexity – once again, finding the right balance is crucial.

3. Add Drums

If you have the melody laid down, you can now start building upon it.

And one of the best ways to do this is by adding in the drums.

The drums are, in fact, an essential part of every beat as they provide rhythm.

That said, the tempo of your drums should fit the tempo of your track. 

And their sound should complement the rest of your track, so it’s also important to find the right percussion sound.

Along with a catchy bass line, the drums will establish the groove and create a unique feel for your track as well as help you find the right rhythmic pattern.

You can perform the drum beat on a MIDI beat machine.

Alternatively, you can create a drum beat with a pattern sequencer, which usually speeds up the process and makes it easier. 

4. Add Melodic Elements

The next step in your beat-making process is adding melodic elements.

Just like with percussion, it’s important to add sounds that fit the rest of your tracks.

man playing the organ and computer keyboard

The instrument you’ll use primarily depends on the genre and mood of your track.

For instance, soft piano melodies work well with slow, sentimental tunes, and if you’re aiming for an energetic atmosphere, you can add more drums. 

With enough practice, you’ll get better at creating your own melodies – the important thing is to keep these melodic elements in the correct key.

For instance, if your chords are in the key of C, the melodic elements should also be in the key of C. 

5. Polish Your Track 

Once you have your bass line, drum beat, and basic melody, it’s time to fill in the gaps and play with effects.

In this stage, you should try to bring the best out of your beat and make it sound clear and professional.

You can do this by adding effects, ambiance, and transitions.

For example, you can use a reverb plugin – this effect usually simulates the sound of a specific space.

And one of the common ways to add transition is by using crossfade, a popular effect that fades one sound out and another sound in.

It all depends on what you want to achieve.

Each effect is suitable for a specific genre, mood, and style. 

6. Finalize the Beat

Finalizing the beat usually involves adding fill-ins and effects like reverb and delay.

You can also change the rhythms of your drums or add variations.

Either way, this is the part where you can make your track truly unique and memorable.

Finalizing your beat will refine your sound and prepare it for the final stage of audio production.

Moreover, it will allow your initial idea to change and evolve into something great.

Now, to finalize your beat, you can:

  • Add fill-ins (short, percussive sounds)
  • Add new instruments
  • Change the rhythm of your drums
  • Add vocals

In this phase, you should do whatever feels right – just make sure everything comes together nicely in the end.

When you’re done with everything, listen to your track carefully, and do some adjusting and tweaking if necessary. 

7. Mix and Master 

Finally, you can move forward to the final stage  – mixing and mastering your beat.

Mixing will make your track coherent and fluid, and it usually involves:

  • Setting levels and panning
  • Shaping and balancing the sound
  • Providing a sense of space and depth

And mastering is the final step of audio post-production.

This is where you polish the entire mix and prepare it for release.

Mastering usually includes:

  • Optimizing the sound quality
  • Applying stereo enhancement
  • Monitoring for pops and clicks 

When you’re done with the final touches, try to listen to your track carefully.

And if you’re satisfied with it, it’s time to export it.

What Makes a Good Beat?

Now that you know how to make beats, you should continue practicing.

Making good beats requires time and effort, so don’t expect to make awesome beats right away.

But what makes a good beat? 

Generally, when you hear a beat that you like, you probably notice its good structure and quality.

So, a good beat is well-structured and carefully crafted, and it’s most likely made with quality equipment and digital tools.

But you don’t need expensive equipment to make something worth listening to.

There are indeed some other elements you should pay attention to if you want to make memorable beats.

For instance, you should focus on the tempo of your beat or the speed at which your beat is played.

Beats are often repetitive when it comes to tempo, but you should also add variety and nuance.

In fact, the secret to making good beats is probably finding the right balance.

Beats should be original and unpredictable, but they also need to be familiar enough for someone to enjoy them.

man using laptop and drinking coffee

It’s important to experiment with different sounds, but something new and different isn’t necessarily something good – it all depends on how you approach it.

If you approach your beats with honest emotion and passion, you’ll probably create something that other people will like too.

If your only goal is to be different and innovative, there’s a high chance you’ll end up creating something that doesn’t resonate with people easily.

So, try to be original and unique, but don’t forget about the vibe you want to create and the feelings you want to convey. 

Beat Making Tips 

If you want to get good at making beats, you’ll have to be patient and consistent.

For starters, try to learn more about different production techniques and features of your DAW. 

Many say that the best way to learn how to make beats is to just start making them – therefore, you should experiment with different sounds and styles.

Listening to different genres can be very helpful and inspiring, especially if you want to learn how specific sounds and effects fit a music genre you’re interested in. 

So, if you want to make energetic hip-hop beats, listen to similar songs, pay attention to details, and write down the things you like.

Furthermore, you should practice regularly.

That’s arguably the best way to improve your beat-making skills.

But starting a project is just as important as finishing it – and that’s one of the most important tips for beginners.

You should stay organized and consistent, but you should also switch up your routine once in a while.

You can also collaborate with other people to keep things interesting – certainly, that’s a good opportunity to learn and get inspired. 

Speaking of learning, you can also search for music production courses or guitar or piano lessons.

There are many great online programs and tutorials you can check out, and most of them are convenient, affordable, and quite effective.

Expanding your musical knowledge can only be beneficial to you.

But you should do whatever feels right – at the end of the day, beat-making should be enjoyable. 

How to Make Beats – Final Thoughts 

With basic knowledge and skills, creating your own beats is not so difficult.

It’s important to set tempo and vibe, familiarize yourself with your DAW, and create a bassline and drum beat. 

You can then add more instruments and effects and finally mix and master your beat. 

The more you practice, the easier it gets.

That said, if you invest time and effort into your beat-making skills, you’ll undoubtedly get the results you want. 

You may also like: How to Make Money as a Music Producer

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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