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The art of beatmaking in the present is a lot more accessible than it has ever been. During the pre-digital age, being able to generate something of high-quality required one to go crate-digging for rare samples, purchase loads of hardware and expensive instruments and in some cases, even studio time. Music production was an expensive hobby, and few could be involved unless they were able to make a career out of it. Today, this procedure can be shortened and be less costly while achieving the same — or better — results. Sure, there are undoubtedly handfuls of producers who prefer doing things the traditional way but for many who grew up in the digital age, like myself, prefer to use other methods to make for a simpler production process.
In the first episode of The HYPETRAK LAB, I demonstrate how accessible this form of art is. Instead of buying loads of vinyls and having to rip the audio off from my turntable, tools like Shazam, YouTube, Spotify and SoundCloud are used to search for a sample that sounds good to me. The same goes when looking for drum samples; with the thousands and millions of drum kits and songs available online, you’re bound able to find a couple that you like. In the video, I use an AKAI Professional MPK (which is not very pricey at all) as a midi controller, but this is definitely optional as I have spent many years using nothing but a laptop to make my beats, both from sampling and from scratch. My only personal rule is, that unless I’m making a remix, I will never take entire riffs from existing songs. I treat each sampled sound as a note, and construct my own melodies and harmonies from it.
The mixing part is extremely important to me and it took me a long time to grasp the concept clearly. There’s no fixed way to do it but the rule of thumb is that generally, it’s almost impossible to make a bad sample or poorly recorded instrument sound good. Make sure you have more than one set of speakers and/or headphones to reference from, and having another pair of ears to listen is always helpful. Compare your mix with songs you like and try to figure out what they’re doing to get that sound you like. Sometimes, when you’ve mixed for hours, it’s difficult to tell what’s right and wrong anymore. In that case, sleep on it and try again the day after.
The most important part of beat making is passion. Make sure you enjoy what you are doing and don’t worry about being unable to finish your song or project. You will always learn something new with each beat you make, and the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it. For some people, this takes months and for others, years. Do it because you enjoy it, and with that mentality, you’ll go far. Enjoy the video above.