Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pro Tip #1 Strengthening Your Beats

So you've been making some beats, but they are sounding a bit weak.  What to do?  Strengthen those beats!

First off, we need to look at successful beats that just seem to work. You know the one's I'm talking about, the ones where they come on and you just start moving, nodding your head. In these beats you'll find that there is a constant pulse in the music. But pay closer attention and you will discover that it is not necessarily the drums that are producing the pulse.


Drums may comprise a few of beats, but more often than not, other instruments or sounds will come in and hit on the beat to keep that pulse alive.  The beat is not just your drums. The beat is all sounds together pulsing to a tempo.

Knowing that, how can you change the way you create your beats to make them stronger?  Visit Electronic Music Production to find out, or hit the read moar button bellow!
Write your beginning drum lines first, then try turning your drum sounds down as you are write the rest of the elements of the song.  Note the level of each major drum element, usually kick, snare and hats, and then turn them down, not so that they're totally gone, but so that they are not driving the pulse of the music. This will force you to emphasize other sounds on the beat and will ultimately strengthen the voicing of your other sounds.

Now turn your drums back up to the range they were before you pulled them down. Now, not only is your beat going to be pulsing very hard, your phrasing of other lines is going to be emphasizing your pulse.

You may also note that the peaks of your sounds are all adding up in the mix to create potentially unmanageable peaks on the beat, maybe even some peaks exceeding 0db. First off, this shouldn't be the case.  You should be writing and mixing with enough headroom so that your signal isn't exceeding 0db. To do this, when you start your beat making session, turn your monitors up, and as you start to bring sounds into your beat, turn them each down. As you do this, you'll be able to add more sounds, without constantly worrying about clipping your output. A good rule of thumb is to set your kick drum anywhere from -18db to -12db. This may be a hard habit to start, but if you take anything away from this blog, please take this idea.

Assuming we have enough headroom to work with, lets reduce the dynamic range of the mix by knocking those peaks down a bit. A great way to deal with this, is by playing your parts in by hand. Unless you are Rain Man, your hits are going to be slightly out of time. This likely will mean that the peaks don't add up into super peaks.  If you did write in your beat with a pencil tool, or over quantize hand played parts, you can manually nudge sounds back off the beat a bit.

Another way to manage super peaks is by the use of dynamics tools like compressors, transient shapers and limiters.  For this purpose I love to use transient shapers.   This is my favorite:
http://www.schaack-audio.com/transientshaper.html


Just whack a transient shaper like Schaak Audio's (good sound / low price = good deal) onto  your individual channels that are hitting on the pule of the beat.  For drums sounds, turn the release down a smidge (sorry for the technical term), for your other sounds, turn down the attack until the sound gets too soft.  There are three little humps under each knob in Shaack's shaper, they represent the time scale to be effected by the knob, little hump for short time, big hump for long time.

Watch your mixer's stereo two buss, as you drop the attack of the other elements, that super peak will be tamed.  To complete the process consider some very slight limiting from a quality limiter like:


FabFilter's Pro L (quick one here - turn down the out, found on bottom right quite low, and turn up the gain until you see about 1 or 2 db reduction in the meter in the upper right, the red line shooting down, to get a more accurate view, click that little -32db button on the bottom right, and switch it to -16db), sum your various components into a buss and apply a little light compression and maybe a touch of limiting again.

Your drums will have that hard punch, your phrases will be strongly augmenting the beat, and your dynamics will be in control.  A job well done, but don't forget, it helps to have a good musical idea first!

If your beats are too strong, check out Softening Your Beats to tame the beast!

54 comments:

  1. Will defo be using this man, gonna try and start producing again soon, thanks very much!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Damn this is making me want to get back into producing thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. been getting on this tip lately, too

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is a quality post dude! Good infos

    ReplyDelete
  5. Holy shit good info, this is gonna help me a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  6. great tips man! Glad to see this blog back up!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good tips, makes sense when you think about it but it's pretty simple stuff to forget about.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Now this, this is an in-depth post.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Just downloaded FL studio.
    Definitely following!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow, this is very detailed. It seems like a lot more work goes into producing these things than I thought.

    ReplyDelete
  11. That was awesome, too bad i have 0 talent for this hahaha

    ReplyDelete
  12. Another great post with a lot of useful tips. I thank you for this good sir.

    ReplyDelete
  13. awesome content, thanks for sharing and showing :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. The girl in the picture has strong beats does she? :P

    ReplyDelete
  15. I saw the picture then read the title and though it said Pro tip #1 Strengthening your breasts :l

    ReplyDelete
  16. wow thanks for the tip,great post
    +follow

    ReplyDelete
  17. Beats people, BEATS. Save the breasts for Chest Kittens

    ReplyDelete
  18. Boobies or beats?

    Hmm..

    Great post though mate; nice to see some people still care about every element of their track and know its just not about a good kick and snare.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm more of an upside-down plastic bucket kind of drummer.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great tips and post, keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Its veryyy interesting to see how composers and musicians actually care about minute details in a beat or sound. Sometimes all I hear is "thud thud thud" but really there is detail and care! Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  22. sorry bro, ive been infrequent on blogger
    i like drums with a bit of distortion and reverb.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I myself am partial to strong dark beats. Great advice.

    ReplyDelete
  24. So what do you do if you want them a bit softer?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Lot's of valuable information in here for someone who is just trying to get into production... Great post filled with loads of great information.

    ReplyDelete
  26. wow this was pretty good info, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thanks for the information! Was really helpful! Keep up the great blog work!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Nice post... although I have zero idea how any of these programs work.. lol I wish I could make some awesome music.

    ReplyDelete
  29. i wish i could make the beats! i'm a better flow man if i do say so myself though :)

    ReplyDelete
  30. haha, when I saw the picture and read the headline, I thought this post is about how to strengthen your core muscle and increase punching power :D

    ReplyDelete
  31. Very informative! I'm going to put that to use when I make my own music

    ReplyDelete
  32. I'm always tempted to try my hand at making some drum and bass, this could certainly help.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'd start with something easier, on all honestly. Not trying to be discouraging, but Drum and Bass can be highly technical. Then again... go for it!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hey! Cool tips.
    And no, I don't mind fully baked music critics :D

    ReplyDelete
  35. Iv'e always wanted beastly beats +follow!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Why I read "Strengthening Your Breasts"?? haha

    ReplyDelete
  37. I will do this once I have enough time to set everything up.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Vietnam internal Flights is at the southwest end of internal flight and offers rides cheapest domestic flights on the Reunification Express flights Vietnam Internal Flights Vietnam Domestic Flights, Vietnam Internal Flights - Book Vietnam Airline, International flight. Big discount, Cheapest price, 24/7 support.

    ReplyDelete