How to make a hip-hop beat
16th Jul 2009 | 11:18
Step 1: We’ll start with a kick drum from Spectrasonics Stylus RMX’s vast array of individual hits. It’s chosen because it offers a good, round bass end without being boomy, but also because it’s got a hi-hat ‘glued’ into it too, giving it a full frequency range. We take no chances with the bottom end, using a high-pass filter to remove everything below 30Hz. We compress it, to give the sound extra welly.
Step 2: The hi-hats come next. We add a fizzy one on the downbeat of each bar, followed by a mostly eighth-note pattern throughout. We add a 16th-note at the end of bars 2 and 4 of our four-bar loop, too. These are treated to a little extra top end via Logic’s Channel EQ plug-in. Quantise strength is set to 80%.
The first snare
Step 3: Our snare part is going to be a composite of three separate noises. The first is this clap, taken from Battery 3. We want a combination of bright, dark, hard and punchy on beats 2 and 4, and this is providing the ‘bright’ part. The sound is chosen because it has good initial punch, but also a medium-length decay, so it sticks around for a while.
The second snare
Step 4: The second snare part comes from FXpansion’s Guru and is selected for its mid-range punch. Using Guru’s internal compressor, we make the ‘second half’ of the sound more powerful, for longer. Each of the snare parts has been recorded freely and quantised at a different strength, so rather than all sounding precisely together, the composite sound is different on each beat.
The second kick
Step 5: We also add a ‘tuned’ second kick to add some sub weight, again from Guru. We choose one with decent length and match the ‘note’ to the main kick. As a result, the loop adopts its pitched identity. We’d have to take this into consideration with the other pitched parts in our track. Look at the EQ curve – the control comes from removing unwanted bass frequencies.
The third snare
Step 6: Lastly, we decide to add a third, tuned snare part, again taken from the Stylus RMX library. This is severely detuned to match the right pitch and, by itself, sounds a little strange. We bitcrush it to add a lo-fi feel, and mixed with the other parts, it works nicely. You can hear it in isolation first, then the full mixed loop.