How to Make a Beat from Scratch: The Complete Guide

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How To Make A Beat in FL Studio

You are surely asking, how is it that others are making high quality beats? If there is one, what is the secret formula for that kind of flow you love? It is the big question, how to make a beat from scratch even with no technical knowledge at all?

In this article i will show you the exact steps for creating a masterpiece of beat regarding three different genres of music, namely Hip Hop and Techno. I will show you precisely what to do and when to do it while creating a beat.

Aware of the complexity of producing a beat, i did search for the musical steps behind creating a beat and arranged them into my 3 Step Formula. With this formula i created myself a lot of beats and i am sure others do too, knowingly or not. These are the essential steps to make a beat from scratch.

We will now start our journey into the great mystery of musical expression beginning with the fundamental exercises.

Choose a DAW

If you already own a DAW, which is short for Digital Audio Workstation, you can skip this paragraph. If not, check out my comparison of DAWs and pick one which fits your preferences for making a beat.

For me FL Studio is the DAW of my choice both for simple and complex operations. Beneath that i will try to present the following 5 DAWs as objective as possible to you.

All prices listed below can vary due to changes, discounts or currency.

Bitwig Studio (by Bitwig)

  • Minimum Price: 99€
  • Operating System: Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Supported Plugin Formats: VST
  • Supported Audio Formats: ASIO, Core Audio

Bitwig Studio suits good for live performances. It is not as old or big as many of its fellow DAWs, but surprises with good MIDI support. Also in the full version it comes with about 10 GB of musical content you can start using right away.

Detailed Pricing

In the 99€ Edition you get access to most features including some Plugins and Effects. Arrangement is limited to 16 Tracks.

Also there is the full 379€ version available where you gain access to all plugins, effects and there are no limits for track arrangement.

Included Tools

With the Sampler you have a professional audio manipulation and editing tool.

Phase-4 is their builtin synthesizer with which you can create a lot of cool sounds.

EQ+ is a powerful Equalizer with up to 8 bands.

Pros/Cons

  • Good sound design possibilities
  • Supports major platforms
  • You can’t change BPM in the project

You can buy Bitwig Studio here.

Cakewalk (by BandLab)

  • Minimum Price: Free
  • Operating System: Windows
  • Supported Plugin Formats: DX, VST
  • Supported Audio Formats: ASIO, WDM

Cakewalk got adapted by BandLab in 2018 and soon they puplished a free version of Cakewalk for puplicity. They still continue support and development.

Detailed Pricing

Cakewalk is free of charge, you can download it and start using it right away which makes it a great start for beginners who are just tapping into the world of DAWs.

Included Tools

MIDI tools, virtual instruments and a lot of high quality effects make this free DAW a serios competitor to other charged DAWs.

Pros/Cons

  • High Quality Plugins
  • Only available for Windows

You can download Cakewalk here.

Cubase (by Steinberg)

  • Minimum Price: 99.99€
  • Operating System: Windows, macOS
  • Supported Plugin Formats: VST
  • Supported Audio Formats: ASIO, Core Audio

Cubase performs well on live performances and is used by many big artists in the electronic genre. With Cubase you gain access to many stock plugins which can easily compare to external paid plugins.

Detailed Pricing

Starting at 99.99€ with the Elements Edition you gain access to basic features useful for basic song creation.

Artist Edition costs you 309€. The edition i recommend is the Pro Edition for 559€. For both Artist and Pro Edition you will need an USB E-Licensing tool, which you also can buy in their shop.

Included Tools

With the full version you will have access to several tools regarding composing, mixing, recording, sequencing and editing. Also you are able to use their stock plugins for excellent sound creation.

Pros/Cons

  • offers diverse tools
  • great mixer
  • expensive
  • requires additional e-licensing tool

You can buy Cubase here.

FL Studio (by Image-Line)

  • Minimum Price: Free
  • Operating System: Windows, macOS
  • Supported Plugin Formats: VST
  • Supported Audio Formats: ASIO

FL Studio is presented with great color coding and flexibility. It is the DAW of choice for many popular artists of any genre. Its fast workflow and high customization options make it also my DAW of choice.

Detailed Pricing

Fruity Edition for 89€ offers basic features. For audio recording and some more tools, choose the Producer Edition for 189€. Signature Edition gives you access to some more plugins and costs 289€.

I recommend the All Plugins Edition for 810,75€. Here you get all the Plugins which are worth their money and you will have a fully functional DAW at your hands to create even the most complex songs.

Also you can download the Trial Version and experience the full power of FL Studio without the possibility to reopen saved projects.

Included Tools

FL Studio offers a builtin Sampler and some other tools for Audio editing, recording and manipulating.

Also you will have, depending on the version, access to high quality virtual instruments.

Pros/Cons

  • Great for beginners
  • Expensive

You can download or buy FL Studio here.

Live Suite (by Abletone)

  • Minimum Price: 77€
  • Operating System: Windows, macOS
  • Supported Plugin Formats: VST, AU
  • Supported Audio Formats: ASIO, Core Audio

Abletones Live Suite is the Allrounder under the DAWs. Many artists use it for live performances but also to record and arrange their songs in the studio.

Detailed Pricing

With the Intro Edition for 77€ you have access to limited plugins and a limited workflow.

Standard Edition for 340€ gives you more plugins and features while Suite Edition for 583€ unlocks all features.

Included Tools

Pros/Cons

  • works well live
  • expensive

You can buy Live Suite here.

Summary

There are tons more DAWs out there than these 5 presented here. I do not use them, so i cannot tell you anything about them.

For beginners with no knowledge i recommend you to try FL Studio by Image-Line, as it is very organized and offers precise descriptions for what which knob does. Also you can tap into the water by downloading the free trial version of FL Studio.

For advanced users with technical knowledge Live Suite suits well.

The other DAWs are also worth trying.

Now, let us begin our journey into how to make a beat from scratch!

The Essentials of Melody Creation

Melodies are essential for beat creation. In this section we will talk about how to write a good melody and we will take a look at the bass melodies.

Melodies and Chords

First of all there is a great connection between the chords and the melody itself. A chord is typically composed of multiple lines stapled above each other and looks something like this:

Chords

You see what i mean, right?

I will give you a mp3 file example for every melody, chord et cetera i present you in a picture so this chord listens like that:

Melody and chords are typically in harmonic with each other, so here you have an example of a melody in harmonic with the chord above:

Melody Picture I

Melody Picture II

And this is melody and chords played together:

Scales for Melody Creation

So there are a lot of scales a producer can use at beginning to create memorable melodies from scratch.

I will show you some of these scales and how to use them.

Scale I – Ancient

This scale fits well into a lot of hiphop and trap beats. This is what it looks like.

Ancient

You will soon start writing your own scales, melodies, chords, basslines and drumloops. Listen to your intuition and do what feels right.

Scale II – Fear

It is a rather fear inducing scale and fits also well into hiphop and trap beats. This is what it looks like.

Fear

You are free to use these scales for your own music production.

Now let us talk about melodies and basslines.

Melodies and Bass

For a great melody needs a harmonic bassline supporting the melody.

For a basic bassline you can choose a simpliced version of your melody and you will be fine at the beginning.

Here you hear an advanced melody of my musical productions.

And this is the bassline i added.

And this is both together.

That is it for now regarding melody theory. With these tools you are equipped to do your first beats!

The 3-Step-Formula of How to Make a Beat – Step by Step

Making a beat is a complex process with many variables. I have broken down the elemental steps of how to make a beat from scratch into three steps:

I. Create a melody

II. Arrange your melody elements

III. Create the Drumloops

You should focus on the melody first and then start adding musical elements supporting your melody. Well, this method does not apply to all genres (like techno) and is interchangeble. If you make a techno beat, you are likely to start with a kick or some other drumloops and not a melody.

Also you might include further steps like FX Creation.

We will now go through these steps in detail for three different genres starting with Hip Hop.

After that i have included a mastering section where i will show you how to postproduce your beat.

And that is the pattern we are doing here – Preproduction by choosing a DAW. Production by creating melody, drumloops and by arranging them into a beat. And the complex issue of postproduction, where i will show you some fundamental secrets of mastering used by the top artists in this world.

For all these revelations i will use my DAW of choice (FL Studio) and provide you with screenshots when necessary. People ask me often how to make a beat in FL Studio too, so it is a good fit for this demonstration.

How to Make a Beat from Scratch – Hip Hop

Did you ever ask yourself – how do these cool Hip Hop artists make a beat sounding so good? Well here i will show you exactly how it’s done.

Melody Creation

At first, i created this melody from scratch and it is pretty nice but there lacks some depth in it.

missing depth…

So let us add some depth by turning the scale into a chord, which looks like this.

Okay, that sounds pretty nice. Now we choose a choir for harmonic alignment in the middles of the beat. For this i use Ascension, which offers some pretty nice presets including choirs.

The Choir melody differs slightly from the main melody and looks like this.

Next i add a short and high pitched synth from Sytrus for a nice contrast in the mids of the beat. Aso i add some small improvements for the melody but only in this synth, which looks like this.

Now i add the bassline, which is the basic melody from the beginning a half octave above.

Arrangement

Now that we have the melodies together, we can arrange them into a hiphop like composition. For me this is a hook at the beginning, in the middle and the end and the main melody in between.

It looks like this.

You can see that the bass kicks in with the piano and the choir. When the piano ends the synth kicks in and loops for two sections together with the choir to make a contrast inside the beat. Then the hook kicks in, leaving enough time for you to put a contrast verbal message into in form of your voice. Then the whole shema loops another time and the beat ends.

Now we will create the drumloops.

Drumloops

Here you can choose widely what you want to produce, but you should also focus on harmonic alignment with your melodies and arrangement.

The reason i do the drumloops at last is that they are more a supporting element than a main element in the whole beat.

As you have a lot of flexibility in hiphop regarding the drumloops, here you have a picture of how i make a drumloop and the exact arrangement in the beat.

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So that is it for how to make a hiphop beat! Here you can listen to the final beat which i have alreay mixed and mastered. We will talk about mastering in the last section of the article.

Well, HipHop is rather easy when you have a good melody and some basic knowledge of how to do the arrangement and the drumloops, which i described before.

Let us take this a step further.

How to Make a Beat from Scratch – Techno

Often enough you find simple melodies in techno songs which turn out to be the best fitting into the feeling of the song rather than a complex melody like we use it in HipHop.

Now i will show you how to make a beat from scratch in the techno genre, and i will go into much detail here. As Techno is based around making the drumloops sound good, we will not start with melody here but with the drums.

For this techno beat i chose a Beats Per Minute of 132, which is moderate.

Drum Loop Creation

First we start with creating 16 Samples used for the complex techno drumloops using native stock plugins of FL Studio 20.

I will provide you with the 16 created drumloops as mp3 plus an additional explaination of how i made them using which plugin.

Kick Loops

For the kick i used BassDrum and finetuned the kick until it sounds good. Then i used Fruity Compressor to remove the click sound and make the kick more natural. Now it sounds like this:

Also i created a subbass for the kicks using BassDrum plugin and Fruity Parametric EQ 2. The settings look like this:

Listen to it here:

Snare Loops

Then i added two snares and a rimshot using Drumpad.

Snare I:

Snare II:

Rimshot:

HiHat Loops

Now i added two Hihats (open and closed) using DrumPad.

HiHat Open:

HiHat Closed:

Percussion Loops

Next i chose four percussions from DrumPad plugin. I selected a Hand Drum, an Iron Stick which i enhanced with a reverb using Fruity Reeverb 2, a Tambourine and some nice sound called Electro Blip.

Hand Drum:

Iron Stick:

Tambourine:

Electro Blip:

FX Loops

Here i chose a birdtweeting sound from Sytrus and a static noise from DrumPad.

Static Noise:

Bird Tweets:

Cymbal Loops

I wanted both the ride and the crash from DrumPad to sound a little shady, so i took that in focus while searching for fitting cymbals.

Ride:

Crash:

Last i took a look for…

Clap Loops

I chose a clap i like and finetuned it inside of DrumPad.

Okay! Now we have all the drumloop elements we need to make a techno beat.

Arrangement and Melody Creation and FX

Yeah, we are doing these three all in one now. That is, because techno is a complex genre and i like to do my techno production with intuition.

For the first 32 sections i decided to do a basic introduction followed by only a pad with a simple melody and a choir increasing in volume and then a percussion and subbass loop, slowly increasing in volume, paired with a Synth Riser in the last part before the drop.

After that i did a rather basic main part containing a kick loop, a closed hat and shortly after a percussion loop. Ride and crash are interchanging each other frequently. I removed the choir in this section and played only the deep pad. At the end the Synth Riser rises up again.

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Then, after the drop, comes a long build-up containing a lot of the drum loops we had in the beginning. The Closes HiHat is building up through volume in the last part. The choir is there again and in the lasts seconds of the drop the pitch of the choir goes up creating a very nice sound.

After the drop comes silence for a few seconds while the synths fade out. Here is a good idea to put your voice into like many other techno artists do.

Then, right before the next section starts, a clap loop occurs. The frequency of the clap loop goes up fast, creating a sonic build-up in the mind.

Right after that comes the big build-up. All drum loops are used now. For the randomly used choir i used pitch automation clips to make it sound more interesting.

Here is what it looks like in detail.

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And that is it! Listen to the final beat here.

How to Master your Beat – Mastering Section

How to make a beat without mastering it? We talked long about how to make a beat, now i will explain to you the fundamentals of mastering your final beat. There are some essentials to watch for here, so this will be a rather long section of the article.

What is Mastering about?

Mastering your beat is the final step in music production, which i call postproduction. Many artists and producers think they are done when adding that last synth to their beat. I say no – you are done after mastering your track. It gives your beat the final touch, equalizes your different instruments and gives harmonic into your best parts of the beat.

To master a track needs a good beat at first. Otherwise it just doesnt make any sense.

Mastering should enhance your already existing parts and is not meant to solve problems like poor arrangement or mixing (adjusting audio levels of your instruments).

By mastering your track you adjust audio volumes of different frequencies in the 0 – 20.000 Hz spectrum onto the same level and cut highs in your beat to make it sound more even.

Here you can see a unmastered track of mine and below you see the mastered version.

The primary goal of many producers by beat mastering is to make it sound louder – which it does by default – but i say: make it harmonic.

Requirements for Essential Mastering

I will make it simple here. Regarding your type of music and your genre i cannot give you the perfect tips here because you would not master a Hardstyle Song the same way you do with a Cinematic song.

This in mind i will give you the basic requirements for mastering any beat and after that i will explain to you in detail what the steps of beat mastering are.

Basic requirements:

I. A Compressor to catch peaks

II. A Equalizer to balance frequencies

III. A Saturator to make it prettier

IV. A Limiter to make it louder

I will show you how do to the mastering with FL Studio Stock Plugins.

Step I – Mix your track as nearly to perfection as possible

Before you even start mastering, consider mixing your audio signals to perfection. Your mix should listen to unmastered like a finalized beat and nothing else. Then you are able to do good mastering.

Step II – Export your beat to .wav

This is required so you have a high sound quality to master on. Export your beat to .wav format, then drag it into your DAW if choice and proceed to step III.

Step III -Add a peak catching compressor

This means soft compression to catch some peaks. We are not doing hard compression here.

In FL Studio i use Fruity Soft Clipper like shown in the picture. You should not catch more than 2 Dezibel here.

Step IV – Add a Equalizer for harmonic

Now it is time to lower highly used frequencies and higher less used one.

For this, i use Fruity Parametric EQ 2 here to do the job.

Step V – Add a Saturator and/or Limiter

In FL Studio i do these two steps in one. Also you do not need a saturator for every mastering, but you should consider it.

So now i use Maximus to slightly saturate the beat and limit it.

You can just use the presets for this. I like “Max Loudness” Preset.

Final Thoughts

So this is it! You just read a whole guide on how to make a beat and how to master your track. You should be fine now to start producing your first beats. With time you will grow larger knowledge than i could give you with this already pretty long article.

I hope you enjoyed your ride and do not forget to take a look at my beats for inspiration!

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