Where does the beat come from?

Production Tutorial Boom Bap Beats # 3 - Variety and Variation

Beat Production Workshop Old School Hip Hop

(Shutterstock.com credits: 555816727 Azamatovic / 289695281 Robles Designer)

In the first two parts of our boom bap workshop, we recorded the drums and bass, and created our own sample. Our beat sounds great, but we still need a few tracks and elements that provide variety - on to the last round!

You can never have enough variety

We're going to add a few more elements to liven up the beat. Because the boom bap is known to go back to old school hip-hop, where the beats mostly ran through the entire song without any changes, but those days are over. Variety is simply part of a beat these days.

The first thing we need at the end of a block of four is something that draws attention away from the sample. To do this, I use the internal sampler Presence again and load a flugelhorn into it. Then I remove everything below 600 Hz with an EQ, then send the signal first through the vinyl plug-in and then through TAL-Dub-3, a freeware delay plug-in. It doesn't have to be more than a little melody, let's see what I can think of.

Most DAWs have tons of good sound, including Studio One.

But for a really good boom-bap sound, we need even more variety. For this we use a freeware plugin again, this time the Beatfactory Drums from Beatskillz. I take it, even though we have actually already bagged our drums because the plugin has a lot more to offer than the name suggests. It also has two kits that are full of samples and interesting sounds, and that's where we're going to poach now.

Lots of interesting sounds: Beatfactory Drums.

The very first sound in the first sample kit piqued my interest. It's an effect that would do well at the beginning of a block of four. There is also a delay, again freeware. Lagrange is a very interesting but free delay tool that sounds really good with our hit sound. Fitted into the beat it sounds like this:

The combination of a delay with granular synthesis makes Lagrange unique.

I also discover a kind of piano sound in the same kit that I find very interesting. Unfortunately the sample is not in the correct key. So I do an audio mixdown of it, then just pitch the file five semitones higher and reload TAL-Dub-3 as an insert effect. It's a bit too noticeable for the actual beat, so I use our main sample and the bass to build an intro that also has space for our new sound.

But we still need at least one beat element for the perfect end result, so I'll look again in the second sample kit for the Beatfactory drums. I discover a short saxophone sample that arouses my interest. This sample is not in the right key either, so I'll do an audio mixdown again. Now I want to be able to play this sample with the keyboard again, which is no problem with Studio One. A click with the right mouse button on the audio file opens a menu where I can select the option “Send to New SampleOne”. This opens the file directly in a new instance of the internal sample player SampleOne. I can then play the sample at different pitches using my MIDI controller. I record a rhythmic motif, which is then sent through EQ, vinyl and the tempo delay again and gives the beat even more drive and pull forward.

Samples can be played at different pitches in the internal sample player.

Now only one element is missing. We need something else that differentiates the hook from the rest of the beat. To do this, I go back to Presence and load a choir preset, which is then sent through EQ, vinyl and tempo delay again. Thematically I orient myself on the motif of the flugelhorn, so both motifs seem to belong to each other.

Fine tuning

We are now making two final changes. On the one hand, I mute the last notes in every second drum event, which creates small breaks before each transition.

On the other hand, I program a tape stop effect. To do this, I cut the piece to be stopped from the main sample and send it back to a new instance of Sample One using the right mouse button menu. Then I set the pitch bend value to 24, i.e. two octaves. Now I just have to draw in a pitch bend automation and the tape stop effect is ready. And this is how it sounds:

You can easily program a tape stop effect yourself.

That's it! I load a limiter into the master bus and make the final balances. So our beat is ready and we can listen to it in one piece. Have fun building it!