Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Typical Beat Layout's For Electronic Music

Below are basic layouts for programming beats in a number of electronica genres.

I found these about 8 years ago when I first got interested in creating electronic music. I hope that you can use them. Enjoy.

Programming Trip Hop

  • Tempo is usually around 90 - 102 BPM.

  • 1/8 note hi hat patterns seem to be standard.

  • It's very important to set velocity values to the high hats.

  • Hesitated beats seem to be getting more popular.

  • Percussion doesn't seem to be used as much as other styles.

  • Always use 2 snare sounds to get a more authentic drum beat.

  • Try a booming 808 kick on the one.

  • Vary the beat by dropping stuff out and bringing it back in.

  • Try putting hard slamming snares on the 2 and 4 give extra attitude.

  • The weirder and dirtier your pattern is, the hipper it will be.

Programming Jungle

  • Tempo is usually around 160 - 180 BPM.

  • There's more snare rolls going on underneath stuff or leading into the next bar.

  • The snare sounds are more block like sounding.

  • Lots of percussion going on underneath the kicks and snares.

  • Patterns are usually stretched out to 4 bars in length.

  • The rhythms are more complex then any other styles rhythm.

  • Kicks don't really matter to overall sound as much as the snares do - the deep sub-bass usually drowns the kicks out.

  • Cymbal crashes sound good when layered over main snares.

  • Dubby basslines are the heart and soul of jungle.

  • Give the basslines room to breathe - they should be very minimal, this gives more attention to the beat.

Programming Drum 'n' Bass

  • Tempo is usually around 175 BPM.

  • Snare sounds are darker and harder with more reverb.

  • Drum patterns are simple "2 step" patterns - easier to dance to.

  • There is a lot more room to experiment with the hats to push the snares along.

  • Very repetitive in beat structure.

  • When composing it's good to have 2bar patterns and changing up the 2nd bar. Maybe give the snare some hesitation.

  • 4th and 8bar fills work well.

Various Jungle & Drum 'n' Bass Tips

  • Make a 2 bar break pattern then a different variation on the 2 bar break and loop this.

  • Make synth melodies travel over 2 bars long.

  • Make higher pitched tones in the basslines play with the snare on 2 or 4.

  • A TR808 bass kick works well for deep basslines.

  • In jungle and drum n bass use the hats to push into the snares.

  • With all the basic drum n bass beats try inserting closed hats at certain places within the pattern and see what happens - I think you'll be surprised at what tensions get created when you add just one extra hat in the right place.

Programming House

  • Tempo usually ranges from 120 to 130 BPM.

  • The house sound calls for a pounding kick drum, a snappy snare, bright hi hats, and a driving bassline with a pinch of sampling played in sync with the drum track.

  • Keep the kicks on the 1,2,3 and 4 positions in the measure.

  • Give the kicks some variation by adding an occasional kick on 4 1/2.

  • Keep open hats on the inside 1/8 notes between the 1,2,3 and 4 positions - this creates the jack feel that's needed in house music.

  • Create variations that flow and don't get in the way of the jack feel by working on the notes that fall between the 1/8th notes.

  • ex. between 1 and 1 1/2 position
    ex. between 3 and 3 1/2 position

  • Try giving the 2nd and 4th positions a hard slap snare.

  • Give the snares more accent by programming a grit type of snare around the main snares on 2 and 4.

Programming Electro

  • Tempo is usually around 128 - 138 BPM.

  • The Roland TR808 is usually the basis for all the drum sounds.

  • 2 bar patterns work really well.

  • 16th note high hat patterns work really well to push things along.

  • Open hi hats work well within the drum pattern.

  • 808 kick sounds good when played at various pitches.

  • The kick usually forms the foundation of the bass within the track.

  • Percussion such as cowbells, claps, and congas sound good within the drum pattern.

  • Vocoded voices add an extra cyber feel to the track.

  • Various bleeps, pings, metallic sounds work well in the track.

Programming Techno

  • Tempo is usually around 128 - 145 BPM.

  • Beats are more aggressive.

  • Darker sounding.

  • Distorted kicks work well.

  • The Roland TR909 drum machine seems to be the most used drum sound.

  • Most techno tracks focus around one loop with lots of variations on it.

Programming NY Style Garage

  • The off-beat open hi hat is not so much in evidence as in house.

  • The off-beat (jack points) is frequently occupied by syncopated bongos & congas.

  • Bass kicks and snares often get busier then in house.

  • During the chorus more emphasis is placed on the melody.

  • Open hi hat pattern often get used as the closed hi hat pattern.

  • The bass is deeper and heavier than in house.

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