The code of the beat.

BeatTips Readers Poll™: When You Make Your Beats, Do You Start with the Drum Sounds or Non-Drum Sounds?

4

For Many Beatmakers, Getting the Beat Started with the Drum Sounds or Non-Drum Sounds is Part of a Creative System

By AMIR SAID (SA’ID)

For this BeatTips Readers Poll™, the aim is to see how everyone else likes to start their beats: Drum sounds first, or non-drum sounds first, or sometimes drum sounds first, sometimes non-drum sounds first? Interested to see if there will be a consensus. Feel free to post comments.


Drums. Every beatmaker knows their importance, but each one of us takes a slightly different approach to how we cook ’em. And even before we get into the finer details of flipping our drums and locking in our drum programming, we all have a preference for when we start work on the drums.

My default approach is to start with non-drum sounds. A major part of my creative system is seeing the music in my head without the drums. I’ve gone through great lengths to customize my drum sounds, so much so that when I pull sounds from my drum sound library (to match), they’re the right ones—95% of the time—for what I’m trying to do musically. Therefore, when I’m making a beat, I like gather the riffs and non-drum tones first, before I assemble the drum arrangement.

Still, there are sometimes I’ll start with drum sounds to get a beat going. But this depends on the mood that I’m in and the direction that I want to go in expressing that mood, or if I’m making a sample-based joint or a non-sample-based one. More often than not, when I’m making a non-sample-based beat (which I play outlive on my Fantom, then ultimately sample), I start with the drums. This is particularly helpful for me, because it establishes a rhythm and vibe guide for me to follow.


The BeatTips Manual by Sa’id.
“The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education.”

Articles, Beatmaking, Beatmaking Education, Beatmaking Themes, Theories, and Concepts, BeatTips, BeatTips Readers' Poll™, Book on How to Make Beats, Composing, Programming, and Arranging Beats, Creating Your Own Drum Sounds, Editor's Choice, Features, Hip Hop Production Techniques, Hip Hop/Rap Music Education, How to Make Beats, Making Beats, Programming Drums, Sa'id, The BeatTips Manual, Tutorials and Exercises

About Author

Amir Said (aka Sa’id) is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BeatTips. A writer, publisher, and beatmaker/rapper from New York, Said is the author of a number of books, including ‘The BeatTips Manual,’ ‘The Art of Sampling,’ ‘Ghetto Brother,’ and ‘The Truth About New York.’ He is also a recording artist with a number of music projects, including his latest album 'The Best of Times.' Follow him on Twitter at: @amirsaid and @BeatTipsManual

  • I do both. Drums first when I want a track drum heavy and full. Kik snare hihat congos and more. Then I may just have to add 2 or 3 keyboard sounds. Usually if I do keyboards first then the drums usually come out simpler

  • onemanBeats,
    Like I say in my article, my default approach is to start with non-drum sounds. But when working with keyboard/synth sounds, there sometimes is an advantage to working with the drums first. But, of course, it depends on the sound and feel that you’re going for.
    —Sa’id

  • ScRxipts

    For the most part, I usually begin with non-drum sounds. I have a better feel of how I want to program my drums from my custom kits going this route. On the other hand, if I’m using chopped up breakbeats, I’ll start with them first, then place the non-drum sounds around the pattern. I’d say it’s a 3:1 ratio non-drums first to drums first.

  • onemanBeats,
    Like I say in my article, my default approach is to start with non-drum sounds. But when working with keyboard/synth sounds, there sometimes is an advantage to working with the drums first. But, of course, it depends on the sound and feel that youre going for.
    —Said
    +1