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BeatTips Tutorial: 1-Bar/Fast-Tempo Arrangement Exercise


Working Backwards from Faster BPM Settings Broadens Understanding of Probable Beatmaking Arrangements


Coming up with fresh new arrangements and precise tempos can be a difficult thing to master. So I came up with a practice exercise that helped me conquer that challenge. I call it the “1-bar/fast-tempo arrangement exercise,” and here’s what you do.

First, establish a blank 1-bar sequence at an up-tempo, something like 110-120 BPM. Start/record the sequence and play a snare on the “2” and the “4” (second and fourth beats in the bar measure). After that, play a hi-hat in quarters, i.e. 1-2-3-4. Note: Because of the speed of the tempo, the hi-hats will actually move faster than true quarter speed at a slower tempo (e.g. low/mid 90s BPM).

Now, as a patterns emerge to your liking, pull back on the tempo (decrease the BPM setting) to see how everything is turning over. By “turning over” I mean how things land in the arrangement when the sequence reaches the end of the 1-bar measure and “turns over”—loops back to the beginning. [Editor’s note: The BeatTips Manual contains a more detailed discussion of “turn over” rates and “loop points.”]

Benefits and Goals

This practice exercise will help you in a number of different areas.
In regards to sampling, in particular, sampled phrases, it will help expose the full potential of a lengthy sampled phrase, giving you an increased understanding of how sampled phrases can be paired down or extended.

This practice exercise will also help you develop new drum frameworks and approaches to different types of drum patterns. It will also help you further strengthen your sense of time.

Bottom Line
Working backwards from faster BPM settings allows you to hear and explore the range of a given sequence.

The BeatTips Manual by Sa’id.
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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