For those that are not familiar with producing music, they can be a bit narrow-minded. When it comes to Hip Hop or EDM, it’s especially true because they think that producers just sample entire songs and loop them, or just copy and paste clips.
But producing music similar to those methods is actually not a bad idea, and most of the time you will probably do it without even realizing it. So instead of producing, why not just rearrange?
It’s Still Producing If You’re Moving Clips Around
This can be argued all day long, but basically if you’re sampling something, you can use that sample as is or chop it up into little pieces. Someone like Puff Daddy (or whatever he calls himself today) turned the music world upside down in the 90’s when he took the entire track from the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” and just rapped over it. This is when a lot of people started to get turned off by producers sampling, and instead everyone wanted to hear synth-type beats.
There is nothing wrong with sampling, but when you jack a whole track, that’s not good.
However, if you sample a small part of something, then when you chop it, you’re essentially rearranging the original composition. Some may call it “remixing”, and in a way that’s what you’re doing, but it’s more than that. You’re not just taking parts of the sample and moving them around, you’re also working with those clips to create something new.
For example, when I’m working on a track, I will slice a part like this:
Then I will move that part to a new location. So if I have a piano part, I might take the second note and put it at the end so it becomes the fourth note, and then I might double it up to fill out my space. This is something I do quite often, and it works really well.
Before Controllers And Reason…
When I started making beats, I was using Cakewalk Pro Audio. It was a great program and it did everything really well, including editing audio. One of the problems was that when I cut a piece of audio, I was cutting it destructively, unlike today. With today’s DAWs, I can just move clips around or shorten them and it’s not necessarily destructive.
When I would edit the audio back then, it would also be resource-heavy on my computer, unlike today. But I was still able to chop a sample into many little pieces and create something new. That is why rearranging doesn’t have to be looked upon as something that is easy to do, because it’s not. When you take clips and move them around, it still has to sound nice.
So how do you do that? Here’s how:
- Use fades at the start and end points so that your clips don’t have any clicks.
- Copy a certain part (normally at the end) and paste it, giving you two of the same sound. This gives the impression that it’s not chopped.
- Use a bit of delay on the last part (if you have to), to fill out the space.
There Is One Trick You Must Use
In order to make your rearrangement sound great, it must not sound like a rearrangement! So let’s say you have a piano sample that you chopped up into many different parts. Then you move those parts around and created a brand new melody. That is great, but how does it sound?
This is why it’s important that your chops are very clean, and you should chop at the zero point crossing, plus use fades in order to avoid clicks and pops.
But there is something missing. The new melody needs a bit of polishing.
This is where effects come into play. Usually the way to go is with a bit of compression, but you could also use EQ or even slight saturation. Anything that will tie those clips together and make it sounds like they all belong. The whole point is so that the chopped clips sound like they should be where they are. Think of it like this:
You build a table with various pieces of wood. Even though the table is great and the wood is sturdy, they’re all separate pieces. If you were to stain the wood or just paint it, then it gives the impression that all those pieces belong with each other.
So the next time you make a beat, it doesn’t have to be an amazing composition, or keyboard performance, instead it can be something as simple as just rearranging some clips and making them sound great.