By reading the title of this article, you may be thinking that I have lost my mind and I want you to bang out 5 minute beats like an assembly line. Wrong.
Making a beat in 5 minutes is a great exercise for you to try, as it will help you improve your beats and your overall productions. Here’s how.
It’s All About Simplicity
Gone are the days of slicing and dicing with a computer mouse, and rearranging clips so that you can create a new melody. That’s what I used to do when I made beats and I hated it because it took all the fun away and I was left feeling like I was doing work, rather than making music that everyone could nod their heads to (including myself).
Here’s how I used to make beats:
Chop drum loops and save the kick, snare, and hat. I would do this two or three times, depending on how many layers of drums I wanted.
Import each drum sound into Reason and make a loop.
Export the drum loop and import it into Cakewalk.
Arrange and prepare my drum loop.
Add samples that lined up with my drum loop.
It may look okay to some people, but it’s actually a very long and tedious way of doing things. A few years ago I knew I had to change things up so I bought Maschine, and my life changed instantly.
With Maschine, I was now free to make beats as they were intended to be done. Instead of taking 20-30 minutes to set up a simple drum loop in my DAW, I can now do it in about a minute with Maschine.
I load up all the drum sounds I need on to various pads, or I quickly chop a drum loop (or have Maschine do it for me).
My drum sounds are there and all I need to do at this point is to make a drum loop. The way I do it is I get the metronome going while I just create a simple drum pattern, usually four bars. Sometimes I will do eight bars, but it depends on what kind of loop that I want.
I repeat the process of chopping and finding sounds, but for other instruments besides drums.
Now I take my time and play out a melody with whatever samples I have loaded up.
There Is A Reason For This Exercise
Now obviously you may not be able to find the right drum sounds or the right samples to use on the beat, because it definitely takes time to find something nice to work with. But the whole point of doing a 5 minute beat is so that you lay down a quick loop of sorts.
One of the tricks that I used in the past is I would sample myself, which was a great way to grab something quick that I know sounds good because I did it. With a 5 minute beat, you’re laying down ideas for yourself that you can either sample or build upon.
Your beat might end up sucking, but at least you now have something to work with. The reason why this exercise is important is that often times I find it difficult to just start. It could be that I can’t find the right sample or that I’m just not that motivated. This is why if you just start composing something quickly, you will at least have something that you can continue with in one form or another.
Everything Starts With Something Simple
Take a listen to Big Daddy Kane’s “Raw”. The drum loop is super simple and yet it works beautifully. Whether the entire beat was thrown together like that or not is something I don’t know, but the drums stand out to me right away. This is because it sounds like the type of drums that were put together to start off the beat and they built it up from there.
This is what you need to accomplish.
Start with a simple drum loop, then you can slowly add other instruments or samples on top easily. So if you commit to making a beat in 5 minutes, you will have at least started something. You can take away all the instruments and just leave your drums (which I have done many times over), and then add whatever else on top.
But the foundation is there to build upon.
A beat in 5 minutes is probably something that some of you might do on a regular basis. Maybe it’s how you make beats. If it is and it works for you, congratulations. But if you’re a bit stuck and need to shake things up, start with putting together whatever 5 minute beat you can and see what you come up with. You will probably end up surprising yourself!