Most of the time, the pitch bend on a keyboard is somewhat of an afterthought for most beat makers. Actually, for me it’s more or less something just to play with, almost like a toy.
Most people will not want to try something new, but if you start using different techniques and coming up with new sounds, it can really open up your beats to something fresh and unique.
The Pitch Bend Is Inspiring
When Native Instruments released information on their new line of keyboards – the S-series, I noticed how one of the nicest features was their pitch bend. It wasn’t the traditional stick wheel you normally see on keyboards, but instead they made it touch-sensitive, which is really awesome.
They also incorporated it into the performance part of the keyboard, so it can actually (sort of) loop what you did and go from a low to high value, and vice versa. When I saw the demo of that keyboard and what it can do with just the pitch bend alone, I was blown away. Here is a keyboard that could easily be just a regular controller like any other on the market, yet NI decided to change things up and come out with something different. By doing so, it allows beatmakers and producers to do something different as well.
Think about it – instead of just making a beat and using a keyboard to play sounds on top, you now have the option of taking a sound and completely warping it any which way you want.
That can really be a game-changer for your beats.
If You Take A Chance, The Rewards Will Come
I recently did an interview with a well known producer and when I mentioned how good his beats were on his most recent productions, he actually told me that he decided to try something different this time.
In the past, he would normally make a beat a certain way or with a certain DAW, but this time he just changed up the process and produced in a way that he doesn’t normally produce. In the end, his beats were really tight, and it also fell in line with the style of today’s music and rappers. What was crazy was that even though his process was different, it still had the same style as his older beats.
The point to take away from that is he took a chance and changed things up, just like NI did with the pitch wheel on the S-series keyboards.
It’s also the same thing when producers make beats in the Rhythm Roulette series of videos. You may have seen them – a producer is given the task of going to a record store and picking out five records at random (blindfolded), and they have to use those records to try and make a beat.
Even though it’s entertaining, it’s quite interesting how they were able to take random records and make the same style of beat that they normally do. Now, they’re not changing up their style of beats, but they’re changing HOW they make their beats.
On one hand the producer I interviewed changed up his workflow but also changed his style somewhat to fit with today’s music, and on the other hand the Rhythm Roulette guys just change their workflow.
Either way, they’re moving along and still making really good beats.
Skills / Routine / Fear
Your brain might be telling you that you have the skills to make dope beats and don’t need to change things up. Having a routine is comforting so you might not want to make changes. And fear might be holding you back.
Everyone feels like that, but if well known producers can take a leap, so can you.
When I think of the new NI keyboard and how the pitch bend can be a game changer, it gets me excited, rather than turning me off and scaring me. It’s exciting to try a new product or technique, as it will only make my beats better.
I’m one of the first people that will tell you to keep your style and make sure you have a unique sound, but there’s nothing wrong with trying something new.
Just don’t go from making Hip Hop beats to producing Death Metal and expect Hip Hop heads to vibe to it – it ain’t gonna happen! Good luck.