Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Making Beats

We’ve received several requests for “making beats” at Reformation Productions and Chantelar Studios recently. So I wanted to dive into to what that means:

“Making beats” is the slang term for the relatively inexpensive method of composition used most often in Hip Hop music. Rap/Hip Hop artists often need “beats” to write lyrics/rhymes/melody over before going through the expense of going into the studio.

A “beat” consist of a drum pattern, bass line, and a rhythm instrument (usually guitar or/and synthesizer) played in a pattern than can be looped for songwriting purposes. The "beat" is recorded to a single Wav file that can then be looped, played, and arranged as needed using several types of samplers including sampling keyboards like the Roland VSynth, special tools like the Akai MPC, or software such as Cakewalk's BeatScape. The sampled loops can then be trimmed, played like chords on a keyboard, etc. When it comes to recording a song with “beats,” they are often added to or stripped down as the song is framed. A ‘beat” can also contain samples of other completed records than can be looped for composition ie the ever popular MC Hammer release "Can't Touch This" which sampled Rick James...and of course James Brown is the most sampled artist ever.

Once the artist has written rhymes and figured out how they are going to perform with the loop, they will go into the studio with a producer and work out any embellishments, arrangement changes, etc. as the song is developed. Lastly, the artist will perform over the completed song and we end up with a completed work.

This method of working is popular in certain styles of music because it is inexpensive and relatively quick. There is no need for the artist to purchase instruments or equipment they don’t normally need, producers can compose “beats” at their leisure so there isn’t a lot of studio time to rent, producers are paid by the “beat”, and it's become common within the industry as a modern method of writing and recording songs. So it's a winning situation for both producer and artist.

Cost vary according to which production house or producer is composing the beat. Producers that have multi-platinum record sales and a name that you would recognize and help sell your record are going to charge more than your local production house. Reformation Productions' fee to compose beats at $100 each. Most artists request several beats at one time so they have several musical landscapes to choose from and work with. We offer a $25 discount for single orders of 4 beats or more. The artist should email us with the style they are looking for including examples of other songs that they admire and are looking to be in the same feel with. Fees for “beat” composition must be paid before the producer starts work. Once the beats are completed, they are delivered to the artist in wav files as the completed work. Once delivered, the artist is free to load the beat into any sampler to complete composition or they can play it on their computer and write over the loop as it is. We require that any song that is recorded and released using one of our beats be co-credited to “Reformation Productions” in the liner notes of the album and with the applicable performing rights society (BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, etc)

Composing and Recording including “beats”
At Reformation Productions, if you would like to complete the composition with a producer after spending time writing over a beat, you can schedule time to work with them in the studio. You will work with the producer using their equipment to complete the song(s). Song composition using “beats” is $75/hour with a 4-hour minimum paid as a deposit and includes studio rental.

(c) 2009 Reformation Productions

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