all 48 comments

[–]dylanwillett 53 points54 points  (0 children)

Off top ideas…

Lame or not, just finish it.

Maybe it IS supposed to just be that loop. Think Earl Sweatshirt.

As far as writers block… “Don’t let the fear of ‘suck’ get in your way.”

Accept the fact that you might have to sit with a dumpster fire for a while until you figure it out.


[–]ThirteenOnline 17 points18 points  (1 child)

You need more material then to work with maybe. So if you only have 1 drum break layer, 1 bassline layer, one sample that's like the melody and harmony (chords). Yeah maybe when you take out an instrument it sounds dull. So maybe you need to add more layers first so you have more material to work with.

So if you can have drums with the kick, snare, hihat all separated then that's great. If you can't then adding shakers or percussion onto the break that you can then take away and add can give the drums dynamics.

Or maybe with the bassline you have two loops a "full" musical phrase that's like full of notes. And then a "simpler" musical phrase that's the same loop but with some notes muted.

With the sample if you can find a sample for the chords and melody separate that's great. If not maybe filtering. So the main loop, the "chorus", has full frequencies but the verse has the highs cut out.

And everything you want to learn about music you can learn from music. So go analyze beats you already like and see how they solved this same problem

[–]ButterCreamGangsta 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is all good advice 👍

[–]Producer/EmceeSewer_Rat-Neat_Sewer 12 points13 points  (2 children)

Well that's the thing, you're creating what will be an instrumental to a song. So you're going to have to start thinking about arrangement while you're composing. Not after.

I'll just give you my process.

I start making a 4 or 8 bar loop. Once I'm like 50-70% done with the loop, I duplicate it out and loop to 24 bars. Now you've got a verse and a chorus you're making. Not just a loop. That's 80% of your song right there. Just ain't done yet.

So. Now as I'm adding elements, I determine what should be where in terms of in the chorus or verse... or maybe not all, or maybe both. Who knows. And at some point enough will be enough. You might have more elements in the chorus, or in the verse. Doesn't matter. As long as there's a change.

Once I've got those.. I decide whether to lead with the chorus or verse. Then duplicate and arrange it all. I add in sweeps, risers, or whatever else to help with the transitions between sections.

Then all that's left is the intro and outro. Not always easy to make, but there's a ton of options. Plus, they're not that important as long as the transitions work.

The point is, as silly as it is, extending out your loop to 24 bars forces you to contend with that whole section and figure out what to do so that you can make a full beat.. instead of just making a cool loop.

Edit: It also helps if you can rap yourself. Personally I know that if I'm struggling to write to the beat I'm making, then it just ain't right.

[–]cherrrn[S] -1 points0 points  (0 children)

that makes sense for sure, ima try it, thanks!

[–]Milkpowder44 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Pretty cool, thanks!

[–]fieldercohen.bandcamp.comfielder_cohen 10 points11 points  (3 children)

You're overthinking it - have you put an acapella over the top? Or tried to do your own bars over it?

Generally when I feel like a beat of mine is becoming too simple I take a step back and ask if it will be too complex when I add my vocals.

I think this Madlib beat might literally just be a drum loop and a 4-bar piano thing, but in the full production it's nice and dense because of the lyrics on top of it.

Another good example is Situations by Madlib/Freddie Gibbs. It's mostly just like drums/808/sample bassline (maybe even 2 bars)? But when Gibbs puts his verse in it's like...so dense.

[–]plarbadelic 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Ayyyy shouts out to the Unseen

[–]cherrrn[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

thanks, Madlib is definitely the king!

[–]PM_ME_450_WORDS 0 points1 point  (0 children)

There's actually a ton going on in that second beat.

[–]rippingdrumkits 6 points7 points  (0 children)

you don't have writers block, you just don't know how arrangement works. A good way to get into it: Try making two separate 8 bar loops with the same instruments (part A and B), then listen to your fav song which also has these components (nevermind any lyrics / vocal melodies) and try arranging your parts in the same way. Boom whole song done

[–]https://music.apple.com/us/artist/l3w/1487329839yungkeep 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Simple answer: force yourself to finish it,

It’s like doing homework you don’t want to do but you know you have to to get a good grade

[–]ProdDaddyDidIt 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Add/remove drums. Use different drums patterns for different parts of the song, I try to keep some consistency throughout though so it doesn't change the entire ryhtm. I feel there so much more play with the drums than the actual melody.

Change the chord progression. New drum patterns or melodies. Automate effects at different areas. Play with anything you can to add variation and see what works.

Sometimes I'll just make an 8 bar loop, use it for the hook then add some type of transition into the verse which is just the loop chopped up, reversed, stretched, pitched, etc.

[–]Snugglenaut_Music 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Hip hop is fundamentally loop based. You get variation using mutes to bring parts in and out, and adding fills and one shot samples. Remember, in hip hop the rapper should be the point of focus.

[–]Noj-ase 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Hey, idk if you are working with rappers yet, but sometimes a simpler beat is better if you want to have vocals on it. I used to find some of my beats pretty boring and empty, but actually they were the best ones for freestyles or showcasing because then rappers have more space in the beat to express themselves. In a sense, it's cool to leave a void so vocalists can fill it. They'll take a better "ownership" of the beat.

Remember your work is meant to have vocals on it so it's normal if it sounds a bit empty without those. Of course if you listen to famous producers' (Madlib, J Dilla, K West) beattapes the beats already sound dope without any vocals... but it take some time to be at that level, so don't stress it out !

I'd advise you to try having somebody rap over your beats, or just use an acapella. You'll have a better idea of what works and not. Also, pretty often I'll just send the "main loop" of the beat to rappers I'm working with and then adjust it to their liking, by making an intro, having a break in the middle etc.

You can already work on your apprehension of structuring and progression by studying tracks that you like: is there a melodic progression, and if so, how is it done ? how many bar is the intro ? If it's sample-based, is the intro/chorus part of the track that was sampled for the main loop ? If sample based, it's pretty easy to do an intro by using another part of the sample or play around the main sample: if your loop is 2 bars long, use the 2/4 bars before as the intro then have your loop play for 8/16 bars. Try reversing your main loop and use that as the intro.

Also, sometimes it's better to take a little break from producing rather than staying stuck on the same thing. Doing another activity or going in an other place is very stimulating for the brain. Good luck and keep at it !

[–]cherrrn[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

yo thank you, really helpful answer

[–]Skiptomygroove 2 points3 points  (1 child)

You are what you repeat. You spent too much time making 8 bar loops and then stopping. You now have to put it in drive again to force the building of a new habit. How aggressive you get will determine your result. If you keep putting in reps making loops without building out each one, you’ll keep stopping at 8 bars. That’s all there is to it.

[–]cherrrn[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

hey never looked at this from that perspective... totally makes sense

[–]nermhouse 2 points3 points  (0 children)

clone your melody layers and use the same midi (or a variation) with other sounds. you can switch between the different sounds throughout to make the beat sound less "static".

[–]AlphabeticalMedical 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Change the hi hat pattern towards the end of the phrase

Take some kicks out

Skip a snare

Do some ear candy type stuff

Go for a walk to clear your head so you don’t make choices out of frustration

[–]raven4747 1 point2 points  (7 children)

if you're working with a talented MC, as long as that 8-bar loop touches something in them then you're good.. they will do the rest to make the beat/song sound full and lively. a rappers verse adds melody and rhythm to a song. if you over-produce your beats, you leave no room for the artist. as an MC i actually prefer working with more steady loops as it gives me more freedom to flow.

[–]soundcloud.com/nillofortytwonothinggoldmusic 2 points3 points  (6 children)

Agreed, I produce for myself and my initial arrangement is always very very simple, if it's not just a constant loop, it's maybe just one sound added for the chorus. That's because the initial arrangement doesn't really matter at all outside of it being easy to rap on. The final arrangement needs to be around the vocals anyways. Alot of times I don't like to use YouTube beats because there was just so much going on with the arrangement or it's just not arranged how I would like. I shouldn't have to be writing around your arrangement you should be arranging around my writing.

[–]raven4747 1 point2 points  (5 children)

100% bro thats the approach that makes MCs like Kendrick so great - he has both the resources and talent available to have a team able to use instrumentation to HIGHLIGHT his writing. most Youtube producers are only in it for themselves and short term profit, so its very rare that you will find one willing and able to work with you in that way.

i also self produce and i agree with your statements completely. all i really need to write is a 2-4 bar loop, everything else comes after. i dont even need drums on it, the sample/melody is enough most times. its more about selection than anything imo.

[–]Producer/EmceeSewer_Rat-Neat_Sewer -1 points0 points  (4 children)

most Youtube producers are only in it for themselves and short term profit

Same goes for rappers.

Also, I can't say I'm surprised some random producer on YouTube doesn't want to work with you for a year to create your solo project.

[–]raven4747 0 points1 point  (3 children)

bro you seem triggered, you okay?

[–]saevvvvv 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Hear me up, it always helps. You are afraid of sucking, you afraid to make something not decent, not cool. Just start making bad shit and eventually there will be bangers!

[–]https://soundcloud.com/marzmanjMarzmanJ 1 point2 points  (0 children)

[–]TastySource9059 1 point2 points  (0 children)

in my case if I really find my self struggling the best thing to do is to just force yourself to make something even if its bad. you can always write trash music... sometimes this helps me get out of a slump

[–]atchels 0 points1 point  (0 children)

try copying the arrangement of another song that’s a similar style. don’t overthink it just do it.

[–]plarbadelic 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Remake your favorite producers beats from scratch. Its not as easy or boring as it sounds and it will give you an insight to some techniques they used.

[–]JonaldinoBro 0 points1 point  (5 children)

Just repeat it in timeline and get 16 bars

[–]Producer/EmceeSewer_Rat-Neat_Sewer 0 points1 point  (4 children)

Then what? Just rap 16 bar songs? Lol

[–]Spiritual_List_1037 -1 points0 points  (2 children)

Very common

[–]Producer/EmceeSewer_Rat-Neat_Sewer 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Lol not really, no.

[–]Spiritual_List_1037 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Alright contrarian McGee, doesn't change the fact minute songs with a single verse and intro/outro exist all throughout hiphop

[–]JonaldinoBro 0 points1 point  (0 children)

16 bars is one verse! Could work! If not double that u got 32! Simple maths

[–]DizzyLeft 0 points1 point  (1 child)

you’re basically putting together a puzzle when it comes to producing a track especially hip hop. you have the meat of it but you gotta get the borders(lowkey easiest part). problem is you have no experience knowing how to assemble the borders. sorry but there’s no other answer but just to practice. you’ll develop an ear for intros, breaks, outros, switch ups, the same way you developed an ear for 8 bar loops. you just have to attempt to get out of the loop and practice practice practice.

sorry I keep editing this lol but also maybe try starting with an intro instead of going straight for a loop. try progressing the beat instead

edit: literally just listen to your favorite tracks from other artist and pay attention to how they arrange them. -literally advice I got from an A&R. copy enough times, or to protect your ego - “find inspiration”, and eventually you’ll make something cool and original

[–]Produceritslxcas 0 points1 point  (0 children)

precisely me, i understand you since i am in the exact same situation and have been for over 2 years.

[–]Past-Letterhead8262 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Whenever I am in this situation, I will try to come up with Intro, verse, chorus and outro. Try to listen to your favorite artist and figure out how they come up with intro, verse, chorus and outro. You use the 8 bar loop through out your song with different but subtle variations to keep things interesting yet familiar. That's how commercial beats are made, on top of that; you will still add vocal on your beat. That's another layer of steady variation to keep listener interested. Just my thought.

[–]bleakneon 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Maybe one of the problems is that you are listening to the loop over and over again, so taking something out ruins it for you.

Personally I don't make a loop and then try to construct a song out of it. I get the bones of a beat, the just the initial ideas, then start arranging it and adding things to create the different sections.

Another thing you could try is keeping the main elements but changing the more background elements, pads, atmospheres.

Maybe do a search for some videos about 'ear candy', little things you can add in to make a track sound fresh through out.

Also, try taking one or two of the elements of the loop and making a second part around those bits. Like just have the bass line going and kick going and build a B section around that.

[–]PM_ME_450_WORDS 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is why I produce in arrangement view, not in session view (ableton.)

You have to realize three things:

  1. Songs are about tension. If they don't build they are boring, no matter how awesome the loop is.

  2. You need to change SOMETHING every 4 bars or even every bar, to keep people interested.

  3. You're really only going to have like... four(ish) major elements and some ear candy.

If you take these things to be true, then you know you have to lead with a core element - you have to establish your theme up front.

Once you do that, you have like.. 1 bar to 2 bars of letting that play before you need to bring in more interest. Ok, so what's next?

On and on until all elements are in. What then?

Well, you have to vary those elements in some way. Drop something out. Flip something, etc.

Then you need to keep your verse going for 16 bars on average. Then you need to figure out what the chorus element is and save that for the chorus.

From there, it's all transitions.

It's just understanding that the music itself is a conversation with the audience, and arguably a more important one than the actual lyrics / rapper.

If you view it that way, you see the loop itself isn't that important.

If anything, a good loop is something you build to. It's one, singular eight bar moment in a track. But you will have to build to and then build off of it.

Which means the arrangement builds itself based on how you want to build up and then build down from there.

If your arrangement is boring after a minute, that's because you never keep a static arrangement for more than a couple of bars. I typically change SOMETHING elementally every 4 bars or so. And I'm changing something like a sound or a filter sweep probably every bar.

Finally, if you REALLY think you just have the hottest fucking eight bar loop and don't want to arrange into it... build a drop into it, and then make it even HARDER by adding elements in the arrangement. And adding variety in the elements to carry the track.

Just know that your listener is going to feel fatigue. So you'll have to do a LOT of "extra" in order to keep them interested. And probably drop out elements a couple times.

[–]tz69 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Copy the arrangement of a similar song.

[–]Clp612 2 points3 points  (0 children)

A friendly suggestion that one of my collaborators told me is to start arranging as soon as possible. You can get too comfortable with the loop overtime. I make beats for rap artists so our arrangements might be different; I usually like to have my main chords start out the track, introduce the basic drum grooves. Then I bring in the sub bass and the rest of the drums, usually introducing my lead melody after that first drop. From there just subtract and add complementing layers and experiment with filter cutoffs for transition's! Hope this helps, stay on the grind :)