Making Beats on a Computer using Fruity Loops Studio

When the first HipHop/Rap albums were released in the 80s, there was a technique which is today well-known.

I mean the technique of beatjuggling that based on playing and looping music from popular albums.

Today it is still used, but sampling and looping music from vinyl with the dj-hardware in action is not the only way to create sound: thanks to the development of personal computers and the wide usage of those there are now lots of digital music making programs available.

The good thing in my opinion is that you can take hardware and software into action, for example when you need your own samples and make them by recording from vinyl.

With a music editing program like Adobe Audition or Soundforge you can manipulate the samples and turn them into plugins for your Digital Audio Workstation.

This is one possibility of using hardware and software for making beats on a computer.

One of the DAWs, which is loop-based, is Fruity Loops Studio.

It is designed for making beats on a computer, with the use of your sense for rhythm and melody.

You can compose your beats on a so called step sequencer and listen to it while the music is created.

The step sequencer comes at first with four channels (instruments), but you can add as many as you like. Fruity Loops Studio has a lot of pre-installed plugins.

These plugins are rather designed to create techno/electro music than hiphop, but if you want to add some that are better for making hiphop, you can add them on the members area of fruity loops studio.

That´s the way the sequencer looks like:fl sequencer 1

Like I said, the channels are pre-selected and there are 4 at the beginning.  You can add another channel by clicking on the instruments  on the left side (the menu) and dragging them on another channel or in the space between two of them. Or you can click at a channel, then go to an instrument and make a right click and then chose “send to preselected channel”.

Right now, the chosen instruments represent a drum set, which means you can begin making a beat.

The four elements of a Bar

The little boxes in the sequencer represent a sixteenth note each, sixteen sixteenth notes represent

a whole note (whole bar), eight eigth notes or four quarter notes. As you can see,

the boxes are four times grey, then four times red, then four times grey, then four times red.

Each change of colour means a new beat. If you have a 4/4 rhythm, then each of the 4 beats is

a symmetric element of the whole bar.  The sixteenth notes, or the sixteen little boxes in each channel can be either a rest or an attack.

The basic elements in modern music

In the shown graphic, the selected instruments are kick drum, clap, hi hat and snare drum. Without the clap, these three instruments build the basic percussive elements of music styles like HipHop, Rap, Techno, House, R&B, Funk, Rock, Pop, Roots Reggae, Drum and Bass, Jungle, Trance, Dancehall,

Electro and so forth. In the next picture you will see that I put the Kickdrum on beats 1 and 3, and the Snaredrum on the 2 and 4. This setting is not only used in HipHop, but also in the above mentioned categories.

What makes the difference then between, say HipHop and Techno?

It´s the tempo.  HipHop usually has a tempo between 80 to 110 bpm, whereas techno ranges  between 120 and 150 bpm.

In Fruity Loops, the tempo is preselected at 130 bpm:bpm 130

Creating a HipHop Beat using Fruity Loops Studio:

If you change the preselected tempo to 90 bpm, you will end up using a tempo that is more like in HipHop/Rap.

bpm 90

A simple HipHop beat looks like that:

fl sequencer 2

The 1 is usually called downbeat and the 2 and the 4 are backbeats.

This setting is not only relevant to HipHop, like I said it also is heard in a variety of other modern music styles. If I add a HiHat, then I would at first put them on each eigth note, like this:

fl sequencer 3

You can play around with the kick drum and if you want a little with the hihat, and you will get more variations which are still conventional to HipHop.

For example:

fl sequencer 4

The concept of Fruity Loops is designed to compose the music while you use your eyes and ears to get a good result. It is good to know a littlebit about music, for example music theory.

But if you don´t, it doesn´t really matter because when you listen to your output, you will discover your very own laws of taste.

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