Learn Beat Making in Reaper: Beatmaking, Drum Programming and Music Composition for Hip-Hop & Rap | Alexandre Machado | Skillshare

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Learn Beat Making in Reaper: Beatmaking, Drum Programming and Music Composition for Hip-Hop & Rap

teacher avatar Alexandre Machado

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

16 Lessons (60m)
    • 1. Introduction

      0:57
    • 2. Creating a Template

      5:01
    • 3. Loading Sounds Into the Sampler

      1:23
    • 4. Harmonic and Melodic Elements

      2:26
    • 5. Creating the Basic Chord Progression

      2:51
    • 6. Using Scale Grids

      2:21
    • 7. Developing the Melodies (Part 1)

      5:11
    • 8. Developing the Melodies (Part 2)

      9:08
    • 9. Processing the Melodies

      4:21
    • 10. Creating a Basic Clap Pattern

      1:26
    • 11. Creating a Hi-Hat Pattern

      4:35
    • 12. Creating a Kick Pattern

      2:05
    • 13. Creating Open Hat and Percussion Patterns

      2:29
    • 14. Creating an 808 Pattern

      3:43
    • 15. Arranging the Beat

      9:55
    • 16. Exporting to an Audio File

      1:55
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About This Class

Hello!

In this course, you are going to learn how to make beats in Reaper. Reaper is not only a affordable Digital Audio Workstation, but it can also be used for free without any restrictions. Can you imagine having a professional and powerful DAW at your hands without having to spend anything? Now you can not only imagine, but you also have a course to guide you inside the software.

We will start by creating a template to have a better workflow and mimic some features from FL Studio. After that, we will dive into the world of melodies and I will teach you how to layer different instruments to achieve a pro level sound. This is not a music theory course, but I will show you practical and useful tips to create melodies, harmonies, countermelodies and other elements without any music theory requirements.

Then, I will show you how to create a professional beat on top of the melody we developed during the course.

Finally, you will learn how to arrange your beats to keep the interest of the listener across the entire track.

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hello. In this course, we're going to learn how to make beats and rebirth. Reaper is not only an affordable digital audio workstation, but it can also be used for free as an evaluation coffee without any limitations forever. We will start by creating a template to have a better workflow and mimic some features from FL Studio. After that, we will dive into the world of melodies and how to layer multiple instruments to achieve a pro level sound. Then I will show you how to create a professional beat on top of the melody we developed during the course. Finally, you will learn how to arrange your beats to keep the interest of the listener during the entire track. Beat you are hearing on the background is the one we made during this course. I will let it play for a while so you can hear. If you like, what you hear, join me inside the course and let's make some beats. 2. Creating a Template: Welcome to the first video of our course. In this video, we are going to set up a template to optimize our Beat Making workflow. By having a template, you're going to save a lot of time at the beginning of every new session you start, I will show you the exact settings I use to mimic the FL Studio workflow. So we can line up with the industry standard. I highly recommend that you watch the video and create the template yourself to learn how to set everything up properly. But I will also make the Template Session available for you to download just in case you want to skip the setup process and jumps straight to the fun part. Well, the first thing you need to do is create a new track. Click on track to open the menu, and then click on insert new track. Now, by double-clicking this empty grey area, we can label the track we have just created. Let's save this one for the kick. After labeling the track, we're going to click on the first rectangle above it to insert a plug-in. Search for the re-assembled medic 5 thousand, which is a native Reaper plug-in capable of loading samples and click on Add to insert it on our track. The first thing we need to do here is change the mode to semitone shifted. This will make the plugin automatically change the pitch of the samples depending on the note you play on the keyboard. After that, we need to change the minimum volume to negative infinite. This will allow us to use the velocity control, which is basically the sensitivity of each midi note. The next parameter we need to adjust is the pitch start. Let's set it to negative 72. This will make the sample start at the note C5 of our midi keyboard. Our next stop is the attack is set to one millisecond by default, but we're going to change it to 0. This way the sample will start playing as soon as we hit a certain note within the midi keyboard. And we are done with the basic setup. You can now close the plugin window. Right-click the track and select Duplicate tracks to make a copy of it. Double-click the label and rename it to clap or snare. Now, let's duplicate the track again to take advantage of the setup, we have already done, double-click the label and rename it to hi-hat. Right-click the new tractor duplicated one more time. Double-click the label and rename it to open hat. Right-click to open the menu. And let's duplicate the track again. This one will be used for the percussion. Finally, let's create another copy for the 800 eight. Right-click that track and select Duplicate tracks. Now, double-click the label and rename it to 808. The 800 eight track requires a few further adjustments. Let's open the re-assembled medic 5 thousand and tweak it a bit more. First, change the release to about 100 milliseconds. This is important to avoid suddenly cutting the sample when we stop hitting a certain note. You might want to change the portmanteau to about 20 milliseconds. This parameter will allow the oil to glide between notes, which is a pretty common technique. After that, we need to tick the box where it says obey note offs. This will prevent the sample from keep sounding when we stopped playing a given note on the midi keyboard. Now, let's change the max voices to one to prevent the samples from overlapping when we hit multiple notes in a short space of time. Okay, we're done with the template setup. Click on file and select Save Project. As to save the template, select a name for the project. Don't forget to check the box where it says Create subdirectory for project to automatically create a new folder for it. And click on save. 3. Loading Sounds Into the Sampler: Now that we have already created our template, we need to load sounds into the sampler plugins. To do so, click on View and select Media Explorer. This will open a browser that allows you to find your samples from within Reaper. You can still switch back to the mixer window by clicking on the mixer tab. Now you can browse for the samples that you are going to use for your project. Switch back to the mixer window and open the re-assembled magic from the kick track. Alternate to the Media Explorer tab again to drag and drop the kicks sample into the sampler plugin. Make sure to tick the box where it says autoplay so you can preview the sounds when you click on the files. Let's repeat the process of dragging and dropping the samples from the Media Explorer in reassemble medic for the remaining tracks. The last one is the sample. Perfect. Now that everything is set up, we can finally start working on the melodies of the beat. 4. Harmonic and Melodic Elements: In this video, we are going to talk about the tonal aspects of the beat. Hip hop tracks are mainly composed by a melodic sample with a drum beat on top of it. We are going to develop our own melodic sample from scratch. But first, we need to understand how to layer multiple instruments without creating a mess. The first element is the main melody. The main melody can be a monophonic line, native single notes played one after the other, or a polyphonic line, when we have two or more notes playing at the same time in one or more spots of the melody. The second element is the counter melody. The counter melody is a secondary melody that can be used to support the main melody or to fill in gaps. In this second case of use, while the main melody rest, the counter melody plays. And while the counter melody rests, the main melody plays. A counter melody. As the main one can be a monophonic or a polyphonic line. You can have one or multiple counter melodies. It is completely up to you. The third element is the harmony layer. By harmony, I'm referring to courts. Accord is a group of notes that plays together. These chords can be played as a block with all the notes being hit at the same time. But they also can be broken into single nodes being hit one at a time. Also, don't forget that some instruments, such as the piano, can play harmony and melody at the same time. Given the player can use both hands at once. The fourth element is rhythm. As we are talking about tonal elements, the rhythm must be connected to the harmony and follow the chords of the song. The rhythm provides Paul's groove and movement for the track. You can put rhythm into the elements of any other layer. The fifth element is what I like to call your candy. Here, u in place, textures, accents, decorations, and whatever else you want that pleases the ear of the listener. It is important to mention that you don't need to have all these layers in your song. And if you do, they don't need necessarily to happen at the same time. You must feel absolutely free to creative and let your emotions guide you in this process. Always keep in mind that music is a form of art and that there's no right or wrong. Now that we have roughly understood all these elements, let's start working on the actual track. 5. Creating the Basic Chord Progression: The first thing we need to do is choose a BPM for our track. You choose basically any number between 8200. Simply click this small box and type the number you want. Let's try 150 for this project. Now, we need to insert a virtual instrument to create the chord progression. Clip on track, and select insert new track. Then click on the first rectangle above the track to insert a new plugin. For the sake of this course, I'm going to use a virtual instrument called expand to. It has a lot of sound options, and it's often on sale for $5. And we'll search for a simple piano patch so we can start working. Keep the virtual instrument tracks elected. And let's switch to the Media Explorer tab. Open the Mini Kit folder. And let's try some chords from the minor scale. Play around with the chords until you find a progression you like. This one is pretty common for Trap beats. So let's use it. Drag the midi file from the Media Explorer into reverse timeline. I want this first chord to play for two bars without re triggering the notes. Hold Alt and drag the atom from its edge by left clicking to stretch it and make it longer. Now, let's drag the next two chords into the timeline. Before we check how it sounds, let's activate the metronome by clicking on this little button. Select all the midi files by holding Shift and then hold Control or Command while you drag the items to duplicate them and make the progression last for eight bars. Let's hear how it sounds again. 6. Using Scale Grids: Before doing anything else, let's rename the track we've created on the last video. Double-click the label and rename it to PNO. Now, we need to insert a new track that will serve as a guide for the melody creation. Click on track and select insert new track. Double-click the empty gray area. And let's rename this track to scale. I will drag and place it before my harmony track just to make things a bit more organized. Now, let's take a look at the course files. First, opened the midi kit folder, then open the folder called scale grids. And finally opened the minor scale folder. Let's drag the files corresponding to each quarter of the progression into the track we just created. Again, hold off and drag the edge of the media item to make it two bars long. Let's switch back to the browser to drag the remaining files into the project. Hold shift to select all the files we've just included. Then hold control or command to copy them to the remaining four bars. These scale grids will help us a lot with the creation of the melodies, as you will see in a minute. Now, while holding shift, let's select all the chords of the first four bars. Right-click the selected midi and click on blue items. This will merge the individual chords into a single midi item. Let's repeat the process for the remaining chords. To modify the midi file. Simply click twice on the item you want to edit. A new window will open with a piano roll. If you click on this button next to the scale track, where there's a little icon, you will be able to visualize the notes of the scale we just dragged into our project. You can use them as a guide to compose melodies. The green nodes are chord tones and will always sound good for your melodies. The blue ones are notes from the pentatonic scale and will sound good most of the times. Finally, the orange notes are part of the scale, but sometimes they just won't work for the melody. Well, now we can start further developing our melody. Let's jump to the next video. 7. Developing the Melodies (Part 1): In this video, we are going to create a piano melody for the track. Double-click the media item to open the editor. Before we start editing, let's change to settings that are going to make our life easier. First, open the grid menu on the bottom of the midi editor. Change the subdivision 21 16th. This will allow you to draw smaller notes if you need. So now on the top menu of the editor, click on View, select piano roll notes, and then click Show note names on notes. This will make Reaper show the name of the note on each minibar you draw. Don't forget to activate the little button with the icon to be able to visualize the notes of the scale on the background of the piano roll. Now that the basic setup is done, let's try to develop a melody on top of the harmony. We are going to use only notes from the scale grid. Nice. Let's use the right click of the mouse to select the melody we've just created. Pressed down control and see at the same time to copy the selected nodes. Close the window and double-click the second midi item to open its own editor. Now, press Control and V at the same time to paste the melody. We can change this one a little bit to avoid the repetition. By pressing w, you can reset the cursor to the start of the project. Sounds good. One more time. Notice that we are only using notes from the scale to compose our melody. You can feel free to experiment with these notes as they will always be in key with a song. Now, this piano can use some effects. Let's insert the plug-in on this track. These days, people are using Excel and audio RC 20 a lot. So let's use as well. We're going to browse the presets and tried to find something that sounds good with our piano. We had a lot of great options here, but I'm going to stick with this one. Let's hear how it sounds one more time. 8. Developing the Melodies (Part 2): In this video, we are going to further develop the melodies of our track. Let's start by clicking on track and selecting insert new track. Drag the new track to the end of the list to keep things organized. And let's insert another instance of expand to. Before we searched for a sound, we need to create a new media item. Select the desired number of bars on the darker gray area of the timeline. Then go to insert and select new media item. Double-click the media item to open the editor. And let's try to find a nice sounding patch. Bell sounds are very common in trap beats. Let's try to find something. Sounds good to me. Don't forget to activate the scale at the background. Let's play the track and try to create something that follows the notes of the scale. Let's harmonize this melody using the green notes of the scale to see how it sounds. Perhaps we could use a higher pitch. Sounds better to me. Now, let's duplicate the first four bars to extend the melody. We could add some effects to make the sound you need to our trek. Let's try the ERC 21 more time. I'm going to browse the presets until I find something that pleases my ear. Let's hear how it sounds in contexts with a track. Great. So far we have a piano playing harmony and a rhythmic pattern, and the bell patch playing a melodic line. Let's add a counter melody to fill some gaps. Click on track and select insert new track. I will insert another instance of expand to. Again, click on insert and select new media item. Double-click the empty item to open the editor. And let's search for a sound. I'm thinking of using a flute patch for the counter melody. Let's see how it goes. Remember to activate the scale and the background to guide your decisions. I will play the other melodies and try to figure out a counter melody that fits what we already have going on. This fluid can use some effects. Let's insert the ERC 20 and try some presets. Lets duplicate the media item to fill the remaining bars. Okay, until now we have harmony, rhythm, melody, and counter melody. I'm thinking about adding an atmospheric pad to create a texture layer. Let's insert a new track and load another instance of expand to. We can simply hold shift and drag the midi from the piano track to make a copy of it. Let's see how it sounds. I'm going to browse the pads until I find one that I like. This one is pretty cool. The piano could use a little more ambiance. Let's insert a reverb plug-in. I'm going to lower the decade to about two seconds and the mixed knob to about 15%. Let's hear how everything is working together. I'm also thinking that the PAD could use some uniqueness. Let's insert the ERC 20 and play around to see what it does. I will try to make it a little darker by lowering the high-pass filter frequency. Also, I guess we are done with a melody creation. Now, we can move to the next step. 9. Processing the Melodies: In this video, I want to show you a few more tricks for processing melodies. But before, let's label the tracks from the last video with the names of the corresponding instruments. This one is a bell, this is a flute, and this one is a pad. Great. Now we need to group all these melodic and harmonic instruments into a folder. Click on track and select insert new track. Place this new track right before the instruments you want a group. Select all the instruments and drag them into the empty track from the timeline window to create a folder. Now we can use this folder track to process all melodies at once. I want to show you a very useful plug-in. This plug-in called halftime, creates unique melodies by slowing down the original melody. Let's insert it on the folder track to see what it does. I will play the original melody first, and then I will turn on a plugin so you can hear the difference. I'm going to play with these different subdivisions. Each one of them will give you a different result. It is pretty standard to filter all the low frequency information from the melodies to make room for the 800 eight, Let's insert an instance of E Q, which is a native equalizer from revert, changed the band type to high pass, and the frequency to 200 hertz. I think I'm going to put a reverb plugin on the folder. Let's use the Valhalla vintage verb. Bring the decay and the mixed knobs a bit down. Perfect. We're finally done with melodies. But there's one more trick I'd like to share. Sometimes you might want to transpose your melodies either because you need them in a different key or because you need them to be at a higher octave. To do so, you can use a Reaper plugin called midi transpose notes. It is really important that you place it at the beginning of each melody track. If you set it to transpose 12 semitones, it will make your melody one octave higher. This can be useful in conjunction with halftime. Then simply drag it to copy the plugin to the remaining tracks. And let's hear how it sounds now. For the purpose of this melody, however, I would leave the midi transposition off. 10. Creating a Basic Clap Pattern: In this video, we are going to create a clap pattern for our track. You can also use a snare sample for this purpose, depending on what you wanna do. As we already have a 4-bar selected from the previous videos. Let's scroll the timeline until we find the clap track. Highlight the track by clicking on it. Then go to insert and click on new media item. Double-click the media item to open the editor. Inside the editor used the mouse scroll to zoom in. A clap pattern is the easiest one to do. Just draw a media item on the three for every bar. Remember that our sampler plugin is set to C5. Hold Control or Command, and copy the midi item to fill the remaining bars. Let's hear how the track sounds with a clap. Nice. Let's jump to the next video. 11. Creating a Hi-Hat Pattern: In this video, we are going to work on the high hats of the track. First, highlight the hi-hat track on the timeline, then click on insert and select new media item. This will create an empty midi item within the time selection we have done on the previous videos, double-click the media item to open the editor and use the mouse scroll to zoom in as much as possible. Locate the S5 on the piano roll. And let's draw a midi note for every two spaces on the grid. This is the basic hi-hat pattern. You might want to change the velocity of the notes that hit on the two and the four to make them hit quieter and create some balance. Let's select the notes we drew so far and copy them to the empty spaces. To make the process a bit faster. It might be necessary to adjust the level of a hi hat as the samples are usually too loud. Now it's time to be creative. The first thing we can do to make the high hat more interesting is created some roles. To do so, you need to change the grid subdivision to 1.3.2. Then select the point you want to cut and press S to slice the midi. Let's insert some random rolls across the hi-hat pattern. You can also create some triplet roles. Change the grid from straight to triplet, and also changed the subdivision back to 116. Select the points you want to cut and press S to slice the midi note. Let's hear how it sounds. Nice. Don't forget to switch the grid back to straight. Now let's actually delete the second half of the basic pattern and duplicate the first half onto it. I'm going to edit this second half to make it slightly different from the first. Another creative thing you can do to your high hats is playing with the pitch. Let's change the notes of some roles so you can see what I mean. Let's change a few more notes. You can also delete some notes to let the pattern brief. Let's try doing that. Perfect. We're done with the high hats. Now hold Control or Command and copy the media item to complete the eight bars. Let's hear how it sounds. Awesome. Now we can jump to the next video. 12. Creating a Kick Pattern: In this video, we are going to work on the kick. Let's start by highlighting the kick track on the timeline window. Click on insert, and select new media item. Double-click the media item to open the editor. Let's zoom in and scroll until we find the C5. The only rule I tried to follow when I'm creating a kick pattern is to avoid placing the kick on the same spot as the clap. For that reason, I'm going to activate the clap on the background of the piano roll by clicking on the little icon right next to the clap track. Let's try to create something. Greg. Kick pattern is done. And we can close the midi editor. Now hold Control or Command, and drag the media item to duplicate it to the remaining bars. Let's jump to the next video and work on some percussions. 13. Creating Open Hat and Percussion Patterns: In this video, we're going to work on the open hats and on the percussion. To get started, let's highlight the open hat track on the timeline. Then click on insert and select new media item. Double-click the media item to open the piano roll. And let's search for the S5. When it comes to open hats, the vast majority of beats use them on the first tempo. It is easy and works every time. Let's close the editor and copy the media item to fill the remaining bars. It's probably too loud, so I will bring the volume down. Now it is time to work on the percussion. Highlighted the percussion track on the timeline. Now click on insert and select new media item. Double-click the media item to open the editor. I'm going to show you some basic points where the percussion works really well. To make it easier for you to visualize, we'll make the clap visible on the background of the piano roll. You can feel free to split this pattern between more than one percussion instrument. Let's lower the level of the PRC a little bit. And let's copy the percussion midi to the remaining bars. Break. Now let's jump to the next video and work on the 800 eight. 14. Creating an 808 Pattern: In this video, we are going to keep working on the beat. The 800 eight usually follows the kick pattern. So first of all, let's drag the ATO 8-track close to the kick. Now highlight the 800 eight. Go to insert and select new media item. Double-click the media item to open the editor. Let's zoom in and look for the S5 region on the piano roll. As I said, the 800 eight will follow the GGAC. So let's activate the kick on the background so we can use it as a guide. Now, let's drag the scale close to the 800 eight. The best notes for the 800 eight, or the root notes from the chords of our progression. The first chord is a minor. Notice I drew an a on the first bar to make it correspond to the court. The second bar also have an a minor. The next chord is a B diminished. Let's use the beat to follow the kick. Finally, the last chord is an E. Let's draw an IV or every kick hit. And let's hear how it sounds. Let me lower the level really quickly. Let's play it one more time. Now, we can also create some slides by overlapping notes on top of us. We already have the 800 eight will slide from the point where you draw the second note. A little towards the end, maybe, perhaps on the middle of the bar, and a bit shorter. Lets try and ascending slide here. And a descending one on the next bar. Let's make it shorter as well. Perhaps a little longer. And a little later. I will make it shorter again. Let's try another ascending slide here. Perfect. Let's close the editor. Whole Control or Command, and drag the 800 eight many to make a copy of it. Let's hear how it sounds. 15. Arranging the Beat: In this video, we're going to work on the arrangement of our track. The first thing I'm gonna do is right-click the grid button and change it to 18. It might be helpful during the arrangement process. Let's also undo the 4-bar selection we've made in the previous videos. Now, put the cursor over the tracks on the timeline window. And while holding Control or Command, scroll the mouse wheel to minimize the tracks. Also, let's drag the reference scale track to the bottom to make things a bit more organized. Now, we can start to arrange the beat. Right-click the first measure of the initial bar and select Insert marker. This marker will refer to the intro section of the beat. Let's skip four bars and insert another marker. I will label this one is pre hook. Again, skip four bars and insert a new marker. This one will be for the hook. Let's duplicate the eight bars. We already have to extend the track. Skip eight bars from the hub, and let's insert a new marker for the verse section. Duplicate the hook twice to make the verse 16 bars long. Let's add another marker. This one is for a bridge section. I will make the bridge four bars long. And then had another marker for the hook. Let's work on this first half of the arrangement and duplicated to complete the song. At the end. I'm going to delete the drums for the intro. And also the melodic instruments, with the exception of the piano. For the pre hook, I will make the heads come in. I will also leave the bells, creates some movement on the melody. Let's accentuate the end of the pre hook with one clap head. Be nice to have the rest of the instruments to stop when the clap hits. At the end of the Hook section, I will also make the instruments break to create some interest on the transition to the verse. Let's subtract some instruments to make the verse less impactful. I will remove the piano from the whole 16 bars, and I will make the flute come in for the last eight bars only. Lets also delete the percussion from the initial eight bars of the verse. And let's hear how it sounds. I think I will make the instruments break after the first eight bars of the verse. And let's also insert a break right at the beginning of the second half to split the midi item, select the item you want to cut and press S to slice it. Let's make them a lot of instruments stop when the drums break. It's time to check how it sounds. Let's adjust the high hats. Let's make another break at the transition from the verse to the bridge. For the bridge, I guess I will delete everything except the clap, the piano and the PAD. Lets check how it sounds. Sounds good to me. Let me just insert a break at the end of this section as well. Now, let's insert a simple riser to make these transitions a bit smoother. Switched to the Media Explorer tab. Find the effect you want to use and drag it into the timeline to create a new track. Now, I'd like to copy the riser to every transition across the song. Now, I'd like to copy the riser to it. Now, I'd like to copy the riser to every edge. Now, I'd like to copy the riser to every transition across the entire bead. Finally, let's select everything starting from the first hook and duplicate to extend the length of the track. Now we need to insert markers for every new section. One for the verse, one for the bridge, and one for the hook. Let's duplicate the hook and drag it to the end of the track. Now, insert a new marker and rename it to outgrow. Let's copy the four bars of the intro section and make it the outro of a song. Don't forget to delete the riser from the algebra. And I think we are done. Let's hear how the beat sounds after the arrangement. 16. Exporting to an Audio File: Now that the beat is arranged, we can further adjust some levels. I will lower the high hats a little purple it back into the track a bit more. It's also recommended to use a limiter or a clipper on the master track to avoid having the track peeking over the 0 db line, let's insert the free G clip. Activate the oversampled to have a better sound quality. And let's raise the game by about one decibel and make the track a bit louder. I will also bring my master fader back to 0. Now that we have our peak protection setup, let's click on file and select Render. Here, you can select the destination path of the file. I have already a few suggested folders, but you can also click on browse for directory to select a different path. You can also change the name of the file to be exported. There's also the option to change the sample rate of the exported file. I will select 48 K. Finally, you can choose the file format. It's set to wave as default, but you can change it to MP3 if you want. You can also change the betrayed. But I would leave this a 32K click on Render to bounce the project into a stereo file. Wait until Reaper completes the process. And we are ready to make the next beat.