Making Beats in Ableton Live: From House to Dubstep | Will Edwards | Skillshare

Making Beats in Ableton Live: From House to Dubstep

Will Edwards, Artist. Creative Problem Solver. Musician

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12 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. Introduction to Beats and Measures

    • 2. Downbeats and Upbeats

    • 3. Syncopation Explained

    • 4. Quantize and Swing

    • 5. Push2 Tutorial: Back Beat

    • 6. Push 2 Tutorial: House Beat

    • 7. Push 2 Tutorial: Techno Beat

    • 8. Push 2 Tutorial: Trance Beat

    • 9. Push 2 Tutorial: Garage Beat

    • 10. Push 2 Tutorial: 2-Step Beat

    • 11. Push 2 Tutorial: Jungle/Drum 'n Bass Beat

    • 12. Push 2 Tutorial: Dubstep Beat

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About This Class

Learn how to craft essential beat loops for 7 of the most impactful electronic music genres:

  • House
  • Techno
  • Trance
  • Garage
  • 2-Step
  • Jungle/Drum 'n Bass
  • Dubstep

Learn to recognize how these beats share common traits (including their historical ties to disco and R&B's backbeat.  This course is designed to make each beat very clear to students who can follow along on Ableton's Push 2.  When you're done with the course, you'll be able to craft beats that will recreate the signature rhythms of all the 7 electronic music genres above.


1. Introduction to Beats and Measures: So now we're starting a new section on beats and rhythm, and in this lecture I want to really cover this topic of a beat because it's a term we use all the time. And in Elektronik music, really, there's no more important or more central musical component than rhythm and the beat. So we talk about beat making. We talk about beats in general, but it beat has a specific academic definition, and it's really helpful for you to understand that so that you can count, beats and count time accurately helps with your performance. Helps with your composition, helps with your writing and helps with understanding music that you're hearing to. If there's somebody you want, toe, try and emulate or learn from so a beat is a small measurement of time, and then you add beats together to get bars or measures, and you add bars or measures together to get sections, and you add sections together to get whole songs or whole tunes. So let's take for example, you've got a tune where you've got three sections, got section a section B, Section C and back to Section A. Now each section may consist. Let's say off 16 measures or 32 measures and bars. Measures and bars are exactly the same thing within each bar or within each measure. There's a certain number of beats now in a lot of Western music and certainly a lot of electronic music. The most common is to have four beats in a measure. Okay, but sometimes there are three, sometimes even to. Sometimes they're more like, say, six. The important thing is to be able to discern what the beat is. How does it feel? What's the pulse? Okay, where does the rhythm start? And a good way to do this is to tap your foot or bob your head to clap your hands. Generally, our bodies will get in sync with the beat very quickly automatically, and then we really focus on what the beat is we see are the three beats in a measure are therefore beats in a measure. A lot of times it's four, and then we start counting measures to count through sections. This is a critical performance skill. What you want to do to practice beats is listen to music that you know well and then try to figure out Is this beats. Is this a beat made up of threes? Or is this a beat made up of fours? In other words, is it 123123123? Or is it 12341234 The latter the four count. That's by far the most common. But threes are definitely common as well. And sixes will happen to is will happen. You want to get proficient at figuring out where the beat is, not just where the bar is. Practice that with the music, you know, and then we're gonna move on. 2. Downbeats and Upbeats: we're about to embark on our first real hands on work making beats. And in the next four lectures, I'm actually gonna outline for you how to create four different dialects stick beats in electronic music. But before we do that, you need to understand two concepts the downbeat and the upbeat. All right, now we talked about Do pull, and essentially the down being upbeat are inherently do pull concept. It's the idea of taking a beat and dividing it into two. We got the downbeat. That's the pulse. Then we got the upbeat Uh uh uh uh, that's the upbeat. Now, you can also think about this in terms of a drummer playing a kick drum with their foot. And they have the downbeat and the upbeat. Their foot goes down, their foot comes up downbeat, upbeat, downbeat, upbeat, right? So using down beats and upbeat is gonna be essential for creating a style and feel in your rhythm. And as we go through the next four lessons and working hands on creating these four rhythm patterns, I want you to think about which instruments are happening on down beats upbeat. So you're gonna find, for example, a high hat on the upbeat or the kick and snare on the downbeat is an essential way to start understanding the beats you're making and to think about what's happening on down be. It's what's happening on upbeat. So as we move forward in the next four hands on lessons, make sure you think about down beats and upbeat as well all the other rhythmic concepts that we've been thinking about. 3. Syncopation Explained: sink. A patient has to do with looking at different accents within the beat. If we have a measure of music that's in for four. So each measure music consists of four beats, and we were to accent each one of those four beats like a four to the floor kick. Well, that's just playing a pulse. If we were to follow the up meets well again, that's pretty typical. But if we were to take each one of those four beats and divide them into 16 and you wind up with 16 16th notes in a measure, I want to look at just the first group of four and we see the one e. And, uh, now if we accent the one where the pulse, if we accent the E and, uh, we're still living within the confines of a strict rhythmic pattern. But this is what Syncopation is all about, accenting beats that are not necessarily that intuitive to us. It winds up creating a super rigid, super tight be. But at the same time, it's a little bit harder to track. It's more curiosity. Creating it's more interesting and engaging for the listener 4. Quantize and Swing: one size is kind of the greatest thing, and maybe the worst thing that has happened to electronic musicians quantities is essentially the ability for us as artists to use the computer to the lineup. Either Midi notes and in some cases, transients within an audio clip with the beat so that we can take our music and we can line it up really strictly to the beat grid off our tune. Now this could be a real advantage, because we all know that when things Aaron time, they feel better than group better. They get people on the dance floor. But on the other hand, if we absolutely lock everything in 100% 100% of the time, it can actually kind of diminish the human effect of our music. One times is a great tool to use on a kick, for example, where you really want to make sure that pulse is right on the beat. However, with baselines, sometimes it's a lot better to just actually record the baseline, allowed for a little bit of human error from your life performance and not necessarily quantifies them right away. You'll find that this in some cases makes the baseline and the kick gel better and ultimately makes your music group swing. Beats rely on the concept of triplets if we look at a measure of 44 and we know we've got four beats in each matter now, if we divide each one of those beats into triplets, we wind up with essentially 12 beats within the measure. If we then apply our rhythmic accents on the first and the third of each triplet group, we wind up with a distinct sound that many people refer to as swing. 5. Push2 Tutorial: Back Beat: being able to set up beats and play them quickly and efficiently on the push is probably one of its biggest advantages here. I want to demonstrate what a backbeat is. This is an important rhythm that came out of R and B and jazz and then became really part of early rock n roll as well. A backbeat features the beats two and four in a 44 rhythm. So the first thing we're gonna do is make sure that our able to project is set to 44 time. Then I'm gonna go ahead and I'm gonna select one measure within my drum machine channel, and I'm going to see that it's moving through triplets. I'm going to go back to eighths, because that's gonna be more helpful here. Now, we've got essentially 8/8 notes following the first row in my Bush, and this is one measure in length because I have eight selected. That means each beat is every second path. There's the pulses. 123 and four. Now, in a back beat, the rial accents air on to and four. Now I'm gonna put a snare on one. I'm gonna put a snare on three. This is essentially the signature sound of a backbeat. It's reminiscent of R and B and jazz, and it really does provide a totally different vibe to the music versus a typical rock beat where you actually emphasize the one in the three. Instead, I've made a clip of this available for download, along with the project that you can use to just test this out on your own. But I want you to be aware what a backbeat is, what makes it special and how to play it yourself because it really does bring a different flavor. That's what the next several lectures air really about, bringing different rhythmic flavors to your compositions and understanding how these different beats are made. 6. Push 2 Tutorial: House Beat: Now we're gonna make one of the most iconic beats there ever has been. It's known as the House beat, but really, it's a disco beat. So how started with disco beats? And there was kind of a transformation from the disco era into house music. So you're gonna find that if you really get to know disco beat, you're also gonna pretty much understand the fundamentals. A House beat. But let's look at specifically beat by beat. The main thing about a house beat is the open hat closing on three and one. I'm gonna go ahead and start off with just one measure. This way, it's very easy for us to see what we're working with. I've got eight selected, so we're just counting down one in two and three and four and those the eighth notes Within this measure, I'm gonna put a kick on one. I've got my tempo pretty high, but what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna turn it down so that we can really analyze these individual details. Then I'll speed it up for you again, and you can kind of hear how it sounds. So let's start with this lower tempo of 88. We can really see now how? That's the one b. And this is actually the three right here. I'm gonna go ahead and put a snare on three. Now, I'm gonna put a closed hat on three and one doesn't really sound like a house beat until we opened the hat. You want that on three and four from our back? Now, at this slow tempo, this sounds kind of plodding and dull. Once we speed it up, you can start to hear how this is a I want to make sure you're clear on the fact that one of the elements of the house beat is that open hat closing enable two they use choke groups and choke groups are designed to make sure that, for instance, in this case, the high hat open high actually closes when the closed high hat has played in a subsequent beat. So we have the open high hat being played on beat to, but we have the closed taps being played on beat three. In other words, beat three chokes the oven hat from beat to, and you wind up getting that disco open at sound. I'm gonna go ahead and remove just those two notes. Just the high hat, closed notes and you're going to see it doesn't down like a house beat anymore. Theo Theo closed. That is really the crucial element here. Adding kicks on all the down beats four to the floor would make this beat even more traditional. 7. Push 2 Tutorial: Techno Beat: techno started in the eighties, and it's a sound that's pretty unique. It has a lot in common with House, but it really strays from the original disco origins of the House. Be and really deals more with sounds that are made using sampling and synthesizers. And so the techno sound has a sort of artificial quality to it, and that's an important consideration when you're choosing your instruments. Now I'm using a sampled 80 wait here for this example and I'm gonna actually do a little bit of tuning on the clap so that I can kind of distort or create a little bit of an artifact laden sound for the clap. And there are some Syncopation components to the way that high hats work in technology. And like all the other discussions we've had so far on beats, this is just a starting point. But I want to make sure that you have something that really is kind of at the heart of a techno sound. So in this example of starting with eight away and I'm going to start with a kick on one and two and three and for right, so we're just doing four to the floor very much like house, But we're not going to be having the disco influence here. We're not going to use really a snare. We're going to use a clap on two and four like that. The tempo is important. We've got a tempo here. 1 60 Not a minute, too, in the collapse. So I select the clap and tune it up a little bit. This a little bit. Kind of just makes it a little more artificial. Still really functioning as a clap. That's a good way to bring the techno flavor. Now I'm gonna add the high hat. Somebody used clothes, high hat. I'm gonna go ahead and put a high hat on one, three and four. Okay, I'm gonna put it on the e of two. That's right here on most gonna put it on the end of one. So this syncopated beat right over here on the e the 2nd 16th note of the second beef. That kind of brings in a syncopated element that's more unique. That particular beat is quite unique to this style. So what you have here is a good basis for a techno composition and what I recommend you do is download the clip, you can study it. You can try assigning the individual parts that I have to kick in the clap two different instruments. But overall, remember that your instrument choices for techno should be somewhat artificial. They should sound like they are from technology that from there clearly synthesised or sampled, it's been kind of mash up. Okay, you want to make sure that you have techno sounds, but this is the good rhythm to start with. So download the clip, get started and try and make a technologies. 8. Push 2 Tutorial: Trance Beat: thing, this lesson. We're gonna build a basic trance beat and what's again, I want to make sure you understand that this is not the only trance, Pete, this is just a very basic understanding in the trance. Pete and I want to try and make it simple enough that you can start to understand and wrap your head around what makes a trance feet different from other beats without necessarily having to know every trance beat. Course you can take this space IQ structure and modify it to your room tastes now in a trance beat again, we're gonna want think in terms of 16th. Okay, so we want to make sure that when we start a measure that we're seeing this link out 16 beats and I've got 1/16 set. So if you have eight set, for example, this represents a full measure. We have 12341 and two, and three and four. When you switch to 16th you get one Yanda to e end a so on so forth. Beat three, beat four. That's what you want to be for developing a trance feet because you're gonna use the 16th on the high hat the clothes I have. So let's start off with her kick and you're gonna want the kick set four to the floor, just like a house. People. Okay, so this is very different from dub Step where you have that kind of little to kick. This is four to the floor, just like house. But we're not gonna have the kind of disco open at of house speed, right? We're not gonna have that Boots and cats kind of sound. We're gonna instead have a closed high, and we're gonna put it on the last 2/16. What you call the Anna of each meat like this. All right, that's where you're gonna have to close science. And in this example, I'm not going to use any of the open hats. You could put a snare like that. You could leave the snare out. That's kind of optional. But right now, this feel of four to the floor kick that is so typical of house, but with the 16th sort of stuttered feel of the hi hats. No boots and cats open half that. You get in house, and then you can add snare to taste. Typically on the back seats on two and four. Then you can get a really good transfer. You can switch back and forth between using, snare or not. So that's essentially a great starting point for a trance beat. And you can download the clip along with this lecture and we're gonna move on. Look at some other beats now. 9. Push 2 Tutorial: Garage Beat: once you master the house, beat you pretty much there. But there are a couple more beets that are really elemental to a lot of genres and sub genres. And the next one you want a master is the garage feet. I'm gonna show you how that works, and I'm gonna point out what it's really elements are. First of all, it's got a little bit of Syncopation at the end of a second loop. So it basically is very similar to the house beat in that it's really emphasizing the one to the three, the four with a kick four to the floor. But then it's also gonna have Syncopation in the end of a second loop some and actually use two measures in this demonstration. And we're also going to be accenting the two in the four, which is what we talked about earlier in the back seat. So a good garage tempo is roughly 130 beats per minute, so I'm gonna go ahead and back. Are Timbo all the way down to about 60 beats per minute? I'm gonna do this so that we can come back up to 30 hear what it sounds like, but I want to start slow so you can really digest the individual components. So I've got my kids selected, and I'm gonna go ahead and get the kick drum. And I wanted to bar loot some to start with two measures. Now it's playing out eighths right now. It's gonna end here and repeat through at the top line again. So I'm gonna go ahead and place kicks on 123 and four. Now, I'm gonna make a syncopated modification to the end of my second measure to see this in greater resolution. I want to switch from eighth notes to 16th. When I do this, the 1st 2 lines are going to represent Measure one and the second to the Rose are gonna represent measure to you'll see how the lights change. So now this is beat one beat to beat three, beat four of Measure one. Beat one through four. Measure to Now, I can see that I'm actually gonna be changing the downbeat with the kick from the fourth beat of measure to to the beat just before it. That's the Syncopation I'm talking about. Syncopation is essentially the idea of creating accents on off beats or beats that aren't typically accented. Now I'm gonna add snare, and I'm gonna actually add that on the two and the four, the backbeat of each measure. So this is a two. This is the four, cause I'm still in 16. This is the two in the four. Now, I'm also going to take that last downbeat that I'm playing on the four of Measure to and I'm gonna move that to the beat previous. That's Syncopation as well. So now I have Syncopation being matched on the kick and the snare. Let's listen to how that sounds. You could hear how the Syncopation changes the turnaround at the end of the tube are section I'm gonna do one more thing, which is at a kick on the 3rd 16th note of this fourth beat. Now let's speed the tempo up back to 130. Now, I'm gonna do one more thing just to make this sound really UK garage. I'm gonna go ahead and I'm gonna duplicate that beat onto a closed tap. Now, when I pick up the speed to 130 we can listen to what it sounds like. House beats and garage beats have a lot in common because they both use four to the floor. But the garage be kind of creates this interest at the end of a second bar with some Syncopation. You can download the clip that I prepared in this lecture, and you can kind of analyze it, look it up close, but I would recommend that you practice playing your own beats so that you can memorize what a garage beat really is. 10. Push 2 Tutorial: 2-Step Beat: when you're making a two step beat, there are a few things to consider. First of all, to step is really the genre of electronic music that started to liberate electronic musicians from the four to floor beat. And you see what I mean in a minute. First of all, let's look at the kick in a one bar. We're gonna start with the measure, and I'm gonna start with just quarters for now. First of all, we're gonna put a kick on the one next, we're gonna change the eighth notes so that we can put a kick on the and of three. So far, this is neither a house beat, nor is it really a garage beat. This is something altogether do, because the kick is not happening all the time. On four to the floor, we're gonna have a snare onto two and four, which are the backbeats. Let's go ahead and do that. Now we want to add high hats on every upbeat, so make sure urinates, make sure your selected your high hap closed tap, go ahead and add it onto every upbeat. The final ingredient that really makes this snap is a snare. That is on the 16th note right before the third beat. Okay, so for that kind of resolution, we have to start dealing with 16. So I'm gonna go ahead and change to 16th. Now, the place we want to add the snare is right on the 16th before be it three. So, Miss, select my snare. Now we have a true two step beat. Notice how the beat does not have four to the floor. The kick is on one and the end of three. The snares are on the back. Beat the two in the four. And then we've got this snare. That's on the 16th right before the third beat. And we've got high hats on all the up beats. So there's an evolution from the back seat to the house, beat to the garage, beat. And then ultimately to two step. And you're gonna find that almost every genre of electronic music inherits from one of these three main beats house, garage and two step. You can download a clip of this loop from this lecture as well as the project to get working on. If you want to use the drum machine 11. Push 2 Tutorial: Jungle/Drum 'n Bass Beat: thin this lesson. I'm gonna use a sampled drum rack in order to create a real basic drum and bass toward jungle beat. All right. Jungle was kind of a predecessor to drum n bass and really has kind of a stylistic rhythm. Riel Dr. Groove to it. And I'm gonna show you exactly what the basic elements are again. You can modify this year taste, but the's air, the main elements. Okay. One thing, first of all consider, is that I'm using a sampled drum kit here, and I actually sample the original bombing break. And what we're gonna do is we're just gonna have one measure again. I'm using 16th and I am going to go ahead and start with my kick. All right? I'm gonna put a kick on the one and the end of two. That simple. Okay, Now you've already got this kind of driving feel. I'm gonna put a snare on two and four. The almond breaks snare really cuts. I'm gonna go ahead and put that on two and four. Okay, Now I'm gonna have the high hat, but im it's really a bride. I think in the original sample butts functioning here like unopened half, and I'm gonna put that on the end of one on the end of three and the end of four. Okay, Now, this is overall a really good start for a jungle for German bass beat. But we want to pick up the tempo, so the tempo should be more like 160. Let's say Okay, you could go faster than that anywhere up to maybe 192 100 somewhere in that range. So this is again the very basic elements of the beef. But you can add elements to get side of more stylistic for to make the beat either more mellow or more aggressive. 12. Push 2 Tutorial: Dubstep Beat: This'll Essen, I'm gonna show you how to build a typical dub step beat. Now, of course, with all the beats that we cover, there's variations. And different artists are kind of modifying these beats in ways that don't necessarily change the fundamental groove. But, you know, you can add bits and pieces here and there. So this is not necessarily the only Deb spent step beat. But this is a really good way to kind of wrap your head around what dubstep beats are about . Most electronic music styles really are defined by the beat. So this is going to start with a two step beat, and it's gonna feature the back beat as well. So first things first. There's kind of force 45 steps in to take you through. First, you want to be thinking in terms of 16th here, So we're gonna be creating a one bar loop. I've got my drum machine loaded here with my eight await and I'm going to start with the kick and I've got everything set up. We're on 16th here, So when we started measure, we can see the lights of following 60. So we have one end up to Yanda three and a four year, and we're just dealing with one measure. 1234 and then each feet is being made in the 16th. Okay, Now what we're going to start with is selecting the kick and we're gonna put the kick on one. Now, In a typical back beat, the kick would be on one and three, but we're actually gonna move it a little earlier than three. We're gonna You're gonna put it extra on the and off to. So you wind up with that kind of wilted I feel right now. We're gonna take this Nader, and we're gonna put that on three. Now, you've got kind of like a steady beat. This is very similar to a two step beat. It's not a house speed at all, because he didn't have the kick on four to the floor. You got the snare on three. Very typical. But you got to kick on one and in the end of two. Right? Okay, so now we're gonna add the open Hi. Hats on beats two and four. So we're gonna split that they're in there now. This would be a real mellow dub step you know, like this would be pretty good for some, like, chill out them stepchild. Step that kind of I've where you want something really mellow. But if we add in the high hat now it suddenly starts to get a lot more aggressive starts to get a lot more agitated. What we're gonna do is we're gonna actually put closed high hats on all 4/16 for beats one into like this. All right, that's the first step. Then we're gonna put it under the last 2/16 of beats two and four. Okay, so we wind up with this. It's very agitated. It's very aggressive. It's got, like, a fast feel to it. We're gonna add one more closed high half on the downbeat off beat, too. Now you've got the basins for a really solid dubstep beats. And it's important that you started understand how to build these beats based on where the kicks are, whether or not it's using a back beat. And the back made essentially means that the feel of the music is emphasized on two and four rather than 13 which is kind of like a pop or rock beat