Music Production For Beginners: Fundamentals For Lofi Beats | Kia Orion | Skillshare

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Music Production For Beginners: Fundamentals For Lofi Beats

teacher avatar Kia Orion, Artist & Music Producer

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

6 Lessons (31m)
    • 1. Course Intro

    • 2. Crafting Lofi Melodies

    • 3. Secrets To Lofi Drums

    • 4. Lofi Bass

    • 5. Mixing Lofi

    • 6. Mastering Lofi

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About This Class

This is a great beginner class for lofi beatmakers and those who ant to start crafting that lofi sound. 

That said, I have a course that I recommend you start with, and if you haven't taken my first class yet you can do that here)

In this course I'll walk you through every creative decision I made when crafting this lofi beat, and how you can apply this same advice right away into your own production. 


Do you listen to chill hip-hop beats and wonder how they do it? 

Are you curious how these producers achieve that gritty vintage sound?

Do you wish you could make your own beats to study, chill, or relax to?

Now you can.

If you’ve listened to study beats on Youtube or Spotify then you know what I'm talking about.

Those beats that are so chill you put them on when you're working or just kicking it. 

You think they've gotta be a piece of cake to make.

Lofi beats seem simple on the surface there’s more to them than you'd expect.

In this course I'll walk you through each step of making a Lofi beat and also how to Mix and Master it so it sounds professional and could end up on any Study/Chillhop playlist.


Want free resources and producer coaching to help you level up even quicker? I got you. You can access all my free plug-ins and trainings by clicking anywhere on this link. 

Have fun! 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Kia Orion

Artist & Music Producer


Ay! I'm Kia. 

I'm an artist and educator who believes life wouldn't be the same without music.

Or tacos.

I realized that I was equally as passionate about teaching music as I was making it.

In 2016 I founded Beat School, an online platform and series of educational programs to help aspiring artists and producers learn how to make beats, accelerate their growth, and stay inspired. 

I'm originally from New York but these days you'll find me traveling around the world writing songs or playing beats on a rooftop somewhere.

I appreciate you stopping by, and if you'd like to get in touch you can DM me or shoot me an email at [email protected] 

Life is too short not to do what you lov... See full profile

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1. Course Intro: A o, What is going on? It is your boy key Orion, the man who is obsessed with making Don't music. In, in today's lo-fi tutorial, I'm teaching how to make this beat. So if you're curious about Lo-Fi, how it works, how to make melodies, I'll walk you through all these different creative decisions that I made with these plugins. What I'm doing, why I'm doing it when it comes to Trump's to comes to mixing, when it comes to the mastering chain, all of that, if you're looking to level up your production now, check out beat school That's my online platform where I have a free producer training. I'm given away that I think you're really going to dig. But before we get to that, if you're curious on how to make lo-fi and you wanted to level up your lo-fi game, just the course for you. So set aside 30, 40, maybe an hours worth of time. Grab your beverage of choice, buckle in and I'll see you on the inside base. 2. Crafting Lofi Melodies: All right, So look, RHEL is what I'm supposed to say. Let's jump into this one piece at a time. So the first thing is, I want to talk to you about you can start a low five Beat, different ways. Some people start with the drums. I often start with the melody and then I'll build around that. So let's take these out first and foremost. And I will take it back to the, Back to the back to the basics. And right now we're just going to have, these are the main chords that I started with. I don't really play keys. And so I have this thing. It's a unison midi cord back. I'm not paid by them otherwise should be shut out unison, they should make me an affiliate. Another thing that you can do is find a lo-fi song that you like. And if you drag the audio in, you can then right-click that audio. And you can right-click it and say Convert Harmony to new midi track. And zoos me, it'll show up, maybe a little bit messed up, but then you can kind of adjust it and see what your notes are. So I'm pretty sure I stole these chords from some, it looks like Steven Universe joint. So I stole these chords straight up and then I built around him in credit, created my own song. So this first instrument that we're going to dive into is these are, if it's low fi to a lot of times you can either have a synth, some sort of a retro Synth, or some jazzy E, electric piano of some sort. So that's gonna be like a Rhodes piano, super popular. All types of different plugins that they have for those, if you want, I use this addictive keys plug-in in reusing this mark one fusion pad preset. And so this is what it sounds like. And you can tell that it has, it has that kind of high-end as it plays. It has that high and kinda like Scratch to it, which is cool. And so I skewed it and at the side chain and pressure. So I'll talk about later on. But with the EQ, this is what it sounds like. A lot of these pianos have a lot of low end, so I'd like to EQ that out because it leaves more room for kicks and bases and things of that nature, which we'll talk about soon. The next piece that we're adding, we're going moving right along are some strings, I believe. And this is what it sounds like with no effects. So you can tell I just copied and pasted the chords. Boom, I just wanted something a little bit more. I wanted to beef up that sound a little bit. This is on the sphere plug-in in a preset called warm wigwam pad. And then I just kinda master that a little bit. I acute it again. It q-dot the lows. And I added this RC retro 20 RCT retro color to it in the no more boring pads preset and then kinda tweaked with the knobs little bit. And this, I love this. This is a built-in Ableton multi-band dynamic preset called OTT. Over the top, you can find a free OTT plugins if you want them. There, dope pretty much, but guess what they do. They make you go over the top so you don't you dial it in detail. I'm only doing about 20 percent of this bad boy, but it's cool. It's a multi-band dynamic compressor is you can kind of compress the different levels that you want. Low, like more than the lows, medium-size, whatever. And so that's what it sounds like, a full blast. That's no Bueno. But around here in the twenties, it just gives it a little bit. Although some little, a little, a little bit of parking is right here. You're like, that's cool, but I'm like go, Let's, let's bring out, Let's bring out, I want to bring out those, those kinda highs and kinda the grittiness to it. So that's what we're doing there. The same time. We're bringing in this, which is one of my favorite pieces of the song, which are these strings. Lots of effects on here. So here's the thing. The cool thing about effects is you can start with an idea like that. Oh, I guess this is saying there's a warm wigwam pad again. Interesting. So what I'm doing is I took this same preset. I guess I liked it enough that then I doubled it here. And just, I just made it sound differently by adding different kinds of effects. Same, a lot of these are the same effects that I used above, except this one is a saturated, some built in Ableton saturate or with the bit warmer preset and then dial back. And then I added some delay. Here's a quick lesson for you when you're making lo-fi melodies. A lot of times you're going to start with some chords, right? So we've got the courts hear bone. With Lo-Fi. You might have anyone to talk to you in a second, maybe one kind of a low five, maybe a melody that's a little bit more. How do I say there's more going on? But a lot of times with low five and just making beats in general, this is kind of a practice that I've started to incorporate more and understand them more than the more bizarre make is creating more like an atmosphere or a vibe. It's not like when I used to make busiest have like all these crazy melodies going on. You don't need all that. It's like you get. You get the right instruments sound. And then look at how we've just kind of added a bunch of different effects to it. And this, I believe, yeah, I've got the reverb here is spaces pretty much reverb cranked up. And so that it just creates this vibe, right? That's just a cool vibe. And how different is that from this? Not that much. I guess. I guess what I did is I just kinda gridded it up and added some saturation to it. So overall, this is what it sounds like with just these three pieces. Few notes there are. Last part is this lead melody here. Let's see what we're doing here. This is another keyboard. So guys, I'm telling you all my secrets here, as you can tell, I pretty much just used the exact same preset as before as this one, except I just change some of the effects a little bit. And you can tell, I've got my gotos, this RC retro color, especially for Lo-Fi, you can get some really good like noise like old records and stuff like that just to kind of get the sound up a little bit EQ and out a lot of the logos. There were some frequencies and here I didn't love, so I'm just taken those out. And a lot of the highs because this is what it sounds like without the EQ. I don't know, I just didn't love that. And this way for me, it just sounds like it fits in the mix a little bit better. And then we'll talk about this mixing a little later on. As you can tell, these are kind of pain differently. So this is what the whole, all the melody sounds like together. And then here I just pitched it up an octave, same notes as push up an octave and make it interesting. So that's gotten to the melody piece overall is your melodies. Those are going to be the main chords doing a lot of your heavy lifting and the effects and kinda different things I've put through here. Couple of things to keep in mind. Remember, IB QD out the lows on almost every single instrument, bone, bone. And I've graded them up with some retro color. And then I also grew them up with saturated and a multi-brand, the multiband over the top compressor on just about all of them in there. Pretty much. It's four different sounds, but it's built off the same two presets. So can take the same base and then just kind of swag it out a little differently depending on your effects. So just keep it easy. Keep kinda creativity flow and why you're making lo-fi beats. Okay, On to the next piece. 3. Secrets To Lofi Drums: So let's jump into some low-fi drums. This is what the drum sound like without the base. Altogether. These are the drums. Super-simple. Let's see what we're doing. If we look at, I have almost no effects on here this blue compressors and even doing anything. So in turn it off EQ again on the kick, I'm just EQ and out a little bit of the lows. And then when it comes to the drums, if you'll notice almost all of them. And this part will probably have this high-end rolled off, not on the snare. So this hi-hat, I also wonder if I sounds like almost one if I pitched it down. Okay, So that's what I did. So these high hats are, this is the original part of the beat that I keep over here, just that I can see what I did. These high hats. I've kind of dragged off the grid a little bit. So if you zoom all the way in, which I've kind of push them a little bit so they're a little bit late, so they drag a little bit and then have also pitched them 21 semitones down. So the original hi-hat sounded like this. And then we change it into this. So that's kind of a little shortcut. A lot of times if you want to use high hats for low-fi stuff, I'd roll off the high end as well like I did with this rim. But I didn't hear because I didn't feel like they need if they were already pitched super far down. The next thing I'm doing here with this stick is this have reverb on it? This feels like it has some reverb on it. Maybe just the sample came with some reverb on it because this snare, this rim shot is really dry. And so I wanted it to have just, again, a little bit of reverb, just creating an atmosphere, right? You're creating a mood, just something simple. And it also creates kind of you can have a cool, unique snare sound when you blend two snares together. But super, super simple when it comes to this, it's just the typical kind of hi-hat pattern when this one's a little latter distance, little softer. And super pitch down and kicking. Nothing special. If you start few splice and you start with a good kick, you're pretty much off to the races. So that's the main piece of the drums. Really simple. And I think somewhere in here, yeah, here. And this part of this, the beat, I've, I have a filter of an Auto Filter that I've automated. So that way it creates kind of a different, it feels like it's a different part of the song. Then you come into the hook. And this will turn this off again. Super simple, just a way to kind of break up a beat so it feels like it has different sections. That's an arrangement trick for if you ever want one, just add an auto filter and automated. So that's the drums in. We'll keep this moving on. 4. Lofi Bass: Okay, So now I've pretty much done, we've done the melodies, you've done the chords, and we've done the drums. And so the next piece that we're building on this beat is the base. So the base is a simple, It's a Minimoog from our area. It's the base. You'll use preset, which I've edited a little bit. So this is how the bass sounds. Again, I've rolled off some of the low end here to leave room for the kick. And the only thing that I've changed here are these two parameters on this. I'll be honest. So these two, if you listen to it now, here, the click there. I don't really mess with clicks like that. I don't know. I'm not about to click to click life. So it's boost the attack time a little bit in the release, the decay time a little bit. And I feel like it helps with that, this kinda dialing that taste depending on whatever base you're using. But often if you're getting that clicking sound, That's because the notes are kinda like butting up against each other. So you've got almost like think of this as you almost like smoothing out rather than being super square. Almost like smoothing out the edges of your bass sound by modifying the attack and decay. There you go. And when it comes to the pattern, if we listen to these, this base pattern was just me, just kinda groove and out. But it's, it, it's not super different from my lead melody. So that's, that's another kind of little trick that you can have couple of different base tricks for you. One, you can play the bases on the kicks. That's a really simple way to do it. Just a little, just a little base. They'll be strumming on the kicks you can do. You can have them kinda play little bit more groovy maybe in between the kicks which I have here some. And then another one is keep. If you want to keep it simple, you can have a kind of mimic some of your lead melodies. And so that's what it kind of sounds like. Altogether. Ha, Moving right along. 5. Mixing Lofi: I'm also, I just realized that for some reason I forgot about this open high hat, but it's nothing big. It's just a open I, I didn't pitch or anything like that, that it's like the sound of it. And that's it. Here's the key with this stuff though. And this is where I want to talk to you about mixing, which we're gonna talk about right now. So let's take off, let's talk about but, but, but, but, but let's take off the mastering chain and see how the sounds take this one piece at a time. So I wanna walk you guys through some of them. I'm mixing ideas. Circling around three. I might I might turn this ketone lobbies a little, maybe you, I'm not playing Super Row with others. Goal. As a general rule of thumb, I like to come in and between negative three and negative six before I do any mastering. But again, just kind of a general rule, but at least you want to have some headroom. So here's the way that I break down the mixing. Mixing just comes from practice, known kinda what you want, where you want things placed in the mix. But here are a couple of tips I'm going to give you. Start with your most important elements first. So for me, that's often going to be kick, snare and the vocal. And then the rest of the things that kinda, I would like to bring in after that. But I almost always start with my kickin my base, and then I'll go to snare. There's no vocals on this track. So once I kinda have those two doubt in kind of where I want them, then we can bring in all these other fun auxiliary things like the high hats and stuff. And then for me, I always have these like this, the chords and the strings and the samples always as almost like, again, just creating the vibe. But again, this is a personal choice for me. This is not hard and fast rules. But for me, I want my kick snare, my vocal to always be for me. The most important parts of the mixers on my hip hop producer, kinda RMB due to heart. So I like it when nose kinda come through. Here's a couple of things to take note of. The, if you're using a different DAW, these little things over here, this is pretty much just means that these are being panned. Meaning they're being pushed one way or the other in terms of the stereo field. So with this snare, because if you have everything, I'm going right down the middle, then it's all going to be competing with each other. Things that you don't want to pan, your kick, things you often don't want to pay and your base things you often don't want to pay in your main snare, we can, but often that low end you wanted to kind of be punchy and coming right down the center at you. This is that there's an auxiliary snare. I'm painting this a little bit to the left. If you listen. What's yours? Because I wanted it to be to stand out a little bit from the main snare. Second, this hi-hat, I have this paint a little bit to the left. Again, just do its own thing and then I'll normally pay and other high hats to the other side. So this is for left distance four, right? Because pi us together. Right? So simple like that. And I didn't paint us on a little bit more so that kind of feel a bit more balanced. Anyways, this can be really helpful when you have a lot of instruments that are in the same frequency ranges, a song like this. So one thing, one thing that you want to do, if you don't have to, but for me, if I have like chords like this, and then I'm going to have cores in the same, let me charge these compressors. And then I'm going to have chords in the same frequency range. So check this out. She was just kinda sitting. These strings are going to be in a really similar place, right? There's all right here. So what you can do is rather than having them coming straight down the center actu and competing for frequencies, you can pan them a little bit equally or not. It's up to you. What sounds good? Do it sounds best as Alex to me would say. And just like I pushed them off, got a little bit like this. So that way each one has its own unique place in the mix. Let's check this out of it's different. It's all straight down the center. This then kind of just gives you a little bit more kind of a field. And then what I've done here is the same thing with these melodies. So I didn't want these to compete. So this one's off kind about 10 or 11 to the right, 13 to the left. And this is what the melody sound like together. Keeps it interesting for your listener, and they also aren't competing at the same time. So that's that piece of the mixing when it comes to just kind of getting everything to sit together. You don't want anything like poking out and it feels like the kick is maybe you're doing a little poke in. Another few things about the mixing that I just wanted to touch on right here. Is this two things actually carving out space. So this compressor, if you notice I've seen these compressors off. These are side-chain compressors. If you don't know if that is. I covered a lot in other tutorials. Google it. It's pretty much telling these instruments to duck out when the kick plays above this frequency. So whenever that kick plays it, so it gives a lot of lo-fi song, so that kind of ducking feel and that's because they go super hard on the side chain compression. This isn't super obvious, just a little bit. Super fast. Release, pretty fast attack as well, drying out all the way up. And it's going to be pretty much the same on the sky as well. Just because there's long extended chords. And who take up a lot of those low frequencies I want when a kid comes through to really kick in, I want it to feel like as a little bit of that bounce to it. Another piece about these. I wanted to see if I have it here too. Yeah, I have it on both of these. So there were some frequencies in here that I dipped out because I just was not a fan. Let's see what these were. I think it's just those really high, almost kind of a gritty, annoying frequencies. I've dipped out in both of these. And I like it almost that kinda of like not underwater sound, but a little bit more in that regard rather than all the highs coming totally through. So that's kinda how I go about mixing it up, bring it in. I'll go to the loudest part of my track, play it and everything. I brought everything in. Coming around four, That's perfect. I also know when I've mixed it at this point that when I'm master it, certain things are going to start to stick out. So I don't at this point with the mixing, I honestly don't spend a ton of time here because I know mastering is going to change the dynamics a little bit. So I just kinda get it in this range kind of where I want coming around maybe negative three to negative six, somewhere in there. And they're gonna jump to the mastering stage. Let's get it. 6. Mastering Lofi: Jumping into the last piece now, the mastering piece. Let's break down what we got going on. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Yes. Microphone check 12. What is this? So the first thing I'm gonna do is when it comes to mastering, couple things to keep in mind. Small. It's a bunch of small things that kinda add up. The main thing for me when it comes to mastering is I'm not doing a lot of actually changing the sound too much. I'm just trying to get the volume out of it. So I'm really just trying to crank that bad boy when it comes to the mastering piece. So that's what you're gonna see here. This is a cool mastering EQ, but i'm, I rarely use it. I'm gonna be honest, but look at how I talked about it before. Look at how ain't like incremental, these changes you can make are these super small incremental changes. And that's because mastering it's about style, about the little, the little things. So this is an EQ. I've talked about this before. I've got some mid-side EQ going on here. Um, so this means pretty much that anything below this range comes through in mono and anything above this range comes to in stereo. I just feel like I like to do this. A lot of my tracks, little boost in the high-end just because I feel like it makes my kick and my base, anything in the lowest kinda come to a little bit more forceful in the middle. But this is like some Jedi mind tricks type stuff like very unnecessary. Next, if you'll notice when it comes to mastering as well, a lot, a lot of these different plugins, I'm going to be having them affecting different parts of the tracks and different frequencies. Because again, mastering you don't want to just be throwing like, like usually not just throw in the sauce on everything you want. Almost get more specific on where you're kinda tweak in and editing things because you're a little bit, if you're just throwing it on everything, again, you're affecting your entire track. So keep that in mind. This is a distortion plug-in fed filter Saturn again, I've split my frequencies so my high end, it Boosting at around, around 801 decimal and below, not at all. Because here I just wanted to boost just what was above 800. Again, kinda like this. My right. I'm affecting only what's above the certain frequency. This is what it sounds like without this distortion on. If you are, if you're listening to headphones, you're going to miss it. But just it's like a little bit of clarity and a little bit more kinda like pizzazz out of the drums. Listen to the snare and this isn't even lead melody on the right side. Subtle changes, maybe subtle changes. Next is when we're starting get our volume. This is compressor. And we've got this doubt in, I've got compression on the entire track, but only like negative one dB. So like it's very, I very rarely put more natal one dB compression on track. We're starting to glue things together, get a little bit of a volume boost here. And again, you don't have to use these T-Rex plugins. You can use any kind of a plug-in as you want. Next, this is when we're starting to get to the sauce. This is this is the classic Lipper. So a lot of times in the past I would get my volume out of a limiter, but I switched to a clipper because you can adjust the slope, meaning before when we were talking about those bass notes, remember, I'm gonna assume you do go in from the kinda was like very square, stiff based notes into something that's a little bit more kind of angular. That's exactly what we're doing here with this slope. You can also do this with a saturated. If you go to soft clipping, That's all this is. Soft clipping just pretty much makes it this. See how we got a little bit at it like this rounded edge here. We're going from there. We're going from yeah, we're going from this something like real hard edge to something that maybe a little bit more soft. So you've got low grew Venus right there is groovy is curvy. You know, I mean, I liked that. So that's what we're doing here. We're just, we're making a curve, you baby. And then my output here, I don't like, I don't like to 0 it because just for safety purposes, I don't want I don't want to even hit 0. I always want to be sure I'm just a little bit below 0, at least at this part of the process, bit of a slope and then gain. So watch your ears because this is when we actually got some VM-Series volume. We go from this to this. And then I add a limiter. And at this point delimiter, I'm not really pushing super hard. I wanted to just catch the snares and the kicks mostly watch it years for real. And now that everything rocket, I might actually turn these snares down a little bit and keep this now, this distortion will become, you'll be able to feel this even more. So this is without the one decibel disorders like it's a ton when Isabel distortion, check out the difference. Listen to that lead melody. Listen to the high hats. Listen to the snare. Write it just like makes it feel alive. That's one decimal of distortion. Crazy. Last piece to the mastering chain is this loudness meter. Don't worry about this too much. Just download this one, I promise it's a free one. Let's go to you lean loudness meter. Google that how to works. Google that why you need to use it. The long and short of it is you want to just be worried about this, the loves, because Spotify will play your song about negative if you'd like you download a song, if you download from the Internet, like from Spotify action at the end, you just plugged it in here, zeroed it and played it. It would come in at probably around negative 13 lakhs If it's a Spotify joint. But Apple Spotify, Tidal, They all have different integrated kind of left that they play loudness, that they play their songs at. But for streaming, I shoot for between maybe like negative nine to negative 13, 14, somewhere in just that range. And you know, at least when it ends up on a DSP, it'll sound okay, kinda like average with you other songs you don't wanna, you don't want to submit a song on Spotify because it's like negative 20, so it's going to sound super different from everything else. But if you submit it passed like negative 12, negative 13, if you submit a song and loud and it's like negative 8, they will make, they will, they will compress your song and make it sound quieter so that it does kind of fit in with everything. So just something to pay attention to. Another thing about this, it says integrated because the only way to get the real reading on that is you have to play this whole song all the way through. So you can't just like lupus section and get the Loves. You got to play the song from start to finish, front to back, to be able to figure out what it is. But you just gotta take my word for it. I got this bad boy and around probably think like negative 12 and 13 somewhere in there. I hope that that helps. Hope you learned a thing or two about lo-fi beats again, check out beat school for my free, produce a training. You have any questions, feel free to get good at me. I'm at t Orion everywhere on the Internet. Appreciate you. If you've made it this far, you'll real one, chicken on the next one.