Trap Music Production: Composition and Arrangement | K Theory Music | Skillshare

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Trap Music Production: Composition and Arrangement

teacher avatar K Theory Music, DJs / Producers

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Intro Arrangement


    • 3.

      Verse and Breakdown


    • 4.



    • 5.

      FX and Glue


    • 6.



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About This Class

Once you have your 8-bar loop, it's time to build out your track. In this 34-minute class, DJ/producer duo K Theory shares their step-by-step process using verses, arpeggios, and transitions to compose a demo. You'll learn to use:

  • Verses and breakdowns to structure your track
  • Arpeggios to add musical interest
  • Transitions to bind together the sections of your arrangement
  • Mix-downs to prepare your track for a vocal artist

After taking this class, you'll be able to make your own track beat useable in hip hop or EDM.

Still need to create your 8-bar loop? Check out K Theory's first Skillshare class, Trap Music Production: Drums, Baselines, and Melodies.

It is recommended that you have a basic understanding of digital music production (any digital audio workstation will suffice) to fully use the lessons in this class.

Meet Your Teacher

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K Theory Music

DJs / Producers


Imagine all the genres of music as the stars in the universe & then those stars collapsing into a giant ball of musical matter and then being reborn into Electronic Hip Hop, that is K Theory...

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1. Introduction: Hey, this is Dylan. I'm Dustin. We're K Theory and we're back here for part two of our Trap 101 class. Trap music for me is definitely the heart and soul of hip hop. Trap music for me is hard hitting 808s with massively side-chained, compressed snare drums and big bills and huge cents and just the long lasting note of a sub just like rumbling in your gut. Second class, we'll get down with it with a mix down and the effects and perfect the arrangement. We'll be able to show you guys how to get there to that polished level that we're going to make it there. 2. Intro Arrangement: Now we're about to turn this bad boy into a full song. So we got our drums, a high out snares, kick, and we've even got a little fill here, and we got our bass. And now we got some chords, a little arpeggio, a lead layer, and lead line to complete. This is where, it's kind of actually a fun part because we're going to arrange it. And our template has all these grooves in here. So, we kind of have an idea of where to go. I think today we'll do an eight bar intro, a 16 bar chorus, and a 16 bar verse section. We might also be able to do a little bridge section, so you have a really flowy, full beat that can be ready for anything. So, let's just select everything except this, bring this here. So eight bar intro is going to come into the chorus. Now a secret, we've talked about this pattern before. This is a very powerful pattern. Now rather than having nothing, we have an intro. So I also might want to take some bits of the melody in here. Let's say we add this. So, we're kind of building the intro by taking parts from the chorus. If you want even more of an intro, another trick, well, I want to group these together by selecting them all, pressing Command J. If I double-click right here, I go into this field. So I'm going to add a sample. Back into our drum sample pack. Yeah. I'm going to turn it down because I want it to be kind of quiet. A good rule of thumb to you in building your arrangement in your different sections is to always introduce two new sounds when you're going from section to section because that creates one of the better, stronger storytelling points. If you don't introduce a new sound at all. Like every eight bar. I mean. Every four to eight bars depending on what you want do. Yeah, every eight bars is a good rule of thumb. But if you don't, it just sort of becomes stale and monotonous so this allows you to sort of weave in and weave out certain sounds to create more tension points and that's just our good rule of thumb is to new sounds or removing sounds every eight bars. Yeah, just stuff's going to happen. And most hip hop production is just that. So right now, we're building our intro and I think one of the biggest things I'm thinking about when I'm making intro is how am I going to tease the song to a listener. You only have eight bars to hook them in real quick and then you're either going to drop into a chorus or a verse. I like dropping into a chorus. I think some of the best rap songs are done like that, it just really depends on what you have to work with. But, for this specific instance, we're going to drop into a chorus and we're going to want to provide some melodic teasing to the listener to be able to get them ready for everything that's going to happen in the chorus and be able to story tell with the different parts so we can be a little bit more minimal but as soon as we hit into the chorus we're going to have the impact of the full song. So, I think it's really important that you bridge those two parts together, you have a nice continuity between them but you don't get void too much. Because if you give away everything right at once, then you don't have an impact on the chorus and I think that's probably one of the biggest parts of this. I just messed with this teaser melody, let's see if you like it. So, that's it. I think the intro is good. Yeah, I think that pretty much wraps up the intro. We're going to be adding some more effects later to make it a little bit more dynamic and impactful but I think at this point we tease it well and we're ready to continue on with the rest of our arrangement. We're about to tackle the verse section here. 3. Verse and Breakdown: We got our intro and we've got our course groove. Now, it's time to get to the verse so we can finish up our arrangement. Today, we're going to do a 16 bar verse to match our course section, and put the rapper to work, and let's start off by seeing how we can take elements of the quarter section and be able to bring them over to the verse section. What's the first step you're going to do? I just made a new block, 16 bar, so I know how much I need. I'm just going to copy the entire groove over, running the hold down option. I'm going to sort of subtractively compose. I'm going to take out this lead, because, we don't want it to be too exciting, and I'm going to take out these pad sounds. So, typically, you want like sort of paddy like strings and choirs. That's good to have in the course, but you don't want them to be in the verse, because the verse isn't supposed to be as exciting. The verse is more of like attention builder, so it's kind of like a tease. Your vocalist, traditionally entrap, will be able to use that point to build up as well. That is to help to your instrumental storytelling. So, let's see how this sounds. So, I just took out the lead and the pads, and that's always a good rule of thumb when you just want to do a verse. So, we're going to roll into it. Plenty of room now. That's almost ready, but something I will do to add up. If I want the song to be kind of edgy, like extra edge, what I'll do, is I will make it so that the core progression stays the same. So, I just took out all these other arpeggios by cutting them, because they're doing the chord progression that Dylan made. I'm just going to do the first one, so it has more of a static sound which is kind of nice for building tension. So, this is how it sounds like now. So now, it's more like heavy. Normally, the verse section, I would take out the hi-hats first. What you do? Personal preference, but we could try taking it out for the first half. Yeah. I like that. Now, we have some varieties switch ups, and really harden up. I also probably would tease the lead set again. I would bring in this bits again there at the end of that. Me personally, personal preference. Let's do it. Plenty of room for a fat vocal. Bringing it back. You know we can do, we'll take this arpeggio, and we will get this one. I need to press option. Okay, so once it gets to here, then it does the chord progression. That way it sort of matches this intro. Can you just introduce three new sounds. Yeah, you're high hats, and you back in your lead line. Yeah. And we extended the bell arpeggiators. What I call those, I have a term for them, I call relief sounds, because it's like you're giving your ear relief, by introducing new sounds. Essentially you're resetting your brain to be okay with listening to a loop over and over again. This eight bars is the exact same thing as this eight bars, but for some magical cognitive reason, adding these three extra sounds, the different arpeggio chord, the lead, and the high hats, it makes you think it's fresh, even though it's just a loop. In the course, I would probably just take the chorus. Just loop it, right? So, hold option, and now look, we have more of a of a track. Like, we have one minute and 30 seconds worth of music now. And if this was like a hip hop track, the verse will probably come back in. You know what I'm thinking we could do, instead of having an eight-o-eight driven verse, we could just have an eight bar verse, that is just drums, maybe a little melodic content, so it almost feels like a bridge, and then it goes back into the chorus. So, like a breakdown? So, a total of four sections. Yeah, like a little mini break down, but elsewhere he would wrap. What we could do, is we'll use, this will be like a breakdown section, and then it'll just come back into the chorus. And so, a good way to get breakdown formation, is breakdowns are essentially intros that don't happen in the intro. Because listen to this, this is like a breakdown. I think we ought to do an eight bar section. You'll think of eight bar? Eight bar break, yeah. I notice a lot of hip hop has eight bar breaks. Big breakdowns tend to be more electronic arrangements, but for this style, I think we would do in an eight bar break. It's short and sweet, and gets you right back into that hook. So, what we're gonna do here, I'm going to try to introduce a little bit different. We have, a Malstrom is available. So, really handy dragging the mini. I'm going to do a little sound design, we're going to go soft. A little bit of shaker. Now, remember, I talked about the alligator in the previous video. Now, I'm going to show you how I do it. So, we're just gonna get the alligator, let's go down the eight notes. Right now, you're just playing with a filter. Right? I'm playing with the filter to get that sound. Nice. Maybe we can re-enter a little bit of a Bell Apr. Yeah, I was going to use the Bell Apr to go with that tone. 4. Arpeggios: Okay. So, I'm going to make another Arpeggio to go with this because I guess this is kind of a drop almost. Yes. A new section. Course two. So, we have five more sections now. Yeah. I mean this is essentially the course but I'm kind of make it more interesting so that it doesn't need a vocal with it. So the vocal will come in later. You have to click on the synth and then go to it. That way it creates a track. Alright. So, I'm going to drag it to the track, we're going solo it, so I can hear it by itself. Something, like it's actually, might be cool if it's faster. Yeah like that. If I want to see the notes, what's I'm going to do? Do you want to see the notes? Yeah. You're going to go over to here, Arpeggio Notes to Track. Then- Damn. -we're going to put the notes right there. I'm going to delete this now. So, we're going to solo this. We're going to copy this over, I've clicked on it and hold option and put it in here. Then wire it. Now, will that affect the original that we had? It will. So, how about this, at automation. I just want the enable. So, let's get it enabled. It's actually kind of sick with that on though. I just want to keep it out. Yeah. Keep it. I like it because it adds consistency to that doo-doo-doo-doo automation. I can right-click here, edit automation and control these knobs. In fact, we're doing it over here. So the same thing we did with the re-space? Yes, this green thing. Let me show you. It's moving up slowly. So, now we have five sections. We started with one section, we've been able to expand it in our arrangement. It all came from just this grove. Actually, it all came from just this; we just doubled it, and then, added high hats. And as you can see, as you continue with your arrangement, you'll often find the need to add new melodies, change the way you've structured it or your effects, and that's going to allow you to story tell better, but the root of it all comes from our original section and we use that to inspire the rest of the arrangement for the track. Now, we have what? Almost two minutes and a half second of a- Let's see here. Yeah, we can probably finish it off by doing a chorus. Then maybe a small altro. I'm going to do an eight-bar altro, but I'm going to do something that's my favorite, that's more rock and roll and do a fade out. On us. Copy and paste the chords over and the arp. Then, we're here. So, to do a fade out, you just go to your master channel here. Where is it? There we go. It's right there, yeah. We're going to do a similar automation, comes up here and your master section on the top, and you just draw it in with your pencil tool. Yeah, get the region- Change their color coding from new template. Yeah, new template there. Color coding where- Draw it in on the impact on the one of the altro, make sure that's set to 734, which is the same as the rest of the track. Yes, 734. You know what it is? I'm not actually so sure what it is. That's just what it is, man. It's just what it is. It should be a little cleaner in fade. I'm going to clean up. Yeah. Okay. So, as you can see now we have our intro section, our chorus section, our verse section, a breakdown, an A1 grove and an altro. You can name these whatever you want as far as what you're naming convention goes for us, but just keeps it fluid, you see everything's labeled, color-coded and pretty clear-cut. Now, we know what we have to get to for our effects in our Glo, and I think we're going to get right into that by adding in some writers and some impacts. 5. FX and Glue: All right. So, let's get some effects in here. The sounds that move you to other sounds. So, they're assistant sounds. They're going to help you get from your groove to your groove. We have some in our several pack, a little bit. When you said that they also glued together the section of the brain to bring it together as a whole. Yeah, definitely glue together the sections. Digital Elmer's, right here. We'll write down, already like in here. So, this is just white noise in a sampler that was just pre-loaded. Maybe I should have it right here. So it's like. So, you just put in this effect right here. We're going to see how it sounds. Make it too loud. Too loud. Bring it down and slint name it LFO Rise, because it's got the blow. Okay, what else do we got here? This might be cool too. Wow. Buddy. Damn. So, what did you do there? I added a fade. What's that do? Okay. So, this little end right here. Yeah. Different DAWs do it different ways, the way with risen. You just grab this little nipple right here, and you drag it to the right, and see how it creates like a transient or a triangle facing this way. That means it's slowly getting louder. That might be a little too much for here. This might be a better sound used in the breakdown. So, let's mix it to the breakdown. Let's all load that. Take some rolling out. See, that's cool. I'm trying to mix in these sounds to be really well mixed. Because if you're effects are too loud, there tend to be high frequencies and that can really bust someone's ears. I think I want to reverse these, just to try it out. This is really easy to do. You just right-click and then you'd reverse clips. I almost think that sounds better. Nice. I pressed "S" to turn off snap. So, I can go like this and I'm going to do this. I'm going to make a little bit more subtle because I don't want it to be super extreme. Because it's subtle, I'll have room to add maybe a layer. For those who don't know what snap is, it just locked it to the grid for whatever your settings are. Bar, eight note, or whatever quarter note. Whatever you have it set doing the stop there. This right here? Yeah. So, when you turn off snap, you'll have lot more flexibility, a lot more creative control, but you're in a dangerous space if you don't know what you're doing. You might move some of your audio around the wrong way. That's true. Just pay attention to if you're locked on the grid or not. I think most DAWs have that set up. I shall rename these. Okay. So, what is this? This is the LFO Rise. It's the Epic Rise. This is the Epic Rise. This is Space Echo Rise. So, we'll call it Echo Rise, because that's the echo on it. I should go like this. That's a cool little tip. Okay, check this out. See it's not right where it needs to be. I grab this, hold down option. It turned into a time machine. Grab, move it. Now, it's moving the right time. Now, I can go like this. So, you brought the co-wire back to the covert now. Yeah, I like it. We're going to do it the same way. How the first part of it is just like that. Same chord? Yeah. Even in our effects layer and the glue section, we're even changing the arrangement a little bit. So, the arrangement is constantly growing and developing as we go. Listening to it. So, we're just copying the effects across the track that we used in the other previous sections. Making sure it has the same good storytelling and no effect is to dominate in the mix to distract from the rest of the part. Right now we're using four different effects. Yeah, and I'm gradually bringing in more and more of them as it goes in the track. Maybe add one more white down in the end there, in the out row. The end? We're going to try this just for the claps. So, it doesn't sound exactly like the intro. I like that. Then you get a tiny little peak of the snare. To be honest, I would say this track is demo mode now. Yeah. I feel like we got a really good structure here. I feel like this is something that we work with by any vocalist or stand alone as an instrumental to develop more. Yeah. I would say this is ready mix. More probably I would just do a demo master and send it off to a vocalists, and then let them write to it. Then, once they wrote to it, they would send back their vocals or I would record their vocals. Then, I would actually finally mix the track with their vocals. 6. Mix-Down: We've got the track right now to a point where we're ready to bounce it out. We've got our intro section, our core section, our verse section, a break down, a little drop, and an outro. So, we're going to bounce it out right now and send it over to a vocalist so we can get this track moving. Before we bounce it, we're going to do a quick demo master to it. Oh, yeah. I know the rappers like it loud. They like it loud, so I'm going to find the most hyped section of the track, loop it. All right. This is a process that I have memorized, and I would never do this for release tracks because that takes more finesse. But just for listening, I could just go on autopilot which essentially saturation, take out the low end without 30 hertz, create a compressor. Where's the compressor? Turn this down so it doesn't get anything. I want to add a little bit of input so that it gets almost to the peak up here. Notice the whole function because it's about to get loud. We're going to dial these in. Let's see, we want about 3.5. Bring down this threshold so we get maybe about minus four. So, are we good? Stereo imager. We're going to go to 179 and make it on mono, and then everything up above it is going to be a little bit stereo, just a little bit. Woah, I put this in the wrong thing. So, let's get that stereo imager and we're going to bring it down to the frequency of 179 because that's all the low end. You don't really want your low end to be stereo. The mono makes it more powerful. I'm just going to spread everything else a little bit. I don't want to do too much because then it'll just sound weird, phasing, and just bad nastiness. Okay. Then, the final thing for really fast, just demo mastering maximizer. Then, it'll turn this up until I get a little bit of light. Maybe turn down a bit. I've gone slow because I want to maintain the attack of the punchiness of the kicks and stuff, so I have it on slow, and then the release is fast. Okay. So, we're doing good and I'm going to press this to listen to the low frequencies, then I'm just going to bump that a bit. It's distorting, but I can use a soft clip to handle things. Ratio up, less with this a bit. That's what we were before, after. So, maybe a four decibel increased in volume, not bad. You might be really confused right now thinking like, "What the heck is going on?" Well, mastering is a whole another beast. So, essentially, what just happened was Dustin added some saturation to the whole track, took out the low end but low cut. Super low end. Super low cut, you don't want that, that's the brown noise. Out of the stereo imager to make the low end mono, a slight winding on the high end, and then a maximizer in there, just boost it up, and get it to that nice fat volume that all of our rappers like, and we're basically ready to render it out now. So, okay. Export song as audio file. Let's call it Skilla Slappa. What tempo are we at, 150? Just so you know. Yeah, make that wave, though. We're doing E minor. So, we always like to label our stuff like this one with the VPM and the key in it. So, it's really easy for our auto-tune stuff or just for your grid for whatever DAW someone else might be using. We'll just organize and labeling everything, continuing that process. Once you get to this point for the demo, when you're sending out demos, you want to have the dither on and you want to do 16 bit. If you are mastering, it's a whole different thing. But just for a quick settings, you just leave it like this because it's the most effective for the quickest loudness and processing power. We've got our track rendered out right now. We thank you guys for tuning in. A lot of fun today making this track and can't wait to hear what you guys do as well. But right now, we're about to hit the club, it's Friday night. We're K Theory, thank you, guys. Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, yeah.