Why Your Beats Sound Boring And How to Fix Them - 5 Actionable Tips
Why your beats sound boring
Your beats might have the most amazing 808 slides but do they get boring within a few seconds of listening? Is it the choice of samples you used? Is it the lack of changes in the chord progression and arrangement? Is it that your melodies are too complicated? There are a lot of possibilities. We'll go through some of the most common reasons so you can quickly improve them and take your game to the next level.
1. Choice of samples, loops and VST plugins
Choosing great samples or loops and layering them properly automatically puts you a few steps ahead of other producers. Select crisp and punchy one shot samples for your kick ,clap and a deep powerful sample for your 808 bass to lay a solid foundation for your beat. For hi hats and other percussion you could either use loops or use one shots but either way, make sure that you start with great sounds or you're able to sculpt them the way you want them to sound very easily without needing to spend countless hours tweaking EQ and compression settings.
Once you have laid the foundation of your beat with great samples for your drums and 808s, it's time to choose virtual synths for creating your melodic content. All major DAWs have in built virtual synths that you can use to create your hip hop melodies.
Many producers also make use of third party virtual synths to create melodies. Some of the popular ones are Omnisphere, Nexus, Keyscape, Serum and Elactra2. Alternatively you could use royalty free melodies such as Ruby Melody Loops.
2. Layering Of Elements
When you listen to pro beats you can easily notice how the beats sound so simple in terms of their arrangement but yet extremely full in terms of how they fill the frequency spectrum. And yet they still give enough space to the rapper to feature on it.
On the other hand if you've been pumping out simple beats because you mistook their simple orchestration for a simple arrangement, you would probably end up with beats that sound thin and unfinished.
That's because they are doing things with three sounds that you couldn't do with 15, and that's why they are selling exclusives for $100,000 a pop and you're leasing your tracks off of Airbit for $10.00 per download. They make every major element sound rich by first starting with great presets and then using various kinds of EQ, compression and saturation to make everything sound larger than life.
Start understanding the way different sounds interact with each other to create that kind of fullness in your tracks without needing to use tons of new layers. Remember, less is more!
3. Melody Is King
Either you need to be good with music theory or you need to find the right kinds of melody loops that you can use to create memorable beats. Either way, melody is king because that's what people remember once they finish listening to your beat. Infectious melodies not just create a stronger vibe but also leads to rappers subconsciously humming the melodic riffs in their head which helps them get ideas for their verses and hooks.
In hop hop beats you don't want to be changing the melody as the beat progresses. The rapper would get overshadowed by the melody if it was attracting too much attention. That's why the same melody is repeated throughout the beat. This applies whether you make trap, old school, drill or any other genre of hip hop.
Great melodies is one of the secret ingredients of the pros and is also the key to getting more beat sales and better placements. Click here to get some melody loops that you can use 100% royalty free in your productions.
4. Over Complicating Beats
When starting out is tempting to keep on adding more and more elements to your beats to make them sound rich and full. However, be mindful of the fact that you need to leave some space for the rapper or singer! Your beat should sound rich and full but still have space in the mid frequencies for the artist's voice.
Your drums and bass create the foundation of the low end. Once you've created a solid low end for fullness (without it getting muddy of course) all you need to do is add your melody, hi hats, occasional percussions, transitions and that's it!
Overthinking rarely leads to production of amazing beats. Whatever pops in your head is probably going to get you results. Of course this may differ from person to person, but this applies to most music producers. It's important to let the creative process flow without judging it. You can always tweak things once you've recorded your ideas in your DAW, but if you're judging your ideas while you're getting them, you're stepping on your own foot!
4. Structure, Transitions And Density
You don't have to reinvent the wheel. Just listen to the most successful beat makers and replicate their structure. Understand the pattern and arrangement. Listen to how many bars each section is made of, and analyze the way they use transitions to keep the listener engaged and generate excitement as the beat progresses. Also make sure that your beat doesn't sound like you copy and pasted an 8 bar loop a bunch of times.
Notice how successful beat makers make their arrangement more dense in the hook sections and more sparse in the verse sections. This gives rappers a blueprint on how to structure their verses and hooks and therefore helps them write their bars more easily. This is essential if you're looking to sell beats to rappers.
This could be implemented in various ways but the most common way to do this is to mute some key elements from your hook sections to create your verse sections and then work on micro variations in the drum pattern to create contrast and avoid your beats from becoming boring.
Also, avoid step sequencing melodies or beats - play them in and do not quantise them completely to the grid. If you're going for a natural feel, you could also use the ‘swing’ feature on your sequencer and/or manually create swing by shifting drum hits off the grid and playing around with velocities of your hi hats.
5. Mixing & Mastering
Amateur beats usually sound like a muddy mess due to the complete absence of any mixing. They'll have kick drums and bass lines bleeding into each other, and other instruments colliding with each other causing all kinds of undesirable frequency clashes. It is equally important to process your sounds so that they don't sound raw. Amateur beats often lack the polish and sheen that you see in commercial beats for this reason.
Simple mixing decisions employing good use of EQ's, compression, saturation, reverb and delay along with some panning of elements can fix most of these issues, moving your tracks from amateur productions to polished tracks of commercial standard. Mixing and mastering can show its true potential when the arrangement and choice of sounds is already amazing.
Hope you found the post useful. Check out mysticalankar.com for more info and music production resources like sample packs, presets and templates to take your productions to the next level!