The Stupid Simple Way to Make Beats - Cary Ciccone

The Stupid Simple Way to Make Beats by
Cary Ciccone
© 2019 Cary Ciccone
All rights reserved. No portion of this book
may be reproduced in any form without
permission from the publisher, except as
permitted by U.S. copyright law. For
permissions contact:
[email protected]
Cover by Cary Ciccone.
So you want to make beats?
Sick! In 2019, making beats and becoming a music producer is as
easy as ever. Anybody with access to a computer, and a brain, can
figure out how this stuff works. You don’t need to know anything
about music theory, composition, chords, scales, etc. That stuff
helps in the long run, but to get started you just have to be willing to
experiment and create what YOU think sounds good. With a little
practice, you’ll rapidly improve, and who knows, pretty soon you may
be making the next hit song.
In this short book I want to cover with you the basics of how to get
you started and making beats in UNDER AN HOUR. It really is that
easy, trust me. I have tried to make this book as REALISTIC as
possible, meaning I do not flood you with useless or advanced
knowledge, I don’t skip important steps in the process, and I reveal
little tricks that will kick start your creation process.
Now, I know you want to get started, and I don’t want to type forever,
so let’s dive right in to the first step!
Your Workstation
STEP ONE: DOWNLOAD FL STUDIO. If you’ve even dipped
your toe in the production game, you know FL studio. Everyone and
their mother uses it, and you’re gonna join the FL crew. FL is an easy
to use, hard to master type program. Since the title of the book is
“The Stupid Simple Way to Make Beats”, you can guess that I am
going to teach you the easiest way to use FL, and save the advance
tactics for you to learn on your own.
The first section we are going to focus on is the toolbar. At the top of
your screen in FL studio you will notice a bar with a bunch of buttons.
We are going to focus on the most important few (aside from the
obvious play, pause, stop), as pictured below.
I will list in order and explain what each of these buttons is and
why they are important.
0. THE PLAYLIST - if you click this button you will see the
UI split in bars and beats. This is where you will compose
your music after creating it. This is also where you can
view playback. If you press space on this screen you will
see that a green bar will begin to move, this tracks the
position of the song.
0. THE PIANO ROLL - this is where you will be
constructing your melodies, and 808 patterns. Think of this
essentially as a big piano. You can see on the left you can
highlight keys. If you have a sound assigned the keyboard,
the sounds will play and scale with the notes.
0. THE CHANNEL RACK - this is where you will drop in
your sounds before you compose. It is conveniently
prepopulated with a kick, clap, hat, and snare (although
these sounds suck, don’t use them). You can click the keys
next to each instrument to add that sound to the mix. Click
a few keys so that they are white and press space. You
should hear some sounds play. Wow, look at that. You’re
on your way kid. The channel rack is important. We will
dive in later.
0. THE MIXER - this walks a fine line between beginner
and advanced. You can get away without ever touching the
mixer but to really utilize the strength of FL studio, you are
going to want to use this a bit. We will touch on this in a
later section.
These 4 buttons will be your bread and butter. You will be switching
back and forth from these quite often. Knowing about these 4
interfaces already sets you up for success, all you have to do now is
put them to work! Before we do that, however, we need to upgrade
our sounds...
Finding Sounds
Ok, here’s the deal. This section is VERY important to making
quality beats but a little taboo. I want to start off by saying I DO NOT
support pirating, and I believe you should pay for any kits or sounds
that you intend on using. I encourage you to support other
producers. WITH THAT SAID. I am going to be real with you.
There are a TON of sounds available on the internet that you can
find pretty easily. For our purposes, I’m providing a link to the free
“New Producer Starter Kit” drum kit available at It
includes a few basic and common FREE sounds to get you started.
Go to the link and download this folder to your computer. I like to
store my kits in my music folder, and in a separate folder titled KITS.
A little organization goes a long way when dealing with sounds.
Once downloaded and extracted to whatever folder you prefer, we
now have to import the folder in to FL studio. This is an easy
process outlined in the steps following:
0. Go to options at the top
0. Click File Settings
0. Under the section titled “Browse extra search folders”
click on one of the folder icons to bring up the file explorer.
0. Find your KITS folder, click it, and press OK
Boom. Now on the left hand side of the screen, you should see
somewhere in the file structure your KITS folder. You can click this
to expand this and see your sub folders that contain your sounds! If
you don’t see it you can reload the file structure by clicking the little
loopy arrow at the top of the image below.
Making the Beat
It’s time. Now that we have our sounds we are going to finally get in
to making the actual music that will become our beat. First, let’s look
at what makes a beat.
A beat is primarily constructed of 5 elements:
0. Melody
0. Hihat
0. Snare/Clap
0. Kick
0. Bass/808
Some beats will include more elements, some less, but in general
these 5 things are the most important and will be included in 90% of
every beat you hear. Every producer is different when it comes to
these elements. Some prefer to start with the melody and fill in the
rest, some choose to situate the drums and then move on the
melody. This is personal preference and really comes down to your
creative process and what you like to do better. For our purposes we
will start with the melody (because that is what I like to do).
The melody is arguably (and in my opinion) the most important part of
a beat. It sets the mood, and is the part of a song that has the
potential to get caught in the listeners head. It gives the artist the key
to rap in and without a melody a beat is nothing but drums. Making
melodies is where you get to flex your creative muscles. You can
make it as simple or complex as you want, although I encourage you
to start out doing less and adding more as needed.
You may be wondering how you think of melodies. Like most art, you
pull them out of thin air. I recommend humming a few notes and
working from there. I know you cannot hear it right now, but I am
going to walk you through how to create the melody that I just
hummed out loud to myself. Here are the steps to follow:
0. Press the plus (+) button at the bottom left of the channel
rack box
0. In the list of plugins, choose FL KEYS
0. This will bring up the FL keys piano plugin. You can
mess around with the settings and presets to change the
piano sound if you want, but don’t worry too much about
this for now. Instead, go back to the channel rack and right
click FL Keys and click piano roll.
After following those steps you should be at the piano roll, loaded up
with the FL Keys. If you press any of the keys on the side, you’ll hear
a piano sound. How about that!? Making music already.
Now that we are in the piano roll we can start constructing our
melody. The first step I like to do is change the BPM (beats per
minute) to something a little more bouncy. It’s okay if you don’t know
what that means, just think of the BPM as how fast everything will
play. The default is 130bpm, and you can see it at the top of FL
Studio. Right click the 130 and from the drop down list select 150.
This will give a little more pep in the step for a more upbeat sound.
Next, click on the cells in the piano roll to create the melody pictured
below. Notice that the melody goes from 1 - 5 at the top, and
changes between the 4th and 5th bars. This provides a nice
conclusion to the melody that sounds pleasing to the listener. You will
usually want your melodies to go from 1 - 5 or 1-9, otherwise you will
start to be off beat and it will be hard to keep up with your drums.
Notice how we start our melody at C5. That will be the root of our
song so you can say our beat is in the Key of C. C is widely used
and most sounds you will find will be tuned to C5. That is why I
chose it. In your experimenting, feel free to start wherever you want!
Now that you have the melody down, press the space bar and have a
listen. Sounds pretty basic right? If you wanted to stay very simple,
this could be enough and you can move on to the next section.
Otherwise, we are going to BEEF it up a little bit, by adding
supporting notes in the low end. Take a look at this next picture and
add the new notes!
See how we added notes now an octave lower on C4. Press play
and you will see that this gives us a more “full” sound as it fills out the
lower end. The trick to figuring this out is all in the ear. Since we
started at C5, I chose C4 as the supporting low note (staying in the
key of C). Then using my ear I found a nice accent note D#4 to lead
in to the next section G#3. This will take some time experimenting for
what sounds best, but unless you are completely tone deaf, you
should be able to tell when a note “fits” with the melody.
This is starting to come together, but I think we can add just a bit
more. We have our main melody in the mid range, some supporting
notes in the low range, one more thing that we can add is a counter
melody in the higher range. This is a more advanced concept a really
just comes down to listening to what you think sounds good! Check
out the new notes below.
Notice here I added more notes above our melody. This adds a nice
dynamic to our main melody and can be useful to bring in at different
sections of the composition. If you really wanted to you could put
these notes in to a new instance of FL Keys so you can add them and
remove them at different spots, but to keep it simple...keep them as is
for now.
So pressing play I think we have a nice melody to build our drums
In most modern hip hop songs, the hihats play a huge role in moving
the song along and giving it “bounce”. I keep referring to this term
“bounce” so I think it may be important to explain what I’m talking
about. “Bounce” simply refers to the feel of the beat. Is it boring, or
can you bop your head along to it. It’s something that you can feel
when it is missing, and what separates a good beat from a bad beat.
We are going to use our hihats to add some bounce to the track.
Follow these steps to set up your hihats.
0. Open the channel rack
0. Navigate to your KITS folder
0. Find a subfolder labeled hihats
0. Click the names to preview the sounds and find one you
0. When you have a hihat you want to use, click and drag it
to the channel rack and drop it on the hihat section.
Now your hihat is loaded up to be used. The fastest way to get some
hip hop hihats is to right click the hihat channel on the channel rack
and click “Fill each 2 step” this will auto fill every 2nd step with your
sound. Press play and BAM, you can already feel the beat coming
together. Feel free to mess around by adding “triplets” to your hihats
by clicking the notes in between each step. (If you add a triplet on
the first beat you’d have 3 white highlighted notes.) Be careful not to
overdo the triplets as they can be distracting! HINT: You can right
click to undo the note that you clicked.
Ahh yes, there is nothing better than the satisfying sound of a clap or
snare to set the beat. The clap is pivotal in providing rhythm and
keeping the beat going. A song can either use a CLAP sound or a
SNARE sound with many songs layering the two. The choice is up to
you and comes down to the type of mood you are going for. Claps
are usually better for more up tempo songs, with snares being for
slower, moodier type beats. For our beat, I think a clap will fit nicely.
We are going to follow steps very similar to the hihat to add our clap.
0. Open the channel rack
0. Navigate to your KITS folder
0. Find a subfolder labeled claps
0. Click the names to preview the sounds and find one you
0. When you have a clap you want to use, click and drag it
to the channel rack and drop it on the clap section.
Boom, now your clap is ready to go. For most songs with a BPM
over 100, the clap/snare fits in every other 8th step. An easy way to
do this to get used to it is right click your clap like you did on the hihat
and click “Fill each 8 steps”. Then right click to remove the first, and
every other highlighted note. Press play and you’ll start to feel the
beat coming together with the hihat and clap!
Much like our melody, you may notice that our percussions are mostly
focused on the mid and high frequencies. To complement the hihat
and snare, and also add some of the THUMP that really makes the
speakers knock, we will add a kick. The kick pattern can vary based
on the type of song you are making and the mood you are going for.
A bumpy, up tempo beat may have more kicks in succession whilst a
trappier, mellower, beat will have less or more spread out kicks. The
best way to get a feel for how you want your kick pattern to feel is to
listen to some of your favorite songs and copy what you hear.
Repeat the steps above to add a kick to the channel rack and then
see check out how the kick for our demo will look in the image below.
This shows one half of our pattern. As an exercise, duplicate this
pattern over the next 8 bars. You can find more bars by resizing the
channel rack. The kick adds some low end to the beat, but it can only
do so much alone.
THE 808
In order to give the kick some support on the low end, and really
make the floor rumble, we will use the famous 808 to add that BEEF
to the kick. Like everything else in music, the 808 can be as simple
or complex as you want. Since this is the Stupid Simple way to
make beats, we will keep it simple. As before, open your kits folder
and find an 808 that you like. Drag it in to your channel rack and
there ya go, you’ve added an 808 to your project. Before we start
composing our 808 pattern it is important to make sure the 808 notes
do not overlap. The easiest way to do this is to right click on the 808
in the channel rack and press “cut itself”. This will ensure that only
one note plays at a time.
In the simplest of melodies, the 808 will follow the kick pattern, and
stay in key with the melody. Those are the minimum requirements.
If the 808 isn’t in time with the kick, the frequencies will collide and
cause a muddy, or wobbling sound. If the 808 is not in tune with the
melody, it will sound off to listeners and it won’t mesh well. With that
out of the way, let’s dive into making the 808 pattern. Right click the
808 on the channel rack and go to the piano roll, then Take a look at
the pattern below.
If you’re paying attention, you’ll see that we start our 808 at C
because our song is in the key of C. If you are paying even more
attention, you will notice this 808 pattern looks VERY similar to the
low end notes on our melody. If you copied the kick pattern above,
you’ll also notice when you listen that each 808 note starts on a kick,
giving a THUMP, and a RUMBLE, sound. Depending on the 808 you
chose, and the speakers you are listening on, you may not be able to
hear the 808 to its fullest. If you think it may be too low, go to the
piano roll, hit CTRL-A, then CTRL-UP ARROW to move the 808 up
an octave. You should be able to hear the notes now and you’ll see
that they are in key. The 808 lives in the low end, so you should drop
it to the lowest frequency possible while still being able to hear/feel it
AND keep it in tune.
Once your 808 is in have a beat! Congrats! You just
constructed the pattern for your first beat! At this point you could drag
the pattern in to the playlist a bunch of times and call it a day...but
that would be boring. In the next section will cover some of the
basics of composition.
TIP: Before continuing to composition, double click on each
instrument on your channel rack and on the left hand side under
playback, make sure that “use looping points” is unchecked.
COMPOSITION IS KEY. Without a composition, your beat is simply
a loop. Technically, a loop is enough but it will get boring to listen to
after a while and cause “ear fatigue”. Ear fatigue is when we get sick
of hearing something over and over again. This is why you will notice
in most songs today there are periods of silence and instruments
drop out and come back in throughout the song. That is what we will
be aiming to do with our beat now. First we want to break our pattern
out into separate parts. To do this go to the playlist and find our
If you’ve been following along it should be named “Pattern 1”. Right
click the pattern and click “Split by channel”. Our pattern is now
broken out in to individual parts that we can add in and drop out as
we need. Now we can drag and drop our sections in to the playlist!
For our purposes, we will be following a very basic song structure
that will sound familiar and help break our song up. Before you check
out the image below, here are some shortcuts that are very helpful
when composing your beat.
0. SHIFT + CLICK + DRAG - this will copy the currently
clicked pattern and you can move it around.
0. CTRL + CLICK + DRAG - this will allow you to select
multiple patterns that you can combo with the shortcut
above to duplicate multiple patterns.
0. CLICK (the beginning or end of a pattern) + DRAG - this
will allow you to cut out the start or end of a pattern without
changing the pattern itself. You will see towards the end of
our composition where this comes in handy.
Try to duplicate the image below in your playlist. If you make a
mistake at any time, you can right click to remove a pattern from the
Now, make sure at the top of FL studio, next to the play button, you
have SONG selected and not PAT (play button will be green not
orange). Press play and you should be able to hear your song play
along with the composition. Notice how we bring different parts in at
different times but we keep the melody consistent. This is a very
basic composition. You can use this to branch out in to more
complex patterns, add in drops, etc. This demo is not a full song, but
it is the start. As an exercise try to continue with what we currently
have and round out the song. The most basic of songs follow an
INTRO -> VERSE -> HOOK -> VERSE -> HOOK -> HOOK pattern,
but you can do whatever you want in your composition!
That’s a wrap. After composing your beat, if you plan on keeping it
stupid’re done! Congrats! Go to FILE -> EXPORT ->
Give it a name -> START. After your computer processes it, you’ll
have a .wav file you can play anywhere! Boom, you’re a producer
and this is your first song. It’s stupid simple, but it’s yours and you
can use what you learned making it to make infinitely more! I look
forward to hearing from you with any feedback or creations you have
to share. Feel free to contact me at [email protected] , and
please recommend this quick ebook to any of your friends who also
want to get into the producer game! I hope your investment of less
than a cup of coffee helped you out as much as your generosity
helps me!
Some next level tips for free. While the objective of this book was
to make a stupid simple beat in quick and easy fashion, I’ve decided
to throw in some tips to help you get more out of the process. Here
are two quick tips that can help you improve your beat just a bit.
TIP ONE - Instrument plugins:
Right now, the melody we used is rocking an instance of FL Keys.
FL Keys is fine if you want that generic piano sound, but often we
are looking for a bit of variation in our sounds. As a beginner
producer you will not have access to the instrument plugins that
more advanced producers do (Omnisphere, Nexus, etc).
Fortunately, we have a great selection of instruments built right in to
FL Studio. Right click on your FL Keys instance in the channel rack,
and click replace. This will bring up a list of available plugins. Go to
“Sytrus” under Synth Classic. In the top right of the Sytrus box, click
the presets box to open up all of the available sounds! Click a sound
and play your beat. You’ll hear that your melody is now transformed
and playing with the new instrument! Now you can choose the
perfect sound and adjust your melody as you feel.
TIP TWO - Velocity:
All of the instruments in our channel have a “velocity” that we can
change. Velocity refers to how hard the note comes in. A higher
velocity will make the instrument sound louder and come in with
more bump. It’s a good idea to add it to any instrument you want to
cut through the mix. In our example let’s add it to our kick. The
quickest way to do it is right click the instrument in the channel rack,
click graph editor, and drag all the blue bars to the top. You’ll notice
now that the instrument sounds louder. In contrast, you can drop
the velocity if you want the notes to play softer. Feel free to play
around with the velocity of all your instruments to find your sound.