The Story Behind Producing Beats

Beat Making Industry

I am always interested in how trends are set in our industry. Especially Beat Production. Just as one gets used to a new fad, another one jumps up and announces its arrival. We have had this within so many areas of our industry that keeping up with all the new crazes is a full time job in itself. The strange thing is that most of these fads have been around for years and have only recently become so popular that a fitting name had to be found. A prime example of this would be parallel compression. A technique that we producers and engineers have used for years, but only recently the Americans found it necessary to rename it to New York compression. Mmm.

Beat Production

Engineers and Producers talking about BP

The latest craze, and one that sounds so simple, is Beat Production. I have been in forums whereby seasoned engineers and producers have been engrossed in lively debate with young musicians/producers about what the term production actually defines. In almost all instances there seems to be some confusion as to where Beat Production fits into the equation of music production.

Arguments will not resolve this debate as the meaning of ‘producer’ has been liquefied by technological strides in our industry. The fact that a lot of commercial releases are mixed in the ‘box’ (ITB) in semi-pro home studios is testament to the fact that technology is completely changing the roles of the engineer and producer.

how to produce beats

Skills Within Beat Producing Industry

I am not on either side of this argument, but am in the position whereby I recognise that producing beats should now be accepted as another skill within our industry. It was not too long ago that ‘flipping’ samples (using an already recorded piece of music) was shunned by the purists in our industry. Today, it is a huge market within our industry and another form of accepted composition.
So, in that vein, I welcome any creative amalgamation of today’s technologies, but for the sake of the purists, I feel it important to define what Beat Production is and the role it plays in the bigger picture of the production landscape.

Searching for a sample

Beat Production is actually a very simple concept and practice. It incorporates using pre-recorded samples within a musical composition (flipping), and producing the entire composition with emphasis and focus on the pre-recorded samples.

Whereas the long accepted term of producer is still regarded as the true definition of what a producer is and does, the Beat Producer’s job is to manage an entire song based solely on the samples being used, and to incorporate these within a musical context that entails composition, vocal recordings etc. This requires skill to understand the genre that utilises the ‘flipped’ samples, how to arrange and meld all the song components into the genre defined market and to deliver the medium in the right context.

Diggin' in the crates

But ultimately the Beat Producer’s job is to manage the Beat and since the genres that incorporate the flipped samples require the beat to be the focal point of the song, it goes without saying that this is the most integral part of the production process.

rap beat maker

BUT, for all you youngsters out there; do not confuse Producing Beats with the role of a ‘Producer’. Understand that the term Beat Producer began years ago when someone was given the task of managing the drum and bass section of a song, what we term as the ‘drive’ in the industry. Invariably, this role used to fall to composers and arrangers within that genre’s marketplace. This is how the likes of Dr. Dre, Kanye, Neptunes etc began. Kanye West may call himself a Beat Producer but once he finishes his part of the process, his material is sent to a producer who then ‘produces’ the material in the more conventional sense and for commercial release.

Don’t let this demean the fact that this is an art form and requires skill and creative talent.

producing beats

A3

Production of beats

A4

Fellow Beatmakers share or comment below