I must admit I don’t love the word “beat” because of how students often mis-use it to describe music. “This piece has a good beat” for example – what does that actually mean. I guess a good beat is often used to describe something with a driving tempo. For me, a good beat would be one that works for the piece or scenario. A good beat might be interesting, contain variety and also get me toe-tapping along. You can have great beats that are slow and fantastic beats that are fast. I just prefer saying, let’s create a rhythm.
I think it is therefore worth discussing this with your students. Agree the language with them and maybe talk about the fact that they are creating a rhythm.
Soundtrap has what’s called the “Patterns Beatmaker” for creating beats. This is where we are landing for this blog and I am going to look at how this can be used.
When you first launch Soundtrap you are often asked by default if you want to create a pattern.
If not then you simply add an instrument and then select the beatmaker (see below).
An instrument can be added by simply clicking on “Add Track”. For the purpose of this blog you need to choose “Drums & Beats”.
With the Beat-maker open, start to click on the boxes to add notes to the drums. Each set of 4 boxes represents one beat, broken down into 4 semi-quavers per beat.
When you click on a box and add a note, it will fill the box so you know what you have inputted.
The beat I have created above is the standard 4/4 Rock Beat that most students will know. It is a good idea to make this practical, either with a drum-kit or Body Percussion (See Beat Goes On for great body percussion workshops)
You have now created your first beat!
Cycle your beat
This beat is now going to appear as a one bar unit of music on your main studio window
If you want to loop or cycle this beat then you can select “cycle” on the beatmaker window towards the bottom right. You can also choose to extend this rhythm into the next bar by simply dragging the circular arrow symbol that appears on the coloured section of MIDI
When you drag the music and loop it, you need to keep in mind that any changes made to the beat will then be applied to the bars that have been added. Adjusting bar one will then automatically adjust any subsequent bars.
Here you can see 3 bars of music that are all identical. I created the first bar, dragged the loop symbol to the right and then turned on cycle. Soundtrap will now repeat these bars over and over again.
If you want to add another beat then you need to add a new region in Soundtrap. A new region is essentially a blank bar, ready to fill with notes. You simply go to Edit at the top of Soundtrap and then navigate down to New Region. Here you can see that I have added two new regions ready to fill. These regions are not linked to my first beat and therefore I can add something entirely new.
Creating your first beat
it is always good to start somewhere with software. Creating your first beat in Soundtrap is a good place to start. From here, most students will be able to develop this beat, add to it and make it even more interesting. Soundtrap is all cloud & MIDI based, and it is packed full of great sounds. Once a beat it is created it can be moved to different kits to change the sound, and easily modified in the beatmaker.
Sound advice for Soundtrap is all about quick ideas to get you started. In the next blog I will look at how we can build on this starting point to make more interesting rhythms. So please do subscribe to my blog for all the latest updates.
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