Home for the Curious Musician

Quick Tracks Nº 2: Make a Beat

As you may or may not know, this past week was beat making week on Soundfly. We published a multi-part series intended to help you make a digital drum beat from scratch in Ableton Live. As such, this week’s Quick Tracks is also focused on making a beat! If you want to check out the whole series from the beginning, click here.

Beats are the best. Whether it’s a heavy industrial jam or more of a classic boots-and-cats electro bounce, a great beat drives so much of the music we listen to and dance to. If you don’t know how to make a good beat, no matter what instrument you call your primary home, you’re missing a huge opportunity… for fun.

This week, your Quick Tracks challenge is to make a 30-60 second drum beat that has at least three different percussive elements (snare, kick, hi-hat, spoon, desk, clap, etc) and two variations. By two variations, we mean that your beat should change in some way during the snippet at least once.

Share your beat and get a special VIP discount code for our mentor-guided Mainstage course, Beat Making in Ableton Live! More details below.


If you’ve just finished the series on how to make your first beat in Ableton Live, this is your chance to put it into action! Use Ableton’s Drum Rack tool, load up some preset instrument sounds, record a snare and kick, then overdub some hi-hats or claps on top of it, and go to town with your editing tools. Feel free to add other presets that you really love! Go wild!

If you’re coming here out of the blue, you’re welcome to take on this challenge however you’d like. You can simply record yourself hitting your chest, clapping, and tapping your foot. Or beatbox. Or play an actual drum set! Just remember to include three “instruments” (or different sounds) and two variations within your beat. The easiest place to start might be creating a kick drum-ish sound on beats 1 and 3 and a snare-ish sound on beats 2 and 4.

You can even create beat live on stage in front of thousands of people using a massive projection…

If you find yourself struggling to come up with something, it’s always great practice to try to recreate a beat that you like. In fact, beat rebuilding is a major component of the beat making Mainstage course.

Anyone who completes this challenge and shares it with us will win a VIP discount code to our mentor-guided Mainstage course, Beat Making in Ableton LiveThis is your chance to get $300 off personal support from an expert beat maker to take your beats to the next level! 

You can email us, leave a comment, or post to social media with the hashtag #quicktracks and tag us @learntosoundfly. Good luck!

Exporting for Ableton Live Users

To share your work from Ableton Live, click on the MIDI Clip containing your beat and press Shift+CMD+R (CTRL+CMD+R on PC). A window will prompt you to choose your export settings. You can leave everything default, but make sure to check the box “Share on SoundCloud.” Create an account if necessary, return to the window in Ableton, and choose to upload the track as private (if you’d like). You’ll receive a private link that you can post in the Disqus comments below!

Again, please let us know if you have any issues along the way. We’re here to help.

Want more musical challenges just like this delivered straight to your inbox once a week (plus, a ton more stuff culled from around the musical internet)? Sign up here for our new email magazine, Soundfly Weekly!

Ready to Go Deeper?

If you’ve enjoyed learning how to make a beginner beat, you should definitely check out our in-depth Mainstage course on beat making in Ableton Live. It takes this snippet to the next level by covering:

  • How to build unique Drum Rack instruments from your own samples
  • How to make drum sounds from random sources
  • How to utilize effects and mangle samples for more impact and nuance
  • Slicing and manipulating classic breakbeats
  • Humanization techniques to alter the feel of your beats
  • How to build huge drum sounds through layering and synthesis

This concludes our weeklong beat-making course on Flypaper. Happy beat making!

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Ian Temple

Ian is a pianist, entrepreneur and professional musician. He started Soundfly to help people really find what gets them most excited musically and pursue it. He's toured all over the world with his experimental trio Sontag Shogun. Check out his most recent course Building Blocks of Piano or follow him on Twitter at @ianrtemple.