Quick Tracks Nº 2: Make a Beat

Welcome back to the dance floor, Quick Trackers! Once a month, we hook you up with a short production or songwriting challenge, aimed at helping to up your musicianship. To respond to the challenge, just email us, leave a comment, or post to social media with the hashtag #quicktracks and tag us @learntosoundfly.

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..


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 our beat making course.

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.

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Elijah Fox at the piano

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