How to Make Beats on Logic Pro X

Is Logic Pro Good for Making Beats?

Heck yeah it is! And I’ll show you how simple it can be. We’ll go over a few different patterns as well. Largely, I’ll be showing you how to make beats on Logic Pro X without a keyboard.


When I started using Logic Pro, I really struggled with finding the best way to do the drum tracks. How are other people doing them? Should I just use the built in Apple drummer? Should I use Native Instrument’s Battery? Should I bang out my own pattern on a midi controller? Should there be one track for all the drums, or should each drum get a track. Drawing MIDI for lots of tracks seemed like a lot of work, surely one track is easier to deal with?

Not being a drummer, I also struggled with how to make a beat. I could do a basic kick on the 1&3 and snare on the 2&4, and it sounded great! For about 2 minutes. Then it sounded like someone’s first (maybe 2nd) drum lesson. I’m not saying you have to take drum lessons god forbid 🙂 but learning a few different patterns that you can pull out of your bag of tricks (just like the professionals) isn’t a bad idea. It’s really not that big of a deal to learn a trap pattern, jazz pattern, rock pattern, as they are all slight variants of the same thing.

One thing I’d say is to just stay away from Ultrabeat. Some people love it, but I think that’s because they’ve been using it forever and are just comfortable with it. If you are just starting out, invest your time elsewhere.

If you are trying to emulate more traditional acoustic drums for Rock, Jazz, Country, then the built in Drummer is a good place to start, and EZ Drummer 2 might be a good consideration when you’re ready to go to the next level. Also Native Instruments has Studio Drummer and few other options (but buy Komplete for that as you get a ton of useful tools for every style.)

For Hip-Hop and EDM, the built in Drummer is also a good place to start. Its interface is that of a Drum Machine, for the other styles, Drummer’s interface is a Drum Kit. When ready to go to the next level, Native Instrument’s Battery is a decent option (but again, get Komplete as it’s a much better value, and also includes Drum Lab for hybrid Electronic/Acoustic kits.) I’ve also been playing with Softube’s Heartbeat lately, which is a bit of a hybrid unit that has a hodge-podge throwback look.

Heartbeat Drum Machine
Heartbeat Drum Machine

Additionally, you can also use Logic Pro X’s built in EXS24 Sampler, or use something like Kontakt, to import samples, and play a beat using the keyboard.

Your first beat – Retro Rock Rhythm

To learn some of the basics of Logic Pro X Beat Making, we’ll create a simple rock pattern with the built in “Drum Kit Designer”. Go to File, New, Select Software Instrument, then under instrument, select Drum Kit Designer.

As an aside, if you are looking for something super simple, add a Drummer Track, pick your style, then create a 2nd track with a kit of your choosing. Drag the Drummer pattern down to that track and it’ll convert it to MIDI that you can adjust. This can be a quick way to get up and running, but we won’t go over that here as you don’t really learn anything that way.

This opens a traditional drum kit. From the drop down, select Retro Rock Kit.

Now you want to right click on the first track and select Create Empty Midi Region. Now double click on the green region, or alternatively, you can go to View, Show Editor.

Go to the Piano Roll below and add in a Kick on the 1 and the 3. The nice thing about the Drum Kit Designer is that Apple has labelled the piano notes for you, so you know which key is assigned to which drum.

To create a note, you can either command-click on the grid where you want the note, or right click where you want the note and select create note. As you do this, you should hear the drum sound play. Select the “Kick” on the C1 key.

You can move the notes around by clicking on them, and then dragging. Notice that the region is currently 1 bar. It starts at 1 and ends at 2. If you divide that into 4 parts, you can see a slightly stronger line where the quarter notes would be. The 1st and 3rd beat (assuming 4/4 time) lines up with the 1 and the 13 (which also is sometimes shown as 1.3) which means the 3rd beat in the measure.)

When you’re done, the grid should look like this.

Now go to the slider all the way to the right, just above the grid. It’s called the Horizontal Zoom. Slide this to the right to zoom in on the grid a bit. You’ll now see each quarter note beat labelled, 1, 12, 13, 14, 2, etc. Think of this as counting quarter notes “one, two, three, four”.

If you can count to four, you can play drums.

John “Bonzo” Bonham
Electronic Music Production Courses from Loopmasters.com

Go ahead and add a snare on the 2 and the 4 by command clicking. Select the “Snare Center” on the D1 key. When you’re done, it should look like below.

Let’s now make this a 4 bar loop. Zoom back out with the Horizontal Slider, until you can see 4 bars. This means you’ll be able to see the number 5 as that’s where the 4th bar ends. Drag the region over by grabbing the edge of the green section with your mouse. Alternatively, you can drag the region over in the track view up top. When you are done, it should look like below.

Now let’s copy the pattern to fill all four bars. While you could copy/paste, there’s a better way that you need to get familiar with. Select all four notes by basically dragging a box around them. Now that they are highlighted, option-click, drag to bar 2, then un-click to move and paste them. Note that if you let go of the option button before releasing the mouse, you will move the original notes, rather than copy and move the copy.

Now highlight all 8 notes, and do it again. So you are essentially copying two bars’ worth of notes, and pasting to the next two bars. Now you should have 4 bars worth of kick and snare. Let’s vary up the final bar though, and drag the two snare notes up to the “Snare Rimshot”. The final result should look like this.

Let’s check out what it sounds like. Make sure you have it set to loop through all four bars. To do this Click next to the 1 in the grid header, and drag over to the five until the header for the 4 bars is highlighted in a yellow/gold. Press play (or spacebar) to hear the glorious creation, and it should loop over and over.

Kick on the odds, Snare on the evens

Obviously it’s missing some hi-hats, so let’s add those in. We’ll be adding in 8th notes, and rather than draw all those in one at a time, we can brush them in, which is much more efficient. Go to the drop down above the grid, the one next to the pointer, and select Brush Tool.

Before Brushing in notes, we need to adjust the note length that we’ll brush in. On the left, where it says “Time Quantize”, there is a drop down that says 1/16 Note. Change that to 1/8. Now Command-click on the “Hi-Hat Closed” key and drag the entire length of bar 1 and 2. It should now look like the image below.

Let’s add some excitement and accelerate the last two bars by switching to sixteenth notes. On the left where you selected 1/8, go back and change it to 1/16. Now Command-click and drag all the way from the start of the 3rd bar to the end of the 4th. It should now look like this.

And sound like this.

To make the hats a bit more exciting, move the last note of the first and second bar up to the “Hi-Hat Open” key. Then we’ll do a turn around thing with the Toms in the 4th bar at the end of our “loop”.

Sticking with 8th notes, on the 3rd beat of bar 4 (so 43) insert a note for the “Hi Tom”. Right after that, insert a note for the “Mid Tom”, then insert a note for the “Low Tom” and finally another note for the “Mid Tom”. You should now have four 1/8th notes of Toms in the 3rd beat. It should now look like below.

And sound like this.

Why did we pick the 3rd beat for the Toms, and not the 4th beat? If you notice the drummer’s right hand is playing 1/16th notes on the hi-hats for the whole measure, and the drummer’s left hand is playing the snare on the 2nd and 4th beat. (How many hand’s does a drummer have? The one’s I’ve seen have at most 2 hands!) Therefore, it wouldn’t make sense to put the Toms on the 2nd or 4th beat since the drummer wouldn’t have a free hand. (Granted if you dropped the first Tom hit, perhaps the other 3 Tom hits could be played in the 4th bar.) Something to think about when you are programming drums is what the four limbs are doing. While it’s common in hip-hop to “stack” lots of sounds on a drum machine, for rock (or jazz) where you are emulating a real drummer, usually you can’t have more than 4 limbs playing at a time!

Now let’s start making it sound more human. Right now every note is perfectly quantized as that’s how we drew it on the grid. Select all the notes by hitting Command-A, then go to Time Quantize, and select 1/16 Swing F. Notice that in the first two measures, nothing changed because they are 1/8th notes, but the 1/16th notes in the second measure are now shifted a bit for more of a swing pattern.

Check out our guide to free music production software.

One problem is that the notes are still hit at the same velocity, which sounds very robotic. Shift-click every other hi-hat note of the first two measures. This will select every other note. Now go to the Velocity slider on the right and drag it down to 60. It should now look like this.

And sound like this.

This gives you precise control if you are trying to emulate ghost notes or do something specific with emulating a human, but it can get quite tedious. An easier way is to use Midi FX (don’t forget to check out our MIDI FX Arpeggiator Tutorial).

Go back to the Mixer portion of the Drum Track on the left. If it isn’t visible, you can go to View Show Mixer. On the Retro Rock Kit track, above where it says Drum Kit, select the MIDI FX that says Randomizer.

The Randomizer defaults to Velocity. What this will do is randomly assign velocities to the notes. You can adjust the Random slider for how narrow of a range you want the notes, and adjust the Weight slider to give a preference of harder or softer velocities. Too extreme, and it won’t sound natural, but a narrower range can add the subtle velocity changes to make the drums sound more human.

Go back into the Drum Kit Designer (the Drum Kit button on your track) and change the kit by selecting “Heavy Kit”. This adds a bit more “boom” to the low end and the hats aren’t as prominent.

We’ll polish it off a bit by adding a compressor. We’ll pick the Apple emulation of the dbx160, which is a classic choice for drums.

Back on your drum track, where it says “Audio FX” under the “Drum Kit” button, select Dynamics, Compressor, and then select the “Classic VCA” button. Set the threshold to about -20, which is when the compressor will kick in. You’ll see the needle move whenever this threshold is met. Set the ratio to about 4, and then set Auto Gain to off. Now move the Make Up knob up to taste, but not so loud that it clips. I set mine to 5. (Check out our Tutorial on Logic Pro Audio Compressors if this doesn’t make sense to you.)

Here’s the final result of our Rock beat. The compressor makes it sound like the drums are hitting much harder!

Punk Beat

Now that you know the basics, let’s apply that knowledge to a basic Punk Beat to get a bit more experience programming drums.

Go back into the Drum Kit Designer, and select the “Detroit Garage Kit.” (This may not be installed by default, so click the down arrow with the circle around it to download. You may need to open the Library which is the first icon on the top left.)

If you click on the cursive “i” on the right side, it’ll show information about the drum kit. “Pawn Shop” sounds perfect for this style!

Let’s up the Tempo to 140 as well. You can do this by clicking on the 120 and dragging upward until it says 140.

Now clear everything in your midi grid by selecting ctrl-A to select everything and then delete. You could also drag the green region in the track view out of the way to the right if you don’t want to delete it, and create a new region. (Right click and select “Create Empty MIDI Region”.)

We’ll want our punk song to be a bit more brisk paced, so we’ll be playing 1/8th notes. Command-click notes for the Kick on C1. The pattern will be “one and rest and three and rest and”. The pattern should look like below.

Next we’ll add in the snare, which just like the Rock pattern, will be on the 2 and the 4, but we’ll draw in 1/8th notes instead of 1/4 notes.

We’ll now do the hi-hats as 1/8th notes, similar to how we did the Rock pattern. This time though let’s vary it up by alternating between “Hi-Hat Closed” and “Hi-Hat Foot Close” to give it a slightly different sound each time, as the drummer’s foot is clamping down on the pedal every other note.

Next, expand the region to 4 bars, by dragging the edge (green line) over to the 5. Select all the notes by doing a command-A. Then copy and drag over to bar two by option-clicking on one of the notes, and dragging everything over to bar two. Remember to un-click the mouse before letting go of the option button. Now do that whole process again to copy bars 1 and 2 over to 3 and 4.

Let’s edit the kick a bit so that it’s not so boring. In bar 2, remove the second kick note, and in bar 3, remove the 4th note. This just offers a bit of variety so it’s not as boring.

Also we’ll want to do something at the end of bar 4 for the turnaround. Punk isn’t known for its extravagant Tom flourishes! Let’s just do a double hit of the snare. Option-click to copy the last snare note over so that there are now two hits. It should look like below.

Since we are going for a garage punk band indie type of sound, we don’t want it to be too hi-fidelity. Let’s try and muffle the drums a bit by applying some high and low shelves. On the mixer track, where it says “EQ” click in there to enable and open the Channel EQ.

The second button on the right (which looks like a tuning fork) hover over it and you’ll see a purple dot highlighted. Grab that dot and drag it down and to the left. Now do the same for the orange dot, which is tied to the 2nd button on the left (which also looks like a tuning fork.) Adjust them so they look similar to below.

Now let’s add a bit of Compression. A shortcut to bring up the Compressor is to click on the thin strip above the EQ. (When the compressor is compressing, a horizontal gain reduction meter appears here.) Alternatively, go into Audio FX, Dynamics, and select Compressor. Pick the Studio FET, which is Apple’s emulation of the 1176. (For a more in-depth look at Apple’s compressors, check out our tutorial.)

The final clip should sound like this.

 

How to Make a Trap Beat

If you skipped to this part and feel lost, go back and do the first tutorial on the Retro Rock Beat. I know you think it doesn’t apply, but it goes over the basics and the pattern will qualify you to play drums in a wedding band 🙂 Now onto more Logic Pro X beat making!

After trying several different things, I’ve found the best way to get a good kick, snare and hi-hat sound is to use decent samples! Not only that, use them in a sampler, don’t just drag the audio onto the track. You have little control that way.

Logic Fiends recommends trying a Free Trial from Splice. (If you click that link, we’ll get a few bucks to help keep the site running.) Not only is there a large selection of samples, they have some well known beat makers as contributors, like Lex Luger and Sonny Digital.

How to Make a Drake Type Beat

Since Drake is all the rage currently, and he technically makes Trap music, we’ll do a beat in his style. For this tutorial we are going to use Apple’s built in 808 drum kit. I wish someone told me about this when I started!!! I spent a fair amount of money and time trying various products and buying samples, when all along Logic had a decent 808 kit built in. However, if you are trying to get the closest sound possible, you’ll want to get the Sonny Digital sample pack as that was used on Scorpion by Boi-1da.

The one downside to this method is that drum rolls aren’t easy, but barring that, this an easy and cheap way to get writing beats quickly.

Create a new session, and when prompted to choose a track type, select “Software Instrument”, and “Default Patch” from the drop down.

Now go to the library on the left. If it’s not visible, you’ll have to click the first button in the toolbar that looks like a drawer with files. Select “Electronic Drum Kit”, “Drum Machine”, and then “Boutique 808”. (This may not be installed by default. If not, click the down arrow with the circle around it to download.) The 808 goes back to the beginning of Hip-Hop, and its samples are still used today, so we’ll stick with that.

One of the nice things is that Apple breaks out all the major components onto separate tracks. This is great because you can adjust the volume, panning and effects for each track individually. You only need to edit the region on the parent track even though the audio will be output on separate sub-tracks. For now you can collapse this so only the parent track is showing.

Let’s start with the Kick first. If you followed the first tutorial with the Retro Rock pattern, you’ll see a lot of similarities with this one (huh, isn’t that weird 🙂 )

The Kick is on the 1 and almost the 3, but nudged up an 1/8th. If we were to count out 1/8th notes, “one and two and three and four and” the Kick would be on the “one” and the two “and”. (There’s some variation, but we’ll get to that in a minute.)

Also from tutorial 1, the snare was on the 2 and the 4. Here we’re just going to put the snare on the 2. Additionally, we’re going to add a clap to it. Often with hip-hop drum programming, they do this and call it “layering”.

My guess it that largely this was done out of lack of knowledge of how to play drums, and it was the only way they could figure out how to thicken the sound. If you remember from the first tutorial, we made the assumption that drummers have at most two arms. A lot of this stacking couldn’t be done if emulating a real drummer. Of course this not being music college, we won’t deduct points for creativity. If it sounds cool, then by all means do it.

If it sounds good, it IS good.

Duke Ellington

Command click to draw in the notes for the Kick, Snare , and Clap, and it should look like the image below.

Now to add a little variety and swing to the Kick (and in my opinion, this is what makes Drake’s beats different than much of the Trap style beats) we are going to modify the kick in the 2nd bar. We’ll add three 1/16th notes after the 2nd hit, and then add an 1/8th note as a lead in to the 3rd bar.

We’ll also modify the 4th bar by adding a note in between the two existing notes. This is going to be on a 1/6th note. Notice below that the hits are on the “one” e and “uh” two e “and” uh three e and uh four e and uh.

This is what it should sound like so far.

Drake Type 808 Kick Snare

Now we’re going to add in another snare. Just like with the prior Snare and Clap, let’s layer this Snare with the Maracas2 to just add to the sound a bit. These will be 1/16th notes on the 2 and the 4, but there is also a bit of swing going on here as well. We’ll put a 1/16th just before and just after the 3.

I’m feeling like the 4th beats is still missing something. While clearly the 2 is getting the accent with the Snare and Clap, the Snare seems to harsh on the 4. Yet it needs something, so let’s put a Clap on the 4. The pattern should now look like this.

Often times the 808 Kick and 808 Bass are played together. Let’s just copy the Kick pattern all the way to the top, where it says 808 bass. Now they’ll play together, and you should hear a bit more lower end.

Let’s work on the the hi-hats next. We are going to have a little fun with these! I feel with Trap, that the hats are where you get to show your artistic side a bit more.

Just like in the first tutorial, we are going to want to use the brush tool for this. In case you don’t remember, the 2nd icon above the MIDI grid, select “Brush Tool”. Now we can brush in notes much faster than having to click each one. Which is a relief because there’s a lot of Hi-Hats in Trap.

It’s common in a lot of Trap songs to play 1/8th or 1/16th Hi-Hat notes steady throughout. We will mix it up a bit. For the first two bars, just brush in “Closed Hat1” for the entire bar. The default should be 1/16th notes, so we’ll go with those.

Let’s play around with the 2nd bar though. Delete the 2nd and 4th notes, and then widen the 1st and 3rd to fill in the empty spaces. Basically you are replacing four 1/16th notes with two 1/8th notes. Skip the next two 1/16th notes, and then do it again, but this time do it for 3 notes not two. Skip two more 1/16th notes, and for the last note in the second bar remove that, and widen to an 1/8th notes. I’m sure that was confusing, so see below.

Now let’s finish off the hats. Brush in 1/16th notes for the first half of the 3rd and 4th bars. Essentially from 3 to 13 and from 4 to 14. Then on the left, where it says Time Quantize, it should currently say 1/16, change that to 1/2 Note.

Now draw in the 2nd half of bar 3 so there are two half notes in there. You might want to zoom in for bar four.

Go back into Time Quantize and select 1/64 Triplet. Now brush from the 3rd beat, where it says 43, to the 4th beat where it says 44. You’ll now change Time Quantize to 1/32 Triplet and fill in from 44, but not all the way to 5, only half way.

Finally go back into Time Quantize and select 1/16 Triplet and fill in the last part. I’m sure that was confusing, so see below. Some people call these Stutter Hats. Playing with the note change, and adding in triplets, can give it the feeling of speeding up or slowing down. Usually you want to do this at the end of your loop, at the “turnaround” (although it seems people are sprinkling them throughout now.)

We should tweak the sounds a bit. Go to View, Show Mixer, and on the first track you will see a little arrow pointing up. If you click on that, it’ll expand the parent drum track to show all of the children drum tracks. Alternatively, in the track view, you can click on the down arrow next to the 808 drum icon.

If you’ve made it through all the tutorials, you should know how to add a Compressor now (click Audio FX, Dynamics, Compressor. ) Add a Compressor to the Kick track, then select “Vintage VCA” which is Apple’s implementation of an SSL. (The SSL is pretty standard in Hip-Hop.)

Set the Ratio to about 3 or 4, put the attack at 15, the release at 50, and the knee at 0.7. Turn the Threshold until you see the needle start moving.

Now do the same thing to the Bass track. (If in the mixer, you can just option-drag the Compressor from the Kick track to the Bass track. Not only will it copy the plugin, it’ll also preserve all the settings.) You can use similar settings, and if the threshold is turned to the left you should hear it has much more sustain. Pretty cool? You probably want it more staccato and punchy though for a Drake sound, so set the threshold around 12 o’clock until the needle just moves about 1db.

Let’s give a little lift to the hi-hats. On the hi-hats track, click on the EQ to open the Channel EQ. The Purple Dot is tied to the second button on the right (the one that looks like a tuning for.) That’s the hi-shelf. Lets raise it up a few db to taste.

This is what the drums sound like at this point.

Drake Type 808 kit

Now let’s add in a Pad like Drake often uses. Since we are trying to stick with what comes out of the box, we’ll use Alchemy (read some of our other articles if you’d like to know of some better synth options.)

Create a new instrument track, select “Alchemy”, then go into “Pads”, and find a Preset that you like. I’ll choose “Infinity Pad”.

Next we’ll need some chords. Since we don’t want to get sued, we’ll just pick some original ones. I’m going to pick Dm, which is D-F-A, and Am, which is A-C-E. (If you suck with music theory and want an app that is basically a song generator that creates good sounding chord progressions for you, check out our article on How to Write a Song. )

Draw in each chord for half a bar. You just need to do 1 bar, and drag the region out to your loop length.

Now let’s make the pad “wavy” or “bounce” or whatever descriptor you want to call it. Essentially you want to modulate it. On the track for the pad, select MIDI FX, Modulator. (Go figure, we want to modulate, and it’s called Modulator.)

Enable the LFO button, select the sine wave (second white button) and adjust the rate to 1/8th note. Make sure the little note button next to it is enabled as that’ll make sure the effect is in time with the beat.

We want to apply this to the Volume, so in the drop down next to the “To” select “7 Volume”. Now adjust down the output level and the offset. You’ll hear the modulation, but it’s not quite cutting off enough. We want it a bit more staccato. Slide the Steps per LFO Cycle to about 4. You’ll see the LFO graph change from a smooth sine wave to stair steps.

You should now hear a familiar effect. I’m going to extend out the region out to 8 bars.

I don’t care for the 1/16th notes in the hats against the new pad sound, so I’m going to change them to 1/8th notes. I’m also going to copy the drum track over to fill 8 bars, and then edit it so the turnarounds in each 4 bar region is slightly different. Go ahead and play around with the hats to suit your own taste.

We’ll finish it off with a Vintage VCA on the mix bus. We’ll emulate what is often called the “glue” because it glues together all the sounds. Typically you just want a ratio between 1 and 2 so that it doesn’t crush the sound. Turn the threshold so that the needle is only moving one or two db, and only on the transients (when the kick is hitting.)

At this point, you may be clipping. Check your “Stereo Out” Bus. Is it in the red? On the Compressor, turn on the Limiter (which is on the right side), and set the Threshold to -1. This should limit the meter from going above -1. You’ll know when the limiter is kicking in because the light will turn red. It will probably only do this on the transients.

Your final result should sound something like this.

Basic Drake Beat

De-tuned snare rolls and de-tuned hi-hats

Part 2 of How to Make Beats on Logic Pro X

We’ll use pitch automation to detune the snares. This can add interest to your snare rolls, and can be great for the end of the song or end of a section.

This could be a useful way to end a song, or end a section, and take a “rest” before “hitting” them with the next section (come in with an 808 and more energy.)

Snare Roll Down

By tuning up and double timing the rhythm, you can build energy, which is particularly good for dance tracks.

Snare Roll Up

We’ll work on automating to build this clip. As a bonus we’ll tune the hi-hats as well. You could try it on the kick if you want as well, which could be useful if used sparingly.

Detuned snare and hi-hats

Create a new track (opt-command-N is the shortcut) and under Instrument, select “Empty Channel Strip”. On the new Track, click “Instrument” and select “Drum Machine Designer” which will be towards the bottom of the list. It’ll probably default to “Big Room”. We are just concerned with the snare, hi-hat and kick, so we’ll only changes those.

Click on Snare1, you’ll see the list of options in the library to the left change. Click a few of the Snare options to audition them. I’m going with “Snare 2 – Trap Door” as my choice. Now do the same for the Hi-Hat 1, I’m going with “Hi-Hat 1 Atlanta”. I’ll Pick Atlanta for the Kick as well.

Let’s start with the Snare. Right click and select “Create Empty Midi Region” then double click the region and draw in a pattern like this. Apple was nice enough to label each note with what drum sound is correlated to each key. For a snare roll, we want to select the snare.

Now to detune it, we’ll add in some automation. On the channel strip, click Read and Change it to Touch. Now when you play the track, any knobs you “touch” will add in automation.

Go back into the Drum Machine Designer, and select the Snare. You’ll notice the knobs change, and the first one says pitch. Go ahead and hit play, and turn the pitch knob while the track plays. Because “Touch” is enabled, whatever you change will get written to the track’s automation.

By now you should know how to draw in the midi. Go ahead and create another midi region, and draw in something like this.

Then enable “Touch” for the Hi-Hat track as well. Select Hi-hat in the Drum Kit Designer, hit play and then twist the pitch knob. Go ahead an do the same for the Snare again.

Now click the automation button to see the automation curves. This is the button next to “View” with the 3 lines and two dots. Click the down arrow under the drum machine, to expand all the drum output channels, and you should see curves for the Snare and Hi-Hat.

Automation Curves
Automation Curves

I cleaned mine up, but yours probably has a million little dots and rounded curves. I find it easier to deal with fewer points and straight lines. You can drag the points left or right to try and line them up with the notes, and then raise or lower to alter the pitch. Picking a point and sliding it over will effectively overwrite existing automation, and delete any points that were already there.

That’s it for now, but check back in the near future as “How to Make Beats on Logic Pro X” is added to on an ongoing basis. If you have any questions or would like to see something addressed in the article, please leave a comment.

How to Make a Travis Scott Type Beat

Travis Scott uses a lot of sixteenth note hi-hats, so let’s start there. Several of his songs are in the 70 bpm range. We’ll choose 78 bpm for this beat.

I’m going to use samples from Splice and drag them into Kontakt for this beat. After auditioning several, I like the closed hi-hat number 8 from the The Lab Cook Sample Pack. You can just drag the sample from the Splice app into Kontakt.

Using a sample from the Lab Cook
Using a sample from the Lab Cook
Sixteenth note snares for beat
Sixteenth note snares for beat

For the snare I’m going to do the same thing. I like snare 7 from the same sample pack. I’ll create another track with Kontakt and drag the sample onto it. Many of Travis Scott’s songs have the snare on the 2 and the 4 (just like we learned in the earlier tutorial.) Usually for the 2nd measure though, there’s a lead in hit before the 4. If you to adjust the grid to 1/16 Triplet, you can brush in the notes for the 3rd beat, and then delete the first two notes so it looks like below.

Snare for our Travis Scott type beat
Snare for our Travis Scott type beat

I like this sample pack well enough, so I’ll use it for the kick as well. I’ll use kick number 5. I’ll start with the kick on the typical 1 and the 3. This is boring though and needs some swing. You can hear on several Travis Scott songs that there’s a double hit on the second kick and it comes a bit early, so let’s move it up an eighth and make it a double sixteenth note.

Kick for our Travis Scott type beat
Kick for our Travis Scott type beat

For the 808 bass I’m going to go with the 808 Aggressive Short from the Lex Luger sample pack. I’m going to copy the Kick track down to a new track because I want to reuse the midi. I want the bass to hit the same time the kick does. I’ll delete the kick sample in the new Kontakt instance, and drag my new 808 sample in. Next I want to edit the midi to extend all the notes until they hit the next note so that the bass rings out.

808 for our beat
808 for our beat

Here’s what our Travis Scott type beat sounds like so far.

Travis Scott type beat 1st draft

The hi-hats are a bit boring and need to be a little more interesting. Typically you want to do this at the turnaround or end of a measure. The important thing is that it feels right and you don’t want to clutter up the beat if there’s a lot going on. Basically, if the snare and kick are doing those double hits, you probably don’t want to change your hats up until it’s less busy. Here’s how I modified it.

It still needed a bit more complexity. The first thing I’m going to do is add some 1/32 triplets a whole step higher at the end of each measure. I won’t do the 3rd measure because that one is busy enough.

Next I’m going to add some effects. I’m going to just stick with Soundtoys, so hopefully you have these available to try. For the hats, I’m going to use PanMan. The TickTock Pan preset is a good place to start. What I want to do it keep it a bit to one side, and then periodically have it shift to the other side. I don’t want extreme left or right, just enough motion to make it ineteresting.

Pan Man on the Hi Hats
Pan Man on the Hi Hats

For the snare I’m going to use Decapitator. (Check out Decapitator Review if you aren’t familiar with it.) The DrumFattener 1 preset is pretty good at making the snare hit stand out a bit more.

Decapitator on the Snare
Decapitator on the Snare

I’ll also put a Decapitator on the Kick and use the Drum Fattener 1 on that as well. It makes the kick more punchy as it was getting buried by the bass. While I’m at it, I’ll put a Decapitator on the 808. I want it to ring out a bit more, but not too much. The Dark Fat preset works well.

The problem I’m having now is that the mix bus is clipping. To counter that I’m going to use Softube’s emulation of a Drawmer 1973. This is a multi-band compressor. It let’s you tamp down just one band while augmenting another where a regular compressor would address the entire frequency spectrum. I can now compress the bass end so it doesn’t clip, tweak the snare just a bit, and then bring up the hi-hats a little.

Drawmer 1973
With the Drawmer
Travis Scott type Beat with Piano

Secret to Getting the Sound of the Pros

Here’s the secret (not so secret) to quickly get the Pro Sound. These famous beat makers have made libraries, and you can download their entire library, or just specific samples from each. In fact, I have it on good authority that BOI-1DA used the Sonny Digital Pack below when creating Drake’s “God’s Plan” (which was a huge hit in case you aren’t up with the current “goings on” in the music industry.) And if you are into EDM, chances are you’ve heard some of the KSHMR samples from below and not even known it.

Many of the samples are ready to go, meaning you don’t have to do much in the way of EQ and Compression, the artist has already “treated” them to get a nice polished sound. Drop them right into Kontakt or EXS or Battery or whatever your favorite sampler is. Even drag them in directly as an audio track. This resource is priceless if you want to get a good sounding 808, kick, snare, hi-hat quickly. I’m talking “professional sounding”. You can also use some of the other samples as starting points for you own creations, or chop them up.

Recommended Samples
Hip-Hop
808 Mafia, Gucci Mane, Big Sean, Pusha T
808 Mafia, Rick Ross, Future, 2 Chainz, French Montana
Drake’s “God’s Plan”, Chris Brown’s “No Guidance”
Rich the Kid’s “Plug Walk”, A$AP Ferg
Lil Pump, Gucci Mane, Lil Peep
808 MAFIA, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Drake, Travis Scott, Future, Gucci Mane, Migos
Hip-Hop & Pop
Jay-Z, Eminem, Rick Ross, Beyonce
Demi Lovato’s “Sorry, Not Sorry”, Usher “Good Kisser”, Lizzo, The Chainsmokers
Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Chris Brown
EDM
EDM Legend
Tiesto, Like a G8
LA based The Glitch Mob has been on the dance charts