Let’s agree, a song doesn’t just happen by itself like magic. There are several elements to consider, and just as many steps are required to develop a successful piece that will likely make your listeners dance. So I tried to analyse the different phases of the composition of a song, from the famous loop to the final mastering.
1. Create the loop
Literally, it will be a matter of creating a loop. This loop is the foundation of your instrumental, it’s what you will base yourself on and will define the entire piece. Having talked to several artists, everyone agrees to tell me that they just have to listen to an instrumental for 15 seconds (roughly the duration of a loop) to know if they like it or not. So, I won’t hide from you that this is where it all comes down to. During this first step, you will define a whole bunch of parameters: the tempo, the instruments, the sound banks, the chord sequence (still before the melody, I explained it to you right there) and finally the rhythm of your instrumental. From there, you already have a solid foundation to build on.
2. Do the sound editing
Once you have perfected your loop (and you are fully satisfied with it, that’s the main thing), you will repeat it throughout the song, varying according to the moments of the song. After all, it’s not for nothing that they call it the loop ! Then, it is up to you to determine the construction of your song, i.e. with an intro, verses, chorus etc…. This is where your music education courses during your school years can be useful. The editing is more of an organizational part: it is necessary to determine which melody will be present in the chorus, which instrument disappears in the second verse… Again, in this case, having a musical ear can be a great asset.
3. Tackling mixing
We are reaching a stage that is certainly a little less creative, but which remains just as technical and important, often wrongly neglected by many beatmakers. To make it simple, the purpose of audio mixing is to bring more coherence to our song. This involves rebalancing various parameters, retouching certain frequencies or correcting some imperfections that would affect the final rendering. In cinema, this would correspond to the calibration of a video which aim is to make the whole more homogeneous. There is always a composition part in this mixing step : you can choose an instrument to highlight, determine if you prefer a strong kick or a softer one. All these seemingly anecdotal choices are essential since they contribute to the atmosphere of your instrumental.
4. Do not skip the mastering
Little mentioned, mastering refers to the intermediate step between mixing and pressing the physical medium, for example on CD, streaming or other media. This post-production phase consists in making all the sound elements as harmonious as possible so that the song can be listened to on all possible media. This involves several more technical tools, such as compression, equalization, volume adjustment or the addition of audio effects… In the professional field, this step is often performed by a specialized engineer. All this is necessary to maintain the quality of the song. Basically, mastering is the stage when the final small alterations are made, a bit like a coat of varnish to make everything perfect.
To conclude, what we must remember is that a song is not made in no time at all. There is no need to rush, since each step I have detailed is important and deserves your full attention. I promise, your song will only come out more successful !
Feel free to leave comments to tell me about topics that would interest you in the future, questions about beatmaking, post ideas or simply to give your opinion on the article.