How to Produce Music 101: Rip Off The Hits!
Let’s talk about producing again and songwriting again. If you’re stuck looking for ideas, rip off the greats. I did this tonight, had some free time and decided to make a beat. Electronic stuff is — it’s not really my strong point, it’s something I’m trying to work on.
So anyways, one of my friends was driving around their car, and that damn Taylor Swift came on, “Trouble,” and she goes into this cool half time drop in her chorus.
So I decided to rip that off. I thought that was cool, and she had some cool, dub-steppy kind of bass going on, and I was like, “Well, let’s see what we can do.”
So I listened to it, I sort of took note of the tempo and sort of the main elements of it, and just tried to make my own rendition that ended up sounding original in a way. In a sense.
Anyways, this is my version. So check this out and we’ll break it apart and kind of explain my thought process here.
Okay. So it’s just like, eight bars. Kind of a half time feel.
Basically what happened was I listened to it for like, five minutes, and kind of took some mental notes of the basic groove, and I haven’t gone back and listened to it, so you guys tell me how close I am or how far off I am, but I’ll solo just the rhythm section here.
Basically, when I do this, I’ll start off with like, kick and snare, and layer that stuff in, so you know, basic kick and snare stuff.
And I’m not really EQing at this point. You know, I’ll throw hats in. Eighth notes.
[kick, snare, hi-hats]
And those are coming from a variety of places. I think the kick and snares I pulled from the SSD4 Electronic kit, and then hi-hats I didn’t really like his hi-hats, so I pulled those from Maschine. I’ve got two different crashes in here, two different hi-hats, and a reverse cymbal.
I did that. That was the main groove. Then I’ll come in and add sort of like, the main harmonic content. I Googled her chords and looked up sort of the number chart for it.
I used two different basses. Here’s what it sounds like with both of them in.
Okay, still not EQing or anything at this point.
Then I came in with another synth and sort of emphasized the same part I just laid down.
Voiced up a little bit, mind you, because we don’t want to get muddy.
Right. Then I did some kind of stabby sounding stuff. Sounds like this.
Again, everything kind of comes back to that groove and rhythm.
Then I did this lead part right here.
Just on those two chords there at the turnaround. Then I came in — at this point, I’d completely lost all sort of attachment to Taylor Swift.
Hooked up a sequencer.
You know. Did my own rendition, came back at that point, and I wanted to sort of make it interesting, so we embellished some stuff at the half way point.
You know, put this little clink in.
Then there’s some filtering going on there.
Did some slicing on the grid.
So I think I set it to like, 64th notes and just went in.
Then we have a little reverse swell going in.
Also pulled that from Maschine I believe.
The basses I pulled from Massive, and the synths I think I all pulled from Waves Element, I think. I don’t even remember.
It was either Element or Massive.
Anyways, that’s the track, and I don’t know, I’ll probably just file this away. I do this every so often. I need to do it more, but this is a great exercise. I would do — like, if I was in college again, I would do one of these a day, or two of these a day, I would do one when I got up in the morning and one before I went to bed, if I could go back and do it all over again.
It’s a great exercise. Just pick your guilty pleasure, pick a song on the radio, something that’s working, something that’s making some cash off of. It can be any genre. Then just — don’t copy it, like, listen to it, take it in, then make your own rendition of it. You’re going to end up sounding like yourself.
File it away and who knows, down the line sometime, you may be working with some guy, and be like, “Well I have this thing,” and they can sing something completely different on top of it and you’ve got a completely original hook.
This is a great way to learn how to produce records and write records and write songs. I used to remake — I was a big Weezer fan, and so me and my buddy, our Friday and Saturday nights were spent remaking our own cuts of the Blue Album. Say it Ain’t So, and all of those tunes. The Sweater song, all that stuff.
We’d listen to the recordings and try and match the tempos note for note, all of the doubles, all the production. You really learn how to stack stuff, you learn how to pan stuff. It’s nice to have a blueprint to create so you can kind of test all the tricks and stuff out there, figure out how to get there, then when you go to work with a band or produce your own stuff, you kind of have some tools at the ready. Makes things go a little easier and you’re sort of starting to figure it out by reverse engineering other songs that are proven to be written well.
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So go check that out, anyways, I’m going to get out of here, it’s late. It’s like, Saturday at 2AM, and I’ll see you guys in the next video. Later.