How To Make Lo-Fi Hip Hop: A Quick Overview
Learn how to make lo-fi hip hop music with our step-by-step guide. Discover the essential elements and techniques to create a laid-back, nostalgic sound that’s perfect for relaxing or studying. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced producer, our article will provide valuable tips and tricks to help you craft your own lo-fi hip hop beats.
Before you continue, check out Sampling Essentials for a complete guide to sampling. It shows you the fundamental skills you’ll need to flip any sample in less time.
Are you looking to make your own lo-fi hip hop track, but don’t know where to start? If so, you’re in the right place.
Lo-fi hip hop is a genre of music that has been gaining more and more popularity recently, and it’s no wonder why. Its laid back vibes and nostalgic feeling is perfect for studying or relaxing.
In this guide, we’ll go over all the steps necessary to create your own lo-fi hip hop track from start to finish – from gathering the right equipment to mastering your track for optimal quality.
So grab your headphones, because by the time you’re done reading this guide, you’ll be ready to make your own unique lo-fi hip hop beats.
What is Lo-Fi Hip Hop?
Lo-fi hip hop is characterized by simple sine waves, tape machines, static noise, jazz chords, and dusty drum samples.
It’s often seen as an escape from the fast-paced modern music scene – a place to relax and reflect on your thoughts. It’s a genre full of great vibes and chill beats, making it perfect for studying or just zoning out.
Let’s take a look at how to get started with producing your own lo-fi tracks.
When it comes to creating lo-fi hip hop, having the right equipment is essential.
To get started, you’ll need a digital audio workstation (DAW) such as Ableton Live or Logic Pro – these will provide the tools you need to make beats and record your music.
You’ll also want some kind of audio interface, which is used to connect your computer to external devices like microphones and instruments. A midi controller can be helpful too – this will allow you to play virtual instruments and manipulate sound on the fly.
Finally, don’t forget to gather some lo-fi samples, especially lo-fi drum kits – these are vital for adding texture and dynamics to your tracks. With this setup in place, you’re ready to start producing.
Choosing a BPM and Adding Drums
The right tempo will ensure you get off to a great start.
Generally speaking, lo-fi beats are slower – usually somewhere between 60 and 90 BPM. This gives your track a more laid-back vibe and allows you to draw in listeners with a slow, dreamy atmosphere. Once you’ve chosen your BPM, it’s time to start adding drums.
Drums are the backbone of any track – they provide the energy and momentum that drives your music forward. Start by finding some high-quality drum loops from online sample libraries, or create your own using a drum machine or synthesizer. Experiment with different sounds until you find something that fits with your track – this could be anything from a dusty snare to more subtle electronic percussion elements.
With your drums in place, you’re ready to start building the rest of the beat.
Adding Lo-Fi Chords
When making lo-fi hip hop, chords are an essential element. The jazzy, nostalgic vibe of lo-fi hip hop is often created with simple chord progressions.
Start by playing around with some basic chords on a keyboard or synth and experimenting with different sounds until you find something that fits your track. To create an ethereal atmosphere, try using a sine wave generator to create a dreamy chord progression. For a more laid-back vibe, use some jazz influenced chords or the classic 7th and 9th chords.
Once you’ve found the right sound for your track, record it and layer it with other elements to create a unique lo-fi sonic landscape.
With your chords in place, you can focus on crafting a melody to fill out your beat.
Creating a Melody
The melody is what will make your lo-fi track memorable.
To start, select some samples and synths that have a lo-fi feel to them, and experiment with different notes and patterns until you find the perfect phrase. If you’re not sure where to start, use a simple sine wave to create an ambient atmosphere. Once you’ve found the right melody, record it and swap the sound with something more fitting.
As you add more layers to your beat, be sure to adjust the settings of your synth or sample so that it blends in perfectly with the rest of your track. With a bit of patience and experimentation, you’ll soon have an original lo-fi hip hop melody ready to show off to your friends.
Creating a Bass Line
Having a strong bass line will glue the remaining elements of your beat together. The bass line should be groovy and provide forward momentum to the track.
When creating your bass line, it’s important to experiment with lines that outline the chords in the main loop in a seamless and melodic way. This will help add more detail and depth to your song, giving it a nostalgic vibe.
If you want to take things further, you don’t have to stick to just using an 808 sub-bass sound – there are plenty of other sounds out there that can help create your unique lo-fi vibe. Experiment with acoustic bass sounds or other unconventional sounds that occupy lower frequencies on the spectrum.
So have fun trying different samples and bass lines until you find something that works for your track.
After you have created your loop, bass line and melody, you can add some effects and mixing techniques to enhance the sound.
Reverb is a great effect to use in lo-fi hip hop as it creates a sense of depth, helping specific elements in the mix stand out from others.
Similarly, adding delay or tremolo can create an interesting texture that will give your track an ethereal vibe. You may also want to experiment with panning elements of your mix left and right to create a wider, more spacious soundscape.
Also, when mixing your track make sure to leave enough headroom between the track’s elements so that each element can be heard clearly without any distortion or clipping. For example, if you have a strong bass line, you should make sure that the kick drum isn’t too loud or it will drown out the rest of your track.
Finally, don’t forget to add some extra elements such as vocal samples or sound FX to help bring your lo-fi sound to life.
Now that you have the perfect mix of effects and mixing techniques, your lo-fi music is ready to be taken to the next level.
With a few final touches, you can give your track the professional feel it deserves and make sure it sounds its best.
Mastering Your Track for Optimal Quality
Once you’ve created your lo-fi beat, it’s time to take it to the next level with mastering.
Mastering is the process of optimizing your track for better sound quality and clarity. It can also help to give a more professional finish to your track.
When mastering the track, start by adjusting the overall volume and dynamics of the mix. Then, use EQ to make sure that each element in the mix is balanced and sounds natural together. You may also want to experiment with different types of compression to bring out certain elements or add depth and texture.
Finally, don’t forget to add some subtle reverb and delay effects so that everything blends together nicely. With these simple steps, you can give your lo-fi hip hop track the professional sound it deserves!
Publishing Your Track and Getting Feedback
Once your lo-fi hip hop track is complete, it’s time to share it with the world.
Publishing your track online gives you the opportunity to get feedback from other music fans and producers. This can be a great way to get honest opinions on how you could improve your sound and help you determine which direction you should take next.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider uploading your lo-fi music to popular streaming services such as SoundCloud or Spotify. You can also join music forums and create a post about your work so other people can listen and comment on it.
With these tips, you’ll soon be able to get valuable feedback and insights that will help you grow as a lo-fi hip hop producer!
Avoid This Common Mistake…
The last thing to remember is this:
You can learn all the skills, tactics, and tools in the world…
But nothing will save your beats if you choose the wrong samples.
Too many producers struggle because their sample collection is limited. This causes them to force sounds and tactics that don’t work.
Check out Sample Quest for strategies you can use to uncover unique samples online.
These tactics are perfect for producers of all experience levels.
Don’t miss your chance to overcome this common mistake.