A couple years ago the whole world went Trap crazy. It didn’t matter what style of music you made, Trap suddenly was starting to influence your style. Trap beats are a little different than other EDM styles but even if you’re new to music making, Ryan is here to break it down step by step and have you creating basic Trap beats in minutes.
By the end of this video you’ll have learned the basics of layering drum sounds, wiring combinators, advanced drum rolls, and triplet accent rhythms.
You may have heard about today’s drum style when your friend, who specializes in chip step, goth core, gangstalectro, house, suddenly started talking all about the new fusion style that he was inventing. Here’s what we’ll be making today.
It’s a trap beat. And these days, it seems that everyone is using elements of trap beats in their music. To make a trap beat, we usually set our tempo rather high when programming the beat, but the beats are designed to feel half as fast. Let’s set our tempo to 135. And now let’s get some sounds. Trap drum samples are rooted in the classic sounds of the 808 drum machine. And just like the Beastie Boys will tell you, nothing sounds quite like an 808.
The 808, boom.
And if you’re looking for great 808 sounds in Reason, I’ll add to that and say that nothing sounds quite like the 808 Refill by legendary Reason guru and Rack Extension developer, Peff. So let’s start off by downloading his free 808 Refill from peff.com and loading one of his Kong kits. Unlike other electronic styles, in trap, it’s the hi-hat instead of the kick drum that typically provides our steady timing foundation. So let’s begin our drum loop by drawing in closed hi-hats on every beat. The snare will also provide a solid backbeat, like this.
And once those are in place, I’ll add an open hi-hat on the upbeat before the snare. Okay. We’re starting to sound good. What do you think, Admiral Ackbar, is it a trap beat? You know, if there’s one thing Admiral Ackbar knows, it’s how to recognize a trap. So we’ve got a lot more to do before this is a trap beat. Trap and hip hop beats, in general, use layered drum sounds. Let’s click on the snare and assign it to the first of Kong’s link groups, link group D. Then we’ll click on the pad for our clap sound and do the same thing. Now, no matter what pad I press, both will sound.
Kick drums in trap beats are more sparse than in other musical styles and they’re less straight ahead. For example, if we did what house producers do and put a kick drum on every beat, it has no attitude, no swagger. It is to music what sweatpants are to fashion. Let’s instead make our kick drum play on the beat than off the beat with our open hi-hat and then on the beat again. In the second measure, we’ll just add two kick drums to lead into the last snare beat and we’ll leave the rest empty. Ah, you see, that has some feel to it. And that’s the foundation of our beat done. Pretty simple so far, right? Now, let’s make it sound cooler.
Trap music arrived on the scene nearly 30 years after the 808 drum machine came out. Modern trap beats build on the 808 sound with additional layers of dirtier samples. So let’s turn our 808 drum machine into a layered trap combinator by first right-clicking on our Kong and choosing combine from the menu. That nests our drum machine inside of a combinator. I’ll go to the utilities in my browser and add a line mixer by dragging it in. And then I’ll press the Tab key to flip the rack around and change the cable routing. I want the Kong drum designer to go into the mixer and the mixer to go back to the combinator input.
Now with the mixer as part of my signal flow, if I double-click to add another Kong drum designer, you can see that it routes itself into the mixer’s second input. Let’s flip back around to the front of the rack by pressing the Tab key again. The Reason factory sound bank has great trap samples. Producer, Justen Williams, has put together some of his own custom patches, and because Justen is a super cool guy, he shared his Kong kit with all of you to use in your own music. I will load Justen’s custom patch into our second Kong. Then I’ll go to the sequencer and drag the clips from the 808 track down to the combinator track so that our drum programming plays both Kong drum designers in our combinator.
You can hear the sounds of our 808 still very much there, but its got a nice layer of gritty, trashy, lo-fi attitude on top of it. To remind you, our 808 on its own sounded like this. Our Kong patch on its own sounded like this. And together, they form a wonderful trap combination. But let’s check in with Admiral Ackbar. Is this a trap beat? He is 100% correct. We still have more to do. In fact, the final way that trap beats define themselves is with special fills and triplet rhythms. In most drum programming, what we do involves dividing beats into two and fours, 8th notes and 16th notes. Trap gets its unique sound by instead subdividing beats into threes. I’ll show you what I mean by adding some triplet accents to our hi-hats.
In our sequencer, I’ll change our snap value to 16T. The T stands for triplets. And you can see that our sequencer grid is now small divisions of threes. Let’s add hi-hat triplets right here before the first open hi-hat. We can also add slower triplets too and they sound just as cool. At the end of our loop, let’s change our snap grid to 8T for half as fast 8th note triplets and pencil in some more hi-hats. Let’s take a listen. Both triplets add a special swing to our beat. We can now duplicate our loop and add different accents and fills to the second half of the beat. Triplet fills aren’t limited to hi-hats. While we’ve got our snap still set to 8T, let’s add 8th note triplets to the snare drum in the last measure.
Okay, not bad, but to take it one step further, let’s add what’s known as a velocity ramp to our fill. Velocity ramps are nothing more than a series of fast notes which ramp up in volume to create a build in intensity. To make a velocity ramp, let’s change our snap value to the fastest 1/64th setting and draw in snare drums like this. The volume ramp is a very important component because right now it sounds like this. The key to making it sound cool is to draw in a ramp in the velocity lane with our pencil. That’s way better. In fact, let’s add some more velocity ramps, but this time, on the hi-hats in the third measure. There’s no hard and fast rule, but velocity ramps tend to work well coming into or going out of fills.
So let’s add our first hi-hat ramp right after the 16th note triplet fill we added. I’ll draw in my notes and draw in my ramp in the velocity lane. And now I can select that hi-hat velocity ramp I made and option drag it to duplicate it at the end of the measure. This one will lead us into the snare triplet fill in the next measure. Let’s listen to our beat. Now that sounds good, even Admiral Ackbar agrees.
It’s a trap.
This is where your journey really begins. Try everything because there’s nothing you can do that you can’t undo. So good luck, and I’ll see you soon with another beat.