How To Create A Four-On-The-Floor Beat Using Audacity
There are many ways to compose music on a computer. If you’re familiar with my beat breakdowns, you most likely know by now that I love to use FL Studio 12 to make beats. It’s not the only program recommendable. Audacity is another commonly used software for musical composition, and you can download it for free online.
If you would like to make a simple four-on-the-floor drumbeat on Audacity, here’s how.
1. OPENING YOUR PROJECT
When you open up Audacity and see the screen below, don’t bother with any other options than OK. Just click OK.
2. ADDING A CLICK TRACK
Audacity doesn’t come with an attached grid. We’ll create one.
Go to Generate > Rhythm track.
This adds a metronome to your entire track, in order to keep you on beat for additional add-ons. In the below window, leave everything as is. (Remember your tempo is 120 bpm.)
Your click track will look like this.
Now go to Analyze > Beat Finder.
Once you’ve selected “Beat Finder,” you will see a “threshold” window. Don’t change it. This just tells you how sensitive it is.
The threshold window will give you markers reading “B.”
The clicks and the B’s are slightly “off,” meaning they don’t connect precisely. Let’s snap them together. First, zoom in by clicking the magnifying glass icon with a plus sign “+”.
Before you do anything else, make sure “snap to” on the bottom of your screen is selected, reading “Nearest.”
Select the Time Shift Tool, then click “rewind.” (Time Shift first, then rewind.)
Move your clicking sounds slightly right so they snap on a gold yellow line. This line will appear vertically from the B’s and lock the clicks and B’s together.
3. IMPORTING DRUM SOUNDS
Go to File > Import > Audio. (Or type Ctrl+Shift+I.)
Import a kick. Any one. (Here’s one I chose.)
(In that folder, I found this.)
(Once you’ve selected your kick, you’ll get an “FFmpeg not found” window. It doesn’t mean much. Just click OK.)
A kick should appear below the B’s.
Snap the kick in place by selecting Time Shift Tool then “rewind.” (Just like you did for the clicks.)
Loop this kick seven times at every half-second mark (plus approximately 17 milliseconds to keep on beat with the metronome). Click the selection tool (shaped like an uppercase I) and highlight the kick from its beginning to the next clicking sound (where the yellow line snaps you in place).
To really make sure you’re selection is accurately half a second apart, go down to the bottom of your screen and type your start and end markers exactly 0.5 seconds from each other.
Now go to Effect > Repeat.
Type “7” in the empty box to repeat your kick 8 times.
Just follow the same instructions you used to add the kicks. The only difference should be importing a hi-hat instead of a kick.
In File > Import > Audio, pick any snare.
Snap the snare to the SECOND clicking sound.
When selecting the loop containing the snare that you wish to repeat, make sure it’s one second apart, not a half second.
Select Effects > Repeat to repeat the snare “3” times instead of “7.”
Before you export this project, delete the track with the clicking and the track with the B’s. Click the X on each track to the left of “Audio Track.” After that, they should be gone.
(This step is optional. You can loop your whole composition four times by typing Ctrl+A to select all tracks, making sure your selection is four seconds apart on the bottom of the screen, and typing “3” in the Effects > Repeat box to insert three repetitions.)
Now go to File > Export.
Use WAV this time. (MP3 exporting requires a plug-in I’m not sure comes with what you use.) Just save any random WAV file name to what’s below.
Add metadata (optional).
5. MORE ON AUDACITY
Audacity is a powerful software, yet it has limitations. Luckily, these limitations allow producers to think “outside the box.”
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