How to Create a House Beat


House music is believed to have originated in Chicago in the mid-80s, with a less than likely fusion of electro, hi-NRG and classic disco. It soon spread rapidly across the globe as it gained underground and commercial popularity, even hitting pop charts around the world. In this article, we'll be looking at how to construct that classic four-on-the-floor house beat in great detail - from the fundamental kick drum, to groove-enhancing vocal chops. Read on if this entices you!

Part 1

 on How to Create a House Beat

1
This is largely done to personal taste and should really be up to your imagination. There are house beats ranging from 110 Bpm (or even below) which is considerable slow, up to 130 Bpm which is pretty fast for house these days. Classic Chicago house used to be that fast.

 on How to Create a House Beat

2
The kick drum is the core of any house track, and therefore has to be perfect! You could sample one from another song, attain one from a sample pack, or even create one from scratch. When you have your chosen kick drum, have it play on every beat in the four-on-the-floor style that almost all house tracks follow. Extra hits can be added later; as for now, we want to focus on the sonic aspects of the sound. It is likely that you will have to EQ the kick to remove/boost certain frequencies. This is largely done to personal taste; but remember, tricks like removing mid frequencies makes the sound of the kick hollower and less acoustic sounding. Compression is another trick you can use to boost the overall level and bring out certain frequencies.

 on How to Create a House Beat

3
Hi-hats are the foolproof way of adding momentum to a track. Program them in a recurring 16th-note pattern on the offbeat between each kick drum to start with. This is the standard pattern for house tracks, but feel free to improvise and add others in different places - as well as varying between open and closed hats. Recently, producers have been mixing their hats very bright, so you may want to follow suit and boost the high-end frequencies slightly. It might also be beneficial to remove some of the low-mid frequencies that can make the hi-hats sound muddy and thick.

 on How to Create a House Beat

4
The snare needs to be full of crunch and snap, while the clap must be bright and piercing. Initially place them both on alternate kick beats, but then move the clap so that it falls slightly before the kick and the snare slightly after. These minor timing adjustments add swing to the groove. One individual also always slightly boosted the high-end of the clap and reduce the mid-end so that it falls into a slightly different frequency range than the snare. You might also want to pan the clap and snare a little left and right, to add a stereo image to the beat.

 on How to Create a House Beat

5
This is an instant way to add originality and groove to an otherwise very basic, easily-replicated house beat. It would be best if you had an original recording; but if not, a sample will do the trick. You may need to re-pitch or timestretch the sample depending on the recording - if so, do it before we move on to the real modification. Play through the sample, listening out for individual syllables and breaths. Then slice these into single parts, and delete the ones that you don't feel are particularly inspiring. Now rearrange the remaining parts so that they are away from the kick drum and snare. You will find that this adds a whole new vibe to the beat without overpowering your original groove.