How to Get Rid of the Beat Block for Good! (7 Tips)

How to Get Rid of the Beat Block for Good! (7 Tips)

Introduction

Whether you are a seasoned producer or a beatmaker just starting out, I can almost guarantee that you have, at least, heard about the concept of “Beat Block” if not, constantly struggle with it. It goes without saying that you are not the unique case, and artists of all kinds have encountered some blockades that lead to the lack of inspiration when they are in the creative mood.

Musicians are no different, and I hate to tell you, but if you are a beatmaker making music in a DAW, you (we) are in the worst position than all of them.

Why is it harder for music producers to overcome the beat block?

In case you still don’t know what we are talking about (I doubt it as you wouldn’t have entered this article if you didn’t), it should be clarified first. Beat block refers to a state where you are trying to come up with an idea for a melody or the whole composition for your beat and end up closing the DAW you are working on and spend the next 5 days wanting to give up while starting to question your existence.

Now, why is it worse for us beatmakers than the rest of them? The grass isn’t greener on their side, it’s just that your garden is much bigger and you have a harder time deciding what parts of it should be prioritized.

Let me explain, when a guitar player enters the creative mode, they can start by hitting the cords right away. Even the painter, who starts with a blank canvas, has fewer posibilities than you, who has 5 different VSTs each with 500+ different sound presets grouped in dozens of different vibes while each preset has its own synth type. Your possibilities are less limited than anyone else’s and that is a big problem.

How to overcome the lack of ideas for your music?

So, instead of telling you that you should take a break, get some sun, drink some water and go talk to your grandma like the rest of the people talking about this topic (which is what you definitely should be doing any time you have the chance), I will, instead try to give you some practical advice from the perspective of someone who hasn’t had a problem with starting a beat and finishing it in the same day, that can really help you overcome this most annoying aspect of our work.

When it comes to overcoming a beat block, here are the things that are important and are ordered by priority:

  • Create your own melody scales;
  • Choose only a couple of VSTs and their presents and stick with them;
  • Use melody altering VSTs like Gross Beat;
  • Finish your unfinished projects;
  • Practice melody making and use loops in moderation;
  • Listen to your tracks that you have started or finished;
  • Listen to other music or other people’s beats.

Create your own note combinations

As I was stating before, your main work should be focused on limiting your own possibilities. As insane as that would sound, the main reason a beat block happens is not because of the lack of your ideas but because of their excessive amount. So, the main thing you should be working on is to reduce the size of your focus.

But what are melody combinations? In simple terms, they are combinations of notes that sound good together. For example, there are 7 notes (white notes) in one octave + 5 semitones (black notes) which makes it 12 notes in an octave – C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A# and B. A note combination would represent a combination of those notes that are in the key – they sound pleasing and create a harmonic melody.

It is important to remember that note (melody) combinations are not the same as melody scales. While scales are similar and can definitely help you in this process, they have to have a root note (the first/bottom note in a scale) but you can put it on any note in an octave and it will sound good. Note combinations are less flexible and they have strictly defined notes. They are the thing you need if you are struggling with the producer block as they can help you limit yourself in the optimal amount.

If you want to use scales in FL Studio 20, go to Piano Roll >> Piano Roll Options (A drop-down menu at the right top of the Piano Roll window) >> Stamps. You then choose a scale and click on one of the notes on the Piano Roll that you want to be a root note of your scale. You will be given a combination that represents that particular scale.

One of the great ways to find your own scales is to go to the beats you have previously finished and see what notes you had used. You have probably used more than 3 different notes (4 different notes are enough to create a great melody combination) so check your old melodies and reverse engineer. For example, if your previous beat contained C, C#, A, and D# then try using these exact same notes again, but with a different melody pattern. Keep using the same note combination and find the ones that you feel the most comfortable with. You will realize how quickly you become able to make melodies with no problems when you already know what notes you are going to use.

In the image above, you can see the main melody pattern of one of my beats. I used a combination of of C, C#, D#, D and A#. If I wanted to make another beat, I could use this same combination and just change the pattern and rhythm, while making a completely different melody.

It is important that you learn how to use these scales and after some time, try creating 2-3 of your own and stick with them. Not only will your own custom combinations help you overcome beat block, but they will also help you be a bit more consistent with your signature music, making your brand more recognizable.

The moment you find your favorite scales on your own is the time you will not encounter beat block ever again. Because you will know the combination of your melody notes before you start making a beat and that is a crucial benefit to your music making process.

Limit the number of VSTs and presents you use and stick with them

After finding your own signature scales, you should work on finding your own signature presets. Not every melody will sound the same, even with the same note combination, if the presets that are used are completely different from each other. The same melody played on a piano is not going to be the same as the one played on an electric guitar. So it is important to define your own music vibe, find VSTs with presets that would help you achieve that vibe and again, stick with them.

If you are having a beat block more often then you should, then it may be time to look for more sounds to play with. If you are an old school hip hop beat maker, you may do some research on the best VSTs for old school rap beats. If you are more of a new school beat maker, you may want to choose some plugins whose sounds overlap a bit with EDM or House depending on your style of music.

Use melody altering plugins like Gross Beat or Half Time

The first two pieces of advice I gave you before this one were about limiting your own possibilities. Now, we can start going in the opposite direction. When you have decided what your favorite scales and VSTs are, now you can spice your music up a bit with melody altering VSTs.

Personally, I use Gross Beat a lot and I absolutely love that plugin. More than half of my beats have melodies that have its effects.

What these kinds of plugins actually do is change the rhythm of your melody depending on the settings or presets of the plugin and create a completely new one. Very often, I find myself in a situation where I don’t vibe with the melody that I created, but as soon as I apply one of the Gross Beat presets, it soon becomes a completely new track.

Although you can alter the rhythm yourself without any software, Gross Beat and VSTs alike can do it in a smoother way. You can create glitches, halftime melodies or even some simpler presets that you won’t be able to do manually in the piano roll.

Finish the tracks you haven’t finished yet

If you watch music production tutorials on YouTube, you have to have heard people saying “Finish your own tracks”. Not until my later stages of music production have I realized the true importance of that advice in solving any kind of problem you are having regarding making beats.

Now, this advice is vital for two main reasons. The first, and more long-tem one, is that by finishing the tracks you have started, you gain a broader perspective of the music production process. If you gain enough experience in every stage of making a beat, you might start to understand a bit more about the most optimal ways of starting one. Beat making consists of stages that are tightly linked and having a good understanding of one stage can definitely help you with another.

The other reason is that you might not want to waste time bumping your head into the wall but try to do something more productive while the beat block lasts. Finishing your own tracks shouldn’t be a problem caused by the lack of inspiration, so you will be able to get some work done anyway. Also, finishing your own tracks can help you understand your music better. Knowing your music inside and out can give you a picture of its structure which can later help you in replicating it later.

Keep making new music and use loops in moderation

Many people turn to downloading audio files of someone else’s melody and using them in their own beats in order to deal with the lack of inspiration. Using loops can be both a good and a bad thing, and whether you are going to do it or not is entirely up to you, however, my advice is not to overdo it.

There is a reason I am talking about this subject in a slightly careful manner, but I would have to say that using someone else’s loops is only a short-term solution to this particular problem. It is a great way of learning and creating opportunities for collaborating with other beat makers and producers, but at the end of the day, if it is not helping you with solving your beat block problem, then it is simply not the solution.

It is important to have as many beats as possible the melodies of which you have created, because the best way to practice melody-making is, well, by creating melodies yourself.

Listen to your beats/tracks

It may be a bit cringe to say this, but I love my music. I have loved my music ever since I started making it ,which is the reason I kept on making it even though I have wanted to quit many times. To be quite honest, one of the most important reasons for me making music is to afford myself the opportunity to listen to it whenever I get the chance. And it is something I would recommend you do as well.

The reason I am giving you this advice is because listening to your own music is important, not only in getting rid of your beat block problem, but to be able to improve on it. Listening to your own music from the perspective of a neutral listener can give you valuable insights in what you can improve about it and also, the more important thing, to get to know its soul.

This may sound corny, but knowing the core elements of the vibe of your own beats can help you determine in which direction you want to go and keep with it. The more directions you create for yourself, the less often you will feel lost.

Listen to other people’s beats/music more often and discover new genres

At a certain point in my life, I was struggling with the beat block a lot. I wasn’t spending much time on music as I wasn’t too motivated to finish my beats or start new ones. The only genre I had listened to prior to that was rap, but when I started listening to heavy metal, I somehow discovered new horizons of possibilities in making music.

My beats have a lot of elements that resemble metal for that same reason. Just by exploring new genres I have never listened to before (at least not extensively) helped me add some unique new elements to my signature sound.

If you want to be a good musician you have to be educated. And the best way to be educated in your craft is to listen to as much music as possible. That can also broaden your knowledge about other musicians/artists/producers which can prove to be valuable in collaborating with other people, as you would be more flexible in adjusting yourself to other people’s goals and wishes.

Conclusion

So, to sum up, these are the things, sorted out by priority, that I believe would help you in your struggles against beat block. The most important thing to remember is the method of first limiting yourself from the overwhelming amount of possibilities and when you become a seasoned beat maker, then it is time to start expanding your skills and options.

You will not manage to do it overnight. It may take months, it may take years, but nothing that could be done quickly without much effort is not worth doing.