How To Make Your Beats Engaging - 6 Transition Techniques
Here are six transition methods to impliment to make your beats more engaging and interesting!
The goal of many producers when making beats is to keep a listener's attention and spark creativity in an artist to get a placement. With many beats sounding generic and boring in 2023, it is important to make yours stand out. One of the best ways to do this is by implimenting transitions in your beats. There are a lot of different ways to transition between hooks and verses in your beats and today we're going to go over six of the best techniques to make your beats more interesting and engaging!
Risers are commonly used right before a big drop in your beat. The best usage of a riser is to build hype for the upcoming drop and add some dynamics to your beat. Risers can be short or long, but the longer a riser is, the more suspenseful a drop will be and the listener will be expecting something big. Here are some of the best ways to use risers to make your beats more interesting.
White Noise Riser
A while noise riser is commonly used in EDM tracks but can also play a huge role in rap beats. To create a white noise riser, simply find a sample of white noise, and add an automation clip on the volume knob in the FL Studio sampler.
Double click your white noise sample and find the VOL knob at the top right. Right click this knob and select "Create automation clip." Then drag down the leftmost circle and adjust the length of the clip depending on how long you want your riser to be. Cut the white noise sample off right when the automation clip reaches the top of its height.
This should give you a simple white noise riser that can be used to transition from an intro or a verse to a hook.
You can also experiment with the automation on your white noise riser. The diagram above shows a simple, consistent riser with a linear trajectory (straight line). You can be more creative with your automation clip and add more dynamics to your riser. If you want your riser to start slow and end with a more dramatic rise in volume, you can make your automation clip look something like this:
To get this automation shape, create a linear line about 3/4s of the sample. Then, create a much steeper line for the last 1/4 and pull the line down as far as you want for an exponential automation. This is how you get that curve effect in your riser.
Instead of taking a flat sample like white noise and adding a volume automation, you can take a sample that already has volume dynamics and reverse it. Almost all drum samples start with loud and end soft. For example, crash cymbals, kick drums, snares, open hi-hats, and claps all have a wide range of dynamics that can be flipped into risers.
While all of these drum samples can be used for short or long risers, my personal favorite samples to use for reverse risers are crash cymbals and kick drums. Since crash cymbals are much longer and build more hype, I like to use them before my hook. Kick drums are much shorter and don't build suspense; I like to use them when transitioning from a hook back to a verse.
To reverse a sample in FL Studio, drag it into the playlist and double click it. This will open the same pop-up where we created our automation clip. Instead of the volume knob, click the "Reverse" setting under precomupted effects. This will reverse your sample in the playlist.
While a riser only grows in volume and cuts off at a drop, a transition effect continues through the transition and lowers in volume to help guide the structure of your track. There are a few different ways to create transition effects in FL Studio.
Just as we did with the riser, you can also use an automation clip to create a transition effect. The only difference is instead of cutting off your sample when it reaches the top, continue the automation to bring the volume back down. This can be linear or exponential. To me, it sounds best when you make an automation clip that looks like this:
To me, it sounds the best with two curved automations, in and out, but you can decide to try your transitions with straight lines or even curves that go outward instead of inward. This is all based on what sounds best for your particular beat in your own opinion.
Another cool automation tip when creating transition effects is to automate the panning of the sound from left to right. I think this makes the transition stand out much more and sounds really cool when used in a beat. To automate the panning, use the "PAN" knob to the left of the VOL knob in the sampler. Right click and create automation clip. I like to make my panning automation clip look like this:
The second way to make transition effects is by using reverb and reverse samples. You can use these two methods interchangeably to create interesting effects for your sounds. To start your transition effect, you need to pick either a pre-made riser or a sound with a long delay, like a crash cymbal or open hat. Pick your sample and arrange it in the playlist like this:
After you picked your riser or reverse sample, duplicate it right after the first one. Then, select the audio symbol at the top left of the sample and click "Make unique" from the dropdown menu. After you have made your new sample unique, double click it and select the reverse option in the sampler. This will either unreverse your sample or reverse your riser. After this step, your playlist should look like this:
At this point in the process, you can alter the sample in many ways. Firstly, I like to add reverb to the first sample that overlaps with the second sample and helps smooth out the transition. You can also choose to shorten either your first or second sample based on the vibe of your track. Finally, you can add an automation for panning just like we did in the automation clip method. Experimentation is important when it comes to creating your own samples. Figure out what works best for your production style.
The next transition technique we're gonna talk about is drum fills. There are many different types of drum fills and they all serve different purposes. You can make your own drum fills, you can sample a drum break for your fills, or you can find premade drum fills online. When making your own drum fills, you can choose what kind of drum sounds to use.
Snare rolls are a very common type of drum fill. You want to choose a snare roll as your drum fill when you're making darker style trap beats. To create a snare roll in your playlist, create a new pattern and add it to your transition. Place it 1 bar before your transition and drag it out to 1 bar. It should look something like this:
Actually creating the snare roll completely depends on the vibe of your beat, but here are some ideas that may inspire you for your snare rolls.
My personal favorite snare roll is a triplet roll. This is a roll that uses a triplet pattern and can be two or four bars long. In this beat, you can see that the cut we have is two bars, so we will make our triplet snare roll two bars long. A pattern with only triplet snares would look like this:
This would be a boring and unsatisfying snare roll, but it is a good foundation for something much more exciting. The first thing I would do to make this roll sound better is add hyper rolls inside. This means I would add more snare notes in between each main note. My go-to interval for triplet rolls is the 1/3 step. To get this interval, select the green magnet at the top left of the piano roll and select 1/3 step. Then, use the paint brush tool to drag hyper-rolls on the notes you want. Make sure not to overdo it with your rolls. Using too many rolls in a snare fill can make your track sound sloppy and amateur. Experiment to find the perfect balance between simple and complex. I like to make my triplet rolls look like this:
After you add your rolls, you can experiment with things like the pitch of the notes and the velocity. Bringing your pitch down in the roll can create a cool transition effect and changing the velocities can create better dynamics. There are a lot of different combinations to do with just these style changes. You can bring the pitches up, bring the pitches down, bring the velocities up, or bring the velocities down. All of these stylistic choices will bring a different energy to the beat and you need to find the style that works with your beat. With both of these changes, my final snare roll will look like this:
Full Drum Fill
Another way to create a transition is with a full drum fill. This is essentially a snare roll with every drum sample, instead of just snare samples. You can use crash cymbals, hi hats, toms, kick drums, snares, and any other percussive elements.
I recommend simply adding one layer at a time and feeling the vibe of your track. Remember not to overcook your fills. Keep some space and don't add too many rolls. A good rule to follow is that if you are using trap drums, make your drum fill out of trap drum samples. If you are using accoustic or boom bap drums, use accoustic drums for your drum fill.
As opposed to adding more drums for our transition, we can cut them out to create a beat cut. Many producers choose beat cuts as their transition of choice because of how simple and effective they are. By creating a two bar gap before a drop, you not only create suspense in that moment, you also open up space for the rapper to emphasize that specific line. This brings the whole song to the next level.
The most simple beat cut is taking out the drums two bars before a drop, but keeping the melody. By keeping the melody, the rapper will get some support from the instrumental, while still having a lot more space for emphasis.
Another common beat cut you can use is cutting the first two beats of the drop, instead of the last two beats before the drop. If you create a lot of hype for a drop, then delay the drums, it will create a lot more energy than if the drums came in when they were anticipated to. For this type of drop, cut all of your drums for two bars, and cut your 808 for three bars. This should create a crazy delayed drop and bring a lot more energy to your beats. It should look like this:
You can also choose to cut the melody and leave complete silence. Another method is cutting the melody and only keeping the drums.
Use a combination of our techniques to create a bigger drop. By this, I mean create a beat cut and add a riser at the same transition. There are many combinations you can use for your transitions, just make sure not to use too many at the same time.
The next transition is the beat chop. This is when you chop every drum patten and use them to create a pattern. This works best before a hook. There are many different ways to create a beat chop pattern. The most common beat chop pattern is a simple four count chop. This will create a lot of bounce and anticipation for your drop. A four count beat chop is when every drum pattern plays the first beat of the pattern for four counts, one bar before the drop.
You can also experiment with your beat chops by cutting them short, adding more chops, or using less chops. This is where you can decide what works best for your beat and your production style. You can also create beat chops with specific drum sounds instead of the whole drum pattern.
A beat chop does not have to be before a drop, either. It can be in the middle of a hook, or on the transition from a hook to a verse. These work best when you place them subtly throughout the track, instead of frequently for every transition. You also want to switch up the beat chop each time you use it. Using the four count chop every time will get boring for the listener to hear. Switching up the style of chop each time will keep the engagement of your beat up.
Transition effects can be the driving factor in a beat. Keeping the listener engaged throughout the entire track is what can make or break a song. A boring beat makes a boring song and a beat with no transitions is a boring beat. Luckily, there are a lot of techniques to use that make your beats more interesting.
Creating a more engaging beat will also give you a higher chance to land placements. When rappers are listening to beats in studio sessions, they are listening for something interesting to catch their ear. One of the best ways to make your beats stand out from others is to add transition effects. Using any of the techniques we talked about here will increase your chances of landing placements.
You can use more than one of these transition methods in a beat. Using only one method for each transition will get repetitive and take away from the uniqueness of the beat. In a three minute beat, using the same transition effect for each transition can bore the listener and leave them unsatisfied. To fix this, switch up your transition effect each time. Making different transitions will continue the energy of the beat and give the listener more to engage with.
In summary, here's how to add transitions to your beats:
1. Use risers before a drop
2. Use transition effects to help guide the transition
3. Use drum fills to build hype for a drop
4. Leave gaps for artists to emphasize lines
5. Create beat cuts before a drop
Written by Jake Tompkins