How to Use Scales for Hip Hop and Rap Production – Beginners Guide for Scales and Fundamentals

Do you want to start making Hip Hop melodies but don’t know where to start? Scales can seem challenging for a beginner but they are often used to make hip hop melodies and patterns. It’s best to start with the basics this way you don’t leave anything important behind. These are some of the most important factors and tips to get you going in the right direction so you can start composing hip hop melodies, rhythms, patterns, and loops in no time.

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Sound Selection

Depending on what DAW you have, you may have a decent stock sound selection or a lower quality sound selection. People often say they don’t have enough sounds which may be true but still should not be one of the factors that holds you back. It takes a while to get used to different sounds like drums, synths, pianos, strings, and a lot more so dig around your DAW to make sure you listen to every sound possible. Building a good sound bank can make the whole learning process seem easier but there’s more to it than that. Good sites where free presets can be downloaded are hipstrumentals.com and soundpacks.com. A few good ones on Hipstrumentals are trap god, Lex Lugger, and others as well. Many free trial or cheap DAWs don’t come loaded with a lot of VSTs so that may make it seem like it’s hard to find sounds your favorite songs would use. Look up more info on VST plugins to get a better idea.

Get to know your DAW

One of the most important factors is making sure you know how to use almost if not all parts of your DAW. If you aren’t sure about which DAW to use look up some info about the most popular ones. FL studio is a pretty good DAW which comes in different versions like the fruity edition, producer, and signature. I’d advise not to get the fruity edition due to lack of plug ins and features basically limiting your sound selection. The signature edition is probably the best since it comes with more VST’s unlike producer which lacks a few. You can get them but would have to pay for them which can make it not worth it. If trying to go out all out, go with the signature edition. FL studio is available for Windows and MAC. If you already have a DAW and are decided on what you want to use then make sure you watch videos and look up info online about your DAW if you haven’t already. Again, make sure you study a DAW and look up a good amount of info and reviews on it before you decide to go with one. Some have free updates, some don’t. You’ll get the idea once you look into it.

Scales 

Some people say scales can be limiting. It depends on who you ask but for the most part almost everybody uses scales even if they don’t realize it. Let’s say if somebody plays something without scale knowledge and comes up with something very high quality sounding, It’ll most likely be based on a scale. Scales are basically different groups of notes on a Midi keyboard as well as other real instruments. In this case a midi keyboard works the same way as a piano when it comes to scales give or take. A scale can be repeated up and down on a midi keyboard allowing different octaves to be used possibly at the same time. I’m not one to think you need a lot of theory to get good but learning scales and other parts of music theory is very important for music production. Different scales and different keys can create different vibes and sounds. There is a lot of possibilities. there are a lot of YouTube videos and other info on scales that can be found online. Learning scales can help you with layering instruments like making different parts of a song such as the intro, verse, hook, or anything else. The instrument doesn’t always have to change pattern or be layered but doing this will allow you to feel more comfortable with using scales and music production in general. I did not list scales here since I recommended looking up different kinds of scales so you can see what you prefer. You can start with the most common major and minor keys and then from you can learn other more unique scales such as Phrygian. Here are some examples of how each key and scale can be very different. https://www.wmich.edu/mus-theo/courses/keys.html I also recommended learning about other different scale characteristics.

Midi Keyboard

Unless you are’t worried about funds and can buy a larger midi later on, go with a 51 or preferably a 61 key midi right away. Having a larger 61 key midi can make a huge difference  when it comes to learning scales and playing in general. It allows more octaves to be available and doesn’t require pressing the up or down octave button on the midi to change octaves which hinders playing ability. Also it is not recommended to use your computer keyboard even though most DAWs support this. The reason is because it is not an instrument and can result in bad habits. Having a two hand rhythm and simply excelling skill wise is a lot harder on a computer keyboard. I would recommend getting a midi with pitch knobs and also midi pads if desired. These pads can map sounds like drums. Look up info on how to midi map using your DAW. A lot of DAWs will auto map the play, pause, stop, and record button automatically.

How to Use Scales for Hip Hop and Rap Production

Scales are an important part of Hip Hop production as well as a lot of other genres of music. Learning multiple Scales and keys can enhance your playing and really take your Hip Hop production to another level. There’s a lot of different scales with many of them sounding different and unique in their own right. A lot of minor scales are popular in Hip Hop but other scales can also be used like Phrygian or Locrian. Each scale has different keys. When layering instruments almost all of the time the key and scale remains the same. Sometimes it can be a mix of scales but usually its one scale and one key throughout the track. Pianoscales.org is a great website to learn about scales as well as different modes. Feel free to look up videos on YouTube as well.

It takes a little bit of practice to use scales but after a while you will be able to able to use certain chords and notes so really create a unique sound and vibe. A scale repeats up and down the keyboard allowing you to combine multiple octaves. This allows you to really come up with multiple patterns which can seem endless after enough practice. One big tip is to not really use your computer keyboard as a midi if you can help it. Learning scales and theory on a computer keyboard forms bad habits and is just not practical since it is not an instrument. Also when getting a midi, Try to get a 49 key or preferably 61 since 61 gives you 5 octaves allowing more freedom when you play. For example, a 25 key midi may seem great since its portable but it lacks the lower and high octaves on the keyboard which means you have to press the octave up or down button to get to the octave you want as apposed to just going up or down on a 61 key midi. It depends on how in depth you are playing but if interested in learning scales and really taking advantage of multiple octaves it is recommended to get at least a 61 key midi even though a 49 key is still somewhat acceptable. If you really want to have full control of each octave and you have the room, you can go with a 73 key if desired.

So after all of the above it’s mostly practice and getting used to your midi keyboard. Feel free to look up more information on music theory and scales. There is no secret to making music, it’s strong fundamentals combined with practice and getting used to sounds. One important thing to note for a beginner is to make sure you don’t have your gain or volume levels to high on your DAW. This can cause issues with sound quality and result in poor gain staging. As long as everything is even and not too low or high you should be OK. Look up more info on gain staging and other info if interested. Most DAWs will have something called an FX mixer or something similar where you can see if your volume and gain levels are too high. Make sure when you play your sounds none of them are at the top in the red section of the bar. They should remain in the green section since red/yellow will possibly cause clipping and distort your sounds. Also one last tip is to make sure your speaker volume knob isn’t too high. It should be maybe in the middle or less with your computer/device volume at a higher level, unless of course your speakers don’t get that loud, then you may need to have the speakers at a higher level. Hope this helps with your hip hop and rap production, as well as music in general. Feel free to leave a feedback comment on this page (Word Press users) or on the FB page which you can find at the bottom right of the site.

 

 

Different Linux Distributions and Their Uses Explained

Linux uses different versions of the OS called distributions or distros for short. There are hundreds of distributions with only a portion of them being the most used and the most popular. Choosing a distribution can be a little difficult if you aren’t familiar with Linux and what it has to offer. Certain distros are more user friendly and easier to install than others, as well as a few being lightweight distros which are better suited for older computers with slower hardware. Other distributions require significant Linux knowledge in order to use since a few distributions use the terminal and other software more in depthly. Here is a list of the most well know Linux distributions and what they offer.

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Debian

Debian is one of the oldest Linux distributions around dating back to 1993. Debian is a multi purpose distribution and can be used as a server or a desktop. There are a lot of distributions such as Ubuntu and Mint that are based off of Debian. Debian isn’t complicated to use however the the installation and post installation process requires extra steps such as configuring hardware which can be a little daunting for a beginner. For beginners a distro like Ubuntu is recommended over Debian although if your willing to learn a little Debian isn’t that hard to get the hang of.

Anti X

Anti X is a lightweight distro based off of Debian. Relatively easy to install. Anti X uses iceWM as the desktop environment. Good performance but not so flashy on the interface.

Kali Linux

Kali Linux is a popular distro based off of Debian. Kali Linux is used for security and penetration testing. Debian comes loaded with hundreds of software tools related to security, penetration testing, computer forensics, and reverse engineering. Kali Linux is not a beginner distro and is only recommended to those trying to learn about computer security and penetration testing.

Knoppix

Knoppix is a distribution based off of Debian that runs off of a CD or USB drive. Knoppix isn’t as extensive as Debian since it runs off a media device and uses little memory. Has a decent looking interface.

Slackware

Slackware is one of the oldest Linux distributions. It is a multi purpose distro only recommended to experienced users. Slackware Uses GNOME, KDE, and XFCE as desktop environments.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a desktop distro based off of Debian. It is aimed at being very user friendly just like Windows and OSX and is the most popular distro around. Ubuntu is an excellent choice for beginners. GNOME is the desktop environment that is now used, replacing unity.

Lubuntu

Lubuntu is a lightweight version of Ubuntu. The application selection isn’t as extensive since it’s a lightweight distro. Lubuntu is a good choice for older computers with slower hardware while also being just as user friendly as Ubuntu.

Linux mint

Linux mint is user friendly desktop distro based off of Ubuntu and Debian. Mint is a very smooth well designed easy to install distro which uses Cinnamon, Mate, and others as a desktop environment. Mint uses a similar display to Windows.

Linux lite

Linux lite is a lightweight distro based off of Ubuntu. Linux lite is easy to use, easy to install, and comes with a good amount of apps. XFCE is the desktop environment that is used. Linux lite is relatively user friendly.

Elementary

Elementary is a lightweight distro based off of Ubuntu. Elementary uses a clean and elegant user friendly interface making it one of the best looking distros and a great replacement for MAC since it uses a desktop environment very similar to MAC called pantheon. Elementary is easy to install and comes with a large repository for apps.

Zorin OS

Zorin OS is a distro based on Ubuntu. It easy easy to install and is very user friendly like Windows. Zorin OS uses GNOME and LXDE as desktop environments.

Open SUSE

Open SUSE is a distro developed by the open SUSE project. Uses GNOME and KDE as desktop environments. Great distro for new users.

Fedora

Fedora is a community desktop distro based off of redhat. Fedora is one of the first distributions to introduce wavland and systemD. Always uses up the latest up to date software. Fedora is relatively easy to install and uses GNOME and KDE as desktop environments.

CentOS

Cent OS is a very stable community distro based off of Red Hat. The difference is that it is mainstream unlike Red Hat but it is just as stable. Relatively easy to install and uses GNOME and KDE as desktop environments.

Arch Linux

Arch is a multi purpose rolling distro recommended by experts. Rolling means that the Arch OS updates automatically. Arch uses the latest software. Arch Requires a bit of knowledge to use and maintain. Cinnamon, GNOME, and KDE are used as desktop environments.

Antergos

Antergos is a more user friendly version of Arch Linux. It comes with more apps and more drivers.

Manjaro

Manjaro is a fairly lightweight distribution based off of Arch Linux that a lot of experts use. Manjaro is Not recommended for beginners unless your trying to jump right into an advanced distro. Manjaro uses Cinnamon, GNOME, and others as the desktop environment. Just like Arch Linux Manjaro is also a rolling distro.

Deepin

Deepin is a desktop distro that comes from China. Deepin has it’s own QT5 desktop environment and also has it’s own software such as an audio player. Deepin is relatively easy to install.

Puppy Linux

Puppy Linux is a Lightweight version of Linux meant to run from a USB drive or CD. It is designed so that it can run without the computer having a hard drive. A CD may be a better choice since a USB stick will eventually loose it’s life. Puppy Linux is very lightweight so it uses very little memory.

So it really depends on what kind of experience you already have with Linux and whether you’re a beginner or not. If you want to jump right into a distro that requires learning to use and maintain then Arch Linux, Manjaro, Debian, or Slackware are good distros to use. If you just want a replacement for whatever reason and are looking for a user friendly distro then Ubuntu, Linux mint, or Elementary are good choices.

Which Programming Language is the Best to Learn? Introduction Guide for Beginners

Programming languages are used to create operating systems and other programs like applications on phones. There are many different programming languages such as C, C ++, python, ruby, and a lot more. Each have their own specific purpose while a few can accomplish the same task. There is no clear answer as to which programming language is the best to learn but more so as to which one can accomplish the most and which ones are the most sought after by employers. It all depends on what you want to do. Here we are going to look at the different types of programming languages and what they are used for. Only the most well known, most applicable programming languages will be listed.

HTML

HTML stands for hypertext markup language. It is a static markup language used to create websites. A web browser takes the HTML documents from web servers or local storage and turns them into multimedia web pages. This markup Language can be used to build a website There are many websites and programs that can also be used to build websites just like they would be built using HTML, However Learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is usually a must since website builders are sometimes limited.

CSS

CSS stands for cascading style sheets. It is used to design webpages. For example CSS can change colors of text, increase font size, align text, and a lot more.

JavaScript

JavaScript is used for creating websites with functionality such as the weather being displayed on a home page or a button that you click on after you enter your email address which could sign you up for an email newsletter. JavaScript can also also be used to develop Web browser based games.

SQL

SQL is not a really a stand alone programming language. It is mostly used to communicate and obtain information from databases. This should be learned after other programming languages are studied since some people consider it learning backwards if studied first.  At the same time there is nothing wrong with learning how SQL works first as long as you realize other languages should be used before in order to make SQL easier to deal with.

PHP

PHP is a server side scripting language designed primarily for website development but can also be used as a general purpose language. Created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994. A lot of websites are powered by PHP. It is relatively easy to learn but is somewhat limited to only website design.

C

C is a general purpose programming language designed by Denis Ritchie in 1972. It supports structured programming, lexical variable scope, and recursion.

C++

C++ is a general purpose programming language. It has imperative, object oriented and generic programming features. It also provides facilities for low level memory manipulation.

Objective C

Objective C is a general purpose, object orientated programming language

C#

C# is a high level general purpose programming language originally designed by Microsoft. Used for developing apps on the Microsoft platform.

Python

A widely used high level general purpose programming language. High level means that it’s easier to read then other languages. It allows programming to express concepts in fewer lines of code then other languages. Python is probably the highest level programming language. In a lot of people’s opinions, this is the best programming language to learn because it can do a lot, it is widely used, and it is sought after by employers and relatively easier to learn then other programming languages.

Ruby

A dynamic, reflective, object orientated, general purpose programming language, designed and developed in the mid 1990s by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto in Japan. Ruby is a well known programming language which is also popular with employers. It is meant to be relatively easy to use which makes it a high level programming language. It is similar to Python but is a little less forgiving. Even though it is a high level programming language it is slightly more advanced than python but that doesn’t mean that a beginner can’t attempt to learn it.

Swift

A powerful language designed for MAC OS, iOS, and other Apple devices. This is a easy to use high level programming language. If you are interested in becoming an iOS developer than Swift can be the first programming language you learn.

Java

A popular general purpose programming language. It is derived from C and C++ but has fewer low-level facilities. Originally developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems but is now acquired by Oracle corporation. Java may sound like it’s related to JavaScript but the two have nothing to do with each other. It is almost like car and carpet. Java used to be very popular until Python and Ruby surpassed it. It is still somewhat popular but Python is suggested as a better language to learn. However if you strictly want to be an Android developer then Java can be learned.

 

So If you’re interested in web design then HTML and CSS is where you would start followed by JavaScript and PHP which is more in depth then HTML and CSS. If your interested in programming or want to learn a programming language for other purposes then Python is an amazing place to start. It is a language a hefty amount of employers seek and it can also accomplish a lot. It all depends on what you want to do but in general python is probably the best language to learn. As always suggested, feel free to look up more info about programming languages to get an even better idea of what you want to do.