Whether you’re an experienced producer and want to dabble in the trap genre or you’re a producer wanting to cover all bases before creating your first mix, this A – Z guide on how to create trap music will give a comprehensive overview of the complete trap-making process.
8 Tips on How to Produce Trap Music
- Get the Tempo Right
140 BPM is considered the trap sweet spot, but most trap BPMs run between the 100 – 176 range for the average track. For downtempo trap tracks, reduce the BPM to 75 – 90. Whatever the BPM of your track, it should act as the pulse or the eighth-note pulse.
- Make Your Loops Simple, Harmonic and Melodic
Contrary to popular belief, trap music isn’t all about heavy 808s, rapid hi-hats and crisp snares – harmony and melody are just as important when it comes to creating a trap hit. The melody helps set the tone; usually, trap music falls into gritty and dark territory, so producers are known to stick to minor chords and minor arpeggios for the melodies. Always be aware of the timbre of the synths, strings and orchestral brass samples and recordings.
- Master the Beats
Give hi-hat patterns plenty of rhythmic space in your trap track; to give the beats bounce, throw in an eighth-note pulse, then try experimenting with open hats on the fourth beat. If you don’t feel that flow, place them elsewhere in the mix to change the bounce of the track.
In trap, the snares come in on beat three, and in some cases on the first beat in the following measure. Wherever you place your snares, make sure they crack in the mix and be prepared to experiment with snaps, claps and creative percussive crashes.
Last but not least, give your track an 808 kick. 808s should come in on the first beat; after that first beat, feel free to experiment with the rattling bass.
- Mix Up the Hi-Hats
Once your trap mix is starting to take form, mix up the hi-hats. To stay true to the trap sound, include double and triple hi-hat signatures. In other words, add patterns on the 16th and 24th notes.
- Get Vocal
Unless you want to keep your track 100% instrumental, this is where you add vocals. Bring in the human elements on beats two and four to keep your track galvanising. You can be as creative or as minimalist with vox as you want, or you can lace full rap verses over the beats or keep it as a few minimal samples – always make sure they flow and keep to the same tempo.
- Get Your Flow
Hip Hop has never been about production maximalism, but the award-winning trap producers always give their tracks nuance and shift the patterns for the best flow. As a rule of thumb, change something in the mix every 4 bars – no matter how obvious or subtle.
- Fill Your Mix
While your mix is still rough, add audio effects, such as filters, that can create more space for the mix for vocals. To get more grit out of your 808s, saturation and distortion are great effects, while reverb always helps bring more out of synths, claps and snares. To slow down your trap track in the outro, use pitch bends for cinematic effect. Compression and stereo panning also help get that finished sound.
- Arrange Your Single
This stage is where your loop turns into a single with a short intro containing 8 – 16 bars, a pre-chorus with 4 – 8 bars, a chorus with 8 bars, a bridge; then to end, an outro. With choruses, unless it’s a downtempo chill track, always go as big as possible with full chords and big brass sounds and keep the rhythmic elements in the verses alive in the chorus. With your intro, it could be as simple as the melodic loop standing alone before the beats kick in.
Once you have created your track, you’re happy with it, and you want the world to hear It, consider trap music promotion with A&R Factory.