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How to make reggaeton

How to make a modern reggaeton beat

Reggaeton is a music style known for its bouncy rhythms, hard-hitting drums, and Spanish vocals. Derived from reggae, and dancehall, and influenced by American hip-hop, reggaeton evolved into a distinct genre in Puerto Rico. In recent years, reggaeton has taken on a moodier, trap-influenced sound. Artists like Bad Bunny, J Balvin, and Karol G have played a significant role in shaping the modern reggaeton landscape. Now it's your turn to create your own dark and contemporary reggaeton beats by following these tips and techniques.

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Reggaeton beat

Reggaeton beat

Drums & Percussion

The drums are the most integral part of any reggaeton beat. Set the tempo to somewhere between 80 and 100 BPM. Reggaeton drums should be hard-hitting, crunchy, and sampled from an acoustic source. Use the Pájaros Beatmaker kit in Soundation for the right sounds.

The distinct rhythm in reggaeton is called the Dembow Riddim, named after the iconic song “Dem Bow” by Shabba Ranks. This beat is at its core a Tresillo rhythm, two dotted eighth notes followed by an eighth note.

Tresillo rhythm
  • Tresillo rhythm

Use a four-on-the-floor kick drum and fill in the rest of the tresillo rhythm with a snare. For more top end, layer the kick and snare pattern with hi-hats. Add Latin percussion instruments like timbales, congas, and guiros to infuse more groove and variation into your beat.

Reggaeton beatmaker pattern: dem bow riddim
  • Dembow riddim


Chords play a crucial role in establishing the mood and tone of your reggaeton beat. For a dark and moody vibe, use minor keys. The chord progression should be simple, using no more than four chords.

While you have the creative freedom to come up with your own chord progressions, there are a few go-to options that consistently appear in modern reggaeton hits.

  • VI - iv - i - VII — Reggaeton chord progression
  • VI - i - VII — Reggaeton chord progression
  • i - VII — Reggaeton chord progression

To achieve a modern reggaeton sound, synths have become the instrument of choice. For chords, go for dark pads, keys, or plucks. These synth sounds provide a contemporary touch while filling out the background of your beat.

Make the chords more rhythmic by playing the chords on the off-beats for a syncopated and energetic feel. The skank rhythm, famously used in reggae and ska music, also finds common ground in reggaeton. This rhythm perfectly mirrors the four-on-the-floor kick drum pattern but with an eighth-note delay.

Reggaeton skank rhythm
  • Skank rhythm chords


The bassline contributes depth and weight to your reggaeton beat. When creating your bassline, it's essential to select a suitable bass sound. A Sub-bass, 808 bass, or Reese bass would be a good choice that delivers a powerful low-end presence.

For a straightforward approach, you can opt to keep it simple by sticking to single, sustained root notes in your bassline. However, if you're looking to infuse more complexity, utilizing the Tresillo rhythm and other chord notes can be exactly what you need. Craft a bassline that aligns with the rhythmic and melodic elements of your track, ensuring it complements the drums and the overall energy of the beat.

  • Reggaeton bassline


Create a catchy melody with synth keys, plucks, or other suitable sounds. The melody in reggaeton tracks serves as a supporting element to the vocals, so it should be kept relatively simple and closely tied to the chord progression, much like an arpeggio. Focus on notes that enhance the chord progression, providing a melodic backdrop for the vocals to shine. Strive for a balance where the melody adds depth without overpowering the lead vocals.

Reggaeton melody
  • Reggaeton melody


Creating a modern reggaeton beat allows you to tap into the vibrant and energetic world of Latin music. By using the Dembow Riddim, forming compelling chord progressions, adding a solid bassline, and incorporating simple but catchy melodies, you can produce a dark and contemporary reggaeton beat. Listen to your favorite reggaeton artists for inspiration and use their techniques in your music. Experiment and allow your personal taste to get infused into this popular genre.

Final result

  • Reggaeton beat - Full mix

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