Developed roughly 20 years ago in the Southern United States as a hip hop subgenre, trap music is known for its dark, aggressive beats. Exploding in popularity in the last half-decade, trap is commonly infused into genres like EDM, pop, and R&B. Whether you’re a beginning producer or just trying a new genre, this quick guide and accompanying video tutorial will get you started making dope trap beats in Soundation.
Click here to get one month of free Premium.
Trap is heavily characterized by its use of sounds from the TR-808 drum machine, especially the kick, snare, clap, and hi-hat. In Soundation, you can play these sounds on SPC (Hip Hop preset), DrumMachine (Kit 8 preset), or use loops from the sound library. The kick should have a certain bounce to it. The clap and snare typically fall on the 2 and 4 of the beat, with some fills and rolls. Hi-hat drives the beat forward with a fast, changing rhythm, occasionally making a rattling sound.
The bass in trap is commonly known as an “808”, referring to the bass drum of the TR-808 drum machine. The sound itself is very easy to reproduce with a basic sine wave on a synth, and that way you can play it like an instrument. In Soundation, you can use the “Bass 808” preset in Simple Synth, just add some distortion to make it more aggressive and easier to hear on small speakers. The bass and kick form a package together. Therefore, they should have the same pattern. This way, the kick provides the impact and the bass provides the body.
Drums and bass are the most important elements in trap. Other than that, anything goes. There are, however, some commonly used instruments. For instance, bells, brass, strings, piano, and synths. In Soundation, you can play these instruments on the synths and samplers, or use loops from the sound library.
Composition & arrangement
Trap beats are most impactful when they’re kept simple. You don’t need a lot of instruments, intricate melodies or crazy arrangements. Sticking to minor keys and chords will get you that dark, ominous sound. Analyze and learn from your favorite beats, but also experiment to find your own voice and separate yourself from the crowd.
Top three trap effects
- Distortion: for an aggressive “in your face” type of sound
- Filter: for a dark and/or smooth sound
- Reverb: for added atmosphere, dimension, and width