Music Theory Is the key to making a beat across all Digital Audio Workstations. To make a beat you don’t have to know everything about Music Theory because the topic gets pretty deep. The main thing I want to bring to your attention is Scales and Progressions. There are 12 Major Scales, 12 Harmonic Minor Scales, and 12 Melodic Minor Scales. Those are the main scales, but there’s also Blues Scales, Diminished Scales, Pentatonic Scales, Whole Tone Scales, and Chromatic Scales.
A progression is a note moving up or down. A chord is multiple notes played together. A chord progression is multiple notes played to gather moving either up or down. Its important to know when making a progression always bring back the last note to the first note so it sounds continuous. Your pattern should look like a zig zag leaving out and coming back in when played back.
Building a Song
Building a song consist of a few elements, but can range depending on the type of song you're creating. For now where going to assume you're making either a Pop, EDM, R&B, or Trap Song. They usually consist of a Melody, Chord progression, Bassline, and Drums. The reason why I brought up the scales is because all the sounds you use in the Melody, Chords, and baseline should generally be on the same scale.
In Ableton If you don’t know where each scale is while your making a beat you can just click in each scale on the piano roll and fold all the notes, so you’ll be able to make your melodies, chords, and baselines.
Below I clicked in the B major Scale, folded the piano role, and clicked in a simple chord progression.
Make sure your working in 4 or 8 bar increments! (If you know what your doing you can break this rule)
Once you figured out the scale of your sample, or what you want to click in or play. Make sure each sound is on its own octave. (you can break this rule if you know what your doing) but If your just starting you want each sound to be on its own octave! so frequencies aren’t fighting each other when it’s time to equalize and mix. Below I clicked in a simple chord progression, baseline, and melody.
Don’t forget to make sure your drums are in key! Most of the time you can just play your drums in and they sound great the way it is. But sounds like 808’s, clavs, cowbells, percusions, and hi-hats may need to be tuned to what ever scale you're using. After you add you're drums your basically finished. ( If you know what you're doing you may add more or less) Now all you have to do is format the song. Hooks are generally between 8 and 16 bars. Verses range between 4 and 32 bars. It all depends what type of song you’re making, what tempo you're using, and what you're going for! Below is a simple 808, snare, and hi hat pattern.