How to Make Song Parody Beats

How to Make Song Parody Beats thumbnail
"Weird" Al Yankovic performs and records parodies of famous songs.

Parody songs, such as those written and performed by "Weird" Al Yankovic, are humorous adaptations of popular songs. They typically feature an almost identical backing track and beat, with new lyrics. For a parody to be authentic, the tempo and beat must be faithful to the original. You faithfully recreate a song's beat for a parody using approximated drum sounds via a digital audio workstation.

Things You'll Need

  • MIDI controller
  • USB cable
  • Computer with minimum 2GB RAM
  • Digital audio workstation
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    • 1

      Connect a MIDI controller to your computer via a USB cable. This enables you to remotely play and record the sounds stored in your digital audio workstation program.

    • 2

      Launch your preferred digital audio workstation, such as Cubase or Logic.

    • 3

      Create an audio channel. You can either do this from the "File" menu or via a shortcut tab. The appearance of the shortcut tab varies between programs. In Logic, for example, it has a "+" sign. The audio channel is for original song file.

    • 4

      Create a MIDI channel from the "File" menu or using the shortcut tab. Name this channel "Parody Beat Kick."

    • 5

      Import the audio file of the song you are parodying. The method for doing this varies slightly according to which program you use, but you typically click "File," "Import Audio" and select the file from your browser. Once imported, the audio file opens in a new channel.

    • 6

      Open the tempo detection tool. Typical digital audio workstations have the function to analyze the energy pattern of an audio wave form file to detect the tempo. They do this by measuring the distance between volume peaks of the same size and calculating an average time. The beat detection tool is typically located in the "Tools" menu, but the name varies according to which program you use. For example; in Pro Tools it is called "Beat Detective," and in Cubase it is called "Beat Analyzer."

    • 7

      Hit "Analyze" on the tool's interface. It will give you a readout to the nearest beat per minute; for example, 124 beats per minute.

    • 8

      Type the tempo into the tempo bar. The typical default tempo for a digital audio workstation is 120 beats per minute, so look for a box containing the figure "120."

    • 9

      Click on the "Parody Beat Kick" channel to highlight it. This assigns subsequent commands to this channel specifically, rather than the session as a whole.

    • 10

      Open the instruments menu and select a drum kit. Hit "Play" on the control panel to listen to the original to compare sounds.

    • 11
      Digital audio workstations let you use your computer like a recording studio.
      Digital audio workstations let you use your computer like a recording studio.

      Double-hit "Enter" to send the original track to the beginning. Hit "Play" and let it roll for four bars. Listen to the kick drum pattern and, if necessary, write it down. For example; "kick on 1 and 3."

    • 12

      Click on "Parody Beat" and play in the kick pattern. Once you fill four bars worth of kick, move on to the next four bars and repeat. Once you filled out all the kick parts, create a new MIDI channel called "Parody Beat Snare," and complete the same process. Repeat this process for all elements of the drum kit.

    • 13

      Click "Edit" and select "Quantize." This corrects any out-of-time beats you put in.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't have a MIDI controller, some programs enable you to use your typing keyboard to input note data. For example; in GarageBand, click "Window" and select "Musical Typing" to engage this feature.

  • You can audition the drum sounds using the keys on the MIDI controller or keyboard before recording. If you decide you don't like them, you can alter them after recording.

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  • Photo Credit Jason Kempin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

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