How to Make a Beat on Mixcraft

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Mixcraft is an audio-production software program from Acoustica. It is quite basic when compared to industry-standard products such as Pro Tools or Logic, but it delivers a level of functionality that is more than adequate for recording song ideas and creating beats. To get the best out of high-end programs like Pro Tools, you need expensive input devices and equipment. Mixcraft requires less to optimize its performance; in fact it's possible to make a beat on Mixcraft without a single piece of external hardware. This enables you to make your Mixcraft computer studio entirely portable.

Things You'll Need

  • PC
  • Windows 7, Vista or XP

Setup

  • Double-click the "Mixcraft" desktop icon, or select "Start," "Programs" and click on "Mixcraft." The program may take a few seconds to fully load up.

  • Click "File" and select "New" if starting from scratch, or "Open Recent" if adding a beat to an existing song.

  • Click "File" again and select "New MIDI Track." "MIDI" stands for "musical instrument digital interface." It is command protocol that lets you trigger synthetic sounds such as drum machines or orchestral strings.

With MIDI Controller

  • Connect a MIDI controller to your computer. Typically this calls for a USB cable, but some newer MIDI controllers call for a Firewire connection. The MIDI controller sends data commands to Mixcraft, with information about note length, pitch and volume. When Mixcraft receives a MIDI message, it creates a sound based on the system configuration. For example, if you have selected "Drum Kit" in Mixcraft, hitting a certain key on the MIDI controller triggers a certain drum from the kit.

  • Select an instrument. Click "Library," then "Category" and select "Drums." Then scroll the menu and select a drum kit. This assigns the drum kit sounds to the MIDI channel.

  • Adjust the "beats per minute" setting at the bottom of the screen. This is automatically set to 120 bpm. Increase or decrease according to your preference. A higher bpm means a faster tempo.

  • Hit "Record" and play your beat. You can play in each drum individually or you can use both hands to play the entire "kit" using the MIDI controller. If taking the former approach, open a new MIDI track for each drum. The advantage of the former is greater mixing scope, since you can mix each drum individually. But the latter approach is quicker and typically allows for a more natural feel.

Without MIDI Controller

  • Click "Help" and select "Musical Typing." This assigns your computer keyboard as MIDI controller. This is convenient if you don't have a MIDI controller or are travelling light.

  • Assign a drum kit from the "Library" menu. Familiarize yourself with the layout of the drums on your keyboard.

  • Hit "Record" and use your computer keys to play the beat. Again, you can record each drum individually or all at once. It is slightly more challenging to accurately play a complete beat using the smaller keyboard keys.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use Mixcraft's MIDI editing tools to correct beat mistakes once recorded.

References

  • Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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