How to finish your track: Beat Making Basics #6

Finishing your track

Whether you’ve been making music for a month or a decade, finishing a song is often the hardest part.

Knowing when it’s time to stop changing or adding to a track takes patience, time, and a lot of practice. But thankfully we’re going to cover some of the bases to tick off in Serato Studio to help you navigate the minefield of composition. 

Read on for more.

Structure and arrangement

So, you’ve got all the parts you want in your track – like verse, chorus/hook, bridge and outro. Now it’s time to piece them together.

The structure of your track should be indicative of its genre. While there’s no hard rules with making music, when it comes to structure, your track will sound a lot better if you follow conventions.

Here are the basic structures of three different genres, to give you an idea: 

Hip hop/Trap: Intro-Hook-Verse-Hook-Verse-Hook-Outro

Pop: Intro-Verse-Pre Chorus-Chorus-Verse-Pre Chorus-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus-Outro

House/EDM: Intro-Verse-Build-Drop-Verse-Build-Drop-Outro

Only you know what kind of track you’re making, so use this as a guide. You can also mimic the structure of some of your favorite songs in the genre you’re trying to emulate.”

Once you’ve got that idea clear in your head arranging is easy. Take your different scenes and label as the different sections in your song, like “Intro”, “verse”, etc. Then simply piece them into the order you wish.

Mixing and mastering

Often people get mixing and mastering confused, and understandably so. It’s all about levels, making your sounds come across polished and clean.

Put simply, mixing is something that should be consistently done throughout the production process. After developing layers like drums or keys, look to EQ as you. Are the kicks too loud? Do I want the key melody more pronounced? You’ll have a far easier time doing this as you go instead of all at once afterwards.

Mastering is only ever done at the very last stage of making your track. It’s all about getting all the layers you’ve used to sit harmoniously together, so it comes across to the listener as one complete package, rather than lots of individual layers crammed together into one song. 

Serato Studio helps make this process simpler via the FX available in the Master Song View. It’s good to know a little bit about what purpose each FX serves, and why you should be using them. 

We’re not going to go into crazy details – who’s got time for that? Here are three Master FX tools and the facts on how to use them:

Limiter: Essentially, makes your track louder. 

Master Compressor: compression is about ‘squashing’ the sound so it sounds more consistent. It removes anomalies like overly loud/quiet parts. Think of it as an iron to smooth out the creases. 
Brightener EQ: will favour the high frequencies of your track. Will bring some ‘shine’ to your track.

Export and share to get fresh ears on your track

You, above anyone, are going to be the least objective about what needs to change about your track. It’s your baby, you’ve been working on it for a long while and you’re proud of it. 

You’ve also probably lost a little perspective on it. You can’t hear it again for the first time, so you’ll need someone else to do that for you. 

When you feel up to it, you can export your track (either as an .mp3 or .wav file) and share it with someone whose opinion you trust to give constructive feedback.

It’s a daunting, but necessary step in ultimately getting the final product you’re after.