Which is the Better Developmental Path for You?
|By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)|
Making a set number of beats per week has long been an activity well-represented among many beatmakers. Indeed, in the numerous interviews that I've conducted with beatmakers, many have told me about the sheer number of beats that they use to (and in some cases, still do) make or attempt to make per week. Moreover, the beats-made per-week quota has become so commonplace among beatmakers that it is now widely seen as a natural link to the development of beatmaking skill. But does the sheer maintenance of a specific quantity of beats made per week actually guarantee a deeper skill for beatmaking?
I suspect that a commitment to such a formula does generate a legitimate level of proficiency—not necessarily great skill—in beatmaking, particularly in terms of actually completing a beat. However, I wonder if this proficiency in “beat completion,” if you will, actually translates to a higher quality (and better understanding) of beats. For some, I think so. Still, for most, I’m not entirely convinced that it does.
Hear me out. Let’s say you make 20 beats per week. If you maintain that level of output, by year’s end, you will have made over a thousand beats. Does this mean that at year’s end, your sum total of beats made is an accurate measurement of your development as a beatmaker? Well, of course, in some ways it does. But I've never been comfortable with evaluating my development based on the quantity of my production output, but rather the quality of my production output, and more importantly, the individual breakthroughs (conceptual understanding, method mastery, etc.) that I experienced amid regularly scheduled practice sessions.
In fact, in regards to a developmental path for beatmakers, I believe that maintaining a strict per week beat quota raises more questions than it answers. For instance, does a rigorous schedule of beats made per week correct your beatmaking deficiencies? Let’s say you have difficulty with programming drums. Will making 20 beats per week correct that problem of yours? It might, but then again, not necessarily. For me, the most effective way to correct any deficiency, whether it be drum programming or any other process, is to hold isolated practice sessions wherein you work on nothing but correcting that deficiency. Such a dedicated drum programming practice session could be 30 minutes of studying the drum programming (patterns) of those beatmakers (producers) whose beats you admire most. And this could be followed up by another 30 minutes of sketching out your own drum patterns, using the ideas and understanding that you've gleamed from your study. I find that this kind of dedicated practice offers more promise than arbitrary beats-made-per-week quotas.
And what about those things that you do well as a beatmaker? Does a beats-made-per-week quota help you recognize the things that you do best? Again, for some, I'm sure it does to a certain degree. After all, one advantage of completing an arsenal of beats each week is that it allows you to survey, study, and audit your own style and sound. Still, I also believe that regular regimented practice sessions also help you to identify the better elements and characteristics of your beatmaking style and sound.
Thus, in my final analysis, I'd say that there's value in both approaches. I do believe that maintaining some sort of beats-made-per-week quota is beneficial. However, I caution that the maintenance of any such quota, without regular regimented practices, is far less beneficial. Indeed, practice in beatmaking, as with any other music process, is always necessary. No matter how developed you may be as a beatmaker, it's important to continue to sharpen your skills. And by this I mean, practice without the intent of always creating a new beat, but instead, the intent of furthering your skill and understanding of the multiple processes of beatmaking as well as music in general.