Samplecraze's Eddie Bazil has written several eBooks on various aspects of audio production, and each has met with acclaim. The beauty of the eBook format is that the tutorials aren't limited by the cost or size of the printed page, so they can be made more affordable and contain more step-by-step screenshots. In this latest eBook, Eddie explores the concept of 'Beat Construction' — which he is at pains to point out means drum beats, rather than full productions (which the term has come to mean in some genres). Eddie has a wealth of experience in sampling and beat production, having worked on material for Emu and others back in the day, and now currently also produces some impressive, unique and versatile software drum instruments in the guise of Stretch That Note. In short, this man knows what he's talking about when it comes to electronic drum production.
There's insufficient space to do full justice to the book here, as it goes much deeper into the subject than you might think possible. Bazil has evidently put in plenty of effort to get the novice beatmaker up to speed, explaining the basics of groove and feel, the importance of note lengths as well as onset timing, and standard beat-making tools such as quantise and trigger pads. But this isn't just a book for beginners; there's a rich seam of more advanced techniques, complete with step-by-step examples, including full-colour screenshots and PCM audio files, covering subjects ranging from tuning, ghost notes, advanced modulation and automation techniques, blending and aligning beats of different grooves, tempos and genres, through to complicated 3D motion effects. He also takes you step by step through the creation of both a hip-hop and a dance groove using his techniques.
One of my favourite tutorials was on 'ripping' the feel of the beats used in big-name hip-hop, R&B and electro/dance artists, including Rihanna. It's something I could no doubt figure out, but working through things the way Bazil sets out makes the process much easier to understand and much more effective to boot. The idea behind this particular exercise is that not only can you literally extract the feel and timing of your favourite tracks and apply it to your own carefully crafted sounds — which will appeal to many, I'm sure — but you can also learn a huge amount about feel and timing from those productions. So if you've ever wondered what it is that makes Timbaland's beats groove the way they do, this is for you.
It's possible for more seasoned beat creators to dip into different sections in this book, but despite the generous 193 pages it makes for relatively speedy reading, and there are useful nuggets buried in all the chapters. I'd recommend working through from start to end if you can find the time. If you do that, you should find that you're much better equipped to create engaging and original beats. Recommended. Matt Houghton