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BeatMaking Unit: Choosing Sounds 1.0

Activity Option 1

Individually, in small groups, or as a class:

  1. Listen to a song and try to identify each instrument.
    1. Consider using a graphic organizer, list, mind map or some type of visualization 
    2. Prior to this activity, you might want to develop a playlist of music that the students want to listen to in class – use your own judgment about what to include/exclude
  2. Have students share with each other what they heard and discuss
  3. Pose questions such as. . . (and facilitate discussion among students)
  • What did you hear?
  • How would you describe each of the sounds?
  • What instruments do you hear? 
  • Do some of the sounds seem like imitations of instruments? Which ones? 
  • Do some of the sounds seem like recordings of instruments? Which ones?
  • How does the song organize and balance the sounds?
    • Do the sounds repeat or form patterns?
    • Do different sounds enter or leave at different points in the music?
  • What emotions or mood do the sounds evoke?
  • How do you feel when you hear each sound?
  • Why do you think the producer chose those specific sounds?
  • Are there any sounds that you think would sound interesting if they were changed in any way? Why? How?
  • Are there any sounds that you would want to use in your own music? Which ones? Why? How?
  • How do these sounds compare/contrast to the sounds in the music you like to listen to?
  • How do your favorite songs balance their sound choices in terms of these characteristics?

If you want, you could have students keep track of their answers on paper or digitally

This could also serve as a form of formative assessment if you like. (We don’t necessarily suggest this in order to keep things open and generative – if you were to use this as an assessment, we suggest keeping it informal and gradeless if possible.)


EDMProd Ultimate Guide to Drum Programming

  • Start with the “Listen, Listen, Listen section – the site has a number of curated music around genres”
  • The site delves into the idea of using sample packs to find samples of sounds to use in beat making. This would be worth exploring after some of the activities we are sharing.
  • A really helpful part of the EDMProd ‘ultimate guide” is the set of genre studies – the explanations give you some focal points and genre-specific information that would be helpful for students.