Dancehall is a type of Jamacian music that is based on reggae music. Dancehall is significantly faster and more upbeat than reggea and producers often uses drum machines and synthesizers to create the sounds. The riddim is the beat of the song. Making a basic riddim is not hard; making a riddim that people will respond to can be much harder. There is no set standard for the type of sound dancehall has, but heavy percussion and drum lines are very common.
Install a music production program like Reason, Logic, ProTools Cakewalk or Ableton.
Open a new track.
Create a basic drumline. Use bongos or a similar drum to create a two- to three-note loop. The beat should be very simple and be easy to stomp your feet to. The beat should be easily drummed by anyone with their hands or feet.
Add a drum beat. A drum beat is usually a combination of a bass drum and high-hat. This is what sets the bass line for the song. The bass beat can be slower and not kick as often as the beat in Step 3. The high-hat should be fast-paced and contrast the bass drum.
Add some shakers. Shakers add a little bit of depth to the riddim. A shaker beat is very simple. Imagine you are using a shaker when hearing the riddim thus far. How would you play it? This is a good way to come up with a shaker beat.
Add a snare kick. The snare kick is faster; it should have a bit of a marching feel, but not be overly intense. Many artists simply take the bongo beat and speed it up or make a variation of it on the snare.
Add some strings. The strings provide a basic melody. The strings should create a playful melody.
Add a flute or similar instrument. This will provide something softer to the track and smooth out the kicks. The flute does not need to have a beat or melody -- just the simple sound of a note very few beats.
Add the lead synth. The lead synth is where musical talent really comes in. The lead synth will be the most prominent part of the song and is not a simple loop. It is meant to stick in people's minds and showcase your skill as a musician. Almost any instrument can be used from the synth panel. Just make sure it fits with the rest of the song.
Mix the tracks. Mixing involves adjusting the volumes, channel (left or right) balance and effects for each track you have created. Mixing will provide a deep level and feel to the music.
Play back the riddim and make adjustments as needed.
- “Dancehall”; Beth Lesser; 2008
- “Caribbean Popular Music: An Encyclopedia of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rock Steady, and Dancehall”; David V. Moskowitz; 2005
Erick Kristian began writing professionally in 2008. He has a strong background in business and extensive experience writing fiction and articles related to spirituality and self improvement which are published on growingeveryday.com. Kristian has written several screenplays, produced numerous films, published books and written numerous articles on a variety of subjects. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Schulich School of Business.