If you spend any time on the internet, you have probably come across videos that are titled “best relaxing lo-fi music”, “lo-fi hip hop beats to study/relax”.
As a textbook definition. “Lo-fi Hip Hop” can be referred to as a genre of music that blends old-school hip hop beats with jazz chords creating a warm, blissful and nostalgic sound experience.
Let’s dive in deep into this genre:
What Is Lo-fi Hip Hop
An endless loop of a relaxed anime character, laid back on her bed with earphones plugged in, alternating between caressing her cat and throwing her hands back and closing her eyes.
A distinguished hushed tempo targeted towards the relaxation of the millennial plays through, coupled with relaxed synth beats.
The vocals sound like they are coming through an old cassette tape inspired by the self-help records, old animated cartoons, and Nintendo games.
All of these characteristics mark the birth of a new-found rage on the internet radio popularly known as the “Lo-fi hip-hop” widely played by the millennial to aid their studying, relaxation and gaming escapades. It has become a notable trend that delivers the calmest and most tranquil sounds 24/7 on the world’s largest music streaming platform, YouTube.
How to Make Lo-fi Music?
When it comes to creation lo-fi music, the quote “less is more” stands at the highest priority. The beauty of this music lies in its simplicity and originality.
Before you start, keep in mind that Lo-fi as a genre is really all about getting in the zone and evoking a feeling of nostalgia in the listeners.
It primes the brain for a relaxed state of mind. So before starting, recall a warm memory that will put you in the zone and help with your creativity.
Set the tempo
Adjust the tempo anywhere from 70 to 100 beats per minute. 80 is usually the ideal tempo to start off with. Keep in mind that this is a one-time task and you cannot change the tempo again once you start working on the music. So make sure whatever range you go for, you are happy with how it sounds. But don’t go with anything too fast, because we are aiming for a more chilled sound.
Adjust the swing
Set the swing to around 65% to make all the sounds reflect as more groovy.
Play around with the snare
Create an instrument track in your program and assign it to the drums. Browse through the piano roll and locate the snare drum. Add snare drum sounds to the second and the fourth beat. Also, add an extra snare noise on the off-beat to create a more realistic drum beat.
Create a swinging beat
On the piano roll, find the key that is responsible for playing the bass drum. Place the bass drum notes on the first and third beats. Similar to snare, add an extra bass drum note on the off-beat to create a rhythmic swing. At this point, you can try and experiment with different beats to check how the final result sounds like.
Pro tip – You can make the music more rhythmic and interesting by adding a bass drum beat right before the first snare.
Insert high hat cymbal hits
Open the piano roll and locate high hat sounds. Add 2 eight-note of high hat sound after every beat in your line-up. These high hat sounds will add a soulful bit of light sound to your rhythm. You can experiment with different high-hat sounds in order to add more variations.
Pro tip – If you leave certain high hat beats empty, the resultant sound will highlight the bass and the snare drum.
Add the background noise
Pick a vinyl noise or just anything that can give the effect of relaxing background noise. Drag it into the playlist and make sure it is right on the beat by deleting anything extra. Hold Alt and move it so you can set it exactly to the grid. In order to select it, just hold Ctrl and Ctrl+V.
How to Create Lo-fi Chord Progression
Now let's go over the steps:
- Open up the piano roll. Use the stamp tool and choose major 7thchords and click the root note for the chord. This will create the chords for you automatically.
- Click on the stamp tool again and choose major 7thagain to add another chord.
- Go to stamp tool and choose minor 7thchord so at the end you get the minor chord and all the major chords are in the front.
- If you wish to edit a specific chord, you just select the chord and go to the group and click on ungroup. This lets you move specific chords.
- If you want to add more variations, ungroup the notes and select the second note of each chord and hold Ctrl and arrow up. This will result in better harmonies for the chords.
- Extend the chords you just created by holding Ctrl plus Ctrl B. Now you have your very own Lo-fi chord.
How to Make Lo-fi Melody
Now that you have the drums and the chords ready, let’s move onto the melody:
- Open the piano roll.
- Hold Alt to move the notes freely and go with higher velocity to create the melody.
- Keep adding more velocity variations to make the notes sound more interesting.
In the end, Lo-fi music is all about the feeling of romance.
It relies on engaging the emotional side of music-making rather than its robotic side.
So go ahead and create a unique Lo-fi out of the sounds that fascinate you and you never know what amazing sounds you’ll discover.