Twisting knobs is good for your mental health.

How to make your first beat using Bitwig Studio

MIDI Melody Files in Bitwig Studio
MIDI Melody clips in Bitwig Studio

If you are looking for a powerful and versatile digital audio workstation (DAW) to create your own electronic beats, you might want to check out Bitwig Studio. Bitwig Studio is a cross-platform DAW that offers a flexible and intuitive workflow, a modular sound design system, and a rich collection of instruments and effects. In this tutorial, I will show you how to use Bitwig Studio to make a simple but catchy electronic beat from scratch.

Step 1: Create a new project and add tracks

To start, open Bitwig Studio and create a new project. You will see the main interface with the Arranger view, where you can arrange your clips and tracks, and the Mixer view, where you can adjust the volume and effects of each track. To add a new track, click on the plus icon at the bottom left of the Arranger view and choose the type of track you want. For this tutorial, we will need three tracks: one for drums, one for bass, and one for synth.

A fresh project in Bitwig Studio. Let’s add some instruments using the button below the two default tracks (+).

Step 2: Add drum samples and create a drum pattern

To add drum samples to your drum track, you can use the Browser panel on the right side of the interface. You can browse through the built-in sound library or your own files and drag and drop the samples you want to use onto the drum track. You can also use the Device panel on the left side of the interface to add Bitwig’s own drum machine device, called Drum Machine, which lets you load and edit multiple samples in one device.

Check out Drum Machine presets (>) for various pre-filled drum sets to get started.

To create a drum pattern, you can use the Clip Launcher view, which is located at the bottom of the interface. The Clip Launcher view shows you a grid of clips that you can trigger individually or in scenes. To create a new clip, double-click on an empty slot in the drum track. You will see a piano roll editor where you can draw or record your notes. For this tutorial, we will use a simple four-on-the-floor pattern with a kick on every beat, a snare on every second beat, and some hi-hats in between. You can adjust the length, velocity, and swing of each note using the tools at the top of the editor.

Step 3: Add bass and synth instruments and create melodies

To add bass and synth sounds to your bass and synth tracks, you can use the same methods as before: either drag and drop samples from the Browser panel or add devices from the Device panel. Bitwig Studio has a variety of synthesizers and samplers that you can use to create your own sounds or use presets. For this tutorial, we will use two devices: Polysynth, which is a polyphonic subtractive synthesizer, and Sampler, which is a sampler that can load any audio file.

To create melodies for your bass and synth tracks, you can use the same piano roll editor as before. You can also use the Note Editor panel on the left side of the interface to edit the pitch, scale, chord, and arpeggiator settings of each track. For this tutorial, we will use a simple C minor scale and create some basic melodies that follow the chord progression Cm-Gm-Fm-Gm. For a drag-and-drop solution, try our MIDI Melody packs which contain thousands of pre-made MIDI melodies which can be used for any instrument or plugin in Bitwig Studio!

Step 4: Add effects (FX) and automation

To add some spice to your beat, you can add effects to each track or to the master track. Bitwig Studio has a wide range of effects that you can choose from, such as EQs, compressors, reverbs, delays, filters, distortions, modulators, and more. To add an effect to a track, drag and drop it from the Device panel onto the track’s device chain. You can adjust the parameters of each effect using the knobs and sliders on the device or on the Device Detail panel at the bottom right of the interface.

To automate any parameter of any device or track, you can use the Automation panel on the right side of the interface. You can either draw or record automation curves using the tools at the top of the panel. You can also switch between different automation lanes using the drop-down menu at the bottom of the panel. For this tutorial, we will automate some parameters such as filter cutoff, delay feedback, and reverb mix to create some variations in our beat.

Step 5: Export your beat

Once you are happy with your beat, you can export it as an audio file or as a project file. To export it as an audio file, go to File > Export Audio and choose your format, quality, and destination settings. To export it as a project file, go to File > Save As and choose your location and name for your project. You can also share your project with other Bitwig Studio or PreSonus Studio One users using Bitwig’s new .DAWproject format which allows for cross-DAW work.

Congratulations! You have just made an electronic beat using Bitwig Studio. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and learned something new. Bitwig Studio is a great software for making any kind of music, so feel free to experiment and explore its features. Have fun and happy beat making!

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