Big Beat Music and Some Tips

Big beat music is probably the most widely known style of electronic-based music in America. Groups such as the Chemical Brothers, Fat Boy Slim, the Crystal Method, and the Prodigy are all pioneers of big beat

Obviously it is a wide genre of electronic music. However it does have the few defining characteristics. Fast, heavy, distorted and punk influenced pop, jazz, techno and rock sounds along with psychedelic music influences characterize the style. Obviously certain groups, and artists were influenced more strongly by some more than others.

Fat boy Slim is more funky. The prodigy are more punk. The Chemical Brothers and the Crystal method are more techno.

Creating big beat is all about big sound. The drums should be distorted and loud. Vocals should have a punk edge, and also be distorted. Intense bass lines and synthesizer loops are also characteristic of the style.

Fast drops of elements, explosive addition or return of elements, wind and droning noises and extreme work in the stereo field (speaker position of elements to left and right) are also common. This is style of electronic-based music I first got into. The prodigy’s ‘fat of the land’ album is still a favorite.

Try to assemble a collection of odd noises. Record tools banging, power tools running, and try spinning a mic at the end of its cord to get some weird wind noises.

Pick a general style to base the song on. Punk, Funk, techno, anything. Pick something you are comfortable with. Then push it. Make the Drums the focal point. Use the other elements to compliment the beat and throb of the bass. Rather than using the beat and bass to pace the other elements.

Try using effects you don’t normally use, or ways you normally don’t use them.

A common technique in Big Beat is starting with a repeating instrument hook, then bringing the beat on strong.

Big Beat tends to make a lot of use of the add one element at a time technique. Meaning you build the sound over the course of a minute or so, by adding in one element, letting it ride a few seconds, then adding another.