So what makes a Weeknd Type Beat a Weeknd Type Beat? In general you are looking at a 130-140bpm tempo with halftime drums – sometimes he even switches the time signature to a 3/4 for a more unique feel. We’re going to try this time signature change in this tutorial too and settle for a 134bpm.
Melody & Chord Progression
Tracks by the Weeknd are more melodic, than drum-driven, so naturally we’re starting there. A piano is a great starting point if you are going for a Weeknd Type Beat and to get a feel for the melody. Below is a simple chord progression which feels very emotional with a creepy twist to it.
Now let’s duplicate the chord progression and move it down an octave to make it take up more room in the frequency spectrum. The piano is one of the main sounds so it should sound fuller than most other elements.
Let’s take it up a notch and layer another sound on the piano. Duplicate the original progression again, but switch the sound to a nice analog pad and roll off lows and highs to taste. This brings the stock piano into the electronic music sphere.
With the chord progression laid down, let’s move to the melody. We’re going for an arpeggiator-style melody with a bell or marimba type sound. The whole thing sounds like this.
Now let’s hear everything together. Oh wait – I also added another channel with a few stuttering arpeggio fills to give some variation to the melody.
Drums in R’n’B leave a lot of room for the singer and the emotions of the track to come out. So put down a basic kick and snare pattern and some light trap hats and percussion. It pays off to add some sampled drum fills etc to make the beat organic and less repetitive.
In the end I added a rather clean 808 with light distortion playing the root notes of the chords. You could go inject more life in here, but for my purpose it’s enough. Let’s listen to the complete composition.