How to make Reggaeton in Ableton Live

Posted by Esteban Miranda on

Are you familiar with the term Dembow? Do you know how to produce Reggaeton?


Today with Top Music Arts we bring you our Remade deconstructed versions of two great hit songs of Reggaeton and as always our tips and guides on How to make a Reggaeton beat in Ableton live 10. Especially for those who are new to Music Production or to the whole Reggaeton genre.

All of our Remakes and Templates are made entirely by our team, fully Mixed and Mastered. To see how other producers make their hit songs is a fast and simple way to learn many mixing and producing techniques.
So let´s go through a review of the elements that make these two songs what they are!


The First one we are going to talk about is Taki Taki by Dj Snake, featuring Selena GomezCardi B, and Ozuna, a rising new promise of Reggaeton that is collaborating with many other great artists in this 2018 like Daddy YankeeMalumaBad BunnyJ Balvin, among many others. And above all, having a very successful year for his new growing career.



We´re going to show you how these beats are made, step by step, reviewing the tracks of our Remade versions. 
In this one, you can appreciate DJ Snake´s Reggaeton production of one huge hit of this genre of 2018. It´s a Reggaeton Template for Ableton Live 10 Suite and it was made using only Ableton´s built-in FX and Instruments. The project is supplied with all the drum samples you need.


Taki Taki, the most played song in this genre on Spotify on 2018, with more than 340M streams and still counting! 



It was first released in August of 2018, has a 96 bpm Tempo, it´s in the Key of C# (C Sharp) Minor, and has a total time length of 3:51.



 In this song, you will see that those elements used on today´s Reggaeton are not that different from the ones we may use for Dance Music, for example. But there´s a lot more to it! 



With a much slower bpm, many subdivisions, and very low bass phrases, this genre is making it big all around the world. The Rhythms are mostly simple, but at the same time, they are built in different ways with many layers. Let´s dive in...  



The Kicks

For the Kick, only one track was used, playing a 4 bar pattern with the classic 4 to the floor, hitting on every quarter note (1/4) of each bar.



As you can hear, it´s not very complex same as in EDM, this is what keeps the rhythm steady. The pattern changes in the pre-drop parts, making 4 bar loops again, but it only plays one note on the first downbeat of each bar.
By itself, the kick may not sound like a big deal, but let´s keep checking out the rest of the elements, and hear the whole Main Pattern, so you can understand.

The kick´s chain hasn´t any plugin because all the percussive tracks are forming part of the same group named Drums, and the Glue Compressor and the Eq Eight are affecting all of them at the same time, here is the chain of the said channel:

The Percussions

The next big elements of this beat are the percussions, in order to make a big sound, to make it sound deep, with a nice Timbre and be able to cut through the mix between the rest of the melodic and rhythmic instruments, sometimes you have to make multiple layers. Like in this song, let´s take a look...

The first Layer or Track is named Percussion 1. And here you can see its a 4 bar loop, and its playing sixteenth notes (1/16), think of this pattern as a one beat phrase, where it plays the last 16th note of the Downbeat and the third of the Upbeat. And then copy and paste it to make it into a 4 bar loop. 



With a really percussive sound, similar to a Stick, these elements have a little more plugins going on. There´s an Eq Eight, cutting some lows, a short Reverb, and a Glue Compressor to tighten things up.

This is another element that by itself it doesn´t seem to have a great impact in the beat, but check out how the Kick and only the Perc1 work together so you can get used to the whole idea here: 



The next percussive Layer is the Percussion 2, it plays the same 4 bar pattern than the Perc1, but with a very different sample, similar to a Clap sound, adding a lot of Timbre to the sound.



As you can hear, it plays the same phrase than the perc1, but it works in addition to it. Taking a look into this percussion 2 device chain, you´ll see that it presents a much similar processing than the perc1 track. With an Eq EightReverb, and a Glue Compressor.
It has the same mixing process because it´s meant to fulfill the same function, the big difference here is the sample.


In addition to the percussive section, we have a layer named Percussion 3, and its sound is similar to a Cowbell type. Playing the same 4 bar loop, but adding 16th notes subdivisions to the main pattern.  






This sound only has an Eq Eight cutting some of the lows. And it works as a great complement to the phrase that the other percussions are playing.

Moving on we have the last of the percussion layers labeled Percussion 4, and it also plays the same phrase than the Percussion 1 and 2, but this one has a more Clipped, or Saturated sound, and it works as a colorful complement to the timbre. With a slightly left panning, the Lows cut with an Eq eight and some small Reverb as well. Let's check it out:





The Hats

For the Hi-hats, we have 3 layers. The first one labeled Hat, they are also playing a 4 bar loop like the rest of the instruments but in this case, they complement each other working as if they were one, playing different parts of the same classic Reggaeton´s hi-hat phrase.

Here is the first layer: 




 The next hi-hat layer is called Hat 2 and it's playing a different part of the same phrase, also in 16th notes. Let´s hear it:



The last layer is labeled Hat 3, and it´s playing 16th notes in repetition, similar to a hi-hat played through a sequencer.

Here check it out:




For the Hat and the Hat 2, only an Eq Eight was needed for cutting unneeded low frequencies, but in the Hat 3, there's also Reverb a Simple Delay, and a Compressor, to achieve that sequencer-like sound.

Listen to all the Hi-hats together:



Now that we went through all the elements that are part of our Main Beat pattern let´s hear the whole thing and how they work together:



The Instruments

The Bass is always loud and big in any kind of urban genre, this ain't the exception!
For this song, Dj snake used a very fat Sub Bass, here we named the track Sub, playing 2 different 4 bar phrases in the song, let´s hear them:




Made with a Wavetable synth, an Overdrive, and a Compressor to keep it tight.


Another key element of this song is the lead, the producer picked a Whistle kind of sound, playing a 4 bar phrase, that is repeated through the song in 3 different octaves.

Here, check it out:



This is a great modern Reggaeton style of Beat to learn from, and a great step to start composing your own songs, but hang on with us, because there´s more! 


Download the Full Remake here

Here you can listen to the Original Version and check out all the variations in the Beats, Instruments, and Transitions of the song:



Reggaeton comes from DanceHall, which is a subgenre from Jamaican Reggae, focused more into the popular and danceable part of the style.

Played with drum machines and in many rhythmic patterns. But there are 2 most predominant that Reggaeton has made its own:


First one:




Second one:



From the Second pattern, the “pounder” or “Dembow” (a term that is mentioned a lot in Reggaeton) is the DNA from where Reggaeton is born, and therefore, commonly used to refer to the rhythm. And also that is why producers have a common mistake that is to call the Second Reggaeton and the First one Dancehall.


The other song we´re going to talk about and review is our deconstructed Remake version of Nicky Jam & J Balvin song, X (Equis in Spanish).

Nicky Jam
, a Reggaeton artist known for many hit songs, and being in Duo with Daddy Yankee (one of the top artist of the genre), then with his solo career he collaborated with many artists as well also known for his acting career, participating in some movies in 2017 and in 2018 having his own Netflix movie called El Ganador (the winner).

The other great artist performing in this song is J Balvin, another huge name of this Genre and known all around the world for his many collaborations with producers and artists of different styles like Pharrell Williams (USA), David Guetta (France), Dillon Francis (USA) Willy Wiliams (France), Rosalia (Spain), Anitta (Brazil), Cardi B (USA), Bad Bunny (Puerto Rico), Maluma (Colombia), among many others and making lots of great hits making him one of the most played artists of the genre this year.  

Here is our deconstructed version of the original track, focusing on the main beats of both of this songs. 

The instruments used in the project are all made with Ableton´s Wavetable and Ableton Orchestral Strings (Suite). With all the Reggaeton style Drum samples you´ll need.


Have in mind the subtleties of the 808 basses as well (a pretty important element in this kind of genre), the pads are also great instruments to experiment with.

This Reggaeton song was first released on the 2nd of March of 2018, has a 90 bpm Tempo, it´s in the Key of A Minor and has a total Time Length of 3:11.

The is Structure very simple but at the same time really effective, meant to be memorable and to make you bounce all along the song.

The Kicks

The kicks in this song, and as in most of the main beats of every Reggaeton song, are playing the 4-to-the-floor pattern. With 4 quarter (1/4) notes per bar, in the shape of 4 bar loops.  With a different sample than the one in the beat of the other song, let´s hear it:


You should start building your reggaeton beat with this kind of powerful Kick drum sound, and then add the other complementing layers as you go. We highly recommend you all to pay attention to the sound of each and every one of the tracks reviewed, so you can go and recreate those in your own compositions with no problems! 


The Kick track chain is pretty simple as you can see, with a Saturator, to get more attack and punch, making it cut through the mix, then a Glue Compressor, and an Eq Eight to cut some lows.


As you can see on the device name, there are the exact Frequencies we cut out. As a way of helping you all to learn how to Eq properly and Faster!  


Unlike the other Template, this Kick track was mixed apart from the rest of the rest of the Drum tracks for a different processing. 

Remember to always Right-click your Eq Eight and click Oversampling, to get a bit of a better quality out of it. This´ll consume your CPU a bit more, so if you have trouble with your CPU loads, save it for the most important tracks of your song.

And the same goes for the Saturator, you can right-click it and select the Hi-Quality option, to get a better sound out of it!

The Snares + Noise


Moving on we have our next big elements, that make this beat what it is, The Snares, are playing the same pattern but have 2 layers, here is the first one, labeled just Snare



 And also we have the Snare 2, that plays the same notes but has a different sample:



Both are loaded with an Eq Eight to cut the lows we don´t need and a big Reverb to give them sustain.

In addition to these 2 snare layers, there's another one labeled Noise, which is a coloring layer. Meaning that you create this kind of tracks to give the sound something that is missing, sometimes is an effect, in this case, it gives it more punch and it plays the exact same 4 bar phrase as the snares.

Let's hear it:



The Percussion + Rim

The same processing of the snares goes to the next element with a similar role in this beat, the Rim (rimshot):




Playing a 4 bar phrase complementing the snares adding more subdivisions, and at the same time, pairing with the next track we have, the Percussion:



Both with an Eq eight cutting the lows and Reverb to add sustain. 

The Hats

In this beat, the Hi-hats are composed of two tracks, playing 4 bar patters, slightly different, but complementing each other all the time. 

Here is the one labeled Hat:




And here is the second layer, named Hat 2:




 The Rides

 The last elements that we´re reviewing, of this song´s Main Pattern, are the Rides.



They are both playing a 4 bar pattern, and same as the Hi-hats, they have 2 layers. The first one is playing simple and plain whole notes (1/1) while the second plays 16th notes with a different sample to complement each other.





 And finally, here is the whole Main Beat of X(Equis):



What is really important for you to have in mind from this Beat-Deconstruction Guides, is that you can use any of these elements we´re reviewing and use them for your own compositions, maybe even using this as a source of inspiration!


Download the Full Remake here:

And here is the Original Version:


For this two we brought you today, you won´t need any Serum, Spire, nor Sylenth1.

Summing it up a little, if you are new to producing Reggaeton and you like this music style that has grown exponentially in this 2018, these project templates and reviews are definitely good for you. 





Originally from Puerto Rico, and with its roots in Jamaican Dancehall. This style of loud thumping bass and contagious rhythms has become a common denominator in the whole Latin America popular Music. Reggaeton is definitely a world-wide growing genre that hasn’t stopped in 2018 and promise much more!

Reggaeton received countless hours of playtime on mainstream FM radio and made innumerable appearances at bars, nightclubs, and parties all around the world this year. After the huge hits from 2017, Luis Fonzi and Daddy Yankee´s Despacito and J Balvin´s Mi Gente, that showed us the true viral power of streaming, and how songs can impact the world in any language, now there's a whole Latin Pop mainstream focus with more hit songs to come, having us all singing in Spanish in no-time (lol)!


Don´t forget to make music!

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