Session 5: Making Beats on the iPad

Below are resources from the fifth session of the Digital Music Production Workshops at Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute provided in partnership with Building Beats.


Time signature 

The time signature tells you how many notes (or 'beats') appear in a measure, and of what type (quarter, eighth, sixteenth).  The number of notes is the top number, and the type is the bottom number.  So 3/4 time will contain 3 quarter notes per measure.


A bar is synonymous with measure.  A bar is a section of time, whose length is determined by the time signature.  In sheet music, a bar is indicated by vertical lines drawn across the staff.


A chord consists of multiple notes played together in harmony.

Chord Progression

A sequence of chords played one after another.


A musical phrase that is meant to be memorable; the element that grabs the attention or “hooks” the listener.  In hip-hop, the hook is usually contained within the chorus.  A good discussion of hooks (with examples) is available here


A verse contains the main “story” elements of the song.  A pop song typically contains multiple verses each with different lyrics, but with similar or identical music underneath.



  1. Explore the different apps available for making beats on the iPad (BeatMaker 2, Propellerhead Figure, and Yellofier).

  2. What differences do you notice between the apps?  Some are made for sampling sounds and making simple loops, while others are close to full-fledged digital audio workstations (‘DAW’s) with support for multiple tracks and export.

  3. Use an iPad app running BeatMaker 2 to start a track by making an 8-bar hook and a 16-bar verse.  If you need help navigating BeatMaker 2, check out the tutorial below.

  4. What are the differences you notice between iPad apps and other desktop DAW applications?  What do you like or dislike about the feature-set in apps versus the feature-set of desktop applications?  Are there specific instances where you would prefer to use an iPad app over a full-fledged DAW?



Tutorial: Getting Started in BeatMaker 2

This video also gives a good demo of how to use BeatMaker 2:

Spotify Playlist with songs demonstrating alternative controllers:

Youtube playlist with songs demonstrating alternative controllers:

The digital music production workshops and these resources are the result of a partnership between Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute and Building Beats.  These resources are made available under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Creative Commons license.


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 Proud Sponsor

Digital music workshops produced by Carnegie Hall in partnership with Building Beats are supported by the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in the New York Community Trust.


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