Afro Beat Info

Afro Beat Production: What you Must Know

Afro Beat Production: What you Must Know

Afrobeat is a vibrant and energetic music genre that originated in Nigeria in the 1960s and has since gained popularity worldwide. Producing Afro beat music production involves combining various elements of traditional Nigerian music, highlife, jazz, funk, and other African genres.

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It is important that you Listen to a wide range of Afrobeat tracks to get a feel for the genre before getting to work. Pay close attention to the rhythm, instrumentation, melodies, and overall sound. Some notable mainstream Afrobeat artists to explore include Burna boy, Wizkid, Rema, Davido, Tiwa Savage and a whole lot.

Recommended Software and Tools in Afrobeat Production

Firstly, its important that you choose a cool software or DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that best suit afrobeat production.

Afro beat production just like other musical genres have no particular favored DAW but its common Knowledge that most afro beat producers makes use of Top Production tools like FL Studio, Sonar, Logic Pro, Cubase, Ableton and others.

It is Important to note that your choice of DAW is not more important in comparison to how crafty you use them. Most producers think that your choice of software plays a big role in your sound quality. But this have been proven to be false. Though a good DAW is important but not more important than how well you use it.

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Understanding Afrobeat Production Process

It is important that you Study afrobeat Rhythms and Grooves before embarking on your production journey. Afrobeat is known for its infectious grooves and polyrhythmic patterns. Pay attention to the drum patterns, basslines, and syncopated rhythms that give Afrobeat its distinctive sound. Study the roles of different percussion instruments like the congas, shekere,(shakers) and talking drum. Its important you have a tight drum pattern before bringing in the melodies and harmonies. Lets discuss the basic drum or percussion requirement.

Bass Drum (Kick)

The bass drum typically emphasizes the downbeats and provides a strong foundation for the rhythm. Play a consistent, steady kick drum on beats 1 and 3 of each measure.,

Snare Drum

The snare drum plays a syncopated pattern that adds accents and fills. Here’s a basic snare drum pattern:

  • Play a cross-stick (hit the rim of the snare drum with the tip of the stick) on beat 2 of each measure.
  • On beat 4, play a snare drum hit, accenting it slightly.


The hi-hat is played with a continuous, rhythmic pattern, providing a shimmering texture and driving the groove. Here’s a basic hi-hat pattern:

  • Play a steady eighth-note pulse with your foot on the closed hi-hat.
  • Use your drumstick to occasionally open the hi-hat on the “and” of beats 2 and 4, adding a slight accent.

Toms and Cymbals

In Afrobeat, drummers often incorporate toms and cymbals to add variation and dynamics. These elements are used for fills and improvisation, so feel free to experiment with different patterns and accents on the toms and cymbals.

Layering and Arranging Instruments in Afrobeat

When it comes to layering and arranging instruments in Afrobeat, the goal is to create a rich and vibrant sound with a strong rhythmic foundation. Here are some common instruments used in Afrobeat and suggestions on how to layer and arrange them.



The drums play a central role in Afrobeat, providing the driving rhythm and groove. Layer different drum elements such as the bass drum, snare drum, hi-hat, toms, and cymbals to create complex and syncopated rhythms. Experiment with polyrhythms, fills, and accents to add variation and energy.


Percussion instruments like congas, bongos, shekere, shakers, and cowbells are frequently used in Afrobeat. Layer these instruments to add layers of polyrhythms and additional textures. They can play intricate patterns alongside the drums or add accents and fills in between drum phrases.

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The bass guitar is a crucial instrument in Afrobeat, providing a deep and driving groove. The bassline should lock in with the drums, emphasizing the rhythmic pulse while adding melodic interest. Consider using a repetitive and syncopated bassline that interacts with the other instruments.


Afrobeat often features both rhythm and lead guitars. The rhythm guitar typically plays a repetitive pattern that outlines the chord progression and reinforces the groove. It can use muted strums or single-note picking to add a percussive element. The lead guitar adds melodic lines, fills, and solos, contributing to the overall musical expression.


Horns, such as trumpets, saxophones, and trombones, bring a powerful and melodic element to Afrobeat. They often play tight and rhythmic arrangements, punctuating the music with stabs, riffs, and harmonized melodies. Layer the horns to create a rich and vibrant brass section that interacts with the other instruments.


Keyboards, including electric pianos, synthesizers, and organs, can add harmonic depth and texture to Afrobeat. They can provide chordal support, melodic lines, and solos. Experiment with different keyboard sounds and techniques to find the right balance within the arrangement.

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Vocals in Afrobeat can be in the form of lead vocals, backing vocals, or call-and-response chants. They carry the lyrical and storytelling aspect of the music. Layer and arrange vocals to create harmonies, counter-melodies, and call-and-response sections that enhance the overall dynamic of the song.


Melody composition, drum beat pattern and mixing/mastering technique is a whole set of information on its own and requires a careful breakdown. The topic will be discussed separatory in due time and will not be lumped together with this breakdown. This info aims at explaining the basic knowledge a music producer must have about afrobeat production before venturing into the genre.

Remember that practice and experimentation are key. Listen to a wide range of Afrobeat music, study the techniques used by different artists, and develop your own unique style within the genre. Have fun exploring the vibrant. Afrobeat is known for its lively and layered sound, so it’s important to balance and blend these instruments effectively. Each instrument contributes to the overall groove, energy, and melodic richness of Afrobeat, creating an irresistible and infectious musical experience.

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