Lofi music has been around since the 1950s. This relaxing genre of music gained pop culture popularity in the 2010s. During this time many labeled this style of music a fad.
However, lofi music continues to grow. In today’s fast paced world people need an outlet to just relax and chill. With distractions popping up continuously people also need a way to ease and focus their mind.
Millions of people choose to listen to Lofi music for this reason alone.
As a music producer this genre of music can help boost your career and exposure due to the wide range of daily listeners. As a hobbyist this can be a very rewarding genre of music to play with.
So, how to make lofi music?
Well in this article we will break down how to make lofi music in one easy to follow guide. We’ll discuss what makes lofi music unique and how to add your own personal touch to it.
This guide is written for the complete beginner. Someone who loves Lofi Music but has never produced music before.
What Is Lofi Music?
Lofi music is a type of calm and soothing music that’s usually played in the background while you’re doing something else, like studying, working, or relaxing. It often includes simple melodies, soft sounds, and a gentle beat.
What makes it unique is that it often incorporates subtle imperfections, like static or vinyl crackling, which gives it a cozy and nostalgic feel.
Lofi music is great for creating a peaceful atmosphere and helping you focus on tasks or just unwind. Many people find it comforting and easy to listen to.
What does Lofi mean?
“Lofi” is a shortened form of “low fidelity.” In music, “fidelity” refers to the quality of the sound and how accurately it reproduces the original recording.
So, “low fidelity” means that the music intentionally has a lower quality sound compared to high-quality, polished recordings you might hear on the radio or in a professional studio.
Exploring Lofi Subgenres: Adding Flavor to Your Lofi Beats
Lofi music is like a big umbrella that shelters various subgenres, each with its unique charm and personality. It’s essential to understand these subgenres, as they can inspire your creativity and help you refine your musical style. Here’s a glimpse into some popular lofi subgenres:
Chillhop is a fusion of lofi and hip-hop. It incorporates laid-back beats, soothing melodies, and often features rap or vocal samples. The combination of mellow vibes and rhythmic flow creates a distinctive groove.
As the name suggests, jazzhop combines elements of jazz with lofi. You’ll find smooth jazz instrumentals and improvisational elements, making it perfect for those who appreciate a touch of sophistication in their music.
3. Ambient Lofi:
Ambient lofi leans heavily on the atmospheric side. It’s characterized by spacious, ethereal soundscapes, minimalistic melodies, and a strong focus on mood and atmosphere. It’s ideal for creating a calming and introspective ambiance.
Vaporwave takes lofi to a surreal level, often featuring retro-futuristic and nostalgic elements. It borrows from ’80s and ’90s music and pop culture, incorporating slowed-down samples and glitchy effects for a dreamy, almost surreal experience.
5. Study Beats:
Study beats are tailored for productivity and focus. These lofi tracks are specifically designed to accompany your study or work sessions, featuring repetitive, calming melodies and a steady beat to help you concentrate.
6. Gameboy Lofi:
Gameboy lofi pays homage to the iconic chiptune sound of classic video games. It incorporates 8-bit and 16-bit sounds, adding a touch of nostalgia for gamers and lovers of retro gaming consoles.
7. Anime Lofi:
Anime lofi often uses samples from Japanese anime shows and movies. It blends these samples with mellow beats and melodies, creating a nostalgic and cozy atmosphere for fans of anime culture.
8. Experimental Lofi:
For the adventurous souls, experimental lofi pushes the boundaries of the genre. It may include unconventional sounds, dissonant chords, or unexpected twists, allowing for artistic expression beyond the traditional lofi sound.
Remember, these subgenres are just starting points. You can blend elements from different subgenres to craft your unique lofi style.
Start Making Lofi Music: Get The Right Resources
Now that you have a better understanding of lofi music and it’s subgenres it’s time to start making it.
Step 01: Download A Digital Audio Workstation
In order to make lofi music you need to download music production software. This is also known as a digital audio workstation (DAW). With a DAW you can record your own audio or play virtual musical instruments. In simple terms, it’s basically a music studio inside of your computer.
There are plenty of DAWs out there. Essentially they all do the same thing. However, as a beginner you’re going to want to choose the most beginner friendly DAW. One that will allow you to learn quickly.
We recommend FL Studio. This DAW is widely used by hobbyist and professionals. There is also thousands of free tutorials on youtube you can watch to easily learn how to use FL Studio.
You can download it for free here: https://www.image-line.com/fl-studio-download/
Step 02: Download A Lofi Virtual Instrument (VST)
Your DAW is basically just the platform to make your music. However, you can install add-ons or plugins to enhance your DAW.
Your DAW will allow you to install virtual instrument plugins.
Virtual instruments are computer programs that make your computer sound like real musical instruments when you play them on a keyboard or with your mouse.
In order for you to quickly begin making lofi music we recommend downloading a lofi inspired virtual instrument.
Currently, the best virtual instrument for making lofi music is Lofi Panda. This VST has over 200 included instruments. It would cost you well over $50k if you were to buy the physical versions of these instruments.
Lofi Panda gives you instant access to classic Lofi instruments. Similarly, this plugin is beginner friendly making it easy to learn and use.
How To Make Lofi Music
Now that we have the basics let’s dive into making lofi music.
01. Start With A Lofi Chord Progression
A chord progression is like a musical story made of different groups of notes played one after the other on an instrument, creating the background or harmony in a song.
In other words, it’s the backbone of your melody.
Chords used to make Lofi music usually consist of calm, jazz like progressions. These progressions often include simple, soothing chords like major 7ths, minor 7ths, or suspended chords, played slowly and repetitively to create a mellow and easygoing atmosphere in the music.
In order for you to fully understand chords you will need to learn music theory. However, to get you started making lofi music quickly you can download our free MIDI Lofi chords.
These chords can be dragged and dropped into your DAW and you can edit them to your liking.
Free Lofi MIDI Chords: Click Here To Download
02. Use Hip Hop Inspired Drums
Now that the backbone of your melody is in place it’s time to add some rhythm.
Lofi Music usually uses drum patterns inspired by boom bap and hip hop.
A lot of producers will add in unique sounds to make their drums stand out. This includes foley sounds. For example, raw recordings of hitting a bottle, slapping a box, etc.
To quickly get started you can download some free Lofi Hip Hop inspired drum loops.
Free Lofi Hip Hop Drum Loops: Click Here To Download
03. Create Your Melody
Now you have a progression and a drum loop. The next step is to create a chilled melody.
In Lofi music it’s best to remember that simplicity is best.
When it comes to melodies selecting the right sound is arguably more important that the actual notes you play.
For example, having a relaxing & unique sound already selected can allow you to make your melody fairly. basic.
Take some time to go through the instruments you have available. With the Lofi Panda VST you have over 300 presets to choose from. You can also get Lofi Panda add-ons to expand your instrument selection.
04. Add In a Bassline
Feel free to take this step or not—it’s entirely up to you. But you’ll often find that many lofi beats include a bit of bass.
When you decide to add a subtle bassline, it’s like giving your beat an extra layer, making it sound richer and more immersive. A warm, deep bass sound fits perfectly with the laid-back and relaxed mood that’s typical of lofi music.
Here’s a neat trick that many producers use: they align the bassline with their chord progression. This means that if you’ve already created some chords or a melodic structure for your beat, you can simply follow that same pattern with your bassline.
It’s a straightforward way to introduce more complexity and depth into your lofi music. So, while it’s optional, trying this out could be a cool way to enhance your lofi beats.
05. Add In Noise & Texture
Lofi Music is famous to having subtle textures and noises. For example, beats will have vinyl noise or birds playing in the background.
These textures add in a calming character to the beat. It makes it feel more relaxing and natural.
You can record your own soundscapes for this. Or, you can download some free textures.
One of our free VST plugins ‘Textures’ does this for you. This plugin will layer your audio with famous textures.
Download Free Textures VST: Click Here To Download
06. Structure Your Beat
Most lofi music is fairly repetitive. Producers will start with 8-16 bar loops and duplicate them to make full beats.
At this point you should have your basic beat in a loop format.
Lofi beats often follow a simple A/B structure. You might have an intro (A), followed by the main beat (B), and possibly a variation for the outro or a return to the intro.
Similarly, you’ll want to keep the arrangement repetitive and loop-friendly, as lofi beats are often used for continuous background listening.
For a more engaging experience you may want to add in some subtle changes and beat drops. This will keep your listener engaged. However, you don’t want to overdue it. Remember, Lofi Music is calm and chill.
To get a full overview of how to make lofi music you can watch the video tutorial below:
07. Add Your Own Unique Elements
The great thing about Lofi music is the lack of rules. Lofi music is famous for having subtle imperfections. Therefore, you don’t need to follow a perfect rule book to make great sounding lofi music.
Instead, you just need to create a calming experience for the listener. This opens up the opportunity to creativity.
With this in mind you can decide to use unusual instruments, sounds, or textures. Plenty of producers realize this and begin to add in their own unique touches. For example, there are producers making Lofi music with 8bit synths. Others making it with sounds they recorded in their bedroom.
You can also sample old recordings or vocals. Lofi music frequently incorporates samples from old records, speeches, or other sources. You can add a vintage or nostalgic touch by using samples.
However, make sure you have the necessary rights and permissions to use any copyrighted material in your beats.
Once you get the basics down you can begin to truly have fun.
Additionally, with the Lofi Panda VST you can import your own audio and layer sounds together. This allows you to create your own truly unique sounds and instruments.
In a nutshell, lofi music is something that lots of people enjoy listening to every day. You can find it on YouTube, where artists often do live streams, or on Spotify, where there are playlists filled with relaxing tunes. Making this kind of music can be a really enjoyable and imaginative experience, especially if you’re just getting started in the world of music.
Now, if you’re someone who’s new to all of this, this article is like a helpful friend that’s going to walk you through the basics of creating lofi music. It’s like giving you a roadmap to get started. Once you’ve learned these basics, you can take what you know and use it to make your very own unique lofi songs. So, don’t be shy, dive right in, and let your creativity flow as you craft your own special lofi tracks!