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What is a typical LOFI beat?

What is a typical LOFI beat

What is a typical LOFI beat?

In recent years, the mesmerizing charm of LOFI beats, (or LOFI Hip Hop), has captivated music enthusiasts worldwide. The genre’s distinct characteristics, such as soothing melodies, vintage sounds, and mellow vibes, have made it a favourite among listeners and aspiring producers alike. This article will break down the question “What is a typical LOFI Beat?” and explore common instrumentation, keys used, tempo, structure and chord progressions. so that you can know what to focus on in your music production.

What instruments does LOFI use? 

LOFI beats incorporate a wide range of instrumentation to create their signature sound. Some common instruments found in LOFI productions include:

  1. Vinyl Crackles: These crackles simulate the nostalgic sound of vinyl records and create background noise, adding warmth and depth to LOFI beats.
  2. Sampling: LOFI producers often sample old records, jazz records, or other sources to extract snippets of sound that are then manipulated and woven into their compositions.
  3. Electric Pianos: Instruments like the Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric pianos are frequently used in LOFI beats for their dreamy and nostalgic tones.
  4. Drums: LOFI beats often feature dusty, lo-fi drum breaks, which are sampled from old funk, soul, or jazz records.
  5. Synthesizers: Vintage analogue synthesizers, such as the Roland Juno-60 or the Korg MS-20, are commonly used to add texture and character to LOFI compositions.

What key are LOFI songs in? 

LOFI songs can be found in various musical keys, but some keys are more prevalent due to their ability to evoke a particular mood. While no key is exclusive to LOFI music, some popular choices include:

  • C major: Known for its simplicity and purity, C major often creates a relaxed and soothing atmosphere.
  • D minor: This key carries a melancholic and introspective quality, commonly associated with LOFI’s nostalgic essence.
  • E minor: This key evokes emotions ranging from introspection to sadness, creating a sombre and introspective atmosphere, which is a common thread that you will hear in lofi music.

What is the average tempo of a LOFI song? 

LOFI beats generally embrace slower tempos, often ranging from 60 to 90 beats per minute (BPM). The slower pace contributes to the genre’s laid-back and chilled-out vibe, allowing listeners to immerse themselves in the soothing melodies and rhythmic textures.

How do you structure a LOFI beat? 

Structuring a LOFI beat involves balancing repetition and variation while maintaining a relaxed and atmospheric flow. Here is a typical structure to consider:

  1. Introduction: Introduce the main musical elements, such as the melody, chords, and drum pattern, gradually building the atmosphere.
  2. Verse: Develop the musical ideas further, adding subtle variations and transitions to maintain interest.
  3. Chorus/Hook: Create a catchy and memorable section that serves as the focal point of the composition.
  4. Bridge: Offer a contrasting section that adds depth and progression to the overall arrangement.
  5. Outro: Gradually fade out the music, allowing the atmospheric elements to linger and leave a lasting impression.

Who was the first LOFI artist? 

While pinpointing the exact origin of LOFI music is challenging, Nujabes (Jun Seba) is often credited as one of the pioneers of the genre. His soulful, jazz-infused beats gained prominence in the early 2000s and greatly influenced the LOFI music scene.

How to make LOFI in 10 steps

If you’re a producer wanting to create your own Lofi beats. Here are ten steps to help you get started:

  1. Find inspiration from existing LOFI music and study its characteristics.
  2. Choose your digital audio workstation (DAW) and familiarize yourself with its features.
  3. Collect and curate a library of samples, including vinyl crackles, drum breaks, and atmospheric textures.
  4. Experiment with different chord progressions and melodies to create a relaxed and nostalgic ambience, following around a 60 – 90 bpm range.
  5. Apply effects like saturation, EQ, and reverb to add warmth and texture to your sounds.
  6. Program or sequence your drum patterns, aiming for a lo-fi aesthetic.
  7. Layer additional instruments or samples to enhance the musical depth.
  8. Pay attention to mixing and balancing the elements to achieve a cohesive and pleasing sound.
  9. Master your track to ensure optimal volume levels and tonal balance.
  10. Share your creation with the world, whether through online platforms or collaborations with fellow artists.

How to write a Lofi Chord Progression

Understanding LOFI Chord Progressions 

Exploring the LOFI Aesthetic:

  • Dive into the distinctive qualities of LOFI music, including its warm and imperfect sound, vintage samples, and relaxed atmospheres.
  • Familiarize yourself with the common chord structures and progressions found in LOFI music, such as minor chords, extended chords, and modal interchange.

Embracing Melancholic Vibes:

  • Recognize the importance of creating chord progressions that evoke a sense of nostalgia, introspection, and melancholy.
  • Study the chord choices and progressions used by influential LOFI artists to understand the emotional impact they create.

Step-by-Step Guide on Creating a LOFI Chord Progression 

Selecting the Key and Scale:

  • Choose a key that aligns with the desired mood of your LOFI composition. Popular keys include D minor, C major, and E major.
  • Determine the scale that corresponds to your chosen key, whether it’s natural minor, Dorian, or another suitable scale.

Experimenting with Chord Types:

  • Begin with basic triads (three-note chords) such as major, minor, and diminished chords.
  • Gradually explore extended chords, including seventh chords, ninth chords, and suspended chords, to add complexity and richness to your progression.

Establishing the Chord Progression:

  • Start by selecting a root chord that sets the tonal foundation for your progression.
  • Experiment with different chord combinations, considering the emotional impact of each change.
  • Aim for a balance between tension and resolution by incorporating chords that create a sense of movement and release.

Applying Modal Interchange:

  • Explore the concept of modal interchange, which involves borrowing chords from parallel scales to add color and depth to your progression.
  • Experiment with borrowing chords from related scales, such as borrowing chords from Dorian or Mixolydian scales while staying in the natural minor key.

Incorporating LOFI Elements:

  • Enhance the LOFI aesthetic of your chord progression by adding subtle imperfections, such as slight detuning, vinyl crackle, or tape saturation.
  • Experiment with lo-fi effects, such as low-pass filtering or adding a touch of reverb, to create a vintage and atmospheric texture.

Tips for Enhancing Your LOFI Chord Progression 

Adding Melodic Embellishments:

  • Incorporate melodic flourishes and ornaments within your chord progression to add interest and variation.
  • Experiment with arpeggios, passing tones, or melodic sequences to elevate the melodic aspect of your LOFI composition.

Rhythmic Considerations:

  • Pay attention to the rhythmic patterns within your chord progression.
  • Experiment with syncopation, subtle variations in strumming or fingerpicking patterns, or incorporating broken chords to create a rhythmic groove.

Dynamic Swells and Fades:

  • Use dynamics to add expression and create a sense of movement within your chord progression.
  • Experiment with volume swells gentle fades, or strategic accentuation of certain chords to enhance the emotional impact of your composition.

The Most Used Audio Effects in Lofi Hip Hop

Having the right audio effects is crucial in making sure that your Lofi music productions sound authentic, but you also need to understand exactly what the sought-after Lofi effect is made up of and once you understand these core fundamentals, such as using a vinyl crackle, coupled with down-tempo drum loops, a reliable synth, reverb and a delay, you’ll be well on your way to creating great lofi music.,

Vinyl Emulation: 

Vinyl emulation effects are at the heart of lo-fi music production. These effects aim to replicate the imperfections and character of vintage vinyl records. By adding vinyl crackles, pops, and a tape hiss, you can instantly infuse your tracks with a sense of nostalgia and authenticity. Numerous plugins and digital processors are available to help achieve that distinct vinyl sound.

Tape Saturation 

Tape saturation is a key component of the lo-fi aesthetic. By emulating the warmth, saturation, and slight distortion produced by analogue tape machines, this effect adds depth and character to your tracks. Tape saturation plugins allow you to dial in the desired amount of saturation, giving your sounds a vintage, “worn-in” quality that is synonymous with lo-fi music.


Reverb plays a crucial role in creating the spacious and dreamy atmosphere found in lo-fi music. By adding reverb to your sounds, you can simulate the ambience of different spaces, from small rooms to vast chambers. Experiment with longer decay times and modulated reverb settings to achieve a unique, ethereal quality that enhances the overall vibe of your lo-fi tracks.


Delay effects are widely used in lo-fi music to add texture, depth, and rhythmic interest. By introducing subtle or pronounced delays to your sounds, you can create echoes, repetitions, and intricate patterns. Experiment with short slapback delays for a vintage touch or longer delay times for spacious and atmospheric effects. Modulation of the delay feedback can also contribute to the lo-fi character.

Bitcrushing and Sample Rate Reduction

Bitcrushing and sample rate reduction effects are essential for achieving the low-fidelity charm of lo-fi music. These effects deliberately reduce the bit depth and sample rate of audio, resulting in a degraded and distorted sound reminiscent of vintage technology. By reducing the resolution and introducing aliasing artefacts, you can add grit, lo-fi texture, and a nostalgic edge to your sounds.

9 Sub Genres of Lofi Music

Subgenre 1: Chillhop 


Chillhop combines the calming elements of LOFI beats with hip-hop rhythms. Known for its smooth melodies, jazzy samples, and relaxed atmosphere, Chillhop has gained popularity as the perfect soundtrack for studying, working, or simply unwinding.

Subgenre 2: Jazzhop 


Jazzhop infuses LOFI beats with elements of jazz, incorporating improvisation, complex chords, and live instrumentation. This subgenre adds a sophisticated and melodic touch to the traditional LOFI sound, creating a fusion of nostalgia and musical intricacy.

Subgenre 3: Vaporwave


Vaporwave takes LOFI to the realm of the surreal, drawing inspiration from the ’80s and ’90s elevator music, smooth jazz, and retro aesthetics. Characterized by warped samples, slowed-down tempos, and dreamy atmospheres, Vaporwave transports listeners to a nostalgic and otherworldly experience.

Subgenre 4: Boom Bap

boom bap

Originating from classic hip-hop production techniques, Boom Bap infuses LOFI beats with gritty drum breaks, heavy sampling, and raw lyrical content. Known for its energetic and punchy sound, Boom Bap pays homage to the golden era of hip-hop while adding a touch of lo-fi charm.

Subgenre 5: Bedroom Pop 

bedroom pop

Bedroom Pop blends elements of indie pop and LOFI aesthetics, often characterized by the intimate and lo-fi production quality. This subgenre embraces a DIY approach, with artists creating music in their bedrooms, resulting in a raw and introspective sound.

Subgenre 6: Ambient LOFI 

Ambient LOFI

Ambient LOFI takes the genre into a more ethereal and atmospheric realm. With its focus on spacious soundscapes, minimalistic textures, and soothing tones, Ambient LOFI provides a calming and introspective listening experience.

Subgenre 7: Trap LOFI 


Combining the mellow vibes of LOFI with the hard-hitting elements of trap music, Trap LOFI offers a fusion of laid-back melodies and heavy basslines. This subgenre blends genres and pushes the boundaries of traditional LOFI, creating a unique and captivating sound.

Subgenre 8: Lo-Fi House 

Lofi house

Lo-Fi House combines the lo-fi aesthetic with the rhythmic patterns and energy of house music. With its groovy basslines, sampled vocals, and warm textures, Lo-Fi House creates a danceable yet intimate atmosphere, perfect for late-night vibes.

Subgenre 9: Dream Pop LOFI 

Dream Pop LOFI

Dream Pop LOFI merges the dreamy and atmospheric qualities of dream pop with the lo-fi production style. This subgenre often features washed-out guitars, ethereal vocals, and hazy textures, immersing listeners in a dreamlike sonic experience.

Subgenre 10: Electro LOFI 

Electro LOFI

Electro LOFI blends electronic music elements, such as synthesizers, glitchy textures, and experimental production techniques, with lo-fi aesthetics. This subgenre pushes the boundaries of traditional LOFI, offering a more futuristic and eclectic sound.

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