Making the Beat – I’m on a Boat by The Lonely Island

Instrumental and MP3 are at the bottom of the page, yeah? :)

Here I’ll be making the beat for The Lonely Island – I’m on a Boat! Check out the tune:

…And check out how to make the beat!

Hi! I’m Dave from, and on this Making the Beat episode I’ll be showing you how to make the beat for “I’m on a Boat” by “The Lonely Island”.

Download the samples and reason file used here:

Click here to download!

All of the synths and samples are contained within combinators – I’ve recently started doing this as a rule of thumb – it makes everything a LOT more tidy and easy to deal with!

Okay! Let’s begin.

I’ll start with the drums – I have split the drums into three seperate combinators – Kick drum, Snare and Hi-Hat. This makes it easier to mix, and also is necessary in this case as, since the snare drum is pitched in parts of the song, ReDrum isn’t used for this snare.

The kick drum is simply an instance of ReDrum run through an MClass compressor and finally through a reverb unit. On the ReDrum instance, I’ve turned the tone down, to accentuate the low end of the sound as the kick drum is bassy in this song. The compressor is just to even out the level; I’ve turned input gain, threshold and ratio to full, which makes the kick drum sample’s tail end a bit more prominent. The reverb unit has about 1 quarter dry/wet and the “small room” default setting. This just adds a sense of space to the sample.

For the snare, I’ve used an instance of the NN-XT sampler, as this allows you to do pitch rolls without the use of automation (I find automation fiddly and much prefer straightforward notation!) and also a maximiser, to bring the volume to a more consistant level. I’ll show you how to do this from scratch.

Right click the combinator and go create> NN-XT Advanced sampler. Click the bottom dropdown to see the sampler’s editing section. You can see the preset sample in there. Right click it and initialise patch to remove that sample bank. Now, right click under the sample list and click “Add Zone”. Double click where it says “No sample” and select the snare sample you want to use. Et voila! There’s your snare sample. I’ll increase the release a bit to give a bit more of a tail to the sample. Now just add that MClass Maximiser and turn the input gain up to about 3 quarters. I’ll just quickly show you the sequencer window with the notes in so you can see exactly how I’ve made the snare roll.

Hi hats are as simple as an instance of ReDrum. When programming them, I increased the resolution of the redrum inbuilt sequencer to 32nds in order to make them fast enough. The default is 16ths. For more info on putting ReDrum sequences into your sequencer window, watch my tutorial for the “Snazzy electro beat” where I do just that!

Let’s move onto the synths! First synth we’ll look at is the low pad. I’ve made this by mixing together with a 6:2 line mixer 3 instances of malstrom. Each malstrom instance is made of two sawtooth*16 wavetables detuned a little against each other which makes them more powerful, and then run through filters to take off the high end. I’ve made each malstrom instance a different octave as well to make a powerful 3 octave spread. Incidentally – if you want me to go more in depth into any of the synths I mention here, just send me a message or an email from my website and I’ll make a tutorial video for that specific synth!

For the high pitched portamentoed synth, I’ve used malstrom again with some sawtooth*16 waves, using the legato button to make only one note play at one time, and increasing the portamento, which makes the notes slide between each other as opposed to sharply changing. A subtle reverb makes the final touch for that effect, I’ve used “ALL treetops” and a small amount of the dry/wet to make it fit in the mix a bit better.

For the choir effect, I’ve used a reason preset called “Lush Choir” – which is frickin’ ace. Simple as making a combinator, clicking the folder button and finding the lush choir effect amongst the reason combinator presets.

Similarly, for the strings I’ve used the preset “Cloudbusting Cellos”. Which is a nice effect for pizzicato (which means it has a quick attack and release and short sustain.) strings, and have added an extra reverb unit to make them a little less prominent.

I was surprised to find there was not a single orchestra hit effect in reason’s default sound banks, so I had to make this in a similar way to the pitched snare – NN-XT, initialize patch, then add in the sample for the orchestra hit. With this, you have to be careful to make sure you choose the right key for the sample, which in my case was an “A” on the C2 octave. You can change this by dragging the slider bar to the side of the sample in the list across as necessary.

And there you have it! Get your flippy-floppies and head for the nearest yacht! While you’re there, check out my band “You and What Army”‘s Rave/Rock/Rap cover of the song to hear this beat in action!


Due to popular demand I’ve uploaded the Instrumental version on youtube here:

And uploaded the mp3 for you do download here.


3 Responses to “Making the Beat – I’m on a Boat by The Lonely Island”

  1. [...] the success of my making the beat episode for “I’m on a Boat” by The Lonely Island (It’s actually my most viewed page now!) I’ve had several requests [...]

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