In this post I will show you how you can create lofi music in these basic steps:

  1. Lay down some ambience
  2. Choose your instrument; piano, e-piano, and guitar are all good starting points
  3. Write a 4 or 8-bar chord progression (jazzing up is optional)
  4. Write a drum loop (swing is optional)
  5. Add a sub-bass to match the root notes of the chord progression
  6. Side-chain the harmony and bass to the kick
  7. Add a simple top-line melody
  8. Add lofi effects to taste
  9. Mix: EQ to roll off some of the highs
  10. Master, export

Let’s dive a little deeper now and I will create a track from scratch with you.



Grab my Lofi Essentials Kit packed full of MIDI chord progressions, MIDI beats, and samples - Everything you need to get started making authentic Lofi Music


🌊 Lay down some ambience

When writing lofi music I always start with the ambience because it helps set the scene and instantly creates a mood.

This ambience is essentially mimicking the noise produced from the vinyl and the background noise captured with poor-quality equipment.

What ambient noise you choose is up to you. It can be birdsong, waves crashing on a beach or even just the ambient noise of a cafe.

I've opted for a recording I captured of the sea close to a beach in Portugal.

Ambience Waves crashing in Portugal

🎸 Choose your instrument and vibe

This might sound like a silly step to include, but deciding on your main instrument(s) and vibe from the start will mean you have a better idea of the shape and mood of your track.

You are making your future decisions much easier.

Think about what vibe you want to create and then think about which instrument you think would suit that best.

This means, "Are you going for a darker, sadder track or a lighter, more optimistic track?"

The mood is up to you, but once you have decided, you have to choose an instrument to reflect that mood best.

I am a big fan of acoustic guitar and piano as the lead instruments in lofi tracks because of the mood they evoke.

Choosing Your Main Instruments

In this example, I have shown you how 4 different instruments can sound against the ambience playing something very simple.

I'll admit, it sounds nice going between the four instruments. I didn't say you needed to choose one instrument 😄

🎼 Write a 4 or 8-bar chord progression

Ok, it doesn't have to be 4 or 8 bars long, more like a 4 or 8-chord long progression.

Don't overthink this step. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. Choose a progression that you like.

I have opted for C-Am-F-G - yep, the good old I-vi-IV-V.

Choose Your Chord Progression

As you can hear I have already added a little melody over the top, but you don't have to do that. A chord progression is enough.

Get some inspiration for your chord progression: Lofi Chord Progressions: 13 Easy Ways To Create Authentic Lofi Music

🥁 Write a drum loop

Now drum loops are one of those things, like chord progressions, that we can all get picky about.

If you are not that confident in creating a drum loop then you can grab some MIDI files I created of 7 awesome lofi drum beats.

If in doubt keep it simple. Build your beat up in these steps (do as little or as much as feels right for your track:

  1. Lay down a simple kick
  2. Lay down a simple snare
  3. Lay down a hi-hat
  4. Add some occasional percussion samples on off-beats
  5. Add a shaker loop
  6. Layer when needed

For my drum loop, I am going to use drag-and-drop samples.

Let's start with the snare/stick and keep it on the 2 and 4 of the beat. This will set the pace nicely and cleanly.

Chords with snare on the 2 and 4

The next step is to add some kick samples.

I want my kick to feel quite sparse with not much going on to support the laid-back feel of my track.

Chords with snare and kick
Simple kick and snare beat for lofi music - how to make lofi music

But a beat doesn't end there. So we need to add hi-hats and percussion.

My first port of call is to add some simple shaker loops to keep it moving.

Chords with snare kick and shakers

I have also layered a clap on the snare to fill it out and also a quiet stick on the occasional offbeat.

Chords with full beat

As it stands, I am pretty happy with this beat so I am going to move on to the next step.

Daemon is an excellent resource for free Lofi beat sample packs (my favourite is kit number 2)

🔈 Add a sub-bass

Choose any sub-heavy bass you want.

I am going to use a logic preset - the ES1 Deep Bass preset.

To keep this as simple as possible, stick the sub-bass on the root notes of your chord progression.

Lofi beat with sub bass

🗜 Side-chain

This is basically where you make room in your audio mix for the kick to punch through the bass and other select instruments.

Playing around with side-chain compression can be a lot of fun and can yield some really interesting results. Check out Eevee in my What is Lofi Music post for some good examples of side-chaining.

In my track, I am going to side-chain the bass and piano enough to let the kick pop through some more. Maybe being a little bit more aggressive on the piano just for the fun of it.

Lofi beat with sidechaining
This step is optional and I often omit this step. If you are going to do it then choose how much you do it and to what instruments.

🎹 Add a simple top-line melody

Think of this as the aspect of your track that keeps people's attention and gives your track an identity.

As you may have noticed, I already have a top-line melody in my track so I am going to layer that with another instrument playing the same thing and also add a pad too.

Lofi beat with topline

Pssst. Did you notice I also layered my kick to give it a bit more oomph 🤫

📼 Add Lofi effects

Just to be clear, lofi effects include:

  • Vinyl noise
  • Tape wobble
  • Reverb
  • Distortion
  • Magnetic noise
  • Physical noise (dust)

For this lovely bit of fun I will be using my favourite plugin for Lofi effects, the RC-20 by XLN Audio.

Don't feel that you need to use this plugin, you can do a lot with freebies :)

I often find that less is more but as with side-chaining, you can get some great sounds by being heavy-handed. Just play around and have some fun.

I added the plugin to the piano and pad, only subtly of course.

Lofi beat with retro effects
Another neat little lofi mixing trick you can do is to roll off the high end of select instruments to give the track a softer, warmer feel. Again emulating what some analogue gear would have done. I like to use a single-band EQ for this task.

🎛 Mix and Master

Mixing lofi music can be as complicated or as simple as you like. I like this stage to be as simple as possible.

A little tip I learned from a great mastering engineer I worked with, Taz Mattar, was to always work with your mastering plugin chain on your stereo out so that you can tweak it as you create your track.

This is what I have done the whole time so that when I get to this stage it is simply a case of very slight adjustments and automation.

In this case, all I have done is lower the ambience and kick a little bit in the mix.

My Complete Lofi Idea

Don't Overthink It

I want to stress the point of this article is to show you the 10 simple steps you need to follow to create a piece of Lofi music.

Follow the steps and don't overthink them. You will find that you improve as a producer very naturally that way🤘🏼.

You're a legend!

💁🏻‍♂️ Richard Pryn is an award-winning composer and has been writing music professionally since 2005. Since then, it has been his mission to share his knowledge and experience to help make writing and producing high-quality music easy and approachable. Each year, he continues to help other composers and producers create music that lights them up 🔥


Grab my Lofi Essentials Kit packed full of MIDI chord progressions, MIDI beats, and samples - Everything you need to get started making authentic Lofi Music