At the time that I was in grade eight it was mandatory for students to enroll in music class. A mandate of pure genius if ever there was. Unfortunately, I was exceedingly clever. Instead of expanding my horizons I convinced my teacher to allow me not to play an instrument. As a substitute for eight life enriching months of musical instruction I was instead permitted to compose an essay on Elvis. It's something I'll always regret, not having taken advantage of music lessons while they were free, and while I had ample time to practice.
In the summer of 1991 my interest in music grew and I began DJ'ing. This led to an interest in music production, and I began making beats in 1992 with software known as a tracker. My setup was unheard of; a voluminous 100 meg hard drive, 8 megs of ram, and 25mhz of processing power. These resources were more than enough for me to house DOS, some 8-bit recording software, a tracker, and one or two samples. At first, I churned out cheap loops with Scream Tracker 3, most of which were simple, low fidelity reproductions of existing songs. I can still remember phoning Geoff in my excitement to inform him I had recreated 'Hear The Music' by Gypsy Men. Here follows the intricate method I applied to reproduce the song: sample eight consecutive bars, then string them together in my tracker. How genteel of me. Although, I must admit the exercise was valuable in learning to manipulate samples, and increasing my familiarity with tracker navigation.
Once I had my fill of plagiarism I moved on to producing original works, and began sampling individual instruments so that I could arrange my own music. I sampled anything with amplitude, from Homer Simpson saying 'doh' to a mic being slammed against the desk. I discovered when creating samples using existing works it wasn't always straightforward to isolate the instrument I was after. It's often easier to orchestrate a melody using a synth sample that is completely isolated, versus a synth that is layered over another instrument, as the layered synth is permanently bound to another sample.
In 1995 I migrated to Impulse Tracker, which was essentially the same as Scream Tracker, and moved the computer into my bedroom. It was perfect. Having the computer in my room gave me quick access to my vinyl and DJ equipment. In no time I had hundreds of samples to work with, and the quality of my production improved drastically. I learned how the most minor variation in an instrument's tone could radically alter an entire song's soundscape. Tracking showed me chords, octaves, and the rules of structure. My music definitely grew richer. Although, I never thoroughly explored accompaniment. This is partly because of the low complexity environment of tracking, and partly owing to the fact that I was weaned on the B-sides and subtle instrumental dubs of underground house. As a result, the majority of my beats are modest dubs.
When listening to my beats try to approach them from a tracking perspective. In other words: zero musical training, no budget to speak of, and minimal software -- nothing like the professional music that you'll find on the radio.