So I just finished up my third week of class through Point Blank's online program where I am studying 'Complete Electronic Music Composition’ and I must say I am thoroughly enjoying it. Although I do not have quite as much time as I'd like to dedicate to working on my own music outside of the projects and assignments given within the course because of other obligations, I feel like the class is inspiring me to really try to make more time purely because I find the more I learn, the more fun I have working on music. Here's what I've been up to for the last three weeks.
The course starts with a brief introduction that guides students through navigating the site, submitting assignments, tips for getting the most out of the course, and a list of necessary hardware and software. This section was very helpful and can be referred back to if one has any trouble using the website.
Like I mentioned in my introduction post a few weeks ago, I'm not completely new to music production but I definitely wouldn't call myself an expert. Although the course starts off at a level that even a beginner could pick up without any confusion, it still contains valuable information for someone like myself who has some experience. After a brief introduction going over the syllabus and course resources, I began with the first weeks lesson on 'Keys, Chords, & Arpeggios.' This was essentially an introduction to music theory aimed to lay down a foundation before learning how to actually compose music. I had taken a class on music theory in college but not whole lot of that information has stuck with me since the first time around. Theory is one of the parts of music production that I've always struggled with but after just one week I found myself feeling much more comfortable identifying the key of a song, playing the notes in a particular scale, and creating chords out of those notes. One thing that is stressed in this first week was is to practice with the keyboard every day or as often as possible. This helps reinforce the concepts learned and also build muscle memory in your hands which will enable you to become a more fluent keyboardist.
Week two's lesson consisted of chord progressions, bass lines, and rhythm. So after building a basic foundation of music theory it was time to start creating some of our own chord progressions. The course uses short videos of an expert instructor by the name of Ski in which he demonstrates how different chords sound and also breaks down chord progressions from tracks such as Martin Solveig's massive hit "Hello." Almost every page contains a download to help students practice. Typically its a project file with instruments and midi clips already in place and instructions on how students can use these files to practice the skills they've just watched Ski demonstrate. Not only do these projects help by giving students a chance to practice skills but they can also spark ideas in which a student can then use to go off on their own and start to create an original idea which really is the intention.
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/220647568" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
Week three expanded on the concepts learned in the previous two weeks and also offered ideas of different ways to start a track which for many is the hardest part of writing music. The lesson is called 'Riffs, Melodies, & Approaches to Writing' and was my favorite thus far. Sometimes I do find myself sitting in front of my DAW with no creative spark just flipping through samples hoping to hear a sound I like or something to get me going but nothing seems to click. This lesson offers methods to get that spark such as finding a particular section of a song you like and sampling just a small loop and building upon that. An example of a song created using this method is M.I.A.'s hit song "Paper Planes" which samples a loop from "Straight To Hell" by The Clash.
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/271216636" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
The end of week three also marked the deadline for our first assignment which was to create five original ideas, each of which could be developed into a different full track. The object is to eventually turn three of these ideas into complete tracks by the end of the course by developing them in forthcoming assignments using knowledge and methods taught in the lessons ahead.
I've still got a ways to go and much to learn though before my ideas become full length tracks, but I'll keep you updated on my progress as I continue with 'Electronic Music Composition' through Point Blanks online program. If you have any questions or are interested in speaking with me more about my experience please feel free to reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via my socials which can be found at the top of the post. If any of this sounds intriguing to you I highly recommend you check out what Point Blank has to offer on their website below.