I've now reached the halfway point of Point Blank's online course 'Complete Electronic Music Composition.' A little over eight weeks ago I started with the very basics by learning keys, chords, and arpeggios in the first lesson; just recently I finished Module One by learning arrangement, applying vocals, and finishing tracks. In my last post I covered up through week five, so today I will briefly talk about the last three lessons and give some overall feedback on the first module.
Week six was all about adding extra musical touches to a track as well as arrangement. Extra compositional techniques covered included using one chord sequences, tension and release, adding a high string line, and creating a 'B-Section.' I really admired the fact that there are incredible songs out there with only one chord sequence such as Magnetic Man's "I Need Air." This has been a favorite song of mine for years, so I found it very interesting to break down the compositional components and find out why it works so well with just a single chord sequence.
In week seven I learned how to get started on adding vocals to songs. There are a few different approaches to vocals in electronic music which include having a single vocal for the entire song, having two or more different vocalists on a single track, or using only vocal hooks. Of course, the easiest way to start working with vocals is to find an acapella or vocal sample, but this lesson also went into proper approaches to finding and reaching out to a vocalist to lay down original vocals on a track. Having original vocals on a song can really help make it stand out amongst the rest and give an electronic composition something memorable that most people can relate to and remember.
The very last lesson in Module One goes into detail on how to apply vocals and ultimately finish off tracks. Whether you are recording a vocalist using lyrics you have written yourself, using vocal samples, working with an acapella, or using a vocoder, it's important to draw upon the skills covered in the course to make the vocals work. The lesson uses nine different video segments, starting with the writing process and finishing with arrangement, to comprehensively cover the entire process of working with a vocalist to lay down original vocals on a track. This is a valuable skill to know as a music producer if you want to make song that can be commercially distributed.
In just eight weeks I have been provided with eight hour-long live lectures that can be downloaded and saved for later, four opportunities to get live one-on-one feedback from my instructor, eighteen downloadable project files to use for practice/reference, and pages of notes containing numerous videos and DVRs that can be accessed for up to 23 months. I've also made three full tracks that could be fine-tuned and turned into three finished songs. After all this, the most important thing I have to say about the course is that you truly get what you put into it. Point Blank does a great job of providing all the tools and information to take your electronic music compositions to the next level and beyond, but if you don't put in the time and effort to practice the skills learned throughout the course, you'll find yourself frustrated and unsatisfied with the music you are making.
The course is not only meant to teach you skills, but also to spark creative inspiration. There were so many times throughout the course that I learned a new skill or heard a cool sound while practicing which got me inspired to create something brand new. Unfortunately for me, I didn't always have the time to let those ideas flow and turn into complete tracks, but I encourage you to do just that. Let yourself run off on tangents and you may end up with something really cool and unique after messing around with it for a while.
Next up, its time to dive into Module 2. I'll be keeping you updated on my progress throughout the second half of the course just like in the first. If you found anything I've discussed in this post intriguing, I highly recommend you follow the link below to Point Blank's website and see what they have to offer.