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Overview

In the Electronic Music Production specialization, you will learn the tricks of the trade to create high-quality, professional sounding music. You’ll begin by learning about the nature of sound and how a signal flows through a home studio setup. Additionally, you’ll learn how to create your own custom musical sounds through music synthesis. You’ll explore how to record MIDI and real instruments into the flexible and agile Digital Audio Workstation, Ableton Live. You’ll also learn to professionally record, produce, edit, and mix a vocal track with the Grammy-winning producer, Prince Charles Alexander.

Syllabus

Course 1: The Technology of Music Production
- Learn about the music production process—including recording, editing, and mixing—and the tools available to you to create contemporary music on your computer. With the recent introduction of high-quality-low-cost software and hardware, the tools of music production are now available to the masses. Albums are made in bedrooms as well as studios. On the surface this is liberating. Anyone can make an album for the low cost of a couple pieces of gear and a software package. But, if you dig deeper, you will find that it is not so easy. Producing music requires knowledge, dedication, and creativity. Knowledge is where this course comes in. No matter what kind of music you are making, there is a large set of tools that you will need to use. Each lesson of this course will demonstrate a different set of music production tools, loosely following along the music production process of recording, editing, and mixing. We will start with some background on the nature of sound and how we perceive it. We will then examine the components necessary to record audio into a computer, so that you understand the devices that sound must travel through in a music production process. Once recorded, sound must be organized along a timeline, a process known as editing. It allows us to give the impression of perfect performances and create many of the sounds we hear in contemporary music. The contemporary editing tool is the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), a piece of software that stores and organizes all the assets of a musical project. We will focus on the editing tools that are essential in contemporary music production and that all DAWs provide. After editing, sounds must be combined or mixed together, so we look to the mixing board—a very creative place if you know how to use it. We will explore the basic functionality of both hardware and software mixing boards, including volume, pan, mute, solo, busses, inserts, sends, and submixes. The mixing process, however, includes more tools than the mixing board provides on its own. Sound must also be processed, modified from its recorded state to fit the context of the music. We will look at compression, equalization, and delay, and examine the many audio effects that are offshoots of these devices and how they are used in a musical context. In the end, the music production process relies on your creativity. Creativity is a product of the mind and will stay there, unexpressed, until the right tools are used in the right way to share it with the world. If you have an idea in your head, it will take numerous steps, each with an important tool, to reach your audience. You bring the dedication and creativity, and this course will bring you the knowledge to make that happen.

Course 2: Introduction to Ableton Live
- In the past, Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) were programs used only by audio engineers with a highly specific knowledge base, on machines inaccessible to most people. But over the past 10-15 years, DAWs and the act of recording music have evolved from being a luxury of the few to being available to the masses. Ableton Live is one such application. Used by an extremely broad range of music creators, Ableton Live not only facilitates the work of engineers, producers, and writers in professional, home, and mobile studio settings, but it is also a powerful platform for musicians on stage, in the DJ booth, and elsewhere. In this course, you will explore some of Live’s most powerful and useful functionality: MIDI programming, audio recording, warping and processing, looping editing, mixing, performing, file management, and troubleshooting. Meant to be a springboard for those who are new to Ableton Live and/or DAWs in general, this three-week course will provide you with a strong knowledge base for using Live to take your musical ideas from conception to final recording. The course breaks down the many barriers of entry into music technology and encourages all those who wish, to create fearlessly. Note: If you do not own Ableton Live 9, you can download the free, fully featured Ableton Live Trial. The trial version will allow you to save and export your work for 30 days. If you use the trial version, do not download it until the course is scheduled to begin.

Course 3: Creating Sounds for Electronic Music
- What you’ll achieve: In this project-centered course*, you will create sounds and use them in your own musical compositions. Whether you're an aspiring producer, composer, or hobbyist, this course will help you gain skills in music production and confidence using software synthesizers. Along with your classmates, you will create a massive database of designed sounds, or patches, to use in your compositions. As part of the course, you will work with a free version of FXpansion Strobe 2. What you’ll need to get started: This course is designed for learners who are familiar with music production basics, and who have access to some basic music production equipment. Specifically, you should have experience with a digital audio workstation that supports VST, AAX, or AU plugins (Introduction to Music Production or Pro Tools Basics are recommended if you do not have this experience). You will also need a MIDI keyboard or controller (such as an oxygen 8), a digital audio workstation, such as Pro Tools, and FXpansion Strobe 2 (a free 90-day demo will be provided for Coursera learners in this course). *About Project-Centered Courses: This is a ‘project-centered course’, which means it is designed specifically to help you complete a personally meaningful real-world project, with your instructor and a community of learners with similar goals providing guidance and suggestions along the way. By actively applying new concepts as you learn, you’ll master the course content more efficiently; you’ll also get a head start on using the skills you gain to make positive changes in your life and career. When you complete the course, you’ll have a finished project that you’ll be proud to use and share.

Course 4: The Art of Vocal Production
- This course addresses recorded vocal performances and the technologies used to highlight and support them in modern record production and mixes. Most of us know that vocals serve as the focal point of modern recordings but many do not know the tools used or when the tools are used best in modern record production. The course begins with simple vocal placement in a mix, where you will also learn the fundamentals of compression and equalization. You’ll further study delays and reverbs before moving to advanced concepts in audio editing, synthetic processing, automatic & graphic pitch correction, time compression, time expansion, flex and elastic audio. Through analysis and/or hands on projects that the students will post for peer review, the student will gain an understanding of the many choices available to modern record producers as they record and mix with a modern tool set. You’ll see, in action, the Vocoder, Auto-Tune, Melodyne, Elastic Audio, Flex Time, VocAlign, tempo based editing and a host of other file modification protocols that are readily available on most Digital Audio Workstations. This course gives students a thorough look at the expanded choices that have risen in the art of vocal production as a result of these modern tools. The goal of the course is to help interested novices understand the recordings they are listening to, performers find an expanded language for their recorded voices and for vocal producers to be able to create musically artistic visualizations using singers as their paintbrushes.