Culminating Experience in Music Production 2

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Authored by Sean Slade

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Course Code: OMPRD-695

Next Term Starts January 14

3-Credit, Graduate Level Course

All Master of Music in Music Production students complete a culminating experience or thesis project. This experience is meant to be exactly as named: the culmination of your work in the program, the experience through which you synthesize all you have learned. The culminating experience helps shape your next steps in the profession and in your career. In short, the culminating experience provides an opportunity for you to complete unique and original professional work. Through the culminating experience, you make a creative contribution to help solve a problem that exists in the profession. The work involved in the culminating experience represents the highest expression of your learning at the graduate level.

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This course, a continuation of OMBUS-693: Culminating Experience in Music Production 1, supports the completion of the culminating experience. You will work in consultation with your culminating experience committee to develop your unique projects, and to take them from first draft to finished form. In addition, you will prepare for your final presentation and ultimately present your work to your committee and to the online graduate community. As part of your coursework, you will reflect on your projects as well as on the knowledge and skills you have attained in the program. You will apply the individual experience, intelligence, organization, creativity, and synthesis of acquired knowledge necessary to complete your unique project. You will analyze the ways in which your culminating experience enriches the discipline of study or the profession, and the ways in which you have changed by completing the experience. Likewise,you will determine next steps, and what you will do next, if appropriate, to develop the project further. You will also master written and oral communication skills as you present your projects to your committee and to your classmates, and as you prepare your projects for submission to the course and to the Berklee archives.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Complete your culminating experience project
  • Produce a professional piece of work 
  • Consider your project’s next steps
  • Synthesize knowledge gained to develop an original contribution
  • Evaluate your experience, assessing the contribution made to the profession
  • Analyze your own artistic, professional, and personal growth, as a result of having completed the graduate program
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors Request Info

Syllabus

Lesson 1: Art vs. Commerce

  • Art vs. Commerce-Basic Concepts
  • The History of Art and the Music Business
  • Hit-Maker, Hack, or Rebel?
  • The Pursuit of Hits: Successes and Failures
  • Assignment 1: Rough Mixes of Further Basic Sessions Submissions

Lesson 2: Managing the Artist

  • The Producer as Psychologist: "Staying Positive" and other Strategies
  • Working with the Recalcitrant Artist
  • Who Has the "Final Say”: Your Role in Leading the Session
  • Conflict Resolution: Good Ideas vs. Bad Ideas, Who Decides?
  • Assignment 2: Submit Rough Mixes

Lesson 3: The Vocalist

  • The Singer Not the Song
  • Strategies for Recording Vocalists/Tips for Singers
  • Singers and Non-Singers
  • Tips for Compiling and Editing Vocal Tracks
  • Assignment 3: Submit Rough Mixes with Vocals

Lesson 4: Principles of Orchestration/Arrangement

  • The History of Arrangement
  • Band as Arranger, and the Producer as Composer/Arranger
  • Arrangement Does Not Equal Production
  • How a Song Can be Produced in Different Genres
  • Assignment 4: Weekly Recording Rough Mixes Submissions and Discussion

Lesson 5: Alternative Engineering Strategies

  • Learning the Rules of Engineering to Break Them/Hi-Fi vs. Lo-Fi
  • Cheap Equipment
  • "Recording Unhinged" with Sylvia Massy (Discussion/Video)
  • Having Fun with Pro Tools Key Commands with Engineer Benny Grotto
  • Assignment 5: Weekly Recording Rough Mixes Submissions and Discussion

Lesson 6: One Band/Two Producers

  • The One Band/Two Producer Exercise
  • One Band/Two Producers: The Foo Fighters
  • One Band/Two Producers: Taylor Swift
  • One Band/Two Producers: Perfume Genius
  • Assignment 6: One Band/Two Producers Essay

Lesson 7: The Making of the Record

  • Warren Zevon
  • Radiohead
  • Hole
  • Album Project Disasters
  • Assignment 7: Rough Mixes of Final Tracks Submission and Discussion

Lesson 8: Preparing for the Mix/Final Edits

  • Organizing your Tracks
  • The 24-Track Paradigm
  • Compilation Tips
  • Making Decisions Now, Not Later/Less Is More
  • The DAW Cannot Perform Music
  • Assignment 8: Final Mixes Submission (Round One)

Lesson 9: The Mix

  • The Balance Engineer
  • The Pareto Principle (The 80/20 Rule)
  • Determining the Best Lead Vocal Level
  • When is the Mix Finished?
  • Assignment 9: Final Mixes Submission (Round Two)

Lesson 10: Mix Effects as Emotions

  • Echo
  • Reverb
  • Compression
  • Distortion
  • Assignment 10: Finished Mixes (Unmastered) and Mastered Mixes Submissions

Lesson 11: Mastering and Current Musical/Business Trends

  • Professional Mastering vs. Amateur Mastering
  • Two Professionals Master the Same Mix
  • Music Business Past
  • What Is the Future of the Music Business?
  • Assignment 11: Final Mixes/Remixes in Sequence Submission and Experience of Recording a Four-Song EP

Lesson 12: The Finished Record, and the Culminating Experience

  • Sequencing Your Four Songs
  • Learning from Experience
  • Success vs. Failure
  • What Is Next? How Do I Become a Professional Record Producer?
  • "Know Thyself": Producing Records Your Way

Requirements

Required Textbooks

None required


Software Requirements

  • Any DAW (Pro Tools, Logic, etc.)

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Hardware Requirements

  • High quality audio interface, with a recommended minimum of 8 inputs (Apogee, MOTU, etc.)
  • Selection of diverse microphones (5 microphones recommended: 2 dynamics, 1 match-pair of condensers, and 1 ribbon—Shure, Audio Technica, Rode, Neumann, Royer, etc.)
  • MIDI controller (M-Audio, Akai, etc.)
  • Professional pair of speakers (Focal, Dynaudio, etc.)
  • Professional pair of headphones (Sennheiser, AKG, etc.)
  • 500 GB free hard drive space
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed (http://www.speedtest.net to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)

Instructors

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Author

Sean Slade is an associate professor in the Music Production and Engineering (MP&E) Department at Berklee College of Music. After graduating from Yale University in 1978, he moved to Boston, playing guitar and saxophone in various beat combos before co-founding Fort Apache Studios in 1985.

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Slade has produced, engineered, and mixed records for Radiohead, Hole, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Warren Zevon, Lou Reed, Joe Jackson, the Dresden Dolls, and many more artists. When not teaching at Berklee, he can be found recording music at Quarry Recorders, his studio in rural Maine. Read Less

Questions?

Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.

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