Music Production 101

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Authored by Michael Bierylo, David Mash


Course Code: OLMSC-101

Next semester starts Jan 9, 2023

Level 1

Level 1

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Designed for anyone interested in producing music on their computer, regardless of style, this course provides an overview of the wide range of tools available to the modern electronic musician. Through hands-on exercises and projects, you’ll experience the process of producing a piece of music with your computer, from developing the original musical idea through distributing a final mix. This course will teach you not only how to design and configure an electronic music studio that supports your creative goals, but also how to understand and utilize the most popular tools and techniques employed by electronic musicians. You’ll learn how to set up audio interfaces, microphones, MIDI sequencers, synthesizers, drum machines, and more to effectively create and produce your music ideas.

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Note: Music Production 101 is a revised version of two former Berklee Online courses: Desktop Music Production for Mac and Desktop Music Production for PC. If you have already taken Desktop Music Production for Mac or Desktop Music Production for PC, please note that you will encounter similar or repeated lesson content should you choose to enroll in Music Production 101.

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

  • Configure a personal production workspace and use software instruments and audio recordings to produce a piece of music
  • Understand the properties of sound and how they are represented in the analog and digital domain
  • Understand basic audio specifications used in product descriptions and use them to choose audio tools that will best match your creative needs and budget
  • Create a composite version of a performance using multiple takes understand how the MIDI protocol represents musical performances
  • Create and effectively use audio loops in a music production
  • Recognize how audio signals move within a mixer
  • Use common mixing and mastering techniques to create a stereo master audio file
  • Use cloud services for distribution and collaboration
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Lesson 1: Setting Up an Electronic Music Studio

  • How Will You Use Your Studio?
  • Overview of Tools Used in an Electronic Music Studio
  • The Role of Portable Hand-Held Recorders
  • Mobile Devices in Electronic Music Production
  • Building a Reason Rack
  • Configuring Controllers in Reason
  • Configuring Computer Audio in a Simple Studio
  • Home Studio Connections
  • Room Preparation and Setup
  • Speaker Placement
  • How is an Electronic Music Studio Different from a Recording Studio?

Lesson 2: Sound and Signals

  • Sound propagation
  • Sound properties
  • Decibels
  • dB - SPL
  • dB Reference Scales: dBu, dBV
  • Operating levels: +4dB, -10-dB
  • Mic Levels
  • Balanced vs Unbalanced
  • Analog Connectors
  • Audio Specifications
  • Noise Floor
  • Signal to Noise Ratio
  • Frequency Bandwidth
  • Frequency Response
  • Distortion
  • Head Room
  • Dynamic Range
  • Studio Set-Up

Lesson 3: MIDI Sequencing

  • MIDI messages
  • Sequencing
  • The Transport
  • The Arrange Window
  • Menus and Transport Display
  • Getting Ready to Record
  • Bars, Beats, and Subdivisions
  • Metronome Settings
  • MIDI Recording
  • Record Modes: Replace and Overdub
  • Loop Recording
  • Step Recording
  • Standard MIDI files

Lesson 4: MIDI Editing

  • Editing MIDI Sequences
  • Tempo
  • Keys
  • Song Length
  • Event-Level Editing
  • Note
  • Velocity
  • Duration
  • Fixing Mistakes
  • Correcting Timing
  • Correcting Durations
  • Correcting Dynamics
  • Editing Pitch
  • Exercise: Cut/Copy/Paste
  • Reason Editing Tools
  • Quantization: grid and groove
  • MIDI Mixing and Automation

Lesson 5: Working with Synthesizers

  • Types of synthesizers
  • Synthesizer architecture
  • Audio signal path
  • Control signal path
  • Synthesizers in Reason
  • Software Synthesizers, Standalone or Plug-In

Lesson 6: Working with Time, and Tempo, and Rhythm: Drum Machines, Pattern Devices, and Loops

  • Patterns in Music
  • Creating Drum Patterns
  • Step sequencers
  • Arpeggiators
  • Defining Rhythm Loops
  • Defining Loops
  • Loops and Song Tempo
  • Adaptive Audio Changing Audio Pitch and Time
  • Loop File Formats
  • REX files, Apple Loops
  • Making and Using REX Files
  • Time Correction

Lesson 7: Audio Recording

  • Digital Audio Basics
  • Sample Rate
  • Resolution
  • File Types
  • Mass Storage Options
  • Digital Metering
  • Buffering and Latency
  • Microphone Types
  • Polar Patterns
  • Preamps and DI’s
  • Basic Mic Placement
  • Monitoring During Recording
  • File Management

Lesson 8: Digital Audio Production Techniques

  • Comparing Audio Record Modes to MIDI
  • Recording Multiple Takes
  • Basic Audio Editing Techniques
  • Comping Multiple Takes
  • Time Correcting Audio Performances

Lesson 9: Audio Editing and Processing

  • Non-Destructive Editing
  • Defining Regions
  • Editing a Song Form
  • Destructive Editing
  • Cut/Copy/Paste
  • Comping Multiple Takes
  • DSP
  • Change Gain vs. Normalize
  • Exercise: Using the Change Gain and Normalize
  • Silence
  • Using the Silence Command
  • Fade In/Out
  • Using Fades
  • Time/Pitch Correction

Lesson 10: Mixing and Audio Effects 1

  • Reason’s SSL Style Mixer - Compare to 14:2 Mixer
  • Audio Routing in Mixing
  • Insert Effects
  • Aux Send and Returns
  • Overview of Effects Types
  • Spectrum Processing: Filters
  • Dynamics processing

Lesson 11: Mixing and Audio Effects 2

  • Time-Based Effects
  • Delay
  • Doubling/Flanging/Chorus
  • Reverb
  • Automation

Lesson 12: Mastering, Music Distribution and Course Wrap-up

  • Audio Distribution Formats
  • Downloads
  • Streaming
  • Audio File Compression
  • Mastering
  • Mastering Tools
  • Mastering for MP3
  • Making MP3 Files
  • Distributing Audio Files Via the Web
  • Sharing Files on the Web
  • Cloud collaboration


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Students should have a basic, working knowledge of rudimentary music theory and have some basic keyboard skills.

Required Textbook(s)

  • None required

Software Requirements

  • Free audio-editing software Audacity
  • Reason+ / Reason 12

Hardware Requirements

  • MIDI keyboard controller
  • Microphone (XLR connection recommended if using audio interface)
  • USB audio interface (recommended)

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact for any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Michael Bierylo


For Michael Bierylo, teaching Music Synthesis at Berklee is just one component of an eclectic and highly creative career. From his Virtual Planet studio, he's completed film, video, and multimedia scores for clients like Hasbro Interactive, Nintendo, MSNBC, Nickelodeon, VH1, Martha Stewart Living, and Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure. He's also a guitarist, composer, programmer and sound designer for the uncategorizable new music avatars Birdsongs of the Mesozoic. His solo album Life Line earned four and a half stars from the All Music Guide, and he's a voting member of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences.

David Mash


Author of nine books and a recognized expert on music technology, David Mash is Vice President for Information Technology at Berklee College of Music. One of Berklee's true innovators, he founded the nation's first music synthesis department, developed the Center for Technology in Music Instruction, and assisted in the design of the country's largest networked music learning facility, the Berklee Learning Center. He has also scored award-winning digital films, and appeared on such programs as Newton's Apple, CBS Evening News, 3-2-1 Contact, and National Public Radio's All Things Considered.

Peter Bell


Peter Bell, Electronic Music and Production faculty at Berklee College of Music, is a producer, composer, and guitarist. His compositions and productions include the themes to This Old House, New Yankee Workshop, Victory Garden, the ABC After School Special, the award- winning film Radio Cape Cod, as well as countless jingles and production tracks. Peter has produced tracks featuring many world-class musicians, including Bonnie Raitt, Tracey Bonham, Livingston Taylor, Kate Taylor, Alex Taylor, Layla Hathaway, John Poussette-Dart, The New Kids On The Block, Rebecca Parris, Mick Goodrick, Mike Metheny, Mark Sandman of Morphine, Alan Estes, Patty Grifin, and others.

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He has recorded with Bonnie Raitt on Warner Brothers and the James Montgomery Band on Capricorn and Island Records, among many others. His awards include two Emmys, seven NEBA awards, and six ASCAP awards. Peter holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Composition and Arranging from Berklee College of Music and a BA in Government from Harvard University.

He has also authored a book entitled Creating Commercial Music, and recently released a new album entitled Just Sayin'. Read Less

Anthony Schultz


Tony Schultz has been an audio engineer, music producer and composer for more than 28 years as owner & operator of Big T Productions in Boston. He is an assistant professor at The New England Institute of Art, where he has taught since 1997, specializing in MIDI and Audio Technology. He has been teaching for Berklee Online since 2016.

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Tony has a bachelor’s of music degree in Music Production & Engineering from the Berklee College of Music and a master’s in Music Technology from the University of Newcastle in Callaghan, Australia. He has served three consecutive two-year terms as the chair of the Boston Section of the Audio Engineering Society and is currently serving his second two-year term as the AES VP of the Eastern Region of the US/Canada. He is also the current chair of Regions & Sections, overseeing all Pro and Student AES Sections Worldwide.

Past clients include RCA Records, Mercury Records, Virgin Records, WFNX, Filene's, Home Inc., EF Education, Schneider & Associates, Softskull Press Inc., Brand X Filmworks, Dudnyk Healthcare, Teatro de Marionettas de Venezuela, and the NAHB Production Group.

Tony has presented at a number of colleges including Berklee College of Music, Harvard University and the Royal College of Music in London.

He is a member of the Society of Professional Recording Services (SPARS), National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS), and the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP). Read Less

Michael Hamilton


Mike Hamilton has been producing, writing, recording, and performing music for over twenty years. He was a member of the late night band for the BET television show Live from LA, where he wrote and produced hip-hop pieces for guest artists such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog, Warren G, Method Man, P. Diddy, and Mystical. He has produced recordings for Interscope, Island Def Jam, and BGP Records. His recordings include Heart and Soul with the Winans, Thus Spoke Z with CTI, and the solo albums Natural Attraction and Here Together. While the saxophone is his principal instrument, he also plays keyboards, bass, and drums.

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Hamilton has appeared and toured with multi-platinum recording artists such as James Brown, Tyrese, Savage Garden, Coolio, Joe, Ronny Jordan, Jonathan Butler, and Phil Perry. He has performed at the BBC London, the NFL World Bowl IX Halftime Show, the Turn Ben Stein On TV show, and the Today show. He has been featured at the Boston Globe Jazz Festival and the Santa Barbara Jazz Festival. He received his bachelor of music degree from Berklee College of Music, where he is now an assistant professor in the Contemporary Writing and Production department. Read Less

Michael Moss


Michael Moss is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Music Production and Engineering at Berklee College of Music. His diverse resume includes three Grammy nominations for audio books, a prestigious Audie Award from the Audio Publishers Association, a long history as a saxophonist touring with the Cab Calloway Orchestra, extensive performances in the studio and on stage with artists such as Aretha Franklin, Gil Evans, the Four Tops, Frankie Valli, and Bo Diddley, and a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory.

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Moss has been working with MIDI since its inception, and it is an inextricable part of his scoring work as founder and owner of Soundscape Productions, an in-demand project studio situated in 5,700 square feet of loft space in Boston. Soundscape Productions provides superior production and sound services for education, industry, and advertising, including big-budget clients such as Gillette, Coca-Cola, and Warner Brothers. In 1996 Soundscape produced the Grammy-nominated book-on-tape Jumanji, which was read by Robin Williams, star of the movie version of the book. In 2000, Soundscape received two more Grammy nominations, for The Polar Express read by Liam Neeson and scored by Moss, and The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, read by James Earl Jones. In addition, Soundscape has hosted notable authors such as Philip Roth, John Updike, documentary filmmaker Errol Morris, poet Allen Ginsberg, and comedy performer Adam Sandler. Soundscape's expertise and popularity in the field of spoken word recordings was recently heralded in a feature story by Mix Magazine.

Michael Moss' music has appeared in well over one hundred commercial audio book releases, including The Polar Express, the Christmas classic by Chris Van Allsburg. He typically starts with a MIDI score, which serves as the seed for a full orchestral recording. His current MIDI rig is comprised of fifteen hardware synthesizers and numerous software synthesizers. His distinguished career as a composer includes clients such as National Public Radio, Simon and Schuster, Gillette, and many others.

Another facet of Soundscape is the company CreateSound. CreateSound markets the Michael Moss invention Aud-eMail, an innovative Web application that allows a user to record their voice and add a library of entertaining media soundbites to create audio e-mail messages. CreateSound's clients include Paramount Pictures, Miramax films, and Twentieth Century Fox. Moss uses Reason as the software basis of work he is doing in sound installation art, as part of a collaboration with visual artist Claudia Ravaschiere. His audio work resides in the permanent collection of the Boston Children's Museum, and their latest collaboration, Precious, was the subject of an NPR story. Read Less

Carla Hassett


Carla Hassett is a Los Angeles based singer, songwriter, producer, recording artist, session singer, and music educator. Born in São Paulo Brazil, Carla was raised in Chicago and schooled in the city’s great recording studios where she learned to be a studio rat and jingle singer. Soon after moving to Los Angeles, Carla began touring with bands like Curiosity Killed the Cat, REO Speedwagon, and artists like Billy Idol, Sergio Mendes, Christopher Cross, Cristan Castro, and actor/musician Gary Sinise. Carla has backed up soul legend Solmon Burke, and performed with Brazilian artists Flora Purim and Airto Moreira, and Faith No More’s lead singer, Mike Patton. She sang on numerous albums for artists like Gino Vannelli, Spanish rock artist Enrique Bunbury, Brazilian country music superstar Paula Fernandes, Michael Bublé, and Mike Patton. At the Latin Grammy Person of the Year Show honoring treasured Brazilian artist Caetano Veloso, Carla sang for Veloso and other artists like Natalie Cole, Nelly Furtado, Seu Jorge, Lila Downs and other Latin music superstars.

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Carla has performed on TV shows like The Tonight Show, Dante Night Show, The Grammy Awards, and Pee Wee’s Playhouse. More recently, Carla was featured soloist in the Sonorama project for Pacific Standard Time LA/LA at the Getty, The LA Tribute to Luiz Melodia, the Film Composer Collective concert at the Theatricum Botanicum for film composer Matthew Ferraro, and the rock opera Feast of Friends at the Rio Threatre in Santa Cruz. Carla sang on several feature films, including the Oscar nominated (for best original song) RIO for composers Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown, and John Powell, and RIO 2 with Janelle Monae and her band. In Brazil, the song “Teu Olhar,” which Carla produced and co-wrote, became the lover’s theme song for the popular telenovela Amor e Ódio.  Back in the states, Carla sang and contracted vocal sessions for numerous Disney recordings in Portuguese and Spanish, and on countless commercial jingles. Carla sang on the pilot for the Amazon original Mozart In the Jungle, and on the Netflix original film, Like Father.

 Inspired by her work with Caetano Veloso, Carla explored tropicália and jazz for her self-produced 2016 album, +Blue (whose title, “More Blue” was inspired by Veloso’s song “A Little More Blue”). On +Blue, Carla explored the meaning of “home” and the complexities of growing up between two countries and cultures: her birthplace, Brazil, and her adopted country, the U.S. NPR featured +Blue and interviewed Carla on Weekend Edition with Linda Wertheimer.  

In 2019, Carla released a vinyl single, Adriana, on the Burlacticus Recording Company label. Adriana, written by the great bossa nova guitarist and composer Roberto Menescal, was chosen by the label especially for Carla and her band for its exquisite groove in 5/4 meter, and intimate vocal style. During the recording session for Adriana, Carla tracked and produced an additional two songs of her own, Three Kings and Sempre Odara, which went on to win the John Lennon Songwriting Contest grand prize in jazz.

Carla graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Music Production from Berklee Online and is currently a professor of commercial music at California State University, Los Angeles. She is on the songwriting team for the children’s web series, Outta The Books, and continues to perform, write, and produce music both in-house and remotely from her studio in Los Angeles. Read Less


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