Music Production: Maximizing Emotion through Performance, Arrangement, and Sound


Authored by Enrique Gonzalez Müller


Course Code: OMPRD-577

Next Term Starts January 14

3-Credit, Graduate Level Course

This course is an in-depth, hands-on study of the unique elements to the craft of record production, focusing on the fundamental aural and philosophical considerations necessary to achieve emotionally impactful and commercially competitive productions. Special emphasis is placed on time-based musical and aural tools aimed at maximizing the emotional impact of any recording as well as the elements considered in representing artists, their music, and careers in the best light. You will hone your skills to become a high-functioning, self-sufficient producer while working in diverse, collaborative production teams. You will also hone practical organizational, time management, and budgeting skills to enhance project success.

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

  • Plan, lead, and deliver emotionally impactful and commercially viable music production projects within collaborative and self-contained contexts    
  • Achieve professional standards of musicality and fidelity in the service of effectively conveying emotion through recorded music
  • Lead a collaborative creative team, employing appropriate interpersonal communication skills
  • Develop greater self-reliance
  • Apply budgeting, scheduling, organizational, and time management skills
  • Apply appropriate technology in a variety of production and engineering tasks
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors Request Info


Lesson 1: Philosophy and Definitions 

  • Purpose of Music/Purpose of Music Production
  • Producer Types
  • Initial Elements to Consider
  • Making Something “Worthwhile” and Considering the Competition
  • Listener Demographics
  • “The Dream” vs. the Reality
  • Assignment 1: Launching Project 1

Lesson 2: Context and Tools

  • Musical Elements to Consider
  • Pure Narrative vs. Pure Sonic Experience
  • Songwriting Review
  • Artist, Repertoire, and Context
  • Introduction and Delivery of the Preselected Song for Project 1
  • Nature and Limitations of the Music Medium
  • Dealing with an Aural, Time-Based Journey
  • Two Main Tools: Tension and Release
  • Assignment 2: Production Analysis

Lesson 3: Preproduction (Part I)

  • Starting with a Demo
  • Establishing a Methodology and Maximizing Efficiency
  • Artist’s Identity and Career
  • Mix References
  • Analyzing Structure and Tempo in the DAW
  • Assignment 3: Match the Preselected Song to an Artist

Lesson 4: Preproduction (Part II)

  • Considering “Feel” and Phrasing
  • Considering Comfort and the Emotional Byproducts of Key
  • Producer/Artist Communication in Preproduction
  • Envisioning Overall Genre, “Feel,” and Foundation Rhythmic Patterns
  • “Producer Voice” and Artist Representation
  • Symbiotic Relationship of Sounds Playing Simultaneously
  • Assignment 4: Instrumental and Vocal Production Proposal

Lesson 5: Production Considerations

  • Beats/Drums/Percussion
  • Checking in with the Competition
  • Importing References and Engaging in Ruthless Comparisons
  • Producer/Artist Communication in Production
  • Assignment 5: Record All Beat, Bass, and Harmonic Accompaniments

Lesson 6: “Live Music” and a “Record”

  • A Word on the Perception of Density
  • Recording all Complementary Elements
  • Hooks, Additional Motifs, Ear Candy, Instrumental Doubling, and Layering
  • Dynamics, Setups, and Transitions
  • Complementing the Focal Point
  • Vocal Production
  • Assignment 6: Tracking Completion

Lesson 7: Producer/Artist Communication

  • Postproduction Considerations
  • Editing Overview Quantizing
  • To Tune or Not to Tune
  •  Mixing Overview
  •  Assignment 7: Project 1 Submission and Self-Evaluation

Lesson 8: Introduction to the Final Production Project

  • Comprehensive Production Project (Tcpp)
  • Psychological Responsibilities
  • Artist Identity
  • Assignment 8: Submit a Demo of Professor-Approved Song

Lesson 9: Managerial and Logistic Responsibilities of the Producer

  • Producer Contracts
  • Major Label Considerations Independent Artist Considerations
  • Calculating a Budget
  • Preproduction/Production/Postproduction Considerations
  • Musician and Production Fees
  • Assignment 9: Production-In-Progress Report #1, Budget Proposal for your Production

Lesson 10: Producer Professional Development

  • When to Say Yes or No to a Gig
  • Experience Triangle
  • Evaluating an Artist's Potential and Their Impact on Our Careers
  • Assignment 10: Production-In-Progress Report #2

Lesson 11: Review and Synthesis of the Topics Covered in the Course (Part I)

  • Activity: Discussion of the Topics Covered in the Course (Part I)
  • Final Course Reflections and Considerations (Part I)
  • Assignment 11: Final Production with Self-Evaluation

Lesson 12: Review and Synthesis of the Topics Covered in the Course (Part II)

  • Final Course Reflections and Considerations (Part II)
  • Project Evaluations and Peer Review
  • Where do we go from here?
  • Assignment 12: Approaching Your Next Project


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.)
  • 50 GB free hard drive space
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed ( to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)

Personnel Requirements

    Students will need to find 4-6 musicians to collaborate with and record for various projects throughout the course. 

    The following instruments will be required to record for course: 

    • Vocals

    • Drums

    • Percussion

    • Bass (upright and/or electric)

    • Guitars (acoustic and electric)

    • Keys (acoustic and synth)

  • The following instruments will be recommended to record for course: 

    • Horns

    • Strings

    • Miscellaneous ethnic instruments 



Author & Instructor

After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 1999, Enrique Gonzalez Müller started his career as a music producer and engineer at the Plant Studios, working with artists like The Dave Matthews Band, Joe Satriani, Joan Baez and Les Claypool. In his home country of Venezuela, he's produced many chart-topping albums for Caramelos de Cianuro, Viniloversus, Desorden Publico and in 2009 his collaboration with Los Amigos Invisibles won the band a Latin GRAMMY® Award for their album Commercial. In Italy, among many collaborations, Gonzalez Müller has produced, arranged and mixed albums for L’Aura and scored a #1 hit with "Teach Me Again" from Elisa and Tina Turner. In the US, he has recently worked with Jason Newsted (former Metallica), the Kronos Quartet, Nine Inch Nails and toured with Wynton Marsalis as well as many up and coming artists. In 2015, Enrique was the recipient of Berklee's Distinguished Faculty Award for his innovative work as an educator.


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

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