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

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Authored by Enrique Gonzalez Müller

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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

Syllabus

Lesson 1: Music Production: Purpose, Definitions, and Review

  • The Purpose of Music and Music Production
  • Definition and Responsibilities of a Music Producer
  • The Purpose of a Music Producer
  • Producer Types and Defining Roles
  • Thinking and Listening like a Producer
  • Producer Mindsets: Music Lover vs. Music Maker (Macro vs. Micro)
  • Initial Production Elements to Consider
  • Demographic (Age Groups and Community)
  • The Dream vs. the Reality of Our Context
  • The Human Aspect
  • Defining and Defending the "Agreed Emotional Objective"
  • Assignment 1: Self-Reflection and Project 1

Lesson 2: Context and Tools

  • Assessing Where the Pleasure Takeaways Lie in a Musical Experience
  • The Paramount Importance of Songwriting and Some Professional Advice
  • Artist, Repertoire, and Their Context: An Album vs. an EP vs. a "Single"
  • Introduction and Specifications of the Pre-Selected Song for Project 1
  • The Difference between "Live Music" and a "Record"
  • The Inherent Challenge in Trying to Codify Art
  • The Two Main Tools: Tension and Release
  • Musical/Technical Tools of the Music Producer and Their Spectrum
  • Using the Tools of the Music Producer
  • Assignment 2: Analyzing a Production of Your Choice

Lesson 3: Preproduction (Part 1)

  • Starting with a Demo, Stripped to Its Core
  • Workflow Efficiency in the DAW: Importing Audio
  • Capturing Our First Impressions and Instincts
  • Assessing Emotional Objectives and Intentions
  • Application of Macro Considerations in Preproduction
  • "Producer Voice" and Artist Representation
  • Emotional Objectives, "Uniqueness," and Our Intended Demographic
  • Artist References (Peers and Competition)
  • Defining an Overall Aesthetic
  • Overall Genre and "Feel" References
  • Foundation Musical Considerations (Prioritizing Songwriting and Technology)
  • Does the Song Need New or Different Sections? Are Any of Them Superfluous?
  • Assignment 3: Matching Song to Artist

Lesson 4: Preproduction (Part 2)

  • Key: Considering Comfort and Its Emotional Byproducts
  • Tempo: Considering "Feel," Phrasing, and Emotional Modulation
  • Producer/Artist Communication in Preproduction
  • Re-Recording the Demo: Solidifying Structure, Key, and Tempo
  • Preproduction Considerations
  • Instrumental and Vocal Production Proposal: The Importance of Envisioning Your Production
  • Suggested New Structure and Production/Arrangement Proposal
  • The Limits of Our Attention
  • The Symbiotic Relationship of Sounds Playing Simultaneously
  • Assignment 4: Production Proposal and Demo Recording

Lesson 5: Production Considerations (Part 1)

  • Recording Foundation Elements: Drums, Beats, and Percussion
  • Frequency "Footprint"
  • Sound Envelope
  • Bass (Considering Low/Mid Frequency, Note Range, and Duration)
  • Harmonic Accompaniment (Considering Full Frequency Range, Note Range, and Consonance/Dissonance)
  • Checking in with the Competition (Artistic and Technical Considerations)
  • Producer/Artist Communication in Production (Part 1)—Checking In
  • Assignment 5: Recording the Foundation of the Song

Lesson 6: Production Considerations (Part 2)

  • The Difference between "Live Music" and a "Record" (Review)
  • A Word on the Perception of Density in a Production
  • Recording All Complementary Elements—Overdubs
  • Setups, Transitions, and Dynamics
  • Safegaurding and Complementing the Focal Point
  • Call and Response (The Obvious and Not-So-Obvious)
  • Repetitions (Why They Are Wonderful and Potentially Boring)
  • Producer/Artist Communication in Production (Part 2)—Checking In
  • Assignment 6: Overdubbing Instrumental Elements

Lesson 7: Producer Considerations (Part 3)

  • Vocal Production: Lead Vocals
  • Melodic Memorability and Range
  • Emotional Focus of the Performance: Credibility
  • Unison Layering
  • Vocal Harmonies—Heard or Felt and Why?
  • More on Vocal Harmonies
  • Vocal Ad Libs
  • Vocal Production Comprehensive Example and Recap
  • Assignment 7: Overdubbing Vocal Parts

Lesson 8: Postproduction Considerations

  • Producer/Artist Communication in Postproduction—Checking In
  • Rhythmic Quantizing (What and When Should We Quantize?)
  • Tuning (What and When Should We Tune?)
  • Purpose of Mixing
  • Musical and Technical Mixing Considerations
  • Macro and Micro Emotional Objectives
  • Protagonists vs. Supporting Roles (The Limits of Our Attention)
  • Dynamics, Setups, and Transitions
  • Technical Considerations
  • Spatial Depth Examples
  • Musical and technical Mixing Considerations Demonstration
  • Perception and Stamina Mixing Tips
  • A Word on Production Presentation and Deliverables
  • Assignment 8: Master Mix of Your Production
  • Informal Group Chat Topic Proposal

Lesson 9: Introduction to Final Project and Psychological Responsibilities

  • Introduction to the Final Production Project
  • The Comprehensive Production Project (TCPP)
  • A Further Work on the Psychological Responsibilities of the Producer
  • The Importance of Creating a "Vibe" and Setting an Emotional Tone
  • Is It the Producer's Job to Make the Artist Happy?
  • Assignment 9: Final Project Demo and TCPP Analysis

Lesson 10: Business Responsibilities (Part 1)

  • The Business of Music Production: Did We Do It for the Money?
  • Major Label Considerations: What to Look Out For/What to Ask For?
  • A&R/Artist Development Considerations
  • Business Affairs/Legal Department
  • Pre-Determining Monetary Resources for a Production
  • Calculating a Budget
  • Producer Fees
  • Engineering Fees
  • Mastering: Engineering Fees and Other Considerations
  • Musician Fees: Band Members vs. Studio Musicians
  • Assignment 10: Production-In-Progress Report 

Lesson 11: Business Responsibilities (Part 2) and Professional Development

  • Credits
  • Royalties
  • Royalties from Digital Performances
  • Independent Considerations: What to Look out For/What to Ask For
  • A Producer's Professional Development and Other Philosophical Considerations
  • The Money/Experience/Sexy Discography Triangle or . . . When to Say Yes or No To a Gig
  • Evaluating an Artist's Potential and Their Impact on Our Career
  • Assignment 11: Submit the Master Mix of Your Final Production

Lesson 12: Course Review and Reflections

  • Philosophical Synthesis of the Course
  • Where Do We Go from Here?

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.)
  • 50 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)

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 


Instructors

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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. www.siameseschool.com.

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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