Writer, Engineer, Producer in the Home Studio

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Authored by Bora Uslusoy

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Course Code: OMPRD-228

Next semester
starts April 1

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition

$1,545

Non-Credit Tuition

$1,290

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The technology for writing, producing, and engineering sound recordings has advanced tremendously in recent years, and those tools have become accessible to music makers using small production facilities and home studios. It has become commonplace for music makers to complete all stages of the music production process in a home studio, develop those recordings to the level of commercial quality, and prepare those recordings for release into the music marketplace. In today’s record industry, production teams have shrunk and budgets have been reduced, further solidifying artists’ migration to their own home studios. Consequently, an independent artist is often not only the recording artist, but also the writer, engineer, and producer.

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In this course, you will propose a song idea in the first week, and develop it throughout the semester, transforming it into a finished product. You will be introduced to preproduction concepts that use harmony, melody, and rhythm to take your song to the next level. Once the song is ready to be recorded, you will learn production, mixing, and mastering techniques that you will use to generate a commercial-quality sound recording. Note that the sonic quality of the first recordings of the song idea is secondary to the song development process. That is, until lesson 6, when you will start applying recording techniques. Until then, the course will focus on the creative side of song preparation rather than the technical. As per the course prerequisites, you are required to have basic experience using a DAW, including recording audio and MIDI, and basic editing, in order to begin developing and recording your song.

The course will demonstrate practical techniques that utilize audio and MIDI recording and editing applications, followed by a deep dive into mixing—which is divided into four lessons,—and finally, mastering, which is the final step in music production.

Every week the assignments will require you to apply the techniques we cover in the course to your song ideas. You will receive personalized feedback from the instructor to guide you through the entire process and provide you with the skills and knowledge required to generate commercial-quality recordings in the home studio.

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

  • Write, engineer, and produce a song from start to finish in the home studio
  • Analyze and develop a song idea utilizing proven production methods
  • Use harmony as a creative tool in music production
  • Create contrast with melody, arrangement, rhythm, and lyrics
  • Arrange a song in the DAW 
  • Explain audio technology concepts
  • Utilize professional microphone techniques to record audio
  • Record and sequence MIDI
  • Employ audio and MIDI editing techniques
  • Apply equalization, dynamic processing, time-based effects, and automation in mixing
  • Use audio mastering techniques
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Syllabus

Lesson 1: Overview of the Music Production Process in the Home Studio

  • The Ascendency of the Home Studio and the Self-Producing Artist
  • Writing and Preproduction
  • Recording
  • Postproduction Overview
  • How Engineer and Producer Roles are Merged with the Artist Role in the Home Studio
  • Assignment 1: Rough Song Idea

Lesson 2: Artist Identity and Song Analysis

  • Your Identity as an Artist
  • Intention
  • Target Audience
  • Tempo and Key
  • Song Structure
  • Melody
  • Rhythm
  • Lyrics
  • Arrangement
  • Assignment 2: Develop Your Song Idea

Lesson 3: Harmony as a Creative Tool in Rewriting and Preproduction

  • Harmonic Analysis
  • Harmonizing the Major Scale
  • Harmonizing the Minor Scale
  • Using Alternative Chords Rather than the Overused Basic Triads
  • Creating Contrast with Harmony
  • Diatonic Chord Substitution
  • Assignment 3: Make Harmonic Changes in Your Song

Lesson 4: Arranging Your Song in the DAW

  • Changing the Tempo and Key in the DAW without Affecting the Audio Recordings
  • Programming Drums
  • Writing Bass Parts
  • Programming Synth Pads and String Parts
  • Writing Melodic Ideas for Intros and Interludes
  • Assignment 4: Develop the Arrangement and Make Progress with Songwriting

Lesson 5: Audio Technology

  • Signal Flow in the Home Studio
  • Dynamic Range, Headroom, Noise Floor, Distortion
  • Signal Types and Balanced-Unbalanced Connections
  • Microphones
  • Digital Audio
  • Metering and Adjusting Recording Levels
  • Assignment 5.1: Test Recording with a Microphone
  • Assignment 5.2: Finalize the Songwriting and Pre-Production Process

Lesson 6: Recording and Editing Audio

  • Microphone Techniques
  • Double Tracking, Artificial Doubling, and Haas/Precedence Effect
  • Stereo Miking Techniques
  • Playlist Recording and Track Comping
  • Punch In, Pre/Post Roll, Loop (Cycle) Recording
  • Basic Audio Editing Techniques
  • Audio Quantization
  • Pitch Correction
  • Assignment 6: Recording and Editing Audio

Lesson 7: Recording, Programming, and Editing MIDI

  • What is MIDI?
  • Virtual Instruments
  • MIDI Recording and Editing Techniques
  • Using a Click or a Loop
  • Velocity
  • Quantization
  • Step Input
  • Audio to MIDI
  • Assignment 7: Recording, Programming, and Editing MIDI

Lesson 8: Mixing Part 1: Session Organization, Balance, and Panning

  • Placement of Sound in the Three Dimensional Space
  • Check Your Listening Environment
  • Mix Preparation and Session Preparation
  • Using and Setting up a Reference Mix
  • Volume Balance
  • Panning
  • Assignment 8: Mixing Part 1

Lesson 9: Mixing Part 2: Dynamic Processors

  • Classification of Effects and Processors
  • Using Dynamic Processors
  • Compressor
  • Expander/Gate
  • Limiter/Maximizer
  • De-Esser
  • Setting up the First Time-based Effect in Your Mix
  • Assignment 9: Use Dynamic Processors

Lesson 10: Mixing Part 3: Equalization

  • Frequency and Equalization
  • EQ Types
  • Equalization Techniques and Strategies
  • Practical Suggestions for Equalization
  • Assignment 10: Using EQ in Your Mix

Lesson 11: Mixing Part 4: Time-Based Effects and Finalizing the Mix

  • Time-Based Effects
  • Reverb
  • Delay
  • Time-Based Effects with Modulation: Chorus, Flanger, and Phaser
  • Automation
  • Assignment 11: Using Time-Based Effects and Automation, Finalize Your Mix

Lesson 12: Mastering in the Home Studio

  • Introduction to Mastering
  • Equalization in Mastering
  • Compression in Mastering
  • Stereo Processing in Mastering
  • Using a Limiter/Maximizer in Mastering to Adjust Overall Loudness
  • Assignment 12.1: Mastering
  • Assignment 12.2: Final Project

Requirements

Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
For the preproduction component of the course, completion of one of the following courses or equivalent knowledge and experience is required: Music Theory 101Getting Inside Harmony 101, or Music Theory and Composition 1.

For the music production and engineering component of the course, completion of one of the following courses or equivalent knowledge and experience is required: Music Production Fundamentals, Pro Tools 101, Producing Music with Logic, Ableton Live Fundamentals, Producing Music with CubaseProducing Music with FL Studio, or Producing Music with Reason.

Students should be able to:

  • Construct major and minor scales, and triads
  • Have basic skills using their Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
  • Demonstrate basic proficiency on a harmonic instrument
  • Create and sing melodies or have a vocalist sing them
  • Create original lyrics

Textbook(s)

Software

  • Full-featured DAW, such as Pro Tools (Studio or Ultimate), Logic Pro, Cubase Pro, Ableton Live (Suite or Standard), Reaper, Reason, or FL Studio (Producer or Signature). Note that GarageBand is not acceptable.

Hardware

  • Audio interface with at least 1 mic preamp (2 or more recommended)
  • 1 XLR large diaphragm condenser microphone and cable (2 recommended)
  • Professional closed back, over-ear studio headphones, such as Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, etc.
  • Recommended: MIDI controller
  • Recommended: Studio monitors (pair), such as JBL 305Ps or better, and necessary cables

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact support@online.berklee.edu with 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

Instructors

Bora Uslusoy

Author & Instructor

Bora Uslusoy is a producer, engineer, songwriter, recording artist, and the founder of bUMA RecordZ. Originally from Istanbul, he is currently based in the greater Boston area, Massachusetts. He has worked with Lawrence “Larry” Watson, Lucas Bun, Kalelio, Tom Appleman, Pete Langman, Mick Morena, Phil Hilborne, Bryan McLellan, Mel Gabbitas, ARTIDOKSAN, and Aqua Talk, among others. Bora has also released two solo albums, Umutsuz Aşk and Muska (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack).

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Bora studied guitar at the Musicians’ Institute London and completed Berklee Online’s “Studio Production Specialist” certificate program. He attended Avid’s “Train The Trainer” program, leading to his becoming certified as an Avid Pro Tools Instructor. He is also certified as a Steinberg Trainer for Cubase. Bora has published five instructional books on guitar and bass in Turkish, created online courses, and has written magazine articles, product reviews, and how-to guides.

He is currently an Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music in the Music Production and Engineering Department and is a member of the Audio Engineering Society. 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.

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