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Course Spotlight: Music Writing and Production with the iPad

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Andrea Pejrolo

At Berklee Online, we regularly update our course content to maintain its relevancy to the ever-evolving music industry trends and ideologies. So it’s only natural that in the spring 2015 term, we’re launching a course dedicated entirely to writing and producing music using the iPad. Instructor Andrea Pejrolo is no stranger to this new music technology, or Berklee Online — he’s taught Ableton Live courses in the past. Music Writing and Production with the iPad is the first class that Andrea has authored for Berklee Online. At Berklee’s Boston campus, he acts as the Assistant Chair of the Contemporary Writing and Production department. In the following interview, Andrea offers his thoughts on the rise of mobile music technology and this exciting, forward-thinking course.

Kayley Kravitz: How did you get the idea for this course?

Andrea Pejrolo: When the iPad came out four or five years ago, I started thinking about using it for music, music production, or just writing down sketches or as a control surface. I looked right away into what the possibilities were. But it’s only in the last two years that it really became a semi-mature platform to do some more serious production. I’d always been looking into that. Three years ago I started doing some presentations for Macworld in San Francisco on how to use the iPad for music production [Editor’s note: you can read some of Andrea’s articles for Macworld here and here]. When I saw that the software and the iPad itself were ready and that there were tools like audio interfaces that would allow us to do some professional production, I started thinking about a course. Then I started writing and here we are.

You started using the iPad for production about four or five years ago. Was it fairly limited in terms of apps and the like?

In the beginning, there were just a few apps. GarageBand was probably the one that was most popular. Some of the software synthesizers were pretty cool and interesting but it was really in the last two years when apps like Cubasis and Auria came to their second or third version that I felt I was ready to start doing some serious production and also to teach it and start the course.

“You’ll Return” by Ella Joy Meir and Michal Weiner
Recorded, mixed, and produced entirely on an iPad by Andrea Pejrolo

What do you think students can expect to take away from this course?

For the less experienced student, this is a good overview to get your feet wet into producing something, to start writing something from a sketch then to a pre-production in Cubasis and just following the entire process. If you’ve never used a DAW (digital audio work station), this is a great tool to see what you can do with this type of technology. For the more experienced student, it gives you the ultimate portable solution for music production. If you’re more experienced with Pro Tools or Logic, this is a way to say “Look, you can translate almost every feature of those more expensive and bigger platforms to the iPad.” You can translate those skills into the iPad and also learn new tricks and techniques that are not available on a regular DAW, mainly due to the touch interface that allows you to do some really cool stuff.

Do you see the mobile production studios really moving forward and becoming more widely used in the industry?

I think so. I mean, we’re not talking about replacing a full Pro Tools rig. This is a different tool for people that want to write when they’re on the road or a plane traveling so they can put down ideas, do some mixing, do some audio editing. The touch interface and all the physics and accelerometer allow you to do some really cool stuff that you wouldn’t be able to do on a regular platform. In addition, there are rumors that Apple is going to come out with a 12” iPad Pro so I’m sure that the future of music production – maybe we’re talking about five or ten years from now – is going to be based on touch, so I think there will be some sort of combination of large tablets or touch screen so this is really the intro to all that technology. I think it’s great to be on top of it right now.

About
Kayley Kravitz is the Social Media and Event Manager at Berklee Online. She has previously written for Vanyaland, the Huffington Post, the Boston Phoenix, and Filter magazine. When she's not editing this blog, updating our social media channels, or coordinating our events, she can be found spinning forgotten Britpop singles in Kendall Square.
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