Berklee Online wants to empower you to fill in your musical gaps when it comes to reading, writing, and rhythm. We’ve curated 10 courses that will help you up your game in music theory, composition, songwriting, music production, performance, and other disciplines. Learn more about some of our most popular courses that are now enrolling for our January 11 semester start date. 


From the Beatles to the Beach Boys to Pink Floyd to David Bowie, and many other contemporary artists, counterpoint has influenced some of the most popular songs and artists in the twentieth century. Whether you’re a songwriter, composer, or musician who wants to strengthen your compositional skills, course author Beth Denisch will teach you this essential technique so that you can write independent melodic lines that work together to create effective music.

From the Beatles to the Beach Boys to Pink Floyd to David Bowie, and many other contemporary artists, counterpoint has influenced some of the most popular songs and artists in the twentieth century. @bdenisch #Counterpoint Click To Tweet

Read: Contemporary Counterpoint: An Interview with Beth Denisch

Funk/Rock and R&B Guitar Soloing

Eddie Hazel from Parliament-Funkadelic and Ernie Isley from the Isley Brothers were masters at the percussive riffs and solos that give funk its distinctive groove-based feel. In this course, Thaddeus Hogarth will teach you the tools and effective soloing techniques of the legendary funk guitarists: the appropriate scales, the best use of effects (we’re talking about wah-wah, overdrive, distortion, and fuzz), and the rhythmic and melodic development that work together to create an authentic funk-based solo and sound.

Check out this video from when Thaddeus first introduced his Funk/Rock and R&B Soloing course.

Read: How to Create Your Signature Guitar Tone and Picking Style and guitar gear reviews by Thaddeus Hogarth.

Writing and Producing Advertising Music

Behind nearly every ad on TV, radio, and more commonly digital streaming platforms, there is someone who composed the accompanying music, theme, or jingle. Peter Bell’s course will teach you everything from the songwriting and production aspect of writing music for brands, to the business and marketing aspects of getting your music in front of advertising agencies. Many of Bell’s students have gone on to write music for brands professionally, including Katie Day, who used what she learned in class to start her own music production house, ShortCake Music.

Read: Top 5 Tips for Writing Music for Advertising from Peter Bell

Ableton Live Techniques: Non-Linear Creative Strategies and Composition

Remote music collaboration has never been more relevant, and in this course, Erin Barra and Loudon Stearns will teach you how to work remotely with another producer, interact with Ableton Live in real time, integrate improvisation into your production, and more. Over the course of 12 weeks, you’ll dive deep into composing with Ableton Live, mastering a number of linear and non-linear techniques.

Read: Improvising in Ableton Live

Lyric Writing: Writing From the Title

Learn to begin with an effective idea for a title, build complete lyrics from that title, explore how to set the title to the appropriate rhythm and tempo, and to place that title in the song’s different sections to create the most powerful impact. It doesn’t hurt that you’ll be learning from the same person that taught John Mayer songwriting lessons when he was starting out, Pat Pattison. By the end of this course, you will be able to produce a polished lyric using a streamlined process.

Music Supervision 1

Music supervision is the art of selecting and licensing preexisting songs or recordings for use in visual media like film, television, video games, and advertising. Emmy award-winning composer Brad Hatfield (Borat, Iron Man 2, Friends, Saturday Night Live, The Sopranos) begins with an overview of the many aspects of a music supervisor’s job and then delves into the history, theory, and application of combining music and media. The course offers essential information for artists who are interested in generating income from film or TV placements or students who want a career in music licensing.

Meet Brad Hatfield, who teaches Music Supervision 1 and 2.

Arranging 1: Rhythm Section

This course offers everything you need to create an effective arrangement; including rhythm section notation, adaptation of the melody and chords, intros and endings, articulations and dynamics, and how to create an emotional contour throughout the arrangement. Course author Suzanne Dean empowers you to write killer arrangements for drums, bass, guitar, and keyboard that really groove.

Composing and Producing Electronic Music 1

Loudon Stearns offers a current approach to teaching students the necessary tools and techniques to create contemporary electronic music in a variety of styles, including drum and bass, trance, dub, and house. You will learn the history of electronic music with listening examples that highlight the important people, technology, and techniques associated with the style.

Check out this video of a younger Loudon Stearns, letting loose the wub-wub.

Read: How to Make Electronic House Music at Home

Music Composition for Film and TV 1

Music Composition for Film and TV 1 is an ideal place to start if you want to write music in the style of Hollywood films and TV programs. Course author Ben Newhouse, whose commercial music has been used in more than 3,000 episodes of television, gives an overview of important considerations for composing music for visual media. The course focuses on a different genre of music for film and TV each week, and by the end of the course, you’ll be able to write themes for romance, drama, action, horror, and fantasy.

Music Writing and Production with the iPad

If you are a musician or songwriter on the go, or if you’re looking to start recording and producing with minimal equipment, then learning production on the iPad could be a serious solution. With just your iPad, a MIDI controller, a microphone, and a small audio interface, you have the power of a full recording studio. Course author and instructor Andrea Pejrolo will teach you how to create, record, mix, and master music entirely on the iPad.

Check out this video from when Music Writing and Production with the iPad was first introduced.

 Published October 30, 2020