Electric Feel: Creating Songs In The Digital World | Timon Wientzek | Skillshare

Electric Feel: Creating Songs In The Digital World

Timon Wientzek, Composer & Sound Designer

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8 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. INTRO


    • 3. KEYS

    • 4. THE BEAT

    • 5. THE BASS

    • 6. THE MELODY




About This Class

Electronic music has the ability to make you dance and feel high on life and can also be thought provoking and reflective. With a minimal setup of a computer and a keyboard, you can dive into a world of endless possibilities and create your own instrumental electronic music composition.

In this class, we're going to create a song by exploring the beat, the bass and the lead melody; the three basic elements to our piece. By the end, you’ll be ready to create your own electronic song with mood and feeling.

All you need for this class is a computer with the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) of your choice, a keyboard and a pair of speakers or headphones. Basic knowledge of music is helpful but not mandatory.


1. INTRO: Hi, My name is Tamara WITSEC, and I'm a composer and sound designer for film and TV, and I have a background in audio engineering and music production. I'm originally from Frankfurt, Germany, but I've lived in Toronto, Canada, for over eight years. My music is featured in film and television productions around the world on networks such as TLC, Fox, CBC on National Geographic. With every project I work on the requirements on the music change. So one day I might be finding myself working on a soaring orchestral piece for a documentary film and the next it might be a down and dirty dubstep track for commercial in my free time. I like to make music with my two folk bands, and one of them play drums and the other I'm a co rider, guitar player and keys layer were called in the city. So check us out under. We are in the city dot com. One of my favorite musical genres is down tempo electronica music. So today I'll be showing you how to create Elektronik music, using only simple elements that make it easy to follow along, and to understand the process will be looking at the bead and the base and how they work together to create. A group will also look at our musical options and how we can use them to create moods and atmospheres with programs such as Logic pro ableto Live Q bays Digital performer. You have a world of music at your fingertips, and most of today's popular music is actually made with the same tools will be using today in this class. So I hope you join me, and I look forward to seeing you on the other side. 2. PROJECT OVERVIEW: Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining me for this class. I hope you're all ready and set up to go with your dog choice, your two speakers or headphones and your MIDI controller. I'm gonna go with Logic Pro nine for this assignment because it is my favorite audio program and I work with it all the time. But you guys can use whatever you feel most comfortable with and follow along just fine. The assignment today is to create an electronic music song based around your favorite seasonal activity. Now that could be playing basketball with your best friends. On a hot summer night, you feel the sweat, you feel the movement. It's really hot out, and there's high energy. Or it could mean hanging out at the beach with a cool drink in your hand and the sun burning down on you. I'm going to go with a more introspective feel. My setting is a fall day. It's rainy out. It's kind of cold. I'm sitting in a coffee shop, watching people rush by to goto work that makes me feel really cozy and introspective and going to try to recreate that with this piece of music. So for this assignment, I'm setting the tempo, Um, also known as the BPM. Beats per minute to 90 beats per minute and the 44 time signature 90 beats per minute is not too fast, not too slow and just right for the kind of feel I'm going for. Let's go ahead and find each individual element and set up our session. If you go with a more fast paced song, you might want to pick more fast paced elements and aggressive sounds. But since my song is more introspective and slow, I'm going to go with a more organic feel for my elements. So I'm going to start with the keys I'm going to go with on emulation off the seventies Fender Rhodes Electric piano, which has a really lush sound to it. Logic has a great preset for that called the classic suitcase M K one, which I'm just going to go with without any other embellishments. I'm also going to add in another channel off piano called the Yamaha Piano Hall, and it has a really kind of cold and wet feel to it, So I'm gonna add that into the sound, too. Give it that feel that I'm going for with the song. One is obviously introspective. The other is still that cold, wet day for the drums I'm gonna be using logics main drum sampler called Ultra Beat and pick the down Temple kiddo to Since this is a slower song, I think the elements that that drum set provides will do nicely. And I'm going to just stick with the preset. As the name suggests, it's probably gonna have all of the samples we need set up in it already. So I'm going to stick to the preset to keep it simple for this tutorial for the base. I'm gonna go with what's called the basement base, and you can find that in the logic presets under synth and synth bass, I like it for its smooth, low end and its percussive attack. And it will give me a lot of opportunity to play around with groove and rhythm for the melody. I'm gonna be using another piano sound on. I'll choose the Yamaha Piano hall again because it has that cold and wet fields with that I'm trying to recreate here. If you decided to go with a different mood, um, you're gonna have to feel out what that feels like. Your activity might be high energy and really fast paced. If it's a faster paced song, go with something more aggressive. Maybe, um, take beats that are harsher. You can also go with very Cynthy more breathy sound if if you're going form or lounge E sitting at the beach with a cold drink, feel, for example. So it's all up to you. If you want to follow along my lead, that's great, and I'll see in the next segment. 3. KEYS: Hello. Welcome to the next segment of this class. We'll be looking at the court progression. Now, How you go about that is entirely up to you and what inspires you most. And maybe you already have a good idea of what you are going for. And if so, please go right ahead and do that. Since this is a slower, moodier song, I've decided to go start out with the court progression to set the stage for the feel of the song and then create everything around it. But if you guys went with a more upbeat, fast paced song, you can also start out with a beach. In fact, that's how I would do it if I went with a more upbeat song. I find that often times when I start my song, the sounds that I chose lead my hands to find the core progression or the melody that the song meets. So if you're a bit more advanced on the piano and know how to improvise, I highly recommend that, and that's exactly what I'm gonna do right now. So that sounded quite nice already, but obviously I prepared a little bed before we started filming this class. So this is what I came up with. If you're not comfortable with the idea of improvising on the piano going to give you a simplified version off the core progression that I came up with so you can copy it for your son, you can keep them a single shots. Or, if you want to get a bit more fancy, you can arpeggio hate them. Speaking of fancy, I've added another element to the mix that I hadn't spoken about before. It's ah, re occurring element that adds a nice little swelling sparkle to the mix that I think does nicely in the whole scene off a rainy day. It is comprised of two cents that together make a great team. One is called Sacred Times and uh, comes from the ultrasound library. On the other. One is called November renderings, and you can find that in the E V P 88 library. The Sacred Times has a lot of sparkle and shine. Meanness to it, and the FM renderings is another emulation off a fender Rhodes, which gives it, ah, sort of heavy, drop like feel. So it's kind of ah raindrop e type sound that I'm creating, plated with a lot of dynamic. So it has a natural rise and fall, and you'll see just how that sounds in the mix later on. So I'm looking forward to hear what you guys came up with. Police uploaded for us to give you feedback and praise, and I'll see in my next lesson well, we'll be looking at the beat. 4. THE BEAT: Piper one. This is an exciting one for me, as I'm a pretty be driven human with our core progression in place, and it's sounding all moody and delicious. Let's add another flavor to the mix. Now. I picked a 90 beats per minute and 44 time signature for project settings. What that actually means is we have 4/4 counts per measure, but within those 4/4 notes are more notes hiding. So we have eighth and 16th notes as well. Imagine sitting with your three best friends at the table. You all drinking a coffee and there's a cake on the table. You all want a piece of that cake, so you cut it up into quarters. Next, you heard the doorbell ring. There's four friends outside the door, and they all want a piece of that cake, too. So you cut it up into eight pieces, cutting every slice into half. Your sister shows up with her seven best friends and they want inter that goodness to. So being the good guys that you are, you cut it up again, making it 16 pieces altogether. So this is what happened to our measure in cake terms Now let's see what we can do about the beat. The most basic beat you can create is the kick drum on the one of the three and the snare of the two in the four. So this is how it sounds. That sounds pretty good. And I'm pretty sure I saw some of you guys bumping heads along already, but just you wait until we had that high it into the mix. For starters, we're gonna add Ah, high head on every quarter beat. So 1234 And it sounds like this That's got a bit more fancy here. And add an eighth note on the high head in there as well. It sounds like this. No, that sounds pretty good to me. But I'm going to take the second kick drum hit that comes on the third quarter note. And we were just slightly earlier in on the timeline. So it hits a little bit before actually supposed to hit. That will make it hiccup slightly. I really like that. But the double time high head seems a little bit out of place for me right now, so I'm going to take out all the eighth notes again and just leave the quarter notes where they are and move. The third quarter hit off the high head, just above the kick drum, so it hiccups with the kick drum together. Now that's a pretty good beat, but I'm definitely a fan off embellishing. You beat here and there with little things. So, for example, you could add an open high hat that comes in just before the last snare hit. It sounds like this. You could also add a clap on the last snare head to make it sound a slightly different from the first. Their head. Now that's a pretty solid beat, and if you want to go with that, that's totally great. But I wanted to go with something a bit more elaborate and what I came up with. Sounds like this. Now. You probably noticed the high head is kind of stumbling along with the beat. You could call it a mistake in the moment, but if you stay open to it, a mistake can become a possibility. Also notice all the little embellishments that I added to make my beat even more awesome, but also don't overload you be. You're just going to tire out your listener. In addition to that main beat, I decided to add another channel with the same set up on it and add another high hat. And it sounds like this now. If you followed along this far, you have reached advanced lovely good action. If you just sat back and went with a similar version that I provided, that's great, too. That is just as valid as minority version. I'm looking forward to hearing all you guys beats, and I'll see you in the next lesson. 5. THE BASS: Welcome back. Now that we've established the bead, we can get going on the base. The base has a pretty special place and be driven song as it acts as the middleman between music and beat the basis considered rhythm section for its percussive elements. But it is just a much musical as it follows along with the core progression or even determines it. I would even go as far as saying that music without base is like food. Without salt, we have a pretty sparse be going, so we have a lot of room to play with our baseline. But more often than not, less is more Things can get crowded pretty easily and tiring to the listener. As I was talking about in a previous segment of this class, I encourage you guys to put down the hands and just see what happens. Improvise a little bit. In fact, this is exactly how it happened for this baseline. I was noodling around, playing around samples and sounds, but nothing really seemed to stake. So I decided to pack up my stuff and go to a coffee shop to write on this class for a little bit. When I sat down, I decided to open up logic again and just give it a little try with the keyboard. Um and it just kind of happened magically. So the pressure was off and things just happened. The baseline is pretty much is still in its original state. I moved things a little bit around and also quanta ized it. What we're talking, of course about quanta izing Um I encourage you guys to keep things human and the way you played them more often than not, because things can get pretty stale and rigid very quickly. In this case, I decided to Kwan ties because I needed the baseline to be tight with the rhythm. If you guys are uncomfortable with improvising, here's a simplified version off the bistline that I came up with just following the basic court structure for this baseline. Basically, you're just gonna hit every root note for every chord on every downbeat of every chord and follow along the song that way. So we've reached the end of the segment. I look forward to what you guys come up with with your baselines. Please upload them for feedback and ah, encouragement. I'll see you in my next class where we look at creating a melody 6. THE MELODY: So we got ourselves a pretty solid track going, and it's time to think about a melody. Now the melody is what makes a song memorable and gives it a purpose. For my song. I chose to go with a new organic piano sound that'll do nicely in our introspective feel that we're trying to create. I'm gonna play the piano in the higher registers so it sets itself apart from the rest of the music nicely. I will also keep it quite sparse and simple, so well, even all the space that we need for an introspective and reflective mood. Try to be intuitive and just improvise. But if you can't, here's a way off creating melody based on all the notes that you find within the court structure that you've created. So the notes that you'll find in each off the courts that we're playing our for the A minor a C for the F major, F A C for the G major, it's G B D. Then for the D minor, we have D F A for C major, we have C E G. And for the G major, we have G B D. Now pick one note out of the three for every chord and play it along with the core progression. It will be a nice, simple malady that is easy to create and will sound just great. These other notes that I picked for my simple melody I think this is the melody that I came up with while I was just jamming around with a A said. I kept the pretty sparse and in the higher registers, and I think it's it's nicely within the mix. I'm really excited to hear what you guys come up with for your old melodies. Until then, I'll see you in my next class. What will discuss tips and tricks on how to beef up your mixes and how to arrange this baby ? 7. TIPS FOR MIXING & ARRANGING: Hello and welcome back to the last segment of this class tips and tricks on how to beef up your mix. Usually, I like to do these things as I go along, but I decided to make it a separate video for simplicity. Now that we have all the elements together, let's look at the arrangement. Here's everything together. I think that sounds fantastic and quite rich. But a song usually start somewhere than go somewhere and then and somewhere. So let's start with what could be called an intro. I'm going to start with piano and roads are core progression and the melody over top and will repeat that twice. On the second repeat, I'm going to introduce the beat and also introduce that shiny, sparkly sent that I was talking about earlier. Now that we have the intro ready and set, let's add in everything else and see how that sounds. I want to repeat that twice as well. Remember that extra high track that I was talking about earlier? Well, it actually came in handy for this part. To add in a little extra, let's go into what could be called a verse where we drop out all the main elements and just leave the beat in the base going a really popular way to transition from one part to the next and electronic music is to cut out everything but the base, let it play for a measure and have the beat come back in on the last snare head with the drums just before the next measure hits. Now that we have a short but sweet arrangement going, it's on to the mix. It is important for you music to make the listener want to listen to it, so you want to make sure that it is clean and clear and not too overloaded and money. There's many ways of doing it. One is to apply equalization two elements. For example, if you have the court progression going like I do, there's a lot of low end in that keyboard, and if you add the base into the mix, it becomes pretty money between the two elements. So what I'm doing is I'm going to cut out the low end off my piano to creative pocket for the base to sit in. If you have two instruments that occupy the same frequency range a way of getting them out of each other's hair is by panning them left and right in the case off my core progression , I have two similar elements going at the same time. They both sit in a very similar frequency range, and you can't really do much about that. Other than panning, I chose depend them left and right at 30 30 for each side, so that's still a little bit off. Each instrument was left on the other side as well, but they were mainly out of each others way. Another way to place an element within the perceived audio field is to apply a reverb or a room hall. If you apply mawr roomy reverb on an element. It sets ITM or backwards in the perceived audio field rather than having it really close up and dry in front of you. With all these tips and tricks, you can do a lot to make your mics sound outstanding and inviting to the listener. But there's a few more things that you can do to make it sound amazing or stand out from other mixes. In my case, I chose to go with to plug ins that don't come in the standard logic pro version. Um, one of them is called Driver, and it's made by a company called Native Instruments. I've applied the driver to my drum kid to give it a bit more heaviness and dirt. I also added another plug into it, which is called Little Altar Boy and is made by a company called Sound Toys. They call it a Monta Fornek voice manipulator, so it's usually used on vocals to pitch them down or change gender. But it worked perfectly for my drum kids to give it a bit of a quirk and humanize the beat by making a bit more random in When beats Hit and how they Hit, you can listen to it here. - I also applied that same plug in to my piano sound in the core progression to give it a pitchy, wobbly, random sound, and added that in out of 50 50 as well. Just so we have a little bit off that actual piano going as well way that we have it all mixed and arranged. Here's what my song sounds in all its glory. - I really look forward to hear what you guys came up with for you mixes and what little embellishments you added to it. Please uploaded to the website so I can give it a listen and maybe give you some feedback on it. 8. FINAL THOUGHTS: as a musician, I'm always looking for the right kind of feeling, the song. To me, that's just as important and electronic music as it isn't handmade music artists like Radha Todd Bonobo and John Hopkins do a great job that the latter to implement a lot of life instruments into that music, and you could really hear the difference. I'm so glad you took my class and stuck to it until the end. I really hope you took something away from it. That will change the way you think create and listen to music as a fun little exercise. Next time you listen to your favorite song, really listen for a separate elements like the baseline and listen to what it actually does and how works within the construct of the entire song. I think you'd be surprised at what you find until next time. Guys. Keep it tight and keep on making sweet music