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music production

Point Blank LA Instructor Sweatson Klank on His ‘Fine Lines’ LP

One of the best reasons to study with us at Point Blank, in Los Angeles or any of our schools including London, Ibiza, Mumbai and Online, is the combined experience of our expert instructors. We don’t use the term lightly, and everyone who teaches at any of our schools not only has a long CV but remains active in the music industry at the top of their game with ongoing projects, tours and collaborations. A prime example is Tom Wilson aka Sweatson Klank, who teaches music production at Point Blank Los Angeles. Tom has worked with some amazing brands and musicians, including Nike, Puma, Reebok and Ableton as well as Just Blaze, Flying Lotus, Kode9 and Little Dragon. His most recent album ‘Fine Lines’, which is the culmination of a year-long project with the excellent Friends of Friends, was released last month on May 25th and even features a collaboration with PB Graduate Anna Calvo, who he met when she was studying. We caught up with Tom to talk about the release and the spirit of co-operation that abounds at PBLA.

Hi Tom. So first off I would like to say congratulations on the LP – I really love its moody textures and sense of scope. You released ‘Like I Need You’ some months ago now with ‘Then I Was Me’ before that. How long has this project been forthcoming / when did it start to take shape as an album like this?

Thank you! The inception of the project took shape over a year ago. I signed with the wonderful Friends of Friends label and we strategized a release schedule and strategy for the coming year. It started with the ‘ Then I Was Me’ ep, followed by 2 double singles ‘Like I Need You’ and ‘Get it Back’. The last piece in the trilogy was the album ‘ Fine Lines’ which is essentially what we were building up to with the EP and singles beforehand.

What would you say you were trying to achieve with this body of work? Are there any themes or particular inspirations that have guided the work?

When I approach an album, I really want to make a cohesive body of work. I’m a huge record collector and I just love how old records often had a theme and continuity to them. So I aim for that first and foremost. Thematically, the record is really about the last few years of my life. In my opinion, music hits hardest when it’s from the heart. Without going into detail, I went through a lot in the last few years. So when I sat down to write, that came through in the music naturally. I’ve always aimed to make music that makes you feel something. Music that transports you out of your own element and into a different place. Similar to a good book.

What about technology, how did you make the album?

I use Ableton as my main DAW. I tracked vocals in Pro Tools and brought them back into the Ableton sessions. I like to use a combination of hardware and software. On this record, I used the Fender Rhodes, Juno 106, Korg poly 800, Dave Smith Prophet 6, Yamaha DX 7, a Fender Strat guitar, Kima Jazz bass, and a wide variety of guitar effects pedals. As far as software goes, I use Kontakt, Omnisphere, Dexed, Massive, Roland Cloud plugins and a slew of other stuff. When it comes to mixing, well that’s a very long list hahaha! I tracked and ran a lot of this record through a lunch box of API, and Neve pre amps, and then rounded some things out through a Manley Stereo Vari Mu Compressor for some additional warmth. The list of mixing software used would probably fill up 3 pages so I’ll spare you that one.

Fine Lines LP by Sweatson Klank

You worked with a Point Blank graduate in Anna Calvo for the single “Like I Need You’. How did you guys start collaborating? Did you meet at Point Blank?

Yes, Anna was a student of mine and she had a great voice and was motivated to work. We wrote the lyrics together in the live room at PBLA and she recorded the vocals at her home studio. I mixed the results in my studio. I love collaborating with my students. They are excited to work and since many of them have never had a release it makes it exciting to work with them and help them to shape there sound and get themselves heard. I have actually collaborated with a ton of my students here at PBLA.

Would you say that collaborating with students is something you find useful/important? It must be invigorating to see some talented people pass through that you vibe with musically.

It’s quite amazing actually. Every term there are a handful of students who I vibe with musically. When students are starting out, their music is so pure. They haven’t yet done it a million times, and so their musical ideas are so raw, in a good way. They often need guidance and direction to help them realize their full potential but its a two-way street. That is what collaboration is all about. I often get really inspired by a student’s talent or their approach to creation. I learn from them and they learn from me. It feels good to help people realize their talents and help them grow. So yeah, it’s a win-win situation.

How else would you say that your teaching has filtered back into your work as a producer?

Teaching has really helped me grow as a producer. For instance, I get inspired by students who just have this ability to pick it up so easily. I watch them grow and really develop over the course of the 3-6 months that they study with me. We all know that there a million ways to approach music making. Its easy to get stuck in a pattern as a producer and begin to feel like you are repeating yourself. Working with fresh talent like my students is a constant inspiration and reminder of the many different approaches one can take to songwriting and production. I always ask a student to tell the whole class what their process was in making a certain song. I think this helps everyone, myself included, to look outside their own approach and try new things.

You must be feeling relieved and happy with the release of the LP, but you don’t strike me as someone to rest on their laurels. Will you take a break or are you already on to the next project? Either way, what can you reveal about what that project may be?

Ha, you’re right. I am already hard at work on the next projects. The first is a huge beat tape that will likely be out early fall on Friends of Friends. I speak on this a lot in my classes, but the fact is, not every track has to develop into a full-blown song. It’s fun to just make beats and tracks without the pressure of structuring them into full-blown verse/chorus/bridge type of arrangements. Beat tapes can be a fun way to showcase a different side of your production. I really look forward to dropping that. Of course, I am also hard at work on my next “REAL” album. I don’t want to give too much away as it’s still in the development phase, but all I can say about that one is that it will be different. Super excited to see how these new ideas and songs develop!

What else is in the pipeline, do you have plans to tour this record at all?

Glad you asked. I’m preparing to launch my label Tone and Manor later this year. We already have 4 great releases done and in the bag. Its taken a while to get everything prepared and ready but its going to be fantastic! In fact, our first release will be a compilation, introducing the world to all the artists we plan to work with and release in the future. Many of whom are Point Blank graduates!! We have full releases coming from Billie Fountain, Vané, and Verbless who were all students of mine and who I have worked closely with on their records. Look out for that in the fall as well!

Thanks Tom!

We hope this leaves you feeling inspired and like Point Blank is somewhere you want to study. Tom himself teaches Introduction to Music Production as well as Creative Production and as part of our software offer in LA you can currently receive free copies of NI Komplete & Ableton Suite Worth $1,350 when you enrol. We also offer courses in mixing, sound design, DJing and more. For more info get in touch by calling 323 282 7660.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

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Join Us for the Next Open House at Point Blank LA w/ Sweatson Klank: June 20

We’re back with another PBLA Open House event at our gorgeous location at Mack Sennett Studios in Los Angeles. Point Blank Los Angeles will be open to the public on the evening of Wednesday June 20th, giving anyone curious about the school, or our courses, the chance to get the answers they need right from the mouths of those who teach them. For this one we’ve enlisted PBLA expert instructor Sweatson Klank for a special masterclass in creative production, teaching how to make a basic track in Ableton Live. Also, take a tour of our home in the famous hundred-year-old studios and get a look at the state-of-the-art equipment we exclusively use. To save your place, head over to Eventbrite and click attending.

7 pm: Arrival at Point Blank
7:30 pm: Introduction of Point Blank by Course Advisor Hart Thorson
7:40 pm: Ableton Live Creative Workshop feat. Sweatson Klank
8:25 pm: Q&A w/ Course Advisor Hart Thorson about Point Blank Courses/Giveaway

Tom Wilson has a wealth of experience in the music industry, having worked on composing music for apps, video games, commercials, television and film and working with brands such as Nike, Puma, Reebok, Novation, Ableton, Native Instruments and more. As Sweatson Klank, he has shared the stage with some incredibly talented musicians, like Mos Def, Just Blaze, Kode 9, Little Dragon and Flying Lotus to name a few and has been called upon as a Music Supervisor, Curator & DJ for some of the leading brands in Entertainment, Film, Fashion and Lifestyle. An LA legend in his own right, Sweatson Klank has releases and remixes on labels like Sony and Warp with his sound being championed by Gilles Peterson, Benji B and Mary Anne Hobbs, as well as being a regular feature in the festival scene having played at Coachella, Sonar, Low-End Theory and more. His long-awaited LP ‘Fine Lines’ has just dropped via Friends of Friends.It’s sublime and even features a collaboration with Point Blank graduate Anna Calvo.

Thinking of joining us at PBLA? We offer more introductory courses in production and DJing, plus more advanced courses in audio mastering and the art of mixing. You can mix and match any of the three-month classes we offer and take up to three at the same time. For more information, contact a course advisor or, if you’re in the USA, give us a call on 323 282 7660. If you’re calling internationally, use the number +44 20 7729 4884.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

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Garageband Tutorial: How to Make a Basic Track

If you follow us here at Point Blank, you’ll know the main DAWs we teach with are Ableton Live and Logic Pro. Both are incredibly powerful tools with limitless potential for you to make whatever kind of music you wish. The learning curve can be a little steep, however (which is why our Introduction to Music Production courses in both Logic Pro and Ableton Live are so popular in London and online), so what about the programmes designed for those at an entry level?

The most famous of these is probably GarageBand, a DAW developed by Apple that comes pre-loaded with most variations of Mac computers and MacBooks. Despite its simple facade and ease of use, it’s actually capable of much more than you might think and is essentially a streamlined version of Logic Pro; you can even load GarageBand projects in Logic Pro when you make the step up. In recognition of this fantastic programme, we thought we would make a GarageBand tutorial video to get the beginners out there started.

For this demonstration, we called on John Davies, a composition and mixing instructor here at Point Blank, to take us through the fundamentals of GarageBand. Despite being just 30 minutes long, John gets through a large amount of functionality in the video, including programming using instruments or pre-recorded loops, arrangement, effects and automation – proof that, in no time, you can make well-rounded and interesting tracks in GarageBand with very little prior knowledge.

Building a track based on the jazzy chord progression he has been discussing recently in his composition classes, John also reveals several tricks to make your track sound more accomplished. These include quantising, keyboard shortcuts, low- and high-cut filters, sound levels, arpeggiators, tempo and much more.

All of these techniques are covered in much more detail in the aforementioned Intro to Music Production modules we teach here at Point Blank, which, along with the Composition and Mixing Modules taught by John (and much more), are integral parts of our BA (Hons) in Music Production and Sound Engineering and BA (Hons) in Music Production and DJ Practice. Both of these degrees can be taken as fast-tracked 2-year degree programmes, and the former is available to study online. Any questions? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch using the number +44 20 7729 4884.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

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Learn Seven Ways to Make Better Masters

Mastering is often perceived as the murkiest and most impenetrable stage of the music production process. But our with these tips and techniques to make better masters, hopefully we can get you off on the right track. Mastering forms an integral part of our BA (Hons) in Music Production and Sound Engineering degree, with a dedicated module and more tips and instruction as part of our Art of Mixing and Advanced Mixing modules too. For a taster of what there is to learn, we bring you seven helpful tips to get you on the way to making better masters for your tracks.

  1. Quality in, quality out

The first step on the road to a great master is a great mix, so if you approach the mixdown half-heartedly, thinking you can make up for it at the mastering stage, you’re coming at the whole thing from entirely the wrong direction. The mix should sound essentially ‘finished’ before you render it as a stereo audio file for mastering, with all the dynamics wrangling, EQ shaping and stereo spatialising of every track and bus done and dusted. And when it is time to hit the Export button, remember to remove any mix bus limiting and leave yourself around 6dB of headroom (ie, have the master output peaking at -6dBFS), to give your mastering plugins room for digital manoeuvre.

  1. Reference, reference, reference!

The importance of A/Bing your in-progress project with carefully chosen reference tracks when mastering simply can’t be overstated. You might think your ears are as golden as they come, but even the most experienced mastering engineers will constantly compare the mix they’re working on to other tracks in the same genre, ensuring consistency with proven artistic and commercial standards. It’s good practise to maintain an up-to-date (ie, refreshed over time as the sound of your genre of choice evolves) collection of reference tracks that you both love and know inside out, sonically speaking; and plugins like Sample Magic’s Magic AB and Mastering The Mix’s Reference can make the process of comparing them to your own masters effortless.

Magic AB from Sample Magic will dramtically help you reference tracks

  1. Welcome to the future

There are some incredible mastering-orientated software processors on the market these days, some of them using artificial intelligence and other such sorcery to actively assist you in your engineering. iZotope’s industry-leading Ozone 8 mastering suite, for example, introduced the Mastering Assistant feature, employing machine learning to apply automated EQ and dynamics sculpting to your master, based on genre-specific profiles or an imported reference track. Then there are various ‘matching EQ’ plugins, including IK Multimedia’s Master Match (available singly or as part of the superb T-RackS 5), FabFilter Pro-Q 2 and the one built into Ozone 8. These extract a representative frequency curve from one or more reference tracks, then impose it on your master using spectral processing and EQ. As long as these powerful tools are used as guides rather than definitive ‘set and forget’ solutions, the results they deliver can be truly spectacular.

iZotope Ozone 8’s Mastering Assistant feature uses machine learning to apply automated effects

  1. Don’t overdo it

The most frequently made mistake on the part of the novice mastering engineer is the over-application of compression; the second most frequent is the over-application of EQ. Mastering is mostly about these two particular processes, of course, and approaching either of them without knowing what you’re doing is more likely to damage your mixes than improve them. We can’t teach you everything you need to know here, but if you find yourself cranking the ratio control on your mastering compressor higher than 2:1, you’re probably going too far – head back to the mix and sort whatever dynamic issues you think you’re hearing there instead. Similarly, the need for EQ boosts of more than about 1dB anywhere in the frequency spectrum imply that the mix is unbalanced, so load up that DAW project and take another pass.

  1. Analogue or digital?

Whether to build your mastering chain using analogue-style plugins (or hardware) or the super-transparent processors that only software makes possible will depend on the colouration of the source mix, the amount of corrective compression and/or EQ it needs, and, of course, the kind of sound you’re looking to achieve at the end of the road. For example, if the track has been recorded and mixed using analogue gear or tube-emulating plugins, you might want to keep your mastering effects as unobtrusive as possible, in which case, transparency is the way to go. If, on the other hand, you’re dealing with a sterile, fully in-the-box production, the warmth added by a real or virtual analogue chain can prove transformative. You can, of course, combine the two as well: follow your flawlessy transparent linear phase EQ cuts with an analogue-style limiter, say.

T-RackS Vintage Compressor is one of hundreds of analogue-emulating VSTs that can give you that warm glow

  1. Mastering reverb – handle with care

If you’re really confident in your aural judgment and a particular track feels like it might significantly benefit from it, a very light touch of reverb at the mastering stage can add effective depth, space and air. Obviously, you’ll want to use the highest quality reverb unit or plugin you can get your hands on for this, and extreme caution must be taken in terms of setting the length, dynamics and frequency shaping of the tail. If at any point you get even a fleeting sense that your reverb is incongruous or just too much, dial it back or take it out altogether, and consider going back to the mix instead. And to be absolutely clear, reverb at the mastering stage should only be used to work in a little bit of ambience, never as a frequency or level balancing tool.

  1. You don’t have to do it yourself

Mastering is an art unto itself, requiring not only in-depth technical knowledge of the gear and specific engineering techniques involved, but also – ideally – years of experience. Although mastering suites like Ozone and T-RackS put the tools required to produce amazing masters in the hands of anyone with a few hundred quid to spare, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with hiring an expert to do it for you, especially if the project is important and/or potentially money-making. Online mastering services from big-name studios such as Metropolis, Abbey Road and Real World are affordable, convenient and guaranteed to yield top notch results – and most even let you discuss the mastering process with your assigned engineer via Skype or phone, adding an invaluable educational element into the deal. Certainly worth considering while you’re learning the mastering ropes for yourself.

We hope you find this list helpful, but no article can compare to the proper instruction you will receive when studying the craft. As well as the aforementioned degree programmes (also available online), we teach two shorter courses that cover mastering in London, the Mixing and Mastering award, and Audio Mastering. If you have any questions about any of these courses, or would like to book in for a studio tour, please contact us on +44 20 7729 4884.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

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Watch the First Video in Our New Series: Ableton Live 10 In Depth – Using Capture

In a new series, we take a look at Ableton Live 10 in depth with Thomas Glendenning, our resident Ableton whizz in London and certified Ableton trainer. For the first video, the focus is on perhaps the most simple new feature of Live 10, and almost certainly the most revolutionary: Capture. It allows you to record midi sounds after-the-fact, even if you forget to hit record, opening a world of possibility for freer jamming. Thomas teaches Introduction to Music Production (Ableton) with us here in London which, as well as acting as a standalone course, is an integral part of our degree and diploma programmes, both in London and online.

After a short intro from Thomas, we dive into the demonstration, which is directly taken from the course materials for Intro to Music Production (Ableton). As we can see, it allows for a more organic way of recording sounds by eliminating the need to figure out exactly what you might have played while jamming, also taking off some pressure when recording a take. It does this by constantly listening to your session, as long as the midi track is record-armed. It will automatically guess your tempo and a suggestion as to where you want to loop the clip, and you can even overdub using capture as well, simply hitting the button again after playing over your original clip. Watch the video for some more in-depth information about what it can do.

Want to learn how to use Ableton from expert instructors like Thomas? As well as the ITP course, we offer much longer and comprehensive courses, foremost among them our new BA (Hons) in Music Production and DJ Practice, and BA (Hons) in Music Production and Sound Engineering. You can also take the latter as an online degree from anywhere in the world. We offer courses covering production techniques like these at all of our schools, which are completed by Los Angeles, Ibiza and Mumbai. Any questions? Please get in touch.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

LONDON W OUTLINE

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Learn seven ways to get better bass

The bassline is often the most important part of a track although it rarely gets the recognition it deserves. A great bassline either holds the music together, combines with a kick to provide the backbone of the track, or even comes screaming out of your speakers to take the lead. But with such varied uses, bass can be a difficult beast to tame… unless you follow these tips to get better bass. Want more? Check out our music production degrees for the most in-depth tuition we offer.

1. EQ is everything

EQ is the obvious way to bolster a bass, but don’t just assume that randomly boosting your bottom end at all points will do the trick – a good bass sound covers a lot more of the frequencies than you might believe, and is not just about the lows. First, enter the region of approximately 60-100Hz and boost by 6dB and listen to how that sounds. It should add more width or ‘girth’ to your bass sound, but be careful as excessive boosting here can also quickly muddy the low end. If you want more definition then you’ll want to be looking more at the mid-frequency range, and boosting by 6 to 8dB between 500Hz and 1kHz should really make your bass sound stand up and be counted. To increase punch, you sharpen the attack of the sound which you can either do by decreasing its envelope attack time or, within your EQ, by nudging things up around 3kHz (although this will very much depend on your sound and could go up to around 6kHz). Experiment with the bass solo’d and then within your whole mix and you’ll soon hear the drama that happens within each part of its frequency range.

2. Compress to impress

Compression is cool because it helps with two bass-heavy tasks: smoothing out the volume of an uneven bassline and helping add some punch to your sound. A compressor basically controls volume but it’s how it does it that is key and that is all down to the compressor’s settings. To create a more even bass track, you set a threshold to stop the volume of the bass going above a certain level – say -6dB – and a ratio to determine how much it reduces the volume if it goes above that threshold. Two other settings – attack and release – determine how quickly the volume is reduced and then increased after the signal drops below the threshold. A medium attack time will let some of the bass transients through and so give you more punch while a faster attack time and slower release will help smooth over an uneven bass. The actual settings on your compressor really depend on the type of bass sound you are using, but try these settings for punch: a ratio of 4: or 5:1 and attack and release times of between 50 and 100ms. Be careful not to go too fast on either of these as you might introduce some distortion. To smooth out an uneven bassline increase the ration to 6:1, the release time to 250-400ms and lower the attack time to as little as 5ms. At the end of the process, you might want to nudge the gain up as you’ll have reduced it in places. Again, use these settings as a starting point because experimentation is key!

3. Lay your bass on me

Creating the perfect single bass sound with EQ and compression is the ideal scenario but if you’re feeling lazy, don’t be afraid to layer different bass sounds together to toughen your lows up. In the same way as you can layer kicks of different types together – say a boomy sub kick and something a little more clicky – to create one almighty kick drum sound, so you can double up with basses. Just make sure that each one you layer doesn’t clash with the other and that each assumes a different role in the overall sound – one might be responsible for the attack part of the sound, for example. And, if necessary, be prepared to surgically EQ them away from each other so that their frequencies don’t clash.

4. And talking of kicks…

Your kick and bass will be the backbone of your track, but because they have a similar dynamic their relationship can be complex because there will be some crossover in terms of frequency and their pan positions (as both should be placed centrally in your stereo mix). So unless you are aiming to layer the kick and bass tightly together, almost creating a single sound – perhaps using a sine wave type sub-bass sound as part of your kick drone – you will need to make sure they sit apart in your mix so they don’t clash. This could be as simple as not playing a bass note at the same time as the kick but this obviously limits your arrangement options. The best idea is to take some of the EQ ideas from the first tip above. Use a spectrum analyser to examine both the kick and bass sound visually so you can see with surgical precision where each sound clashes so can either ‘lift’ the bass away from the kick or vice versa (lift the kick or lower the bass).

5. Programming your bass

You might want a bassline to stay static and unnoticed and that’s fine. If its job is just to bind your track together or to act as its backbone then a solid bass sequence doesn’t have to do much at all – just keep it punchy and not too overpowering in terms of girth (see tip 1). But if you want more interest you can easily get more dynamics with some simple programming tricks. A lot of synth bass sounds alter with velocity – the harder you press a note, the higher the resonance, for example – so at the very least introduce velocity changes as your bassline progresses. Adding legato – where notes almost sweep and slide into each other – is also a great option to introduce a more dynamic feel to a bassline, and even simply taking a note or two within a sequence up an octave will also make a bassline stand out and bounce along.

6. The many uses of the filter

Early dance music introduced the idea of subtle – actually not that subtle – filtering of basslines. Those early acid squeals were all about resonating and raising filter cutoff frequencies of the TB-303 bassline synth, and while that sound endures to this day, the filter has become an important tool for other bass programming tasks. You can use high or low pass filtering to keep sounds away from one another in the mix – as described above with EQ – or use a high pass filter to remove unwanted low end rumble frequencies (sub 30Hz) in either a kick or bass sound. Another tried and tested filter idea is to introduce movement to a bassline via an LFO. Apply this to your filter cutoff frequency for all sorts of effects – from acid screaming to dubstep wobble – or at a much lower rate for really subtle changes in the sound as it progresses through a sequence.

7. Effects? Not really…

Finally, as a general rule, ease off the effects with basslines because they can quickly be overpowered and muddied. Delays, in particular, can sound great in isolation but can quickly get out of control in a mix and reverbs and choruses can start spreading your bass love across the soundstage – not a great idea as you should keep it central. Distortion and overdrive effects can work on a bass sound if it’s quite a simple sub or synth sound to start with, but try not to go overboard.

So there you have it – seven easy-to-follow tips for getting the most from your bass. We offer tuition in music production at all of our school in London, Los Angeles, Ibiza, Mumbai and online, so if you want to get into more detail – you know what to do. To find out more, give us a call or drop us an email, finding our contact details here.

 

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Making a Track with Big Kick and Carbon Electra – New Instruments from Plugin Boutique

As part of our partnership with Loopmasters and Plugin Boutique, we have a new tutorial for you featuring two fantastic plugins from Plugin Boutique. Carbon Electra is a synth plugin with a streamlined interface and loads of variation potential, while big kick does exactly what it says on the tin – making designing a weighty kick easier than ever before. At our London campus, we have a whole studio connected with the Loopcloud library along with these great plugins, all of which you can access when learning production with us in London.

The instructor featured in this video is Nick Feldman – who teaches production and sound design in London. Nick has releases on One Inch Punch, Bad Sekta & Frogs as Ronin. He DJs on radio and tours complex Ableton Live work around the world playing with Vex’d, Milanese, Crystal Distortion, Hellfish & Dead Silence Syndicate.

in the video, he begins with Big Kick, a fairly straightforward concept designed to make designing – you guessed it – a big sounding kick drum. It’s quick and easy to use but allows an impressive amount of tweaking. The body section is where you will create a boomy bottom end. Controlling the attack with pitch and tuning is where a higher end will give it definition. You can also add one or two samples to your kick to really give it character.

Next, Nick turns his attention to Carbon Electra which is primarily a subtractive synth and contains four oscillators, three routable LFOs, oscillator sync mode, frequency modulation, a pitchable noise oscillator plus an array of interesting effects. The sounds created are big and bold and the presets fit nicely in the mix. Both get the thumbs up from us, and are well worth a place in your instruments library.

 

Our London facility features a studio fully kitted out with Loopcloud licenses

As mentioned, we can teach you everything you need to know about music production. Our Music Production and Sound Engineering degree has been running for almost a year now and is also available to study online. We’ve also added new degrees beginning next year including the BA (Hons) in Music Production and DJ Practice, which, like our original degree, contains modules on sound design. Don’t forget you can talk with a course advisor if you have any further questions.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

The post Making a Track with Big Kick and Carbon Electra – New Instruments from Plugin Boutique appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

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Point Blank Launches the New BA (Hons) in Music Production & DJ Practice

As the technology in music production and DJing gets more advanced, the possibilities for innovative music-making and performances are becoming greater each day. Not only that, but it’s easier than ever before to merge elements of both production and DJing, and it’s possible to use one to inform the other in ways unheard of just a few years ago. Gigging and touring are very much the lifeblood of the electronic music scene and the primary source of income for the vast majority of artists today. Again, the link with music making is inextricable, as there’s no better way of earning yourself a booking than by releasing a killer track.

Our DJ Studio at Orsman Road is fully stocked with the latest equipment from Pioneer DJ Radio as well as other industry leaders. Whenever a new piece of kit is released you can be sure we’ll have one in here. 

The long and short of all of this is that if you want to give yourself the best possible chance of success, you need to be able to back up your production with DJ Skills and vice versa. That is why we have developed a new degree with a much greater focus on the performative side of electronic music, in order to give students everything they need to carve out a career as an artist. Get all the details on our new 3-year B.A. (Hons) in Music Production & DJ Practice, including a full list of modules and FAQs, here. You can apply for student funding for this programme. We also offer a two-year accelerated version, and both are enroling now from September 2018. Please note that this degree programme is subject to validation by Middlesex University.

We’re extremely proud to have been voted best independent HE provider at the 2018 Whatuni Student Choice Awards. Coupled with our status as DJ Mag’s ‘Best Electronic Music School’, this means there is nowhere else you will find an education quite like you will at Point Blank. We’ve been teaching music production at degree level for several years now and our students and alumni are consistently producing music at a level we’re proud to be associated with. With our state-of-the-art, Pioneer DJ supported studio and new modules that get deeper into the nuances of DJing than ever before, you can be sure that at the end of this degree you will have everything needed to build interesting, layered sets that go far beyond the basic tenets of beatmatching and song-key.

Every student in every production class will have their own fully-stocked workstation to themselves and unlimited access to studios for practice time

Coupled with this, the new degree also contains a good level of focus on the industry side of things, giving students the understanding that being an artist requires a certain level of non-creative work and discipline. With modules like Record Deals and Branding, Music Entrepreneur and Production Portfolio students will learn how to get themselves and their careers into the positions they need to occupy to build a career. Plus, as with all of our London programmes, students gain access to our unique, industry-leading Virtual Learning Environment developed for our online courses, where you can easily find course materials, masterclass footage and more.

All of our studios are fully equipped with industry-standard, state-of-the-art gear, like the SSL Duality mixing desk found in studio 1 at Orsman Road

There’s really no other degree course like this anywhere else. Many hours of work and dedication have gone into the development of this programme, and we feel anyone who completes this qualification will be in the perfect position to begin their career as a Music Producer and DJ, whatever avenue they wish to take.

Find all the information you will need here, and please don’t hesitate to call us with any questions you might have, on the number +44 20 7729 4884. You can also contact us using this form.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

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Making a Bassline Banger with DJ Q: ‘Time to Shine’ Breakdown in Ableton

For our latest track breakdown video, we were blessed by the presence of a true UK legend in DJ Q, who along with the likes of T2 and Paleface, was the face of bassline when it blew up from the north of England in the mid-2000s. To this day, he is consistently releasing UK Bass bangers spanning grime, garage and of course bassline. For this session, Q dropped in to our London studios to walk us through his latest single ‘Time to Shine’. This track includes plenty of the DJ Q signature sound, also leaning towards the classic sounds from the early garage era pioneered by the likes of Todd Edwards. He get’s pretty in-depth here, so if any of this goes over your head but you’d like to be able to layer tracks to this intricate level, why not have a look at some of our music production courses in London.

‘Time to Shine’ is out today via Butterz. Hear it here. Get it here.

Some 14 years after he began making his name as the host of 1Xtra’s UKG M1X show, DJ Q remains a hugely in-demand club DJ. This proximity to the dancefloor was inevitably the inspiration behind the track, given how much traction vocal tracks have been getting when he plays out and the way he’s chopped them up is designed to emulate those classic garage producers mentioned before. We learn the vocal used in this track was taken from a sample pack, before receiving the DJ Q treatment.

Learn exactly what DJ Q’s set-up consists of, as well as how he organised his workflow for this particular project. ‘Time to Shine’ is quite representative of Qs workflow in general, with several steps and tricks revealed to be favourites of his. We learn of his fondness for many of Ableton 10s new features and some of his favourite plugins including the Endless Smile filter. Qs grouping techniques are extremely useful to know and he gives good insight into his mixing process, taking special care not to muddy the waters by keeping different elements hitting different frequencies.

It was an absolute pleasure having DJ Q with us in London. if you are as inspired as we are by his deconstruction, and want to learn how you too could do what he does, we’ve just launched our new degree programme, the B.A. (Hons) in Music Production and DJ Practice. We also offer a degree course in Music Production and Sound Engineering online, for those of you outside the UK.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

The post Making a Bassline Banger with DJ Q: ‘Time to Shine’ Breakdown in Ableton appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

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Enrol Now for Point Blank Summer School 2018. Dates Available in July & August

Point Blank Summer Schools are back, offering the perfect chance for younger students to get into a myriad of disciplines within music over a short period at affordable rates. If you’re aged between 11 and 19, or are a relative of a budding young producer / DJ / radio presenter / singer of that age, we might have just the course you’ve been looking for. Check out the full range of summer classes here.

The barriers to entry for making music have never been easier to overcome than they are today, but we know that the first step is often the hardest. If you’re not sure what kind of avenue you’d like to go down, or you don’t have any of the necessary equipment to try something out – you might never get started at all. This is why we offer summer school classes to young people. Our instructors are all accomplished artists in their own right and have worked with the likes of NWA, Warren G, Bjork, Kevin Saunderson, Doves and Stevie Wonder. Plus, our studios are kitted out with the latest, state-of-the-art gear.

With our Music Production summer classes, each student receives their own workstation fitted with the latest versions of hardware and software by industry leaders such as Ableton and Native Instruments

Our Pioneer DJ-supported DJ Suite contains the very best in modern DJ gear, so DJ Summer School students can learn in a high-end club environment.

With our Radio summer class, students can learn the key tenets of broadcasting in one of the most fluid industries in the world. PB alumni such as Monki and Madam X have gone on to regular shows with stations like Radio 1, 1 Extra and Rinse FM.

Having trained singers like Leona Lewis and with instructors including Grammy-Award winner Phil Ramocon, our Singing classes are world renowned.

These four courses cater for all tastes in the music industry, and these Summer School courses offer fantastic value. If you have any questions or just want to get in touch, please call +44 20 7729 4884 or click here.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

LONDON W OUTLINE

The post Enrol Now for Point Blank Summer School 2018. Dates Available in July & August appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

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