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tutorial

Watch the Second Video of Ableton Live 10 In Depth – Recording Notes w/ Push 2

In a new series, we take a look at Ableton Live 10 in depth with Thomas Glendenning, our resident Ableton whizz in London and one of just 200 (give or take) certified Ableton trainers in the world. For the second video, the focus is on using Ableton’s amazingly intuitive Push 2 controller which is frankly the best and easiest controller to use with Ableton Live 10, due to the level of integration. 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.

Watch the video as Thomas lays down some basic chords and a bassline over a drum beat he programmed previously, and watch how easy it is to switch scenes and tracks, as well as use the capture function, which we explored last week.

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 AngelesIbiza 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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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BA (Hons) Online Degree Programme Insight | Week 6: Creative Production & Mixing

If you’re looking to get a taste of what it’s like to learn on our innovative online platform, here’s your chance! We’ve now updated our sample courses to include a taster of our new Online BA (Hons) in Music Production and Sound Engineering degree course. The course consists of eight modules included in the full online degree programme, designed to give you a flavour of what you can expect when you study online with us. This is the sixth week of eight in which we’ll be giving you a peek at what each module entails, as well as showing you one of the videos from the corresponding module’s course materials. Don’t forget, we also have a host of online courses besides our BA (Hons) degree programme covering music production, sound design and much more – head here for our full range of online courses.

Module six is the Advanced Composition module, building on the original composition module we covered here in week 2. This time the net will be cast much further to include influences from Cuba, India, Japan and more. You’ll also delve much deeper into theory, learning more about scales, chords, rhythm, harmony and arrangement. Plus students will delve into the world of early experimental electronic music. The two example pages from our sample course cover percussion and extended chords, and it is from the latter that the taster video above is taken.

To take the sample course yourself, head here, and get a flavour of the quality, style and content you can expect when studying online with Point Blank. Remember though, this is only a taster – to get the full experience complete with live interaction with tutors, forum interaction with fellow students and assignment feedback, you’ll have to enrol on a live course!

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

If you register with Point Blank, you can access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples 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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Check out our Top Ableton Tutorials of 2017! (Manipulating Sounds, BEAP for Live & More)

Ableton’s Live DAW has become synonymous with music production over the years. Used by everyone from budding bedroom producers to weathered industry professionals and musicians alike, this robust piece of software with its fantastic array of features is set to be a staple for a long time to come. To share some of our knowledge of Ableton with you, we’ve compiled this list of our top 3 Ableton tutorials of the year.

Comprehensive coverage of Ableton Live is available in our courses in London, Los Angeles and Online. Read on for our top 3 Ableton tutorials of 2017!

Sandunes ‘Crystal Pink’ Track Breakdown in Ableton Live

In this Ableton Live tutorial, former Point Blank student Sanaya, a.k.a. Sandunes, broke down her acclaimed track ‘Crystal Pink’, from her recent album, Downstream. In the video, Sanaya provides an overview of her creative process in Ableton Live, as well as demonstrating how she builds and structures her project files. If you’re looking for insight into how to create and organise a song intuitively, this is it.

BEAP in Ableton Live (Max for Live): Creating and Manipulating Sounds

BEAP is a Max for Ableton Live application that offers huge implications for virtual modular sound design. In this video, Point Blank instructor Dan Herbert takes us through the basics of sound manipulation in this incredibly diverse sound design environment.

Ableton Live Tutorial: Using Link in Live

As music production processes become increasingly virtual, there is an increasing demand for virtual collaborative spaces, where multiple remote users can work on single projects at once. ‘Link’ for Ableton Live is an application that allows for these collaborative spaces, where several Ableton users can operate on an instance of Live in real-time. In this tutorial, Ableton certified instructor, Freddy Froggs, takes us through how to use this incredible feature.

If you’d like to learn more about any of the techniques shown above, Point Blank offer courses for those at any level. Our BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering Degree in London is one of the most comprehensive courses out there, with modules covering mixing, sound design, production and much more. We also offer an online alternative, in the form of our new online BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering Degree. We are currently offering a huge 25% off online courses and a free copy of Logic Pro X/Ableton Suite until January 15th, so make sure you enrol soon! For more information, contact our course advisors on +44 20 7729 4884. If you are a resident of the USA, you can reach us on 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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Watch our Native Instruments Machine Mk3 Tutorial with Paul Ressel

Just over a month ago, Native Instruments the newest version of their flagship Maschine controller, the MK3. The latest upgrade represents the biggest leap in terms of performance since the top-end Maschine Studio was launched back in 2013. It’s packed with new features and even if you’re familiar with Maschine, it’s a lot to get your head around. Have no fear though, as we’ve asked our instructor Paul Ressel, who’s not only worked with Lana Del Rey and Maxi Jazz, but also releases with his own band Vuvuvulvas on Tri Tone, to demonstrate some of its new functionality. Take a look at our tutor profile on Paul for more info.

In the video, we get a look at some of the new features on the MK3 such as the touch strip, new modes like the chord and keyboard modes, as well as the hugely improved editing capabilities, expanding what you can do without needing to revert to software. In just 13 minutes, Paul Ressel takes us through arranging and sketching and ideas, with an arrangement built from just two sounds.

When the first Maschine was released in 2009, it completely changed the landscape of using digital tools to make music. It borrowed the best features of the legendary Akai MPC and paired hardware sampler functionality with linked software to become more of a compact, digital studio. It has since undergone several makeovers: the Maschine Mikro introduced more portability, MK2 was an incremental upgrade with greater customisation, Maschine Studio added screens and a huge range of extra functionality to match its professional target audience and the Maschine Jam emulated Ableton’s Push module in design. The MK3 though marks the biggest change to the original design since it’s inception. We’re already sold.

Want to learn on Native Instruments gear? NI are an official partner of Point Blank and in London and LA our studios are kitted out with the full range of NI products: Maschine, Komplete, Komplete Kontrol and Traktor. On our Sound Engineering classes as part of our B.A Programme you will make use of our Native Instruments studio where you can find all of this kit in one place, and you’ll also learn everything you need to know about production.

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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Mixing Tutorial: EQ Mixing Strategies in Pro Tools

Point Blank course developer and expert instructor Anthony Chapman (Franz Ferdinand, Klaxons) is back with a new two-part series looking at Avid’s Pro-Tools. In this video, he covers some EQ mixing strategies which is covered within the Advanced Mixing and Recording module, part of our BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering Degree programme. Pro-Tools is the industry standard when it comes to mixing down live recordings and PB students get in-depth with the DAW, using it to record and mix a live band in one of London’s top recording studios as part of their studies.

As our most comprehensive programme, the BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering Degree covers everything from music production and sound design to mixing, mastering, composition, music business and more. We also offer an online alternative, in the form of our new online BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering Degree. We are currently offering a 25% discount plus a free copy of Ableton Suite or Logic Pro X with select online courses until September 11th, so make sure you enrol soon! For more information, contact our course advisors on +44 20 7729 4884. If you are a resident of the USA, you can reach us on 323 282 7660.

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

If you register with Point Blank, you can access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples 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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PBLA Guest Masterclass Hosted by Chris Holmes (Paul McCartney’s Tour DJ)

At Point Blank Los Angeles we are constantly reaching out to our network of music industry contacts in the local scene, organising guest workshops and masterclasses for the benefit of our students and graduates. Just in the last six months we’ve had the pleasure of hosting Mix Master Mike, Robot Koch, and Sample Magic CEO Sharooz Raoofi join us at Mack Sennett Studios to impart their knowledge, giving us an insight into their creative processes. On August 17, musicologist, DJ and producer Chris Holmes will be joining us to lead a remix masterclass and live performance before holding a Q&A. This is available for all students and graduates to attend, and to RSVP you can head to the Eventbrite page.

Chris Holmes has worked with the likes of Disney & Rockstar Games both as a composer and consultant, as well as being responsible for bringing together an elite creative class of film and music producers, fine artists, writers and actors at events he produces himself with his DJ and events collective known as The Embassy. Chris has produced events and curated the talent for Los Angeles mayoral elect Eric Garcetti, Rolling Stone Magazine, NPR, The Black Keys, Atoms for Peace, Daft Punk and Questlove of the Roots and helped to create the magical screening of the Breaking Bad finale at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. As well as being a consultant for various tech companies including Native Instruments, Sonos, Audeze Headphones and Novation/Focusrite, Chris is a member of rock band Ashtar Command. He has produced alongside Joshua Radin, Felix da Housecat, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Har Mar Superstar and has remixed everyone from Radiohead to David Bowie, The Beatles, Fischerspooner and FUN.

Guest workshops are a core part of the experience at studying at Point Blank Los Angeles. To find out which class is for you, visit our Los Angeles course page to find out more – but hurry, you’ll need to sign up ASAP as spaces are limited for the forthcoming term. We’ve got everything from production, sound design and mixing courses to DJ’ingIf you want to know more and you’re in the USA, give us a call on 323 282 7660, or contact us 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!

 

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