Electronic Music Composition (EMC)

In 2012 Ski was asked by Point Blank Music School to write an online course entitled Electronic Music Composition or 'EMC' for short. The first 4 week incarnation proved to be extremely popular, so later that year he set about writing a part 2. Eventually they merged into a single 8 week course which is currently running as both a standalone course and a module in Logic & Ableton certificate programmes. Take a look at the preview and syllabus description below!


This course is compatible with both Logic Pro and Ableton Live

Ever find it difficult to finish your tracks? In Electronic Music Composition (EMC), we analyze how classic and cutting edge tunes work and show you the techniques used so you can implement them in your own tracks. Over 8 inspirational and engaging weeks, EMC shows you how to develop the musical aspects of your tracks without getting too bogged down in scales and theory. You'll learn how to add hooks, riffs, chords, basslines, melodies, develop your arrangements and work with vocals whilst keeping everything in key so it 'sounds right. Developed by keyboardist Ski Oakenfull (Sony artist/producer/writer/player for Incognito, Joey Negro and The Bays), this course shows you what's being played on the keys and what's happening in the software/DAW. See you in class!

Includes 120 quality videos (approx)/ 3 x 1-2-1 Live Tutorials (via Skype) / 1x DVR™ (1-2-1 recorded video feedback)/ 8 hours live masterclasses/1 year access / over 160 pages of course notes / 24/7 access to forum/ exclusive audio resources to download. Optional: sign your track to Point Blank Music distributed by iTunes, beatport, Juno Download and Amazon.

Content overview

Keys, Chords & Arpeggios

  • Terminology: the keyboard, root note, which notes 'work'
  • Major/minor scales
  • Transposing in Logic or Ableton Live
  • Basic chords and how to make them, major & minor chords used in sequence
  • Slowing down tempo of track for easier playing/recording
  • Ableton Live - warping, Logic - Flextime
  • Arpeggiating: automated & playing them yourself
  • All supported by plenty of videos, audio examples
  • Projects to download

Chord Progressions, Voicings & Basslines

  • Chords, basslines and how they work together, chord progressions
  • I-IV-V minor sequence, Ableton Live chord device
  • Human chord device, note intervals, alternative chord sequences
  • How to play shapes, different approaches to writing, different chord voicings
  • 1st & 2nd inversions, moving between chords using different voicings
  • Playing over chord device, extending chords: 7ths, Maj 7ths & Min 9ths
  • Which chords 'go' over which tracks?
  • Bass: playing under repetitive chords, repetitive lines and changing chords
  • Playing basslines with no chords over them

Rhythm, Riffs & Melodies

  • Rhythm: basic and syncopated, analysing examples, using piano roll
  • Riffs and melodies as hooks in the track, how to improvise
  • Chords & scales, improvising riffs & melodies over chords
  • Playing chords rhythmically, soloing, comping several 'takes' together
  • Using vocal samples as main hook, transposing vocal vs changing chords
  • Working with an acapella, vocoding melodies, playing chords rhythmically
  • Interweaving chords with drum track to make hooks, playing across the groove
  • Creating melody from electronic percussion, extra melody tips, octaving
  • Finding the top note of a chord and re-enforcing it with another sound

Final Musical Touches & Arranging

  • Adding final musical touches and techniques to arrange & finish your track:
  • Build tension & release in arrangement, changing melody over same chords
  • Using different chord sequences for different sections
  • Using standard arrangement templates e.g. (ABABCB).
  • One chord sequence tracks: emphasising beats, adding strings, arpeggios
  • How melody changes feel of chord sequence between verse & chorus
  • Creating a B-section, using a high string line to build a section, modulating
  • Relative minor changes, shift modulation, circle of fifths
  • Use of strings, analyzing and extending an arrangement. Finish your track!

Extending Musical Theory

  • General EMC1 Recap
  • Mixing Major & Minor Chords, Slash Chords & Right hand Inversions
  • Breaking the rules with clashes and notes not in the scale
  • Working with Intervals and Chord Riffs
  • Extended Scale Theory - Modes & Alternative Minors
  • More about Chord Progressions - Dominant 7ths
  • Modulating
  • Extracting Feel - Making it Funky

Track Analysis: Massive Tunes

  • Analyzing big tracks
  • Including Avicii / Skrillex / Deadmau5 / X-Press2 / Julio Bashmore
  • Breakdown of Analysis Process
  • Arrangement techniques
  • The musical elements: how do they work?
  • Creating a structure template of each track to apply to your own compositions
  • Download projects containing bassline; chords; melodies; riffs; structure
  • How to take a track, get it in time and define the sections
  • Analyse a track of your choice in your DAW
  • Interpolating parts and focusing on arrangement

Approaches to Writing, Instrumentation & Finishing

  • Starting with samples; playing/singing over other tracks to create new parts
  • Setting boundaries & following formulas
  • Recreating other tracks (interpolation); working with musical samples
  • Working loops & samples (includes free downloadable sample pack)
  • Using keyboard/guitar to write chord sequence; writing with someone else
  • Remix approach: writing different music underneath an acapella
  • Using instrumentation to build up your track; strings; brass
  • Further arrangement techniques: creative drum programming
  • Analysing tracks' arrangements; applying these templates to your own tracks

Vocals & Collaborating

  • A look at how vocals are used in Electronic music
  • Getting a vocal onto your track; different choices and methods
  • Sing it themselves; use a Vocoder; work with a singer; chop up an acapella
  • We provide acapellas to work with; getting an acapella in tune & time
  • Using a vocal sample or phrase as a starting point
  • Writing your own vocal top line (just hook - not full song)
  • Approaching a vocalist; developing your idea with someone else
  • Producer/composer skills when working with vocalists
  • Full vocal dance tracks
  • Vocal recording process; other vocal techniques: harmonies; ad libbing
  • Collaborating with other artists/producers/friends