Thursday, 3 May 2012

Instant Melodies Course

As part of a recent Groupon offer, my girlfriend very kindly sent me to a music production course over in South London's Brixton, home to a number of small yet professional recording studios. A weekend course of two mornings of study was priced at £30 a head, with options for either beginner or intermediate learners at the Instant Melodies recording studio on the Coldharbour lane.


Firstly, a quick word about the course and what I thought about it. With such a varied group of people being taught, in terms of background, musical knowledge, ability and intentions, a little duplication in knowledge is always going to happen. For example, in a group of five we had two electronic musicians, a DJ looking to get into making her own tracks, a semi-professional house vocalist and a singer-songwriter. However annoying this is initially is outweighed by the usefulness of the person teaching you and how many relevant topics you can ask them about to give you a better idea of how you can approach your next track.

Secondly, this is by and large music production using Logic. So if, like me, you're using Windows and/or a DAW other than Logic, then some of the more direct teaching is a bit useless but as long as you cover the technical aspect of these things to use in other programs, you should be more than capable of transferring the knowledge to other programs. For example, I had no idea that you can route channels in Madtracker fairly easily with the mixer to create FX channels to save CPU cycles, which I would not have known was possible were I not looking for it.

Anyway, what did I get out of it? I learned that not only does Madtracker have a few more tricks up its sleeves, but that it is also showing its age and that newer programs are becoming easier to learn and adapt my approach to. While Logic is impressive, I am unwilling to go back to the Mac platform solely for music and will probably look at other programs such as Reason as an alternative. Otherwise, I finally understood what compression is and how it works (despite the tutor on the day saying it took him four years to get round it); it's all about dividing down the volume of sections of a sound, giving emphasis to certain ranges of sound and fattening it up in the meantime. In conjunction with decent Eqing and levelling, I now feel more confident when it comes to mixing and mastering, although Madtracker is not as well labelled as I would like to apply my learning to its rather basic mixer. So definitely some progress there that I hope I can apply elsewhere.

Would I recommend the course? For £30 I would say go for it. There's only so much you can learn yourself or from online resources and having a decent sound engineer or fellow producer to show you around new programs or cover areas that you are having trouble with is invaluable. As this course usually comes in at over £100 per head, I would definitely wait until they do another groupon to take advantage of it.

For Miss Melody and her courses and production services: