Monday 26 January 2009

Point Blank Student Diary - An Introduction


I'm Nick, 23 from South East London, and welcome to my new blog.

With my post-student, battle-scarred bank account slowly but surely recovering I decided it was time to sign for the Point Blank Introduction to Music Production course which I had been eyeing up for years. This blog will essentially be my diary of the course, and hopefully give you a good impression of what the Point Blank experience is like from a student’s perspective.

I'll give you a bit of my musical background so you can get an idea of the foundation from which I am learning. I come from a musical family, both my sisters and my mum studied music at university, my Granddad was one of those prodigiously talented people who could hear a song once and then play it back to you perfectly on the piano. Now I'm nowhere near that level but I did get to grade 8 on the trumpet in my school days, I also learnt the piano but I didn't enjoy it as much. I loved playing Jazz and Big Band stuff and really enjoyed improvisation, but found the more structured classical pieces, that tended to be prerequisites for the grades, a bit of a chore. I haven't really played my trumpet that much since my school days, with my head being turned by clubs, booze and Jeremy Kyle at university, but I understand how to read music and remember the rules and theories of time-signature, structure and arrangement (well some of them anyway!)

Yearning to harness my musical instincts again in some shape or form, and inspired by the club scene that I had embraced, I decided to buy decks in the summer of 2007. Since then my passion for innovative and exciting new dance music has spiralled, be it House, Techno, Dubstep, or Electro. I have managed to get some gigs at some London venues and coming up is my biggest one yet at Ministry of Sound on Feb 13th!! (my first plug! don't worry I won't make a habit of it). I have also been teaching myself Logic 8 for the past 6 months. Despite getting to a fairly competent level on my own, I was reliably informed by the course advisor, known in the office as Dastardly Dave,that the Intro to Production course was the right one for me after discussing which features of Logic I did and didn’t feel confident about.

So the course began...

As we waited for Ian Mackenzie (our tutor for the module) to hurriedly finish off his sandwich, the atmosphere in the class had the feel of excitement mixed with trepidation that you might expect from a room full of eager music makers with a whole lot to learn. We hear Ian’s back-story (he seems to have a lot of them!) and his impressive list of projects that he has worked on in the past before a useful lesson on equipment that we may want to purchase and the system requirements to maximise their efficiency.

Now entering the 3rd week we have learnt how to build our percussion loops using 2 of the most popular drum machines, Ultrabeat which comes with Logic 8 and Battery 3 which is a 3rd party plugin. Both have their plus points... With Ultrabeat I find it easier to create a quick interesting 4/4 beat using the step sequencer, but Battery definitely has a better library of sounds. You can transfer the Battery samples to Ultrabeat with a bit of fiddling around so you can have the best of both worlds.

Now I’ve got my beats laid I can’t wait to get my teeth into the other Logic synths to make some big grimy basslines!

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