Creating Electronic Music [part 2]

Subscribe to Forte Magazine

Creating Electronic Music [part 2]

With the massive rise in popularity of electronic music, more and more musicians are turning to software such as Ableton Live to create, produce and perform their artistic visions. With the mid-year intake into Oxygen College’s Electronic Music Production course commencing in July, I caught up with Chris Wheelwright who runs the EMP program at Oxygen to find out about the course and how to begin your journey into electronic music.
Tell us a little bit about the course?
Electronic music production is the art of creating music using computer technology. Our course focuses on Ableton Live, a leading digital audio workstation, DAW for short. This software allows the user to create, perform, edit and record music. Our course is all about introducing students to this software, explaining its workflow and layout, the basic workings of the program, enabling our participants to begin to explore its vast potential for their own creative ends. There is no bias to any genre in the course. Ableton has features that allow it to integrate within a conventional band setting, as well as being a powerful tool for creating innovative DJ sets. It has many possible uses and our course aims to equip you with enough confidence in working the program to take it into whatever area of music interests you most.
What types of projects will the students be involved in?
We begin with some fundamental DJ and sequencing techniques to get the grips with how Ableton operates. We look at all aspects involved in creating new, original works, from recording midi and audio tracks to sampling and mixing. Performance aspects are also covered, looking at how Ableton can extend out of the computer onto a midi controller, unleashing its live performance potential. Each project focuses on building an ever-wider skill set in how to create music with Ableton Live.
What are the key outcomes for the students?
The freedom to use this software to explore their own creativity is the main goal of the course. The use of electronic production techniques is very prevalent in dance music, but it is not the only application open to you. Ableton can be used for film scoring, and we cover such a project in our Cert III course, and can be incorporated into a band setting, so it has relevance to any genre.
What are the essential tools needed to create electronic music?
It all starts with enthusiasm, a desire to express yourself through music. The technicalities of working complex programs like Ableton are easily overcome with the right guidance and supervision. Musical training helps but is not a prerequisite. Our course covers some basic music theory that is specific to the needs of programmed music. Then there is the equipment: the computer, the software, and audio interface, a midi controller, and headphones. There is a vast amount of gear out there that can facilitate electronic music production and this is one aspect that a novice may find daunting. Doing our Cert II course gives you the chance to see how a full working set up operates, and we can advise students on an individual basis as to what their own requirements would be.
What advice would you give someone who is beginning to create electronic music?
Ableton Live is essentially a new kind of musical instrument, one that contains vast resources of sonic possibility, one that has its own technical requirements to operate it with assurance, just like any other instrument. Although Ableton requires a certain skill set, it is unlike traditional instruments such as the piano that requires practice and dedication over many years to become an accomplished pianist. If you want to get involved in electronic music the best thing you can do is to invest in the right equipment and find a suitable course to start off your learning experience.
Oxygen College’s Electronic Music Production course commences in mid-July. For more course information or enrolment details visit or call 1300 195 303.
Words by Phil Kearney