How to Use the Major and Minor Musical Scale In Composition

A musical scale is a collection of notes that when played together sound “at home”, “normal” and “natural”. If you don’t consider scales and just compose by ear, your music will risk sounding “dissonant”, which basically means non-musical. The Major and Minor musical scales are the two most important scales in western music and are found everywhere from Christmas music to radio hits. They are some of the foundational building blocks of music theory and one of the first places many musicians begin with their theory knowledge. Generally, major scales sound ‘happy’ and ‘minor’ scales sound sad; nevertheless, a deeper look shows their musical makeup is inherently different. When used in compositions, it can sometimes be hard to tell them apart – chord progressions based off major scales can contain minor chords, and progressions based off minor scales can contain major chords. Breaking down the music theory can help you understand which is which and how to use them in composition.

How to Use the Major Musical Scale in Composition

The major scale is incredibly versatile and used in blues, rock, singer songwriter, RnB, folk, and much more. Like any scale, it is a sequence of intervals (gaps between notes) which creates a set of notes to be used to build chords and compose. It is identical to Ionian mode in modal music. Generally it has an upbeat, climactic, ‘happy’ feeling to it.

To use the major scale, it is easiest to focus on chord progressions. The most common chord progression in the major scale is the I – VI – V chord progression. Notes are numbered in order and each note has a particular chord attached to it These can be major or minor depending on which note in the scale the chord is based off, but the general pattern for the major scale uses Roman numerals to number the chords as follows, with lower case numerals indicating minor chords and upper case numerals indicating major.

I – ii (minor) – iii – IV – V – vi – VII(7)

The fully major I – IV – V progression is often followed by a minor vi chord which provides a sense of tension before the progression resolves to I again. This enables the chord progression to have a mixture of emotions which makes the composition more interesting and varied.

How to Use the Minor Musical Scale in Composition

The minor scale can be used similarly – by building chord progressions based on the notes of the scale. Like the major scale, each chord aligns to each note. However, the sequences of steps between the notes is different. Because the scale resolves (gives a feeling of completion) to a minor note, it is helpful to keep in mind that a composition generally needs major chords to lighten the atmosphere and ensure the song does not get too tense – except when deliberately trying to create a sense of sadness, but also of mystery, suspense, or eeriness.

The minor scale contains a diminished chord, also known as a tritone, which has a flattened fifth. This chord has a particularly tense and eerie feeling which is often used in horror movies or music like heavy metal. The chord numbering for the minor scale goes like this:

I – ii(diminished) – III – iv – v – VI – VII

Both major and minor scales can be used to create basslines in genres ranging from rock, indie, punk, or underground music set up. Knowing the scale means you can work out the related chord progressions which are possible – and from there identify the bass note of each chord.

These bass notes can be used to create a bassline which follows the chord progression tying together a composition in a way which is both satisfying and relatively simple to compose.

With a little bit of practice, the musical scales will come second nature to you!

Want to explore more music theory? Then come on down to our Musical Education category where we have prepared a lot of articles similar to this one – click here!

Is it Possible to Use Both Major and Minor Musical Scales in a Composition?

It is possible to switch from a major key (one based off a major scale) and a minor key in the same composition. This is done with a pivot chord which balances the different moods of the scales. It is a creative way of using the major and minor musical scale in composition, although it takes some music theory knowledge. There are many ways to learn theory in depth – but one of the most comprehensive and accessible courses on the internet can be found on Udemy. Jason Allen’s comprehensive music theory course, teaches theory at a college level, covering chord inversions, harmony, and even technical analysis of the building blocks of music, such as what it means to be in tune. Extremely satisfying for musical inspiration, it has racked up five-star reviews and been enjoyed by over 90,000 students so far.

Find this Udemy course by clicking here, we can’t recommend it enough!

Here is a representation of the major and minor scales on the piano keys

Variations on the Minor Scale

There are several variations on the minor scale, but two of the most common are harmonic minor and melodic minor. Harmonic minor has a tense sound which comes from raising the seventh note of the scale a half step upwards, making it sharp. The sound is often associated with Eastern scales such as the Persian scale – which uses these kinds of intervals – yet it is also found in Western music from the medieval era onwards.  

As well as the spooky sounding diminished chord, keys based off the harmonic minor scale also contain an augmented chord – with a raised, as opposed to flattened fifth. This creates a complex, jazzy sound which can be used to provide interest and relief – very different from the diminished chord.

This is the numbering of the chords for the harmonic minor scale:

I – ii(dim) – iii(aug) – iv – V – VI – vii (dim)

On the other hand, the melodic minor musical scale differs from the natural minor scale by raising the sixth and seventh notes up a half step when ascending. When descending, the scale becomes the same as the natural minor scale.

Ascending:

I – ii – III – IV – V – vi – vii

Descending:

VII – VI – v – iv – III – ii(dim) – I

Digital Music Theory Tools – Composing With Plugins

Music theory is a topic which, once explored, can be an endless source of fascination and inspiration. Sometimes, it can be hard to know where to stop, or what is and isn’t needed for composing a song. For those who wish to cut through the noise, some nifty plugins can help with doing so right alongside the composition. This does not mean that you don’t need to know music theory, it just means that there are tools to make your life a little easier when you try out different composition parts.

Scaler 2 by Plugin Boutique is fast, intuitive, and great for multitasking. You can get the plugin by clicking here! Reviewed in Beat Magazine and MusicTech, it has so far been given the thumbs up by over 30,000 musicians.

Pentatonic Scale: Music Theory to Create Tonal Quality in Composition

The pentatonic scale is a mainstays of American and Western music from folk, Appalachian ballads, and blues to roots rock and country and western. The minor pentatonic, with its deeper, darker sound, is more commonly used in blues and folk-rock, whilst the major pentatonic scale is more suited to country and western, with a twangier sound used in slide guitar playing and chicken picking techniques.

The major pentatonic scale is obtained by taking the normal (natural) major scale and removing two notes: the fourth note and the seventh note. All the notes that remain (five, or penta) create this scale, which is considered a very stable and strong scale, mostly fitted for bass or melodies where you are certain about the feelings that they transmit.

The minor pentatonic scale follows the natural minor but only has five notes instead of seven. Here, the second and flattened sixth notes are removed, giving a scale which sounds warm and pleasing, somewhere in between major and minor and neither eastern nor western. Also known as the blues scale, it has built modern pop music – pioneers of pop like the Beatles have taken inspiration from the blues and rock’n’roll tracks of their predecessors.

Both the major and minor pentatonic scale have a tonal quality. They do not have any semi tones in them – due to the notes which have been removed, they instead contain whole major third and minor third intervals respectively and this lends them a lilting quality like that found in Celtic music, taking them away from the conventions of classical composition.

If you are looking to deepen your knowledge of music theory, we have a whole category of articles, which can be accessed by clicking here.

How to use the theory of the major and minor pentatonic scale in composition:

Firstly, it depends on what genre you are composing. As above, certain genres lend themselves to certain scales more easily. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that they cannot be exchanged. The third interval in the scale can also be used in composition to provide a lift and drive the bassline and chord progression into the chorus.

Each note of the scale is linked to a chord which is either major or minor, although to preserve the tonal quality of the scales, power chords can also be used. These are chords where the third- whether major or minor – has been removed – meaning that they are completely neutral and can be used to pivot between different keys – or even from the major pentatonic scale to the minor pentatonic scale and vice versa, with the blues/country composition ‘Windy and Warm’ by Chet Atkins being a case in point.

The minor pentatonic scale is also the basis for twelve bar blues. This is a traditional progression of chords from the American South which can easily be soloed over on guitar or used as the building blocks for composition in multiple genres such as those mentioned above.

I – I – I – I

IV – IV – I – I

V – IV – I – V

This is just the start of music theory – even in themselves, the major and minor pentatonic scales are useful for so much more than just soloing and the twelve-bar blues. Find an in depth, completely comprehensive, engaging, and enjoyable Udemy course by clicking here, with Jason Allen – available in seven languages, it covers everything you need and more.

Another useful technological tool for musicians in the Plugin Boutique Scaler 2.

This plugin not only allows you to learn music theory alongside producing your own work, it’s intuitive, simple, and has everything you need to take your music into your hands without having to get into the nitty gritty details – perfect for those musicians who prefer to learn on the go. Of course, it also covers the pentatonic scale. Find it by clicking here!

Complete Beginners Guide to Music Production – VST plugin REVIEW

Hello and welcome to our review of the Producertech Complete Beginners Guide to Music Production VST plugin available on Pluginboutique.com!

Making music is incredibly rewarding, but it can also be extremely stressful – especially for beginners. DAWs, MIDI, chords, tempo – with so much to understand, where do you even start? Created by the pros at Producertech, The Complete Beginners Guide to Music Production from Producertech is a VST plugin composed of eight software programs, and eight courses with over twenty-five hours of tutorials to get you started making music. It also includes notes and quizzes to help strengthen and test your knowledge along the way. This is an extensive and comprehensive package, so what’s it comprised of? First, let’s touch on some of the courses.

And if you are interested in more on the topic of music theory, then head on down to our Music Education category by clicking right here, and then take a stroll through our Tutorials section.

Beginner’s Music Production Guide to Beats Production

This one starts beginners’ off with one of the fundamental elements of making music – making beats. It introduces MIDI and digital instruments for beginner musicians and gives users a basic understanding of musical concepts like rhythm and timing. It also explores more complex elements of composition like looping and how this works in a variety of DAWs.

Beginner’s Music Mixing Fundamentals

The Beginner’s Music Mixing Fundamentals provides beginner musicians with a good understanding of what mixing is and why it matters, covering fundamental topics such as level balancing, frequency and dynamics; and how changes to the shape and balance of different frequencies affect the overall mix. It also covers the use of effects, such as reverb.

The Art of Sampling

Starting from the very basics of what a sample is, beginners in music production will gain practical understanding of how samples are created and implemented. This course provides understanding of a variety of topics including musical fundamentals like notes and pitch, to techniques which allow beginners to start creating and implementing their own samples in their music.

The Art of Filtering

From the basics of what filters do and why we use them, users are guided towards an understanding of how filters implicate the overall quality of the sound we create. This course also explores more advanced topics like modulation, and how envelopes and LFOs are used in music production.

What about the software?

The Complete Beginners Guide to Music Production VST Plugin also comes with eight software programs, which include: a free sample workstation, the Zampler//RX; a real-time spectrum analyzer, the Voxengo SPAN; a modern motion filter, the Filterstep by Audiomodern; and the WaveWarden Odin 2 – a 24 voice synth. It also includes Scaler 2 – great for beginners and advanced musicians alike.

The Complete Beginners Guide to Music Production VST Plugin: Scaler 2

This is a powerful VST plugin that can really expand the creativity of your composition – especially for beginners. Scaler 2 detects your audio and MIDI signals, determines the key and scale, and then suggests chords and notes to match. Even beginners who lack theoretical knowledge are quickly able to create melodies, chords, and baselines using this powerful software. Also included, The Producer’s Guide to Scaler 2, outlines the many ways this plugin can improve your compositions. For beginners who are not well versed in musical theory, Scaler 2 is a powerful tool to have in the toolbox.

What’s the takeaway?

If you are interested in making your own music, but lack the knowledge, theory, or confidence to get started, this course just might be the perfect solution for you. Available for purchase and download from Plugin Boutique, the courses and accompanying software really set new musicians on the path of success with a variety of tools and practical knowledge. With everything you need to get started, this program is exactly what it says it is – The Complete Beginners Guide to Music Production.

8 Effective Hacks That Will Help You Learn Jazz

In recent years, people have been captivated by the magic of jazz. People who love this music genre can’t get enough of it and want to learn as much about it as possible. It’s a beautiful style that is hard to reproduce, but easy to appreciate. Are you thinking about taking up jazz? Here are 8 effective hacks that will help you learn jazz in no time.

In recent years, people have been captivated by the magic of jazz. People who love this music genre can’t get enough of it and want to learn as much about it as possible. It’s a beautiful style that is hard to reproduce, but easy to appreciate. Are you thinking about taking up jazz? Here are 8 effective hacks that will help you learn jazz in no time.

1) Learn your major scales

While at first glance it may seem like you are learning the same scales as classical musicians, this is not the case. Jazz has its own set of rules that require special attention. Major scales are important for improvisation and understanding what chords go with which keys. For example, if you play a C major scale over an F7 chord, it will not sound good. Your scale will clash with the chord, which is how you know that it’s the wrong one to use. It’s important to learn your major scales in all 12 keys so that you can avoid this problem.

You may want to sit down and just run through these scales without an instrument, but practicing on an instrument is better. If you play a saxophone, practice your scales while playing that instrument. Use a piano or guitar to practice if that’s what you play. You will get faster at the scale and be able to go over it more efficiently by practicing with an instrument in hand.

2) Use a cheat sheet to learn jazz

If time is an issue, you might consider using a cheat sheet or fake book as it is also called to help you with learning jazz. It’s basically a simple document where you put all the chord changes and lyrics of your tune in there, and then print it out. Put this sheet on a stand right next to you as you practice the chords on your instrument(s). Eventually, you will know the tune by heart.  If you are just starting to learn jazz, then now is the time to get a new fake book to use in the middle of practicing chords. It helps you remember because it offers you a collection of jazz songs you can play in one handbook. Aside from that, the fake book can help you learn music more quickly without investing hours and hours trying to learn songs or recordings. However, all you need to do is to ensure that you get the right one because there are a lot of them in the market today.

3)  Listen to jazz often to learn jazz

This might seem counter-intuitive, but hear us out. The thing with jazz is that it’s an art form based on iteration and improvisation, which means you can’t really learn the  art of improvising by studying a bunch of examples in textbooks or notation alone. You have to practice doing it yourself, over and over again. And the best way to do that is by listening to jazz, which includes musicians improvising on real-time recordings. Listening helps you understand the art more, and gives you the inspiration to try out what you just heard. Honestly, there’s no other way to learn it.

4) Transcribe Music and Practice Your Transcriptions

When musicians are first learning jazz, they often rely heavily on using jazz language to improvise. Once you have a working vocabulary, however, it’s time to expand your knowledge by transcribing. Transcribing simply means listening to the recordings of great improvisers and writing their solos down by ear .

The goal is not necessarily to learn all of the notes, but to learn how great players construct solos. Learning the vocabulary is only the first step – learning how to create with that vocabulary is where things get interesting.

5) Learn your major and minor triads

To help you learn your major and minor triads, many musicians recommend singing the root of the chord followed by the type of chord (major or minor) while playing it on an instrument. This is a great way to get the sound in your head and into your ear. Once you can hear these chords in Major and Minor form separately, you will be able to hear when a jazz musician uses chords from the major or minor scale.

Learning the major and minor triads for every key in your instrument’s range can help you with improvisation, playing backup, and even writing jazz songs in any key.

6) Learning how to improvise to learn jazz

In the words of Bassist Matt Penman , “In order to really improvise well, you have to have a good command of the changes and be able to hear them in your head.” How can we apply this? Here are our recommendations for this one:

Record. A great way to really learn the changes is by recording yourself playing with them over and over again . You will be able to hear your progress, which helps you improve much more than simply playing in front of your mirror (which I am definitely guilty of). Write out solos. If soloing on recordings is not for you, try writing out your solos on paper. That’s right, write it out note for note.

This one is really great for those who are not as comfortable writing or improvising on the spot. If this is you, write down a tune and play it over and over again . Once you have become familiar with it, start to create solos of your own.

7) Learn Common Chord Progressions and Rhythms

Jazz is characterized by a certain chord and rhythmic pattern. If you know these patterns, it’s like learning the language of music. There are four common chords in Jazz: major 7th, dominant 7th, half-diminished seventh and minor 7th flat 5 (which is also known as a minor flatted 5th).

Learning these four chords will give you the ability to improvise with the most common chord progressions in Jazz.

8) Get Your Arpeggios Up to Shape

It’s important to know what arpeggios are and how they apply to jazz. An arpeggio is just a fancy way of saying that we’re going to learn each chord as a separate entity (like learning triads in music theory). So rather than thinking, “I’m playing C Major 7 here,” instead play the C Major 7 arpeggio and hear all of the chord tones. If we learn each chord as a separate entity and get good at recognizing them, it makes transposing and soloing that much easier.

Finally, the next steps of learning how to play Jazz are putting these different elements together and getting your ear involved more. Try spending some time playing songs that you like with a teacher or bandmate. This will help you get comfortable improvising while remembering things like chord progressions and rhythms of the tune at the same time. This will help you learn the changes, melodies and rhythms in each song you are learning. Jazz is a complex style of music that takes years to master, however knowing these key elements can make getting started on your Jazz journey much easier.

DIGITAL and ANALOG – How you can use ANALOG effects with DIGITAL MUSIC production

While analog seems like a pretty much forgotten domain, digital music production using DAWs such as Logic, Reason, and Ableton, has become the norm in the modern music industry. With so many instruments, FX, and VSTs in one place, they seemingly have everything a modern musician needs. Yet to expand the sound of your music you may want to combine digital and analogue sounds. 

Choose your DAW

All round BEST DAW: Logic

Logic is by no means the only DAW on the market yet is the first option which many musicians jump to. Nevertheless, to combine digital with analogue it isn’t always the best option. Logic has such as wide range of different VSTs, plugins, FX, and ways to mix and master your music – but producing everything similarly can starve your creativity. There is no true BEST when checking out DAW options, but Logic is a great all-rounder that can do everything you need.

Check out these other DAWs for alternative options, if you are on a budget or if you are still learning digital music production: 

Budget friendly DAW: Reaper  

Reaper is basic, but this can be exploited by the savvy musician to further creativity. Due to not using much power, it can be modified with many of your own plugins or external equipment like external FX plugins for a low cost and streamlined way of working.

Great for beginners: Ableton

Meanwhile, Ableton live is a great way of bringing analogue gear into digital music production. By pushing the buttons on the live pads, even with entirely digital sounds, layering them can free up your creativity and create thicker, richer, and more nuanced sound. Loading both digital and analogue sounds, which can be run through FX pedals for a richer warmer sound or combined with digital instruments like synths.

Digital and Analog Music Gear: What’s on the Market? 

Using electric guitar and pedals, or stomp boxes, may not be immediately obvious in electronic music but can be done to great effect with low key guitar and heavy usage of FX making the humble Fender Strat or Telecaster sound otherworldly and unique, generating sounds which could not be achieved with digital FX or production but which you would not necessarily know were analog. For the rest of the article, we will only focus on pedals, leaving analog synthesisers and other instruments to a separate one.

Of course, if you want some more in-depth information you can check the Music Hardware section here on idesignsound and also the “ANALOG” tag.

Guitar Pedals

I have experimented with combining analogue stompboxes and other FX pedals with digital production, especially with digital drum patterns. They work together very well when combined with electric guitar as this can be produced in such a way that its rich, raw analogue sounds are modulated and toned down to combine with slick electronic synths and drumbeats.

They can also change the sound of your guitar. So that it is less obviously a six-stringed electric or acoustic, making it ambiguous and therefore creating all sorts of fantastic and ethereal sounds. This can open up more options than may even have been on your DAW in the first place. It’s a reminder that sounds do not just come from our computers and online but that the world around us can be a constant source of inspiration.

Music producers usually group the pedals into different circuits on a Pedalboard

Best analog stompboxes for combining with digital music production:

Naturally there are loads of different stompboxes to choose from on the market, even within any one category such as fuzz or wah pedals. These are only a few of the possible options out there and are simply a good place to start.

Behringer

Behringer pedals are relatively cheap and are great pedals for beginners. There are many different kinds and they can easily be combined with your existing digital gear due to the fact that their controls are very similar to those which exist on DAWs such as logic. A basic Behringer distortion pedal can be used with Logic to bring some authentic, raw sounding distortion to low key electric guitars for bedroom pop or indie music.

EVH Phase 90

Phaser pedals are a great way of introducing weird sounds to your electronic music. Synths and other forms of sound modulation are great for creating tense and exciting electronic beats but missing out on the variety of other sounds out in the analogue world would be a mistake.

Phaser pedals are generally used with electric guitar for classic rock and roll sounds, especially in the 80s. With the current focus on retro and the vinyl revival, why not bring them to the present era by recording phased guitar and using it as a sample or synth patch for high-powered electropop.

Wah Pedals

Like the phaser, it may not occur to you to use retro sounding pedals in modern electronic music. Nevertheless, with enough production, a fuzz pedal or wah pedal can be used to add layers of depth to your electronic music.

With digital, bedroom-based production one thing which is lost is the warmth and depth of tone of analogue production. There is always a fine balance between creating depth or interesting sounds and keeping the crispness which makes electronic music so listenable.

A wah pedal can be used to create a wall of sound effect which is great for combining with mixed vocals and synth sounds for big choruses. Dunlop pedals are a great middle of the road brand for this as for a pedal you may use quite a lot but which needs to stand up to the wear and tear of production, they are not too expensive but still provide great sound. Try the cry baby pedal for big noises to mix down and combine with synths and electronic drums.

We also recommend you check out our article on the BEST DELAY pedals by clicking here.

Ways to Combine ANALOG and DIGITAL MUSIC workflows

Dry Recording

It isn’t every guitarist’s first preference to record guitars dry into their interface and DAW, but for electronic musicians who are not bound by the conventions of rock history, it is a way to get subtle and low-key electric guitar sounds into otherwise electronic songs and have them still work, without sounding overpowering or like two completely disparate genres have been mashed together.

Try it and then layer FX to your choice over the top of them. The dry base can give you more options for creativity as you add different musical textures and ingredients.

Recording and then adding FX

Recording wet sounds such as by miking up amps can result in a rich sound which is not always desirable in electronic music as it can drown out the other elements. However, if you choose to record this way, good, pro level EQ plugins can allow you to mix to your liking and have the best of both worlds – the multiple tones and the appeal of real instruments, as well as the cleanness of electronic sound and the ability to manipulate sound to your liking to create bigger, punchier dynamics like pulsing EDM drums for a danceable pop song or the hazy atmosphere of dreamy bedroom pop by adding reverb and delay.

Digital and Analog Music – Conclusions

Combining analogue and digital sounds is as simple as using your gear creatively and making sure that you understand the contexts in which different sounds are used.

Mixing vocals tutorial & cheat sheet – FREE PDF

Hey friends, good to talk to you again! For those of you that are not subscribed to the iDesignSound.com newsletter, you may have missed this very interesting document in regards to mixing or should I say, fitting, vocals into tracks.

It would be so not like you to miss out on this very important information so we would suggest that you sign-up for the iDesignSound.com newsletter. We will not spam you, but provide very important and relevant information in the field. Our subscribers got this information ahead of time but we figured it is too good to miss so we are providing it to you as well, at the bottom of the article.

Please find the newsletter register form below:

Now, Slate Digital, the company know for very very good emulation of hardware outboard unit, have released this very good pdf booklet about mixing vocals.

Vocals are extremely tricky to get right given the dynamic nature of the human voice, the broad range of frequencies it covers and the somewhat hard to obtain sweet spot of modern music mixing.

And if you plan to record your own voice and process it with this guide, we have written a very extensive comparrison and review for the best microphone arm on the market right now.

Slate Academy, the tutorial side of Slate Digital’s business, has got this covered with six parts, following the signal path and the natural way of sound treatment:

  1. Corrective Eq
  2. Compression
  3. Tone shaping
  4. De-essing
  5. Air
  6. Stereo processing (Reverb/Delay)

We found this list very handy, from the perspective of information contained as well as structuring, so without further ado, here is the download link for the PDF:

Key differences between Chorus, Flanger & Phaser Explained

If guitars were rifles, pedal effects would be ammunition.

There’s only so much you can achieve with a clean guitar sound, and it’s more than safe to say that effects such as Chorus, Flanger, and Phaser are capable of completely shifting and changing your tone, for better or worse.

Now, skilled guitar players instinctively know the differences between various pedal effects, but most of the time people are more concerned about where and when they can use a certain type of sound rather than wreck their heads trying to explain ‘how and why’.

Today we are going to attempt to thoroughly examine some of the key differences between chorus, flanger, and phaser effects, so buckle up and stay for a while.

Chorus in a nutshell

The ‘chorus effect’ is easily one of the most iconic pedal effects among guitar players.

We could go as far as to call it ‘choir-us’ mainly because it’s supposed to make the guitar sound much bigger than it actually is.

It’s ideal for single-guitar bands, troupes, and performers who want to duplicate (or triplicate) their sound in a live setting and for studio musicians who don’t particularly like laying down numerous tracks where they can achieve the same effects with a pedal as simple as this.

How it works

The Chorus effect modulates the pitch of your tone ever so slightly; it basically reproduces the exact signal of your guitar’s vibrations but at a slightly different pitch and time.

The potential of the chorus effect is vast, which means that it can subtly enhance the depth of your tone or it can simulate another live guitar, depending on how you set its parameters.

In a bit more technical terms, the chorus effect is achieved when the pedal takes the signal before melding it with pitch-modulated copies of the original signal.

Depending on the model and parameters, the post-produced signal copy can be singular or there could be numerous. The more ‘layers’ the pedal makes, the bigger your tone will become. 

How to use it properly

Essentially, it’s a straightforward effect that doesn’t exactly require much skill and experience to be used, although it’s kind of addictive in the sense that it may leave you with the feeling that you always need ‘more’.

It’s a modulation pedal, which basically means that it’s supposed to sit at the back end of the signal chain, right after wah-wahs, compressors, overdrives, or distortions.

Due to the fact that chorus pedals aren’t necessarily the most intricate contraptions and feature only a handful of control knobs, you’ll typically only have depth and rate to worry about.

Set these parameters low to enrich your sound in a subtle, delicate way; when set at halfway you’ll add plenty of character to your tone while going anywhere beyond this point is not recommended if your signal chain is encumbered as it is.

Flanger in a nutshell

The flanger effect is one of the most enigmatic guitar gizmos to this day; it was artificially created (by accident) in old-school studios back in the tape-recording days (4-track and 8-track machines) by touching the flange (the rim of the tape), although nowadays the process of ‘flanging’ has been tamed and digitalized.

The ‘flanger’ effect sports characteristics of numerous other pedal effects – it’s based on delay pedals, but its unpredictability often leads it towards phasers, overdrives, and distortions, obviously depending on its parameters.

Furthermore, this effect was created by playing two tracks at the same time, which further means that it also shares some similarities with choruses to some extent. As we’ve already discussed, chorus pedals modulate and blend the altered signal with the original one, which is partially what happens with the ‘flanging’ effect too.

How it works

Flanger works in the same way as most modulation pedals do; this pedal splits the signal in 2 identical paths where the original is untouched and the second one is just slightly delayed (measured in milliseconds).

The tweaked signal is then modulated both by speeding it and slowing it cyclically. The ‘modulated’ signal is then blended with the original signal.

What’s most important to understand about flangers is that their altered signal is actually tweaked at ‘random’ unpredictable intervals whereas other modulation pedals offer more control and precision.

The randomness of this effect is the reason why some people use it as their go-to pedal and other guitarists avoid it.

How to use it properly

Flanger pedals are by default wild and pretty hard to tame, but there are more ways than one by which you can gap the small obstacles they present.

The most intimidating parameter of typical flangers is the ‘manual control’, which basically allows guitarists to pick and choose which frequencies they want to alter.

When untouched, the pedal will automatically calculate compatible frequencies and reinforce them (incompatible frequencies will always nullify each other), leading to a slightly clearer tone without sacrificing the punchy feel.

Most flangers typically feature ‘resonance’ or ‘intensity’, both of which relate to the same thing. This parameter affects the effect’s intensity by clipping or feeding a portion of the delay straight back to the original input.

By increasing the ‘intensity’ you’ll add more grit to your tone and achieve a more distorted high-gain sound.

Phaser in a nutshell

Phaser pedals sound almost identical to laymen and beginner guitarists, but in actuality, they share more differences than similarities.

This effect can potentially be used to achieve a mild flanging effect only if its parameters are basically untouched and set on ultra-low settings.

A well-known fact among veteran guitar players is that the phaser effect was introduced to the scene around the same time when flangers came to be. This is probably the reason why new-school players typically don’t make a clear distinction between the two.

In a nutshell, Phasers create a swirling-like sound, much akin to a plane taking off with the only difference being that it is constantly circulating in the fashion of stereo speakers.

One of the most notable benefits of Phaser pedals is that it allows guitar players to create a much bigger atmosphere and ambient, even with smallish amps and relatively mediocre gear. 

How it works

Flangers and phasers operate on similar principles; the original signal is divided into two paths, one path is modulated and the other is completely untouched.

The modulated signal path passes through a series of all-pass filters, which shift the signal’s phase revolving around a variety of (pre-calculated) frequencies. In this regard, the Phaser is not as unpredictable as the flanger, but it’s not as controllable as the chorus.

The modulated signal path is later mixed with the untouched signal path, which results in the ‘swooping’ circular tone.

How to use it properly

The Flanger effect is significantly less punishing towards beginner players; its parameters are not as sensitive, and it’s a bit more versatile altogether.

As far as we’re talking about the signal chain, most people don’t use both flanger and phaser pedals, so you should ideally place either of the two near the end of the chain (after distortion, equalizers, compressors, delays, and choruses).

Typical phaser pedals (such as MXR’s Phase 100) feature simplistic tone controls like Intensity and Speed. The ‘intensity’ basically governs the number of phased stages whereas the ‘speed’ affects the rapidity of signal shifts.

In simpler words, the ‘intensity’ knobs allow you to create different ‘geometric’ signal patterns while the ‘speed’ knobs are there for you to finalize and shape them in more concrete ways.

Similarities between Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger

Essentially, Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger pedals belong to the ‘modulation effect’ category.

Aside from this little formality, they’re also meant to be used in similar ways and operate under similar principles.

All three of these effects divide the original guitar signal path in two after which they alter it in different ways. Although the outcomes are vastly different, these split signals all utilize delays to modulate the frequencies.

From a more practical side, all of these effects have been made available in both pedal and plug-in formats.

The initial modes of achieving chorus, flanger, and phaser (particularly the last two) were almost unwieldy and required a dose of technical expertise, whereas today these effects are beginner-friendly and suitable for use by immediate beginner players.

In technical terms, these pedal effects always leave one signal path completely untouched, which means that at least ‘half’ of your tone will remain exactly the same as it originally was, even though this is not entirely a quantifiable matter.

Even though there are numerous minor other similarities, the most crucial and highlighted ones are:

  1. Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger effects all belong to the ‘modulation’ category
  2. The same method of operation and functional principles
  3. The unfiltered signal path is always non-modulated and identical to the original
  4. All three effects utilize delays to affect the filtered signal path
  5. Modern-day pedals have made these effects more accessible to beginner guitar players

Differences between Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger

Now that we’ve touched upon the similarities between Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger it’s time to dig into the main course – the key differences that separate them.

Though there are many dissimilarities between them, we’ve plucked out the most notable ones and grouped them in the appropriate categories, starting with…

Sonic differences

The Chorus effect is, essentially, much different from Phaser and Flanger, at least sound-wise. It’s ‘mellow’ tonally whereas Phaser and Flanger are closer to overdriven types of sounds.

Even when the parameters of a Chorus pedal are set to their extremes the end result still boasts clarity when isolated. However, choruses are seldom used as standalone effects.

This pedal effect is more of an ‘adhesive’ type in the sense that it extends itself across the spectrum of other effects used in the chain. Phasers and Flangers tend to dominate the chain with their grit.

Differences in application

Distortion effects are commonly associated with rock & heavy metal while chorus, phaser, and flanger effects can be used in pretty much any music genre and can fit into any playing style.

These effects are as versatile as the player’s creativity; in that regard, they can be used in almost any song or performance piece, although exceptions should be obvious.

Since phasers and flangers affect the frequencies of the guitar’s signal in a relatively similar way, they almost cross each other out.

In simpler words, most guitar players use either a phaser pedal or a flanger; rarely both.

Differences in versatility

In this particular scenario, ‘versatility’ refers to the flexibility and freedom as far as tweaking with control knobs and parameters are in question.

Tuning up all the knobs to their extreme would make any sound muddy, but especially so in the case of phasers and flangers.

As mentioned before, these effect types tend to dominate the signal chain, which oftentimes diminishes the presence of other pedals and effects.

In that regard, Phasers and Flangers are slightly less versatile than choruses.

Obviously, Phase and Flange pedals are fairly different between themselves too. Phasers are slightly easier to control, but more importantly, they offer a more calculated and more predictable approach to tone-tweaking.

 On the opposite end of the spectrum, Flangers don’t affect the tone so drastically and can be used for extended periods of time without compromising the tone’s integrity.

The swirling of Phasers makes them ideal for song parts that need to be accentuated (particularly solo sections) whereas Flange pedals can easily substitute for overdrive and distortion when need be.

Conclusion

Every pedal effect type is different. Moreover, every model is different from another; two different pedals that belong to the same category can be so strikingly different that some people would assume they serve different purposes.

Even so, the contrasts between Chorus, Flanger, and Phaser are undeniable and to a certain extent obvious.

From the variance in sound, over dissimilarities in application to differences in application, by now we hope that we’ve helped you make a distinction between these pedal effects.

Guitar Pedal Guide- When and Why to Use each One

The search for tone is a never-ending quest most musicians embark on after trying out a couple of different instruments and amps.

Most of tonal ‘originality’ is in the fingers of the players, though, but there are other means by which you can influence how your instrument sounds like.

Not many people are in such a position where they can afford to buy dozens of amps and guitars, so the best alternative is to shape up your sound with guitar pedals.

Today we are going to talk about when and why you should use different kinds of guitar pedals, which work in harmony, and how to create the ultimate setup in the easiest way possible.

A foreword about guitar pedals

Guitar pedals are meant to introduce ‘effects’ that directly influence the behavior of the instrument.

Some alter its tone slightly while others drastically change it, and knowing which pedal to use will mean the difference between shaping up a unique set of voices and ruining your guitar’s tone.

The smartest way to approach guitar pedals is to get to know your instrument a bit better and see which models will complement your axe the most.

Guitar tonewoods & pedals that work best with them

Guitars made of alder and basswoods are in a very balanced position on the tonal spectrum, sitting right in the middle between warm and bright.

Pedals that drastically affect the tone will have a slightly diminished effect on them, but on the upside, these guitars typically work great with every guitar pedal type.

Mahogany-made guitars are dominant in the lower-end price point categories; cheap guitars typically feature these tonewoods and are much warmer than, for instance, guitars made of Walnut.

Maple is one of the brightest-sounding tonewoods while Rosewood is one of the warmest.

The reason why you should consider the composition of your guitar is quite simple; axes made of bright-sounding tonewoods typically work best with overdrive and distortion pedals, pitch-shifters, and phasers while warm-sounding guitars tend to get the most out of wah-wah pedals, delays, and other ‘cleaner’ effect types.

At the end of the day, you can always even out the differences your guitar has with tone knobs on the amp you’re using, but it wouldn’t hurt to go with the flow rather than trying to ‘swim upriver’.

Guitar amps & pedals

There are far more amp brands and manufacturers than there are guitar tonewoods, which makes the issue of choosing the perfect pedals for your amp a fairly complex question, so let’s stick with the basics for the time being.

The most common types of guitar amps are analog and digital amps. In short words, tube amps lend their unique tone and tonal versatility to pedals while digital amps are basically meant to be used as they are.

Regardless of whether you have a solid-state or a tube amplifier, analog amps will help you find a ‘starting’ tone, which you will be able to shape even further with guitar pedals. Think of an analog amp as a sketch of a painting that requires the finishing touches.

Digital amps normally feature ‘artificial’ presets based on analog amps. Even though you’ll be able to make tweaks and adjustments on them, a good deal of your pedal’s tone-shaping potential will be lost on them.

In conclusion, you should avoid major tone-altering pedals, such as distortions, phasers, and pitch-shifters if you are using a digital amp, whereas you are free to use any pedal you like if you own an analog one.

Types of guitar pedals and when to use them

Let’s get started with the main course – when and why to use each guitar pedal type. In this section, we will briefly explain the most notable characteristics of each guitar pedal before stating where they can be efficiently used, where they should be avoided, and why.

Distortion effects

Whenever there’s talk of guitar pedals, most people immediately picture a distortion pedal.

Basically, distortion effects form a category that consists of various sound-distorting effects, such as overdrive, fuzz, crunch, and obviously, distortion effect pedals.

What all of these pedal types have in common is that they ‘clip’ the guitar’s audio signal; this way they are reshaping the structure of the instrument’s waveforms by adding warm and bright overtones at the same time.

Plainly speaking, distortion effects add ‘grit’ to the tone in varying intensities. Overdrive and fuzz pedals are a bit ‘weaker’ than rock-hard distortion pedals, but they’re all meant to recreate the sound of a high-gain analog amp.

Interestingly enough, these pedals work perfectly well with analog amplifiers, and you might think ‘why do I need a high-gain amp sound if I can already achieve it on my amplifier?’; basically, gain ‘stacks’, and you will be able to merge different gain stages of different gain frequencies this way.

When to use:

You should use distortion, overdrive, fuzz, and crunch pedals to add punchy overtones to your tone, and this can be done in any number of scenarios. In mellower musical styles distortion effects are used to pronounce solos or dynamic bridges whereas these pedals are active non-stop in genres such as rock and metal.

Distortion effect pedals are clear-cut and very pronounced, so they generally don’t leave much space for experimentation with music genres they aren’t already popular in. 

When not to use:

On the flip side, there are certain music styles where distortion effects would work against you. Genres such as polka and pop music, as well as musical styles that do not have the guitar in their spotlight wouldn’t welcome distortion pedals with open arms.

You may hear faint and weakly distorted guitars in certain pop songs, but you may not necessarily need a distortion pedal to achieve such sounds and timbres. Usually, a mediocre analog amp is all you need, provided that it has at least a 3-band EQ.

Amplitude effects

Amplitude effects alter the dynamics (volume) of your guitar. Several types of pedals fit into this category, including Booster pedals, Compressors, and Noise Gates. Since these three serve three distinctly different purposes, let’s address each of them separately.

Boost pedal

Boost pedals (boosters) enhances the audio signal’s amplitude. In simple words, it ramps up the volume, exceeding the limit of the amp.

When to use:

Boosters are ideally used for guitar solos, as they can be used to immediately strengthen your guitar’s volume without any signal loss.

When not to use:

Prolonged use of booster pedals will inevitably make other players struggle to keep up with the audio output, so it shouldn’t be overused.

Compressor

Compressors are basically catalyst pedals that balance rampant sounds and noises. They are capable of taming punchy lows and calming thundering highs automatically. Generally speaking, compressor pedals ‘crop’ the dynamic range of your instrument, preventing the sounds from leaving the pre-configured bounds.

When to use:

Compressors are a necessity in complex, multi-pedal signal chains where the signal is all over the place. These pedals create a safety net that will prevent the tone from becoming unexpectedly warmer or brighter, which makes them perfect for any kind of pedal chain.

When not to use:

The only time you don’t need a compressor is if you are not using other pedals, to begin with.

Noise gate

Noise gate operates in a way that is completely different from compressors; rather than containing the frequencies, they keep background static and hum at a minimum.

In that sense, noise gates actually ‘expand’ the guitar’s dynamic (lower) range, allowing the quietest, barely audible sounds to replace bass-driven tones.

To put it plainly, noise gate pedals do not ‘eliminate’ hums, hisses, or static; they simply replace these sounds by even quieter ones that can’t be perceived by human ears.

When to use:

If you are standing close to your amp on stage, or if some of your pedals are creating feedback or static, a noise gate pedal will be able to take care of the issue.

When not to use:

Sometimes static and feedback sounds are what musicians are after, especially in rock and metal music genres. Noise gate pedals will prevent you from finding these sounds.

Filters

While dynamic-altering pedals set frequency-based ‘borders’ around your tone, filter pedals strengthen or weaken different frequency regions.

While dynamic-altering pedals are generally active all the time, filter pedals are passive most of the time and are only activated when such effects are needed.

The wah-wah pedal is a perfect example of a filter pedal; it alters the entire frequency spectrum of the guitar when activated, creating unique and peculiar noises.

When to use:

Filter pedals change the guitar’s tone drastically, and they are best utilized when you want to accentuate certain parts of the song, such as the ending of a solo for example.

When not to use:

Filters rarely work well when used as standalone pedals, so you shouldn’t rely on them too much if you don’t have a quality distortion/overdrive pedal in your rig as well.

Modulators

Modulator effect pedals change the strength of the signal, by either mixing it with another signal or by splitting it in two. Some of the most popular modulators are chorus pedals, flangers, phasers, tremolos, and vibratos.

Generally speaking, all of these effect pedals affect the strength of your guitar’s signal, creating different variations in terms of pitch.

Chorus pedals aim to replicate the effect of actual choirs or string orchestras; these pedals split the signal into numerous smaller fragments, each being slightly different than the next in timbre.

Flanger pedals create artificial effect sounds that resemble those that airplanes make; phaser pedals are quite similar, but instead of mixing two distinctly different signal parts, only one part is actually altered (phased).

When to use:

Modulation effects can be dramatic or mellow, dramatic or subtle. They can completely change the dynamic and feeling of a song, or they can simply add nuanced details, making a riff a bit fuller, but unchanged.

These pedals are generally great to use in practically every scenario as they enrich the guitar’s tone and timbre by adding extra layers to the signal.

When not to use:

Modulators are very difficult to master, and oftentimes they can lure musicians into thinking that they need ‘more’. Actually, ‘less is more’ applies here perfectly, especially if you don’t have a well-shaped idea of what fragments of the song you want to modulate.

Time-based effects

The pedals that fall under this category are so different that a general definition wouldn’t be able to encompass them all.

What they all have in common is that they all change the time at which the signal ‘hits’, whether it be by delaying it, making it ‘echo’, or playing it back as a ‘loop’.

Delay pedals ‘duplicate’ the signal, playing the second one back right after the initial one. The duplicated instances and the speed at which they are emerging after the original signal can be specified with most pedals.

Loop pedals are basically used to create ‘backing tracks’ or better said, ‘backing riffs’. Musicians can record a lick with them and play it back within a repeating cycle.

Reverb pedals can be used to simulate sounds that would have otherwise be produced in acoustic spaces, like for instance halls or churches. 

When to use:

Just like modulators, time-based pedals can be used to fill in the sonic gaps in your guitar’s tone regardless of the situation. They can make your tone sound a bit fuller, and they are perfect for experimentation with other guitar effect pedals.

When not to use:

Time-based effects create ambiance but take away the ‘clean’ bit of the song. They shouldn’t be used with hooks and parts that are meant to be ‘catchy’.

Conclusion

Guitar pedals are wonderful tools that can completely reshape how an instrument sounds and projects through the amp.

We hope that we’ve provided you with useful tips on how different types of pedals can be utilized, and keep in mind that these are only pieces of advice; you are free and even encouraged to experiment and think outside of the box. After all, that’s what music is all about.

The 8 Best Online DJ Courses [2022]: Compared and Reviewed

Wellcome to our round-up of the best Online Dj Courses money can buy in 2022. DJing is a dying art form. There, we said it! Long gone are the days where manual beat matching, scratching, and DJing with vinyl were normal DJ skillsets. With the advent of DAWs with automatic syncing and beat matching, the DJ has become more of a curator and personality than a musician.

However, these same DAWs have opened the doors to a whole universe of possibilities.

Ableton Live, for example, has enabled DJs to basically become whole bands and produce new sounds on the spot. With that in mind, we set out to find what is the best Online DJ course out there in 2022.

We purchased close to 10 online dj courses, here are the ones that made the TOP 3 Best Online DJ Course (+1 great mention if you’re into Hip Hop):

Course Name Teacher What’s Included? Musical Genre Focus Price / Our Rating
Overall Staff Pick
DJ Courses Online Bundle
DJ TLM
Isaac Cotec
Nick Trikakis
14 video based dj courses on DJing techniques, Serato, Traktor, Ableton Live, and more.
– 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
– Close to 100 hours of content
All Genres
The Credible Choice
Point Blank- DJ Skills Online Course
Dozens of lecturers, including:
  • Mr Dex (DJ for Wu Tang, Estelle, and more)

  • Ben Bristow

  • DJ Davine

  • Rockwell
  • Diploma from a world class instituion,
    – Weekly online masterclasses,
    Personal, 1-on-1 tutorials every 2 weeks,
    -Recordings of all classes available on demand,
    – Student forum and alumni network, which includes leading DJs and Producers
    All Genres
    Armin Van Buuren Masterclass
    Armin Van Buuren
    – About 3 hours of video content
    – Downloadable class workbook
    – Access to other masterclasses, such as Deadmau5’s.
    EDM / Trance
    Learn how to DJ From The Wu-Tang Clan
    DJ Symphony
    – About 7 hours of video content
    Certificate Upon Completion
    Hip Hop

    TOP 3 Best Online DJ Courses

    #1- DJ Courses Online Review: Overall Staff Pick

    It was a though decision, but due to its laser sharp focus on DJing only, and the quality of the content, as well as the price, the DJ Courses Online program takes the number 1 spot.

    DJ Courses Online Bundle- Key Facts

    Duration: Unlimited / On Demand
    Instructors:
    DJ TLM– DJ and producer with 25 years of experience
    Isaac Cotec– Certified Ableton teacher
    Nick Trikakis– Former employee at Native Instruments and AKAI, producer, and DJ.
    What’s Included?:
    – Over a hundred of hours of videos
    – 14 full courses for all skill levels
    – 30 day money back guarantee + email support
    Price:
    Starts at 19$
    CHECK CURRENT PRICE

    All in all, there are over 10 online dj courses included for a monthly fee of only 19$. It covers all major DAWs as well going in-depth into some really interested and complex DJ theory. Of all the dj courses we tested, this was by far the most in-depth one we found.

    Unlike some of the other dj courses in this list, the instructors don’t have big names in the industry, however, they more than make up for this with their knowledge of DJ techniques.

    Some of the techniques included are:

    • Beat counting
    • Beat matching
    • Syncing
    • Song Structure
    • Song selection
    • DJ equipment
    • EQing
    • Effects
    • Cue Points
    • Looping
    • Transitions
    • Sampling
    • Backspinning 
    • Organising your library
    • Scratching- in-depth techniques
    • Recording mixes
    • Branding
    • Serato
    • Ableton Live
    • Tracktor
    • Career DJ Tips

    And much more. And this is where the course shines.

    For 19.99$/month (the price of a cheap lunch), you’ll have access to all information you could ever want on the topic of DJing.

    Anything that you could possibly think of has been covered by these guys, including DJ tips for anything from career to branding and organising your library- loads of gems to be found. And what’s more, the course is delivered in a straightforward and easy manner. The platform works great on both mobile and desktop and the classes are to the point and effective.

    If you end up not using the online dj course, you can always ask for a refund, as they have a great 30 days money back guarantee.

    CLASS PREVIEW

    #2- Point Blank DJ Skills Review: The Credible Choice

    This school shouldn’t need an introduction. It’s been chosen as the ‘Best Music Production School’ by the readers of DJ Mag.

    Point Blank DJ Skills – Key Facts

    Duration: 3 months live course (Not on demand)
    Instructors:
    Ben Bristow aka Mr Bristow– DJ, producer, beatboxer. Has played in Space (Ibiza), as well as ministry of sound, scala, and cargo.
    Darren Henry aka Quest– Dubstep pioneer DJ
    Nigel Hosten aka Mr. Dex– DJ for the Wu-Tang Clan, Sway, Scratch Perverts and DJ Jazzy Jeff.
    David Clarke aka DJ Davine– Has played Ministry of Sound, The Garage and the Mother Live 333.
    What’s Included?:
    – Weekly online classes, bi-weekly 1-on-1 online classes
    – Access to student forum
    – Diploma upon completion
    Price:
    Starts at around 450$
    CHECK CURRENT PRICE

    It’s the school that Goldie turned to when he wanted to learn Ableton Live, it’s where Patrick Topping honed his skills as a producer, and it’s where countless many other leading artists went to hone their skills before making it big.

    And that’s where Point Blank really shines- It’s student network is simply unrivalled.

    And this extends to their online DJ courses too. By enrolling in the DJ Skills course, for example, you’ll have access to the student forum, whatsapp groups, and weekly masterclasses with your peers, many of whom will undoubtedly make a name for themselves in their craft.

    Even if you’re not looking to network, Point Blank is well worth its price. It’s one of the most practical online DJ course in this list, teaching you not only the skills needed, but the whole logistics and operations behind managing your music library and gigs.

    Here’s a quick look at the topics covered:

    • Equipment Overview
    • Cueing
    • Drop Mixing
    • Beat Matching
    • Equalisation
    • Transforming
    • Rekordbox (Export Mode)
    • Programming Mixes
    • Recording a Mix

    Here’s a sample of a class:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOJyrCFBnRs

    COURSE INFO PAGE

    #3- Armin Van Buuren Masterclass Review: The Production Value Choice

    For those of you who don’t know, Armin Van Buuren is an iconic DJ and producer from the Netherlands. He’s the 4 time consecutive best DJ in the world according to DJ Mag and one of the four “trance” artists nominated to a grammy.

    Armin Van Buuren Masterclass – Key Facts

    Duration: On demand
    Instructors:
    Armin Van Buuren– Legendary house/trance producer and DJ
    What’s Included?:
    – 3+ hours of video
    – PDF workbooks
    – Student support forum
    Price:
    Starts at around 50$
    CHECK CURRENT PRICE

    Now masterclasses tend to have the reputation of being sometimes light on the technical side, though we didn’t find that to be the case for this program. There is one caveat though: The course focuses a lot on the production side of things with Logic.

    However, there is still a solid amount of content regarding playing live sets, including the following lessons:

    • Approaching Your DJ Set
    • Building a Set: Edits and Mashups
    • Using the Decks: Basics
    • Using the Decks: Armin’s Techniques
    • Performance DJ Tips

    The good thing about masterclass is that you can pay monthly, starting at about 20$, so once you get done with the DJing classes, you can cancel your subscription without doing the rest of the course. Though we do recommend the rest of the course if you’re interested in trance / EDM music production.

    This masterclass subscription also allows you to stream hundreds of other high quality courses, including courses by deadmau5, Hans Zimmer, Timbaland, and more.

    If you want to learn to DJ from the one of the best, look no further.

    COURSE INFO PAGE

    #4- Udemy: Learn to DJ From The Wu-Tang Clan Review: The Hip Hop Choice

    This course we simply couldn’t ignore. After all, most things are temporary but the Wu is forever. In this course, the legendary hip hop DJ Symphony goes through some classic hip hop DJing techniques as well as some overall DJ theory. It includes over 7 hours of video and entitles you to a certificate upon completion.

    The main highlight of the course for us was it’s production value. The camera is mostly set up from a bird’s eye view of the mixing table and decks, allowing you to follow along with your deck- It’s by far the most hands-on course we tested.

    All the content was high quality, with the video streaming seamlessly with great definition. This makes it super easy to follow.

    In addition, the teacher is a master at his craft. If you’re looking for a hip-hop specific online DJ course, this one is a no brainer.

    COURSE INFO PAGE

    #5- Skillshare: DJing Live: From Setup to Soundcheck (w/ Young Guru) Review

    In the same vein as #4, Young Guru’s DJ course on Skillshare is a must have for any hip hop DJ.

    It’s a very solid course for beginner and intermediate DJs on how to setup your gear for a live performance, but we rank it after DJ Symphony’s course as we found that it wasn’t as in-depth and hands-on.

    It’s still a great course, coming from a legendary engineer and hip hop producer responsible for many hits from Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.

    Its important to note that this course focuses solely on setting up your gear and software. No major techniques are discussed, though there are a couple of nuggets of information that are really interesting.

    COURSE INFO PAGE

    DAW Specific Online DJ Courses:

    #6- ProducerTech: Ableton Live DJ’s Guide Review

    Producertech is one of the leading online music course providers.

    They stand out from the crowd by producing really specific dj courses focused on one particular piece of software.

    Generally, the quality of content is very high. Their Ableton Live course is no different.

    Ableton Live is a whole other ball game when it comes to live DJing as it comes with a huge pad that allows you to program your live performance.

    Guys like daedelus have taken the definition of being a DJ to a different dimension, with sets featuring live production and sampling with the Ableton Live:

    We can’t promise that this course will make you an overnight daedelus, but if you’re interested in that world, it’s certainly a good introduction.

    Here a sample of a class:

    COURSE INFO PAGE

    #7- Point Blank Online School- Traktor Pro DJ Review

    As we previously mentioned, Point Blank is a leading school in the music industry. And as you would expect, their Traktor Pro DJ course does not disappoint.

    It will take you about 2 months to complete it and will require an investment of about 400£ or 500$, depending on deals and promotions.

    Topics covered:

    • Traktor Inferface: Importing Tracks
    • Skills: Beat Matching, Looping, Cueing, Quantizing, Beat Jumping.
    • Basic FX
    • Harmonic Mixing: Analysing keys, mixing acapellas.
    • Crate Digging, Idents, Broadcast
    • Hardware: Digital Vinyl, Midi Controllers

    Here’s a sneak peak of what a class looks like:

    As is the norm with Point Blank, you’ll get online masterclass with your colleagues, and also 1-on-1’s with the lecturers.

    COURSE INFO PAGE

    #8 Skillshare: The Basics of Serato DJ Review

    Hosted by Mister Gray, this skillshare is, like most skillshare courses, short and sweet.

    It will take you about an hour to complete, and in the end, you’ll have increased significantly your knowledge of how Serato DJ works and how to make the most of it. Particularly if you’re a beginner in the ways of Serato.

    The teacher is a somewhat successful DJ and producer from the United States who focuses on hip hop and EDM / dubstep.

    The production value of this course is insane, as is the case with most skillshare courses.

    The major downfall, however, is its lack of depth. This really is a course for beginners.

    COURSE INFO PAGE

    Final Thoughts

    We hope we’ve helped you find the very best online DJ course for your needs.

    If you’re looking for general music courses or music production related courses, please check out our guide on that subject.

    And as always, if you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comment box below!

    How to EQ Vocals

    Most of the music out there is vocal-centric. This means that all the vocals all the time should sound absolutely perfect.

    Whether it’s a live performance or a studio recording, everyone will be paying attention to vocals the most. However, tweaking the voice to sound just about right is not exactly the easiest task.

    In fact, many of the amateurs and semi-professionals will always have a hard time setting up vocals the right way. But the last thing you want is to have a quality singer sounding awful in the mix.

    With this in mind, we’ll try and explain a thing or two on how to properly EQ the vocals.

    Choice of a microphone is essential

    Before we get fully into it, we need to point out that the quality of the input is of essential importance of any type of recording or a live show.

    There’s no amount of editing and mixing that can help you if the original recording sounds awful.

    So before even getting anywhere near the mixing console or your EQ plugins, make sure to have a suitable microphone for what you need.

    Look into different polar patterns and think whether you need a dynamic or a condenser mic.

    Each microphone picks up audio differently and will focus more on specific sets of frequencies. This is the reason why you really need to take this into consideration before recording or tweaking the EQ knobs.

    It’s all about the vocalists

    If you’re recording entire bands, or setting up the EQ and levels for live shows, there’s an order of operations you’ll need to respect.

    Start with the lower-end spectrum and go from drum sets, then move to bass guitars, guitars, keyboards, and then the vocals.

    The idea is to make them all work together and not have them go into each other sonic “territories.”

    And before setting your hands on lows, mids, and highs on the mixer’s EQ, you’ll first need to be setting the gain knobs for each of the instruments.

    But while setting the EQs of all the individual instruments, bear in mind that you’re giving enough “room” for the vocals. If you do everything step by step and tweak the way you should, laying the vocals on top will be like a breeze.

    Cutting

    The way you should be looking at the EQ is that you not only boost but also cut specific frequencies. This is especially made easy with parametric EQs.

    Depending on the type of the microphone, the singer’s voice and technique, the room you’re recording in, and the rest of the band, you’ll need to be cutting some frequencies in the vocals.

    And these unwanted frequencies can be all over the spectrum. In addition, the vocals can have a lower end boost to them if the singer is too close to the microphone. This is also known as the proximity effect.

    The microphone will also pick up the other instruments, and that’s also something you’ll need to be thinking about while setting up the EQ.

    Tweaking over the spectrum

    So when doing the vocals, you should first start with high pass filters and cutting off everything below a particular frequency.

    Some may suggest that you cut off everything below 100 or 150 Hz, but this depends on various factors and the given situation.

    After dealing with the lower end of the spectrum, focus on the lower mids or the higher low-end range – somewhere around 330 to 360 Hz.

    This is a bit of a “muddy” area, and if we’re talking about male vocals, you might get a really muffled sound if these frequencies are pronounced.

    Start cutting a few dB at a time and listen to what happens. The point here is to allow the vocals to stand out in the mix by cutting frequencies in this area.

    Go up the spectrum and try and find potential issues if there are any. For instance, the higher mids or the 2.5 to 4 kHz area might add some unwanted harsher “grinding” vibe to the tone.

    However, if you cut this area too hard, you might lose some clarity. So be very patient and focused when tweaking these parts.

    Then we have the higher-end spectrum where all the sibilance is and where all the harsh consonants might pop out.

    This is usually between 5 and 7 kHz, and you’ll need to find the exact spot to filter out in this area, depending on the singer. Again, cutting too much here will reduce overall clarity.

    Everything above 8 kHz can help you add that cutting edge to the lead vocals.

    However, this is also where all the cymbals and high-end noises are. If you overdo on these frequencies, you might pick up too much of the unwanted stuff in the vocal mic.

    Of course, cutting is a bit more complicated if you have an analog mixer. You’ll need to be looking at the “Q” control, or the bandwidth, as well as the frequency range knob for lows, mids, or highs.

    Of course, everything these days is more accessible with digital mixers or plugins.

    Listen to the whole picture

    After setting it all up, you’ll need to take time and listen to the whole picture.

    If something sounds like it’s lacking, try and boost these frequencies a little bit, without bringing too much of the unwanted noise.

    For instance, if you think there needs to be more lower-end in the vocals, boost narrowly somewhere around the 200 Hz area. If you need more clarity, try narrow boosts around the 6 to 8 kHz territory.

    In case you’re doing a live show indoors, it would be a good idea to walk around the venue and hear if every part where the audience should be doesn’t have any unwanted noises.

    At the end of the day, setting up vocal EQs is not only about the vocals. It’s about the whole picture and helping singers stand out in the mix without making everyone’s ears bleed.

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