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Trance and EDM king Armin Van Buuren brings electronic music production alive and oh’boy…is it good.
In a nutshell, the Armin Van Buuren Masterclass music production course is outstanding! It doesn’t matter if you are a big Trance fan, House head or Techno nut this course really gets to the nitty-gritty of producing electronic music.
At seven hours, made up of 33 lessons, the course is detailed, fun and comprehensive. It is not full of over-complicated ‘producer jargon’ and he really does convey some awesome tips. The Armin Van Buuren Masterclass shares intricate knowledge of his life and education as a producer.
So Who Is Armin Van Buuren?
In short, he is arguably the king of Trance. Armin van Buuren has been among the world’s biggest DJs and producers for over twenty years. As a five-time #1 DJ in the world, he racked up a Grammy nomination for ‘This Is What It Feels Like’ (feat. Trevor Guthrie) in 2014 and thrills enormous crowds through live sets at the most prestigious festivals in the world.
The Armin Van Buuren Masterclass really does go well beyond the production of Trance and EDM music. He lifts the hood on his creative thinking and methodology that can be used in the production of all types of electronic music.
He is a surprisingly decent teacher, which is always a concern when a non-educator delivers a course, and his explanation of the lesson content is clear and concise. The way a lesson is set in the Armin Van Buuren Masterclass is that he will firsty explain a particular skill, problem or technique verbally and then physically go through that topic with the equipment. It is an effective and clear lesson model.
Let’s go through each section of the Masterclass.
1. Finding Melodic Inspiration
The Armin Van Buuren Masterclass kicks off right at the very beginning – getting started! How do you find that inspiration? Where does it come from? Well, he simply explains that everyone is unique and will take an idea or find inspiration from different places. Just keep your ears open and the ideas will come to you. Let the magic happen.
2. Building Your Home Studio
This course may be recorded in a professional studio but you can do everything Armin Van Buuren does on your home computer. You will be running the production software Logic Pro.
As the lessons progress, the Armin Van Buuren Masterclass introduces the bits of equipment you will need. In each class, he explains what to look for when buying each item.
3. Using templates and staying organized using Logic Pro
Armin Van Buuren strikes us an organized chap and he certainly is. His approach to music production is just as organised. He always works from the same base foundation and uses a basic Logic Pro template to start a tune.
In the Armin Van Buuren Masterclass, he explains how to arrange your tracks together and explains the advantages of being super-organised in your approach. These techniques can be used in many areas all the way across music production. Absolute gold from Armin Van Buuren!
4. Developing the components of your dance track
In the next stage the Armin Van Buuren Masterclass goes into the following components:
- Sketching and developing your melody
- Using pads and leads as a way to enrich your sound
- Creating a groove
- Mixing and mastering
- Building the Drop
- Reviewing the Track
- Working with lyrics and vocals
He also brings in his producing partner Benno de Goeij and creates a new track for the masterclass students. Fascinating stuff.
5. Developing your melody
This is where it begins to get complex. Please, take our advice, and do all the assignments each lesson asks you to complete. It will break the processes down and allow you to practice those all important techniques.
This is a long lesson as the Armin Van Buuren Masterclass goes deep into the methodology of developing a melody, something that will and does take practice and patience.
6. Ways to use pads and leads
Pads and leads are an important technique to create the melody of an electronic music track. Armin Van Buuren explains how you can use layering with great style. Also, Armin talks about some of the plug-ins he likes to use.
7. Creating your dance groove
The Armin Van Buuren Masterclass also explains how creating the right groove is probably the most important task. The beat is what matters, it’s what makes people dance!
Armin takes you through how to create kick drum samples and getting the bass just right. He also clearly goes over making particular sounds that you like and then using them in your track.
8. Mixing and Mastering
Mastering the final track is an art in itself. You really need to get your ‘audio head’ on and understand how your track will be played on all types of sound systems…including your mates Fiat 500! The Armin Van Buuren Masterclass shows you how to tweak, mix and master the track so it can be played absolutely anywhere.
9. Arranging your dance tracks
The Armin Van Buuren Masterclass next shows you how to hold and engage with your audience. Getting your track arrangement correct is the main way you really connect with the audience. Bring them on a journey with you.
10. Building the drop
The drop in a track is, for most, the best and most critical part of a tune. A great drop involves creating tension and a drop release that sends the crowd wild. You get this right and you are on to a winning formula. The Armin Van Buuren Masterclass goes over several methods of finding and building the perfect drop.
11. Reviewing the Track
Critiquing your tracks can be difficult and you will often find yourself being over critical! Expectations are high and you often find yourself being disappointed. But fear not, the Armin Van Buuren Masterclass shows you how to tweak your tracks, when to stop and what to listen for.
12. AVB case studies
This Masterclass commonly provides a lot of individual case studies and Armin Van Buuren is no exception. It really aids the learning process. He actually creates a tune from scratch which is a unique case study indeed. He also goes over a lot of the production behind the tracks, “Sunny Days and “Be in the Moment.”
13. Working With Lyrics and Vocals
Adding vocals is a big part of creating a great track and is another essential skill. The Armin Van Buuren Masterclass takes you through vocal samples as well as using sung melodies.
In this section, Armin Van Buuren takes you through:
- Manipulating live vocals
- Editing and Mixing
14. How to handle singles, club mixes, and edits
Most of you will know the difference between a single, a club mix and edits. However, not everyone will so Armin Van Buuren goes over all of these and explains the difference.
Next, Armin Van Buuren demonstrates how to take a song and make it ready for the club! He uses “Sunny Days” as an example to demonstrate this.
15. The best way to approach DJ sets
So how do you put a DJ set together? How do you connect with an audience?
The Armin Van Buuren Masterclass goes over how to take the best approach and chats about how important it is that a producer still continues to DJ.
16. The basics of using decks
Armin Van Buuren moves behind the CDJ decks now and talks about his DJ set up and what he uses for live sets.
17. Live EDM performance tips
The Armin Van Buuren Masterclass then goes deep into how to behave like an artist, how to be respectful and how to connect and read with your audience. Reading your audience is a key skill for any DJ and a super-important skill to learn and practice.
18. Hosting a dance music radio show
Armin Van Buuren’s “A State of Trance radio show” is absolutely core to his career. AVB explains how he runs and uses this platform to kick start his career.
19. Armin’s early musical influences
This was a fascinating section of the course. I’ve used my all-access pass to take around half of the 65 masterclasses that are currently available. One of the things I enjoy most about them is the insight you get into the way the minds of various artists work. Often, what you find out surprises you.
This was certainly the case with Armin’s early influences video. It made me pause and listen to some artists again that I had almost completely forgotten about.
Starting and growing a career in electronic music
There is no getting away from it but the music business is hard and very busy with people trying to make it! The Armin Van Buuren Masterclass gives us an interesting personal insight into how to approach the business. He also chats about various communities that you could immerse yourself into to kick start your music career.
The Armin Van Buuren Masterclass is a quality course for anyone wanting to learn about music productions to production. It encompasses all types of techniques and will be applicable to all genres of music production.
It is certainly a little bit more advanced and not suitable for the complete beginner. If you have a little knowledge, in our opinion, you could walk away from the course with the ability to roll out a finished track. It certainly teaches a great deal and will benefit a motivated learner massively.
It can seem very technical at times but this is the world of music production and, unfortunately, that is normal. Some things will take time and patience to figure out but Armin Van Buuren gives you a solid foundation.
This course offers so much so take the plunge, buy it and see you on the stage!!
Remember, you can also spend an additional $90 and purchase the Masterclass all-access pass and that means you will also take the Deadmau5 Masterclass course which is just as good – trust us on that, it was the first Masterclass course we ever looked at!
Our friends over at Siachen Studios have also released this great piece recommending some fantastic music production schools…check it out, it’s an interesting read!