What do world-class electronic artists Flava D, Eats Everything, Skream and Carl Cox all have in common? They, along with a formidable line-up of expert musicians and DJs, are now teaching the world their craft through on-demand video courses and live sessions on the new Virtuoso platform.
Here’s 5 things we’ve learnt from Virtuoso’s artist courses that we’ve taken into the studio:
ABSOLUTE. – Creative ways to start your project
It’s a common thing for Dance music producers to start their projects with a 16-bar loop and drum samples. It’s tempting to always start with a beat. ABSOLUTE. works differently. For ABSOLUTE., the melodies and emotion of his music are the most important element, so this is where he starts. This gives him the creative freedom and inspiration to create from a whole palette of sounds, without him first being tied to a beat, a specific BPM or a loop length. And you can apply this approach to your projects in other ways too – ABSOLUTE.’s course is a masterclass in techniques which allow you to be led by the emotions you discover as you explore and create sounds in your project.
Flava D – Shuffled drums
Tired of working tirelessly on your drum sounds until they are layered to the maximum and mixed to near perfection – but still lacking that something special? The queen of Bassline, Flava D, teaches you how we can use swing to create shuffle in your drums to give that extra little bit of flare that your drums might be missing. By switching to view the triplet grid on your music production software, you can overlap swung triplet rhythms with your straight backbeat to create a groove that’s sure to get your toes tapping. This is just one technique of many from Flava D’s course which will have the crowd grooving away to your music in no time at all.
DJ Q – Instant chords
Not trained in music theory but want to add more musical elements into your tracks? UKG/Bassline don DJ Q offers a quick way to insert great sounding chords into your music without needing to dive into the textbooks. Start by writing out the notes in your key – let’s use the key of C for this example. Once you have the notes written out, you can write out the chords in the key using the ‘play a note, skip a note’ rule. This means that you pick a starting note from the project key (C), skip the next note in the scale (D), add the note after that one (E), skip the note after that (F), then finish with the next note (G). This gives you a C major chord (C, E, G). Play out a few different chords using this technique and you’ll soon be writing chord progressions as catchy as DJ Q’s.
Carl Cox – Let your music do the talking
Carl Cox’s philosophy has never been about putting on appearances. Sporting his signature black T-shirt and a big smile on his face, his focus is strictly on doing what he loves and pushing himself to do the best he can for his fans. In a time of saturated social media content and an almost universal obsession with turning yourself into a brand, it can be easy to lose sight of what really matters – the music. In Carl Cox’s own words, taken from his recent live Q&A in the Virtuoso SmartStudio™: “Don’t worry about being a brand DJ. Just be a DJ. Just be who you are. And then eventually things will come for you, if you just continue to do that. And that’s what I did at the end of the day. So, if you’re making something which is your music and it’s direct from your heart and I feel it? It gets played. And that’s it.”
Skream – Collaborate as much as possible
One of the true pioneers of dubstep tells us how important it is to collaborate and get feedback on your work from other creators. Skream shared some wisdom from his early years as a producer in his upcoming video course. For Skream, meeting fellow dubstep artist Benga was crucial to his success. “We used to play each other our songs down the house phone… He came to be my creative competitor and I think he’d say the same. There was absolutely no competition between us other than the drive to better each other.”
Finding like-minded people to share your projects with can be difficult, but the rewards are worth the effort – your music will benefit from it. And you don’t need to use a house phone to do it like Skream and Benga did – online spaces like Virtuoso’s Discord community are ideal ways for you to start meeting artists like you to start working with.