Make Electronic Music with the iPad

Learn the concepts and techniques behind making electronic music through a handful of amazing free iPad music apps.
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Instructed by Michael Feld Music / Instruments
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  • Lectures 69
  • Length 1.5 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 4/2016 English

Course Description

This course is for anyone interested in making electronic music with the amazing technology the iPad has to offer.

Whether you've made music before or have never touched an electronic instrument, there are new and exciting skills to be learned here. Your iPad is a powerful music creation tool and the music apps available to everyone on the app store represent some of the most advanced music technologies out there.

All of the apps are free to download, and the course is designed for you to follow along with me as I cover the essential concepts involved in creating electronic music such as synthesis, performance techniques and the principles of sound design. Think of this course as an interactive experience where you will learn by doing. Included are workshops with some of the very best music apps out there, sound creation exercises that explore how to make specific types of instruments and effects, my own specific philosophies on making music intuitively, a comprehensive beatmaking class in a wide variety of styles and genres, and app recommendations at the end of each chapter will guide you on your music making journey long after the course is finished.

This is not a traditional music course or recording class, instead it’s a new kind of learning platform where you are an active participant, playing along with the music apps and experiencing the technology for yourself. The goal of this course is to gain autonomy through a deeper understanding of how electronic music works and the essential techniques involved in its creation, such as how to use an LFO to build more dynamic sounds, automating modulation for performance and layering sounds for richer sonic qualities. Music making should be fun and involving, and this course is designed to reflect that excitement.

Through the apps, you’ll learn to make beats in a variety of styles, build your own track from scratch and perform them in realtime, work with powerful synthesizers and experience new instruments that could only exist on the iPad. Music making is a skill like anything else, and this course will provide you with the knowledge and understanding to approach it with confidence and inspiration.

I invite you to join me in exploring the iPad as an endless source of musical enjoyment and creative possibilities.

What are the requirements?

  • Have access to an iPad (iPad 2 or newer)
  • Install the following free iPad apps: Thicket, Synth!, Nanologue, Beatwave
  • Have an open mind and discard preconceived notions about what an instrument is or what our technology is capable of

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Gain a firm working understanding of many of the essential conepts and techniques involved in creating and performing electronic music
  • Be exposed to a vast array of playing techniques and technologically advanced apps on the iPad
  • Build and perform songs in real time using sequencers
  • Learn interactively by doing while performing and doing exercises that put the concepts into practice
  • Produce and make beats in a wide variety of styles and genres
  • Learn about other powerful music apps to explore for further developing your music practice
  • Consider important philosophies and tactics to approach music making from an inspired and open place while developing your workflow
  • Work with the popular effects and waveforms that are the essentials building blocks of electronic music making

What is the target audience?

  • Anyone interested making electronic music can take this course
  • This course is perfect for both those who have never made electronic music, or have and are interested in the instruments and tools available on the iPad
  • This is not a typical course on recording or music theory. Instead, this course focuses on using music iPad apps to teach the fundamentals and technogogical innovations available to iPad musicians.
  • This course uses a handful of great music apps (that happen to be free) to teach the essential skills and concepts behind the creation of electronic music. While recommendations are made for other apps, the focus is less on listing many great apps than using them as a means to gain the understanding and autonomy needed to use so many of the amazing music apps out there.
  • In order to best appreciate this course, throw out any preconception you may be holding onto about what defines an instrument and assume for the sake of argument that the iPad is an instrument that music apps have features that are just as powerful (if not more so) than any piece of software.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.

Curriculum

00:48

When I was introduced to the vast wealth of music apps for the iPad I was blown away. That’s why I’ve created these series of videos using these amazing apps as a platform for learning how to make electronic music.

The iPad has opened doors for people who want to use powerful equipment, but don’t want to pay hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on hardware synths and VSTs.

I invite you to join me in exploring these exciting instruments, to get inspired by this amazing technology and have a fun time doing it.

Section 1: Introduction to the Course
00:34

I’m really excited about this format. I’m really excited to be teaching you this way, it’s modular (which is a concept you’ll learn) which just means that you can learn on your own terms so you can learn at your own pace. You can learn where you want to learn, if you wanna learn in the kitchen you can, if you wanna learn on the subway you can.

I really wanted to pack these videos with a lot of information for you, a lot of history, a lot of concepts and techniques.

00:29

This course gets very advanced so if you feel at any time you need to pause the video and a lot of information is happening, have the iPad in front of you, be trying the stuff out and pause so you can see what’s going on, try the different patches, try the different exercises. Really, I want this to be learning by doing and that’s really important to me.

00:36
I really feel passionate about this technology and about getting people out of this confined box of: “this is the place where you have to make music, this is the way we have to make music, this is the finite process.” Let’s let go of all that, let’s have fun again, let’s play instruments. Your iPad is an instrument, whether you know it yet or not, as soon as you start working with this course, you will absolutely see it that way.
00:15
It’s a skill, it’s a skill like anything else. If you learn the fundamentals of how sound works and how to work with sound, then you can play anything.
Section 2: iPad as Instrument: Thicket
00:29

Here's an introduction to the history and world of the Thicket app. We'll be exploring gestural playing techniques and performance approaches to the iPad through this innovative instrument.

"At Interval Studios, two designers created a visual platform for iPad that would allow anyone to play music. In this environment, music and visuals are fused, responding dynamically to each other. This is an instrument so intuitive to play, even a child can play it."

00:19

I like this app especially because you don’t necessarily need to understand how it works to have fun with it. It’s really easy to play and it always sounds interesting. I usually show this app to people first for this reason, it instantly fascinates.

00:26

Installation and setup instructions for installing the iPad app on your iPad.

01:14

Explore the playing techniques involved in Thicket and the gesture recognition technology available to the iPad.

00:57

Here's some extra features and settings available to Thicket players.

01:15

You can purchase separate modes for Thicket for $1 each opening up whole new performance opportunities and playing techniques, here's how.

00:27
The notion of an instrument that anyone can play instantly may feel radical, and it absolutely is. But the democratization of music is a worthy goal. Everyone should be able to make music, I really believe that. I mean what would our society be like if everyone could make music and express themselves? I feel like it would be more open, people would have an outlet for their emotions.
01:00

If you're enjoying Thicket, here's some other apps you'll like:

Bloom, Thicket: Classic, Strange Attractor, Nodebeat

Section 3: Synthesis I: Synth!
00:38
Here’s a simple, fun and ready to play synthesizer by Retronyms. This polyphonic synth comes with a wealth of sounds: basses, leads, pads, sweeps and everything in between. These sounds exist under the hood so you don’t need to worry about creating them. This app is all about instant gratification. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to play piano, use the keyboard as a sound palette and experiment!
00:18

Explore the categories of sounds that come with the Synth! app.

00:13

Choose the look of the Synth! app.

00:29

Explore the basic controls of synthesizers, including pitchbend, modwheel, octave and performance effects.

00:37

Access the metronome built into the Synth! app.

00:35

Practice keyboard performance techniques such as glissando, tapping the keyboard and utilizing the modwheel for cool approaches.

00:50

Modulate sound and pitch to create dynamic effects like detuning, vibrato and other pitch modulation effects.

00:36

Learn the universal rules behind creating triad chords through an understanding of how intervals and steps work (to create seventh chords, add another note two half steps above the triad).

00:33
It’s just playing with sound, it’s just “well, what if I put this over here and over here,” and these videos are meant to show in great detail how these synths work, but at the end of the day just play with them, just make sounds and see what happens. I think through that, through working with the videos, along side the videos, I think this is a great way to learn.
01:36

See and hear the most common waveforms used in synthesis.

00:39

Use the distortion model in the Synth! app to add harmonics and warm up the sound.

00:46

Practice using the different variables of a simple delay effect module.

00:48

Here's some of my favorite sounds in the Synth! app.

01:25

If you like Synth!, here's some more apps you'll enjoy:

Photophore, Nanologue (see tutorials below), iMini, DXi FM Synthesizer, Phase84, Novation Launchkey, Soundprism (see workshop below).

Section 4: Synthesis II: Nanologue
01:02

The app we’re using for this video is completely free to download from the app store, and it’s excellent. Under the hood it’s very powerful and it sounds like an analog synth, it has a very high quality sound. I just feel like it is really intuitive, everything is right there. It is just a really fun synth to play. It uses the architecture of the iPad to make everything accessible all at once so that if you wanna change a sound, you wanna create an effect, you can do that really quickly. You can work fast which is great for performance and for production as well.


When you watch these videos, feel free to pause it and take out your iPad, download Nanologue or whatever app we’re working with and play and try things and experiment because you can’t break it (unless you drop it on the floor, which I don’t advise).

00:35

A brief overview of the different control and performance sections of Nanologue, we will cover each of these parameters in the tutorials below.

00:51

Here's a tour of the architecture of the Nanologue synthesizer, we'll be covering all of these elements in the next few lectures.

Nanologue Elements

Keyboard: Keyboard Range, Keys

Pitch: Glide, Pitchbend Wheel

Filter: VCF Envelope, Cutoff/Resonance, VCF Slider

Waveform Shaping: Octave, Oscillation Shaper

Modulation: LFO Shape, LFO (Source), Modulation (Target)

Effects: Tube Distortion, Delay

Global Controls: Save/Open Preset, Volume, Help/Setup

00:12

This video demonstrates how frequency is made up of vibrations, which become audible at certain pitches.

00:45

Use the glide control to create classic synth sounds common to Hip-Hop, Funk and House music.

00:40

Use filters and modulation envelopes to create different sounds and effects.

00:48

Learn to use the low-pass filter in Nanologue to shape the sound through a combination of resonance and the cutoff point with helpful visuals to understand the process.

00:38

We get deeper into using modulation envelopes and settings to shape sound over time.

00:28

Practice using different combinations of filter envelopes and settings to create your own effects.

01:18

LFOs give us an essential tool for creating movement in our sounds, through varying the rate and modulation target, the possibilities are endless. Also covered is the modulation direction and pitch modulation.

01:14

Get to know the delay module in Nanologue and how to pull up different delay settings for your sounds.

00:14

Practice playing with extreme settings to create experimental sounds including harsh noises and bizarre soundscapes.

00:49
Get deeper into using delay to create a wide range of sound effects and textural qualities.
01:17

Exercises in sound creation:

Create a fast picking rock guitar sound.

Make a dub siren by modulating the pitch with an LFO

Build a classic acid house lead synth sound by modulating the cutoff.


00:44

Explore the settings and other features in Nanologue.

00:45

Synth apps on the iPad allow us to access both old technology and new, often combining the two into new forms for something that’s entirely unique. Not only are so many of these apps powerful and feature rich, they also sound incredible and are incredibly cheap (and can you think of anything that is more portable than [the iPad]? I think something like Nanologue is a great way to learn, I think these apps are a great way to approach learning in a fun way. But it’s a serious way too, these are serious apps.


If you enjoy this video, be sure to check out our other videos, subscribe to our channel, throw us a like is always appreciated, share these videos out. Show people what you’re doing on the iPad, they will be so impressed with what you’re doing, trust me.

00:51

If you like Nanologue, here's some more apps you'll dig: Nodebeat, Arctic Pro Synth, iProphet, Phase84.

Section 5: Sequencing with Beatwave
00:50

With this video we’ll be looking at the ins and outs of app: how to start creating a song, how to move the different parts around, how to create beats, how to create compelling melodies, how to change up scales, choosing different sounds, blending those sounds, there’s a lot to work with.


This is a pretty in depth video, so feel free to stop and pause and really work the way you wanna work. These videos are set up to give you as much information as possible so don’t feel overwhelmed, feel like you can work at your own pace, which is what this is all about.

02:13

Get to know the matrix sequencer in Beatwave and learn how to sequence melodies, create compelling patterns, use the mix and master controls and choose different scales (as well as create your own!)

02:52

The arrange view allows you to sequence entire song parts, learn the relationship between the two modes and develop a workflow for song creation in Beatwave.

00:30
As you continue to work with Beatwave, and we’ll go over all of the details on how it works, all of the sounds, all of the beat that you can make (we have an amazing beatmaking workshop so be sure to check that out as well), we’ll take a tour of the different instruments available within Beatwave. There is a ton, and there is more to purchase as well. It’s a lot of fun!
06:11

Here's a tour of the different sounds and effects in Beatwave.

00:31

A list of settings within the Beatwave app.

00:29

Access the Beatwave Store to purchase more sound and effects for the app.

00:33

I hope you’re enjoying your time with Beatwave, I think it’s a really amazing app, I think it’s so much fun, and it really is a powerful tool for composition and for performance. So if you have the opportunity to perform electronic music, I recommend this, I think this is one of the top 5 apps for performing out there because you can really do everything in the box and you can do things very quickly, you can build whole songs in real time, which is incredible. Each song you make is gonna be better and better.

00:48

Here's some other great iPad music apps with sequencers:

DM1, Samplr (see workshop below), Arctic Pro Synth, Phase84.

Section 6: Beatmaking with Beatwave
00:50
Welcome to the beatmaking workshop, we’ll be looking at a lot of different genres and a lot of different styles. We’ll be covering a wide range of styles and I’m sure there’s something that is right for you, and things that you’ve never heard before. The key to working with genres is thinking about where the notes fall generally, where the strong notes are, how they’re built essentially, what are the essential building blocks. I don’t want to tell you what genre to play, I’m not gonna tell you what sounds to use, that’s up to you. These are tools for you to use. With the knowledge that you’re gaining from this program I really hope that you feel empowered to create whenever you want. These tools are at your fingertips.
01:32

Gain a firm understanding of how beats are broken up, how time is divided rhythmically and the concepts of syncopation and sound layering.

04:46

Styles:

0:11 Drum & Bass
2:10 Slow Funk
2:39 Old School Hip-Hop
2:53 Dance
3:02 EDM
3:53 Progressive House

01:37

Styles:

0:07 Reggaeton

06:58

Styles:

:06 Rock
:42 Rock Shuffle
1:20 Dance Rock
2:35 Speed Metal
3:23 Dubstep
5:52 Hard Trance
6:33 Progressive Trance

03:09

Styles:

0:01 Samba
1:42 UK Garage
2:53 Breakbeat

02:11

Beatwave has the ability to generate beats using controlled randomization according to rules set by the user. This is a technique theorized and popularized by heavy hitters like Brian Eno and Autechre.

01:12

I just wanna say that really genres can’t be contained in a box or a tempo or one beat. Keep that in mind, but I do think that it’s important as producers and musicians to be versatile, and so even if you don’t know everything about breakbeat if someone says “ can you make me a track” you can do that. These are really important things to keep in mind when you’re creating your beats, they’re not going to exist on their own, they’re going to be part of a larger context.

So I think that’s really what genre and style is about: is creating what they call a bed, which is basically like the foundations. It’s like you’re building a house with the song and the beat is the foundation of the house and you want a strong foundation, you want it to be the right foundation, you want it to be in a tempo that’s gonna work if people are going to dance to it or not dance to it or freak out to it or be like “what is this?!” You want to have a strong sense of how to get that feeling across. It’s a feeling, you’re creating a feeling, you’re creating emotions through the beat, I mean it’s very powerful.

Section 7: Bonus: iPad App Live Workshops
02:01

A workshop recorded live exploring the gaming music platform of Musyc.

05:38

An introduction to the most amazing sampler for iPad: Samplr.

02:59

Soundprism is an amazing chordal keyboard for iPad, see me demonstrate how to perform with it in this workshop.

Section 8: Conclusion
00:22

I really like the process, I love that it starts from nothing and then you add a layer, then you add another layer and then suddenly it becomes music and it becomes this multilayered environment that you’ve created for the listener.

00:36

It feels like a game, it feels like you’re playing an incredibly complex and sophisticated game of making music. That’s the way it should be, you know, it shouldn’t be a drag, it should be fun.

In a lot of these apps including Beatwave you can choose which scale you want and everything adheres to that so everything is automatically in tune, everything is automatically in key and you don’t have to think about it, you can just try different stuff out without worrying about hitting the wrong note or playing the wrong key. Everything is set up for you to succeed.

00:26

With an app like Beatwave and the portability of the iPad, you can make music anywhere. I made a track at 3 in the morning at the Bedford stop L train in New York and it sounded great and I was jamming out on the platform, and it’s one of my favorite tracks that I’ve created. I made it on the train, at 3 in the morning, and it sounds great.

00:25

I worked for a dance company and I actually was able to create songs with the dancers. The choreographer had me come in with the iPad and I sat with the dancers and we created songs together with Figure in 5 minutes. It was amazing, I mean I couldn’t bring a laptop in and do that really. It was so much more approachable and it was inspiring.

00:22
Thank you so much for taking this course, I hope it’s inspired you, I hope it’s empowered you, I hope you’re deeply in love with what the iPad can do and what these apps can do.

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Instructor Biography

Michael Feld, Electronic Music Instructor

Michael Feld teaches music production, drumming and electronic music performance at his Detroit-based music recording studio PlaySpace Studios. He has a Masters in education from NYU and studied music production and synthesis extensively at Dubspot in New York. Michael has been teaching music for almost two decades in schools, recording studios and through his private practice.

He has fused his own lifelong learning in music and his experience in the industry for a unique, engaging and entirely modern approach to music education. As an electronic music performer and drummer himself, he has a working knowledge of the powerful technology available to students including iPads, controllers, DAWs, VSTs, modular systems and more, and through these tools he always brings the learning back to the essential concepts and techniques required for autonomy and mastery. 

Michael is excited to be exploring eLearning and online education platforms as a multidisciplinary way to engage students of music across the globe.

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