Want to learn music-production skills? How about a series of tutorials from top producers including stems and bespoke plug-ins? Matthew Mann checks out this tutorial service with a difference…
System Requirements Windows or OS X, streaming internet connection
The budding producer lives in an amazing age. With virtual recording studios, synths, drum machines and powerful virtual versions of all kinds of instruments also available to carry around on a laptop, and price tags that bring these music-making tools within reach of the masses, it’s very easy for almost anyone to get started making music. So how, then, does the budding musician and producer learn to use these tools?
There’s no shortage of reputable music-production schools out there, but they’re expensive. And good luck finding a mentor who has the time and willingness to take an inexperienced producer and turn them into the next David Guetta, BT or Deadmau5. There are also hundreds of training websites, but how to choose one? Let’s take a look at VIProducer.com and see if it stands out from the crowd.
Back to School
VIProducer.com is a small site at this point. There are only five courses on offer at the time of writing this article. But before you discount this website as not worth your time or your money, let’s see what the courses are all about.
Each of these courses is led by an instructor… but not just any instructor. They’re taught by actual chart-topping producers: Grammy Award-winning musician/songwriter/producer Printz Board (of Black Eyed Peas fame), producer Doctor P, French DJ/remixer/producer Joachim Garraud (David Bowie, OMD, Kylie Minogue, David Guetta, Jean-Michel Jarre), and Swedish DJ/producer StoneBridge (Robyn)… all have courses here.
Each one walks us through one of their songs, breaks it down, and talks about how they came up with the ideas, sounds, and arrangements that make these tracks stand out. The courses are broken down into sections.
Stems are provided for these tracks, too, so the whole package enables students to watch, read and then duplicate what each producer is doing, picking up tips and tricks that can be applied to their own productions along the way.
The videos, stems, and written step-by-step instructions are very good and should spark an ocean of creative ideas very quickly; however, the real fun begins with the plug-ins which are provided with each course. Powered by UVI’s Workstation, these plug-ins give you pretty much all the tools you need to recreate these tracks (and create your own).
When first opening the plug-in – which is different in each course – you’re presented with a profile shot of the producer who had a hand in the plug-in: you open the Doctor P plug-in, and you see Doctor P’s face; Printz Board’s plug-in opens with Printz Board’s face and so on.
This is good to help you remember which producer’s toolkit you’re working with, since they all look alike initially. Each plug-in has a selection of drum hits, synth patches, bass patches and Beat Maker – drum kits created from the producer’s own samples. The drum hits are presented in a 4×4 grid like standard MPC pads.
The kits feature the standard fare: kicks, snares, hats, claps, and various percussion elements. All the elements are very high-quality and will certainly get your creative juices flowing. Each kit in Beat Maker also features plenty of options for tweaking the sounds to create your own custom kits.
There’s also a basic ADSR section, volume pan, tuning, filter (with cutoff, resonance, Low Pass and High Pass buttons), and FX section (with Drive, Reverb and Delay amount dials) plus a three-band EQ. These knobs dial in the amount of what you want… for each individual pad.
Additionally, there’s a full FX section incorporated that lets you tweak the reverb (decay, size, shape, and width) and delay (delay, feedback, spread
It also allows you to adjust the type of saturation (tape, tape-tube, or analogue) and even sync the delay to a frequency or to steps. The reverb is powered by UVI’s Spark Reverb and sounds pretty darned sweet.
Finally, there’s a master section, with adjustable Drive, Stereo Image control, an exciter, and a limiter. All these functions are also available in the Beat Maker kits, and it’s evident that VIProducer and UVI have put some serious thought into them.
Each plug-in also features a Drum Shaper. Drum Shaper features all the drums found in the Beat Maker, but lays them out across the keyboard and gives you quick access to each type of sound but quick buttons. Additionally, each element can be played in loop mode using keyswitches.
This loop mode relies on the repeat section to function. For example, turn on a kick. Now move to the repeat section and turn on Kick Repeat. As you hold down the key assigned to the kick drum, it will loop. From here, you can adjust the resolution of the loop. The options here are: 8th, 8T, 8D, 16, 16T, 16D… all the way up through 64ths. Using this method, you can create some excellent percussion parts very quickly.
In addition to all the tools provided for making killer percussion tracks, VIProducer and the producers themselves have included a solid selection of epic lead synths, a variety of keys, and banging synth basses. Everything you need to really get making music fast.
In addition to all these features, VIProducer is planning on adding courses from mix engineers, vocal producers, and musicians in the near future. I was well impressed with all you get from each course and feel that this is a very good value for the money.
You’d easily pay £99 just for a virtual instrument plug-in of this quality, but here, you’re getting the course and stems to practise with, too.
VIProducer – Key Features
● Tutorial courses from established producers
● Bespoke UVI Workstation plug-ins for each lesson to recreate sounds
● Lessons concentrate on breaking down a track and include stems
● Written support materials
● Plug-ins include drums, leads, keys and other sounds