Beat Making + Music Production Course - EXPLO

Beat Making + Music Production

“When the ideas are coming, I don’t stop until the ideas stop because that train doesn’t come along all the time.” – Dr. Dre

A great beat starts with great sounds. Without the rich, warm (and a little eerie) synth behind Chance the Rapper’s famous verse, Kanye’s “Ultralight Beam” is really just another song. Drum by drum, and sample by sample, build a library of sound that that you can use to create your own beats. Using professional music layering and production software, learn how to make 8- and 16-bar loops, how to arrange them, and how to create house, hip-hop, and dubstep tracks. Deconstruct your favorite tracks in order to determine how the artist created it in the first place. Oh, and while you’re there, grab samples that you can use as a starting point for your own work. Isolate the “Lollipop” and “Smoking Gun” samples in Drake’s “In My Feelings,” and rearrange them to make a remix of the track, or just grab the kick drum and snare sounds and make an entirely new track. Experiment with a vast array of different instruments, effects, tones, and modulations, all sitting right at your fingertips thanks to the thousands of sounds packed into the software’s MIDI library. As you progress, your beats become tracks, and your tracks become your first mixtape. Be ready to share your sounds (and ideas) with the world.

Optional: EXPLO offers a variety of special sessions that include opportunities to improve mixing skills and how music theory impacts your ability to produce professional-sounding beats. To further your exploration of beat making and production, you may sign up for these opportunities once you are at the program.

Who Should Take This Course?

You follow more artists on Soundcloud than people on Instagram, you know every production credit on J. Cole’s KOD, you’re the only person you know who knows about (and listens to) Moby and Bjӧrk. Come create some dope beats, get instant feedback from your classmates, and share your creations with the world. You do not need experience with music production software in order to enjoy this course.

Advisors + Past Speakers

  • Stephen "Apple Juice Kid" Levitin, Music Producer + Beat Battle Champion
  • Erin Barra, Associate Professor, Berklee College of Music

Plan your summer


Course Highlights

  • Social Media Spaces

    Beatmaking is inherently social, collaborative, and interactive. Understand and practice using social media tools like Soundcloud to engage with your audience, collaborate with other producers, get feedback on your beats, and broaden your exposure.

  • Sound Editing

    Survey the many sounds available in your environment—from a car door slamming to the hi-hat sound from the Kendrick Lamar track “Humble”—and use sound editing software to manipulate octave, velocity, pitch blend, and modulation to make it perfect for the feel of your track.

  • Distribute Your Mix

    Once you have perfected your playlist—including pulling samples to enhance your own sound—you’ll drop it in the final days of class. Share your mixtape with family, friends, and the online music community.

  • Career Exploration

    Understand the experiences, skill requirements, and expectations for building a career in music production. Learn about the most common paths that make a career in this field possible. Learn about internships, apprenticeships, and entry-level jobs to get your music production career kick-started.

  • Music Theory Basics

    Get a crash course in music theory—melody, song structure, basslines, harmony, and scales—in order to quickly move into making your own music. Release your first complete song within the first two days of the course.

I learned how to program in FL Studio. It lets us put drums into a keyboard that makes it easier to create rhythms and songs. This let me make music more easily and gave me time to think up new melodies without having to struggle with programming. This is a good class for anyone who likes creating music.

Advisors + Past Speakers

Stephen "Apple Juice Kid" Levitin

Music Producer + Beat Battle Champion

Stephen Levitin, best known as Apple Juice Kid, is an Emmy award winning music producer, DJ, and drummer. Levitin is the co-founder of Beat Making Lab, an Emmy award winning series on PBS that teaches beat making for the purposes of creating social change. The series has traveled all over the world working with musicians from the Congo to Haiti. Levitin has created beats for Mos Def, Azealia Banks, Camp Lo, and Wale. He has released several Jazz remix albums with a global following including: the critically acclaimed Miles Davis Remixed, an EP release on Ultra records and productions with Grammy nominated singers Nnenna Freelon, Yahzarah and Carolyn Malachi.

Erin Barra

Associate Professor, Berklee College of Music

Erin Barra is an Associate Professor at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and
has been a key player in the creative process of many projects from conception to final master to stage performance. She is is the founder and director of Beats By Girlz and is one of the leading product specialists for Berlin-based music software company, Ableton. She has released 5 studio albums as an independent solo artist, is on the Board of Women in Music, and writes for several publications.