Pro Electropop Tips – Breaking Down ‘Best Laid Plans’ TUTORIAL

Pro Electropop Tips – Breaking Down ‘Best Laid Plans’ TUTORIAL

With a huge amount of music production experience, including being the engineer behind legendary band Submotion Orchestra, Producertech are very happy to welcome Dom Howard to the community, as he offers a glimpse at his working methods in this series of tutorials. On the course, Dom walks through one of the tracks on his 2020 solo album ‘Songs for the Time Being’, released under his artist name ‘Ruckspin’, in which he uncovers the techniques used to create and mix the different melodic and percussive elements within it.

After providing an overview of the artistic goals and structure of the arrangement, Dom starts to dissect the various parts in the song, beginning with the string quartet, which forms the backbone of the intro and lays down foundations for the overall harmony. He then moves on to the huge JP synth in the chorus and other complementary leads, as well as describing the way sub and bass layers are handled. Following this are lessons that outline the treatment of vocals and drums, with a thorough explanation of the many busses used to add extra textures and professional touches to the mix.

Once all the main parts have been covered, Dom returns to the main strings to provide a deeper exploration of the music theory behind them, then explaining how all of the melodic sounds are sequenced, from long, sustained notes to brief, pizzicato arpeggios. As well as getting more technical with the melodies, there are tips on recording percussion, and how to edit and arrange parts to create a more organic drum break.

Signing up to the course provides instant access to 90 minutes of streamed tutorials, in addition to a bonus collection of samples from Loopmasters, taken from the Submotion Orchestra sample pack. Check out the free excerpt from the course for an example of Dom’s style and delivery, which is packed full of pro tips to inspire and help with creating stunning Electropop tracks of your own.

Course Breakdown
Module 1 – Intro
Dom introduces himself and the course, making recommendations for different studio kit that has been most helpful to him over time.
4.57

Module 2 – Project and Track Overview
A summary of the main artistic goal with the project, followed by an analysis of the various melodic parts in the track, from the string quartet foundations, through the JP pad, prophet and neutron synths, main sub and bass layers.
12.00

Module 3 – Vocal Processing
A look at the treatment of vocals in the track, including the insert and send FX used, and a detailed explanation of the different vocal busses, adding extra layers and complexity.
9.36

Module 4 – Drums & FX
After showing the reverse FX samples utilised to great effect in the arrangement, Dom then talks about the methods used to construct the beats, from sequencing the main drums to the addition of percussion and extra loops, including the effects processing required to produce a solid and engaging groove.
7.17

Module 5 – More on Melodies
An exploration of the secondary melodic sounds in the intro, namely the Rhodes and Music box, before showing how detailed automation has been used to create natural expression and development in the strings.
5.46

Module 6 – Buss Processing
Dom’s tips for bussing drums, synths and other melodic sounds, to achieve a warmer, fuller and more professional-sounding mix.
7.04

Module 7 – Arranging the String Quartet
Getting deep into the music theory, Dom provides a thorough breakdown of how the strings were conceived, looking at the harmony behind them and the different arrangement techniques used at certain points in the song.
14.17

Module 8 – Arranging the Melodies
Expanding on the previous module, Dom continues to work through the creation of melodies in the track, moving on to the Rhodes, Music Box and Neutron synth, also talking about the use of an occasional stumbling rhythm across all parts to provide rhythmic interest as well as artistic vision.
15.03

Module 9 – Drum Recording & Arranging
A closer look at the percussion used in the track, such as the recording and editing of the cabasa and shaker, followed by some final commentary on the overall structure of the song.
9.44

Module 10 – Outro
Dom signs off and then plays through the track.
5.25

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