A couple of months ago, creative online learning resource Evenant released a new premium course called Cinematic Music – From Idea To Finished Recording. It’s designed as a composer’s complete guide to composing, orchestrating, recording and mixing orchestral music using modern-day production tools. On over 150 pages of text and 14 hours of video content, the course leads you through the complete process of writing and orchestrating a memorable piece of music with virtual instruments as well as mixing and mastering it into a finished record.
I’ve had the chance to enroll in this exciting Cinematic Music course and will share my thoughts and insights on it with you in the following review.
Cinematic Music – From Idea To Finished Recording is Evenant’s co-founder, author and composer Arn Andersson‘s enhanced remake of a self-named e-book he released back in 2014. It features a wide range of texts, videos and audio examples as well as a comprehensive fly on the wall style video diary on producing an epic orchestral track from start to finish.
The course consists of 23 chapters which are roughly organized into three main categories:
Each chapter ends with a discussion and feedback section, where both students and tutors can exchange questions and experience.
In the first set of chapters, Arn introduces his students to the world of composition and its cornerstones – melody, harmony and rhythm. He shows how a memorable, emotional melody can arise from a little motif using devices like intervals, leaps, balance and a technique called “PReVaDe” (Presentation, Repetition, Variation, Destruction).
Transitioning into the harmony part of a composition, Arn provides you with some theory about the purpose of harmonic accompaniments and goes about the creation of different types of chords, pedal tones and chord progressions. He shows how to use the principle of musical questions & answers on chord progressions and finishes off the chapter by joining up melody and harmony.
The next chapters feature a mix of text lectures and videos covering additional elements like countermelodies, ostinati and sound design as well as a presentation of different track structures. Lastly, the compositional part of the course is concluded by some side notes on the topic and a summary.
The next main chapter deals with the orchestration part of producing a cinematic track and starts off with an overview of the most common instruments in the symphonic orchestra. Each section – strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion – is broken up into their respective instruments. Arn discusses some general characteristics and purposes of each section and demonstrates each instrument’s particular strengths and weaknesses.
Proceeding to the practical part of the orchestration chapter, the tutor covers topics like orchestration form, track layers, chord voicings and movement. The chapter also contains a couple of videos featuring practical tips for digital orchestration and an overview and analysis of the track Arn produced for the purpose of the course.
Content-wise, the production part of the Cinematic Music course is by far the most comprehensive one, given the fact that it features over 2 1/2 hours of video alongside the lectures. The chapters deal with all the steps of a production including the recording, editing, mixing and mastering. Each step is presented in its own chapter which features tips, tricks and techniques particular to the respective production phase. The topics range from creating an efficient production template, the introduction of a five-step mixing technique to working with a reference track and more.
Appendix Video Diary
Following the main content of the Cinematic Music course, you’ll find roughly 10! additional hours of video content featuring a comprehensive video diary of Arn producing a track from start to finish. Beginning with a rough idea of a melody, he works through all the single steps of the creation until he eventually gets to a polished master of his epic orchestral track. Since tutor Arn takes care about showing you the entire process of creating a track, he kept all his little mistakes and compositional dead-ends in on purpose.
The scope of Cinematic Music – From Idea To Finished Recording is quite broad and if you’re planning to enroll in the course, definitely make sure to reserve some time for it. There’s quite a lot to discover and in order to get the most out of the lessons, I’d strongly suggest following along with developing your own musical idea. As tutor Arn is presenting his musical progress in a step-by-step fashion, it’s easy to take an idea of yours and build it little by little just like he does.
Arn presents a nice blend of basic and advanced music theory and manages to present it in an entertaining way with true-to-life examples. This way you learn essential theory bits organically and with some practice will be able to make use of your newly acquired knowledge while composing.
One feature, that’s not directly part of the course itself but still provides plenty of valuable information is the comment section. At the bottom of every chapter, you’ll find the chance to engage in a discussion with other students and the tutor(s). It’s enjoyable to see that Evenant’s tutors are very involved and try to answer as much questions as possible and encourage discussion between the students.
With its 150+ pages of lecture, numerous audio and notation examples plus a massive 14 hours of video content, Cinematic Music – From Idea To Finished Recording definitely is a mammoth of a course. It presents just the right mixture of theory and practice and is presented in a youthful and entertaining linguistic style everyone can understand. The music theory bits, which oftentimes can get a bit dusty, are explained in an easy-to-comprehend fashion and illustrated with useful audio and graphic examples. Some chapters are interspersed with helpful tips from professionals or short interviews with orchestral music composers. The insane amount of video content helps massively to follow along and to watch theory getting transformed into practice. One essential part of the course is the video diary which grants a personal, over-the-shoulder look into the elusive working process of a composer. Its no-smoke-and-mirrors approach shows you how little mistakes and happy accidents can sometimes take a composition from ordinary to awesome.
Cinematic Music – From Idea To Finished Recording is a highly valuable compendium of knowledge for both beginning and intermediate composers alike. Although it’s focus lies on creating cinematic orchestral music, most of the music theory tips and production advice easily apply to any other kind of music.
For the price of $299.00, Evenant’s Cinematic Music course provides you with a huge amount of knowledge, experience and practice, that can drastically help to push your composition skills to a new level. Highly recommended!