In 2017, 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 26 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.
UPDATE: Just recently, Evenant gave their flagship course a complete overhaul including 6 hours worth of fresh, additional video content, a streamlined course outline and a new Platinum Tier option, we’ll discuss a bit further down in this review. In order to provide you with all the information necessary, I’ve updated the original 2017 post where changes applied.
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 7 modules which are roughly organized into three main categories:
Here’s an overview of the 7 modules that make up the course:
- Module 1: Enter The World Of Cinematic Music
- Module 2: Crafting Your Theme
- Module 3: Structuring Your Track
- Module 4: Orchestration and Arrangement
- Module 5: Creating A Realistic Mockup
- Module 6: Mixing and Mastering Your Track
- Module 7: Creating A Track From Beginning To End
In order to keep the size of this article in reasonable limits, I’ve decided to group the modules together into the aforementioned categories and discuss their content in three overarching blocks.
In the first three modules, 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.
These chapters also feature a collection of videos covering important elements like countermelodies, modulation techniques and ostinati as well as a presentation of different established track structures.
The fourth module 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 13 1/2 hours of video alongside the lectures. The final three modules deal with all the steps of a cinematic music production including the recording, editing, mixing and mastering. Each step is accompanied with helpful 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 much more. After explaining the theory and function of different processors, Arn goes ahead and demonstrates their use in action.
FROM IDEA TO FINISHED RECORDING
The last module features 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. This is a rare chance to watch a working composer create a finished piece of music from a simple idea in his head.
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 and the course’s private Facebook group. Here, 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.
PLATINUM TIER OPTION
Evenant added a Platinum Tier option for this course, allowing students to receive personal feedback from author Arn Andersson and the course tutors on your weekly assignments.
According to themselves, with the Platinum Tier, Evenant didn’t just simply add a weekly feedback system but they implented the support system and guidance the author wished he had when he started out years ago. Here are some of the benefits:
- Students will get a 30 minute call to map out your goals and strengths, for a more personal experience
- A roadmap for the months after the course is over
- Private communication with the author and course tutors
- Exclusive bonus content on monetizing your work, getting gigs, getting your work out there and going from beginner to making your first dollars
With its massive 26 hours of video content, 150+ pages of lecture and numerous audio and notation examples , Cinematic Music – From Idea To Finished Recording definitely is a mammoth of a course. The recent update (which by the way is free for existing students!) brought even more helpful content to the table and really rounds off the whole experience. The course 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 $499 (or 4 monthly payments of $139), 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. The new Platinum Tier option offers you an even more personal experience as it provides private communication with the author, a roadmap for the months after taking the course and exclusive bonus content. The Platinum Tier option is available for $1,499 or 2 monthly payments of $749.
Existing students of the original course get the update for free as well as a $500 discount to upgrade their course to the Platinum Tier, as a token of appreciation for their continued support over the years. Students of the Orchestral Sketching course get a $50 discount on the Cinematic Music course.
Enrollment in Cinematic Music – From Idea To Finished Recording is possible until Feburary 6th, 2020. After that, doors will close and enrollment will not be available anymore.