January 22, 2013  

Introducing EMC2: Ski Oakenfull Deconstructs Avicii’s Levels

This year at Point Blank we’re unveiling a brand new course, an extension of the Electronic Music Composition discipline.

As an exclusive preview of the course, our tutor and course developed Ski Oakenfull has put together a new series demonstrating some of the techniques he’ll be teaching on EMC2. For this first tutorial he cleverly deconstructs global hit Levels, by Swedish dance music superstar Avicii. The track has a ridicuolously catchy set of melodies and chords, which Ski breaks down in this video.

Over the coming weeks, Ski will be using his skills to demonstrate more aspects of the new course which he has been developing for some time now. It’s yet another extension here at Point Blank, where we’re continuing to expand and introduce new avenues for our students to explore. Watch this space for more exciting developments…

[button size=”small” window=”true” color=”orange” link=”http://www.pointblankonline.net/electronic-music-composition-2.php”]Find out more about the EMC² course by clicking here[/button]

Video Transcription:

A: Hi, I’m Ski Oakenfull Point Blank Online. I’m a producer, composer and keyboard player and I’ve worked with bands and artists like Incognito, The Bass and Joey Negro and you are watching Electronic Music Composition. In the years since we’ve launched this series, we’ve been inundated with requests for more tracks to analyze and we’ve loved your suggestions. This video is an exclusive preview of a brand new course you can enjoy at Point Blank Online to take your skills further. We’ve called it EMC2, so head on over to PointBlankOnline.net for more details.

So, for this video we’re going to look at this massive track by Avicii called “Levels.” I’ve got it into Ableton. There’s also a logic version to download as well and you can see I’ve split it up into the different sections and I’ve also interpulated [SP] it. So, I’ve tried to get the most important parts and transcribe them.

So, you can see here there’s a vocal, drums, bass line, piano, lead, organ, stings, arpeggio, various parts. I haven’t really tried to copy the production. I just wanted to show you what the arrangement looked like from the page, so let’s remind ourselves of the track and then take a look at the chords.

Now, first of all, let’s just try to work out what key we’re in. So, we’re in C sharp minor here, natural minor. First chord is this and this is a C sharp minor chord. This would be the reposition. This is the first inversion and this is the second inversion. So, we’ve got a C sharp minor. Second chord is the E major which is the three chord and is the relative major of C sharp minor. Then it goes down to a B major. Again, second inversion and then an A major. So, B is the second chord. The A is the sixth chord.

Very simple and this really kind of goes throughout the whole track with a slight variation when the vocal comes in with the organ. I’ll quickly look at that in a minute, but the bass line again is just under pinning those chords. C sharp, E, B, and A, so we’re really kind of getting into the crux of this track. What makes it so big is the simplicity really. Obviously there’s some great production going on. It’s got a great vocal as well, but the whole track kind of builds on this.

We also got this melody which goes over the top of those chords. So, all in the scale of C sharp minor. So, let’s have a look now at this middle section. Let’s just open that up so we can have a look. There we go.

So these are slightly broken these chords. Let’s sort of just bring up the keyboard again. What we’re doing is missing out some notes, so we have this chord to start with which is basically exactly the same. The second inversion, C sharp minor, but we’re missing out this fifth note here and again we’re missing out the third here just playing the B and the E. I’m playing this on the left hand. If that’s how it goes there and then the second time around it goes there’s a slight difference. We’ve got this chord here which is almost acting like a sus4 and again on this last chord we’ve got it’s like an A sus2.

So, just slightly slight variation, but it’s quite subtle but it can really have a big impact on the actual sound of the track. So, have a listen to this all the way through and have a look at the dynamics. Check out the midi parts and you’ll be able to kind of get inside and understand how it’s working.

Recording: At Point Blank Online you’ve got two methods of interaction with your tutor. Firstly, you’ve got the weekly online master class which is in real time and then also we’ve got feedback on your assignments and that’s known as DVR. So, the online master class is a one hour session you get with your tutor every week. You can ask questions about lesson content, you get instant feedback and also demonstrations on the fly from their computer desktop with out streaming technology.

DVR stands for Direct Video Response and the concept is really simple. You upload your Ableton logical key bass project file to your tutor, he downloads it and then pushes record on the screen capturing software and it evaluates your work. So, it’s basically giving you one to one feedback. You’ll see all your mass movements and any parameter changes made by your tutor. It’s kind of like sitting in the studio over their shoulder watching what they’re doing whilst they work.

We’ve found the DVR process has truly revolutionized the way that we teach online and the results speak for themselves. Book your place in the course now by visiting PointBlankOnline.net.

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