Apr 01

Behind The Scenes Of A Melodics Lesson With Jeremy Toy

by in Interviews, Melodics

James Gadson has been the key drummer for every style of music you can think of since the ‘60s, with a playing style that above all else focuses on groove and musicality. He’s the perfect person to build a series of drum lessons around. 

Much like Gadson, talented New Zealand musician Jeremy Toy has long been a chameleon whose impressive work covers multiple genres, including punk, jazz, soul and hip-hop. Who better to distill Gadson’s work into a Melodics Course

Toy’s detailed understanding of what makes a James Gadson beat so unique was the starting point for creating the lessons in the course. In order to condense something as subtle as Gadson’s playing style into easily digestible lessons, Toy decided to deconstruct some of the classic tracks he played on in order to understand them. First he broke them down into separate pieces before putting them back together in his own way.

Toy took a methodical approach of converting Gadson’s drum loops into MIDI in Ableton, and then triggering his own drum sounds with that MIDI. Reprogramming his drums as best as he could, Toy essentially created his own virtual James Gadson. Converting these loops into a visual format on a grid allowed Toy to better analyse Gadson’s style and extract the groove from each clip. 

“To me the number one thing with James Gadson is the feel,” Toy tells Melodics. Creating a more tactile version of this vague idea meant Toy could find common themes in Gadson’s playing to incorporate into the lessons 

Although groove and feel by nature involves tempo being inconsistent or wavering, Toy began to notice exactly how Gadson manipulates his timing – specifically by keeping the swing of his hi-hats consistent, while the kick drum stays solid and on beat. “That actually happened quite a lot,” says Toy. “The more I analysed it I thought ‘this is actually a thing.’” After confirming in a scientific way that groove and feel is Gadson’s secret sauce, Toy went about making it a core part of the lessons.

While the starting point for understanding Gadson’s drumming at a molecular level is based on a sort of science, make no mistake these lessons are made by real musicians with aspiring musicians in mind. With the analysis done Toy, who helped write this, this and this, wrote and recorded the backing tracks you hear in the lesson. These backing tracks were then performed on by Gadson himself at Stones Throw studios, the recordings then condensed into the final product which is the lesson. 

Teaching groove is a challenging prospect as it’s fundamentally based on playing something not quite right – but still in a way that sounds good. It’s a skill generally seen as something that you just have or something that you very slowly build up over time without intending to. With the Gadson lessons Melodics are making this skill something that users can actually learn and track their progress on, which is rare for feel.

Transferring Gadson’s groove into the visual and dynamic Melodics format, Toy landed on a kind of galaxy brain idea of averaging out or condensing Gadson’s groove from each recorded track into a short loop which is then duplicated for the duration of each lesson. If the lesson was to try replicate Gadson’s moving groove exactly across an entire track not looped, it would be too hard for anyone including Gadson himself to consistently achieve and build on. With a shorter looped groove there is some consistency to the inconsistency, providing attainable learning outcomes. When users play along and attempt to hit the drums in time with the lesson, they are essentially playing with Gadson’s groove which is a little out of time, yet still playing in time with the lesson.

“It needs to be quantised in some way, to make it performable and gradable and markable and achievable,” says Toy, “so you end up quantising with feel, James Gadson’s lessons’ which is almost a no no”. In this case it’s not a no no, it’s very deep and the reason you can be funky.

The other core aspect of Gadson’s playing that Toy tried to incorporate into the lesson was again a fairly subjective idea of how Gadson’s style is essentially fun, or more that playing in his style is about playing with people. Toy remembers the story he heard from percussionist Lucky Paul who has worked with Gadson. “He jammed with James Gadson a few times and he said it’s not what he plays but it’s how he makes you feel when you jam with him. As a drummer, he backs you up. He makes you feel like a million bucks.” 

With this in mind, Toy tried to make the backing tracks and the lesson in a way where the drums feel “like you’re playing in the track”. At times the drum rhythms mirror the other instruments on the track, while other moments are juxtaposed to give the feel of jamming with a band rather than playing a repetitive beat. The drums are intertwined with the backing track as much as possible to make the user feel more like they are immersed in the track than practising a beat. 

Another aspect of Gadson’s style that Toy appreciates is his touch and how he’s able to vary the way he hits each drum – something that is perhaps a challenge for another day for Toy and Melodics. “You can’t represent everything in his playing, but we have to represent what we could which is the feel of the rhythm. There’s the foundation.”

Dec 18

The Melodics Way

by in Melodics

People come first

  • Be human
  • Build strong relationships
  • Clear the path for each other

Perfection through iteration

  • Experiment with intention
  • Keep it lean
  • Flow

Leave things better than we found them

  • Enable and empower
  • Have an impact
  • Outcome over input

There comes a time for every company when you need to get things written down. In the early days, when you can all sit around one table for lunch together, you can talk about what’s important to you. You demonstrate it, over and over, through your actions. In some cases, your actions aren’t completely aligned with your values, but you talk about why the thing you just did isn’t ideal, and how you’d like to do it better. A small team, all working together on everything, in one room – it’s easy to stay in sync.

But then you get a little bigger. You start to bring in new people who weren’t in all those conversations. Things evolve. What worked for 5 people doesn’t work for 10.

That’s when you need to step back, and really work what your values are, what’s important. These are our values:

We believe that people come first – without our team, we are nothing. Without our customers, we have nothing. Melodics is here to make a positive difference to people’s lives. 

We build strong relationships. Externally, that is working with partners. We are very much a business of partnerships. We find ways to support the goals of our partners, so that they in turn will support us. That’s what partnership means to us. 

Internally, it’s how we treat each other – with kindness. That means being respectful and supporting one another, but at times challenging each other, and not settling for good enough. In debate, our mindset is to refine the idea, not to win the argument. We have strong opinions, but hold them loosely, and we are willing to change our minds.

We choose to be human. We each have strengths and weaknesses. We are open with each other. As individuals, we’re all awesome at some things, and not so awesome at others. The more open and honest we can be with each other about this, the better we can work together as a team.

We know it’s hard to get started with music. We know that there are barriers, people feel excluded, that music is for musicians, other people. We clear a path. We recognise those barriers are real, and help to break them down, to make music accessible to everyone.

We also clear a path at work. We strive to remove the barriers that exclude people, and stop them from bringing their whole selves to work. 

Clearing a path means being highly aligned, but loosely coupled. In command, but out of control. To be in command, clearly communicate intent, values, and standards. To be out of control, trust your team’s skills, judgement, and experiences (and get out of the way). In this way, we enable and empower.

We experiment with intention. We believe in perfection through iteration. We’re making a world-class product, and we know that the way we get there is by fine-tuning the cycle of deploying, learning and iterating. At our core is an experimental mindset. This means that many of the things we try will fail – If we’re not failing enough, we’re playing it too safe. We’re willing to be wrong. Failure is normal, to be expected – the value is what we learn from it. 

We keep it lean. When it comes to process, our mantra is barely sufficient. Enough to do the job, no more. No process for process sake.

Work is most rewarding when you are in a state of flow, flow is where challenge and ability intersect. We ask our team to do things they already excel at, and mix that with pushing people beyond their comfort zone, making space for learning.

The concept of flow is core to our company. Flow as a concept overlaps with so much of what we do. In education, this concept is known as the learning edge. In gaming it’s called challenge balance. The idea is found everywhere at Melodics – progress happens when you’re in the zone between too easy, and too hard. Challenged, but not to the point of frustration. 

We have a responsibility of guardianship – to leave the world better than we found it. We believe music is good for the soul and mind, and that our success will improve lives. 

We believe that outcomes are more important than input. We’re counting what we do, what we make, what we improve or resolve. What counts is our achievements. Not how many hours you work in a week. 

These are the values we aspire to hold ourselves to.

 

A little bit more…

We aspire to these values. We don’t always meet them. By putting these down in writing, this gives us something to point to, to say this is how we want to act, who we want to be. I invite everyone to challenge anything that they see us doing that does not live up to these values.

And as founder, there is something else that I personally feel very strongly about

We are a New Zealand company. Our country prospers by exporting our land

Rain falls and the sun shines on grass, which is eaten by cows, who make milk, which we sell.

We sell our scenery to tourists. 

I believe that this doesn’t scale… we can’t get more rain, more sun. We can’t accommodate 100x more tourists. 

It’s not sustainable. Scaling up agriculture puts even more pressure on our environment. Flying people in on jet planes is ruining the air. The future lies in exporting ideas

Part of my personal mission with Melodics is proving that this can be done, and done from here. We’re clearing a path for other kiwi companies to do the same. 

 

 

 

 

Oct 09

It’s guided learning, but YOU create your own path.

by in Fundamentals, Melodics, Pro Tips

Learning to play music is exciting, but getting started can be confusing and sometimes overwhelming. Where do you start? Where do you go next? What do you do when things get tricky? What should you be focusing on?

These are all common bits of feedback we hear from those looking to get started with learning to play their instrument.

The solution?

Introducing the Melodics Guided Path – a structured map through the Melodics Courses to help you find your way and improve your skills on the keys, pads, or drums.

The Guided Path gives you an overview of the areas you should focus on when starting your musical journey with Melodics. Working your way through each Course in the Guided Path will help you lay a solid foundation for you to build upon further.

We’ve designed this path for you to follow, but try moving both ways. Forward through the courses to master new concepts, but also back to lessons you’ve passed so you can see the improvements you’ve made, increase your scores and get those perfects. One of the joys of music learning is the satisfaction of easily re-playing a lesson you once found super hard.

Continue reading It’s guided learning, but YOU create your own path.

Jul 30

Melodics Playground Mode

by in Melodics, Pro Tips

Feel like your playing is getting better but you’re still too nervous to play on your own? Want to be able to sit down at your instrument and play without any prompts? 

Introducing the new Melodics Playground Mode! Now you can free play over Lessons, record yourself, and listen back to evaluate your performance.

Every musician wants to be able to play their favourite songs, but becoming a great musician means more than following a script. Playground Mode gives you all the tools you need to take what you’ve learned and add a splash of your own creativity. Record and listen back to evaluate your own performance! Become a more confident musician and see how much progress you have made! 

How do I find Playground Mode? 

Next time you pass a Lesson, you’ll unlock Playground Mode for this Lesson. Once you’re in there, you’re free to play anything you want. Test yourself by playing the Lesson again from memory with no prompts, or improvise your own remix – it’s up to you

where-to-find-pg-mode

 

Want to know how you actually sound?

Loop it up and record.

Playground Mode will keep looping, so you can spend as long as you want in there. Hit the record button when you’re ready – you can record and listen back to evaluate your performance, start playing another layer over the top, or just sit back and admire your genius.

Messed up? Don’t worry – just hit the X button to start again.

 

Want to get creative, but don’t know where to start? 

Learn the chords, or just jam out! 

Don’t worry if you get stuck, for keys, we’ll let you know what notes and chords mostly sound good with each Lesson. Follow the scale indicated with green dots, or hit the “Show Chords” button to reveal the chords for that Lesson’s key. If you’re feeling extra brave, turn down the backing track to release your true potential and play anything you want!

pg-scale-guide

 

What’s a song key?

A song key determines what notes and chords mostly “sound good” together. This is more of a guide than a hard rule. It’s a good place to start but don’t be afraid to try other keys too, especially when played quickly as passing notes.

 

Is Playground Mode also available in Melodics Pads and Drums?

Of course! Pads and Drums don’t include the key, scale, and chord guides (as those are Keys-only concepts) but you can still jam your ideas, remix the track on the fly, and record yourself to listen back to.

pg-pads-drums

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

The benefits of recording, playback, and evaluation.

Being able to record and listen back to your performance is an incredibly useful tool. When you’re in the moment, it’s hard to notice small mistakes or happy accidents, and it’s difficult to critique your playing in real time. Humans like to get complacent too, so if you’re not careful, you might start to develop bad habits! It’s hard to notice these bad habits, and even harder to break from them without proper feedback.

Usually we have to rely on others for subjective feedback on our performances, but humans are not always the most reliable or critical, either! So who better to provide the best feedback than yourself? You are your own worst critic.

 

Learning how to improvise and jam

One of the most difficult skills to learn is applying your knowledge gained from Lessons to playing in the real world with other musicians. Lessons and courses provide the best core knowledge, but it can be hard to fully understand some concepts and apply them to the real world.

Playground Mode gives you the space to experiment and apply what you’ve learned without any prompts. With our chord suggestions for Melodics Keys, you can explore and get comfortable playing in a specific key, and learn which chords and notes work well together. Pads and drums will allow you to play what you want and evaluate your timing when playing without prompts.

Improvisation is also a big part of becoming a great musician. If you’re comfortable playing the Lesson content, Playground Mode is the place to go to improvise your own version. There’s no time limit, so you can spend as long as you want in there – it’s just you and your instrument!

 

Suitable for all abilities

Regardless of your skill level, there’s something for everyone in Playground Mode. Next time you pass a Lesson, jump into Playground Mode and explore. Start by testing your memory and play the Lesson again without prompts. If you’re feeling confident, set up a loop and improvise your own remix. You can also turn down the backing track and play anything you want. Don’t forget to hit that record button to listen back to your creativity!

Good luck!

____________________________________________________________________________

FAQs

Who has access to this feature?

This feature is for subscribers only. Subscribe to one of our plans and get access to Playground Mode for as long as you want.

How do I find Playground Mode in-app?

Once you get at least 1 star on a Lesson, you will see a Playground Mode icon on the screen where your score resides. You can also access Playground Mode in the Pre-Play screen for Lessons you already have at least 1 star on.

Does my performance in Playground Mode count towards my Daily Goal?

It does indeed! However, the time is counted only if you are actually playing – hitting the keys / pads / drums.

Mar 08

Beginner’s guide to sample packs.

by in Melodics

A sample pack is a collection of sounds that are designed to use as pre-made building blocks for producers to create music with.

These sounds usually consist of loops (a musical phrase that can repeat such as a guitar riff) and one-shots (a single sound such as a kick drum).

You can use them within any DAW (digital audio workstation) such as Ableton Live, Garageband, Logic or FL Studio. Many of these have a free version for you to use if you are just starting out.

Producers typically use sample packs as an initial starting point when creating a new song, or even as inspiration to explore into new styles of music.

rewards

Melodics’ sample packs contain a combination of loops and sounds found in our many lessons, covering a huge range of musical styles. If you complete your practice with Melodics you might be lucky enough to receive a free sample pack as a reward for all your good work. We give them away on a regular basis!

To use a sample pack simply:

  • Download the sample pack from the link provided
  • Open your DAW (e.g Garageband)
  • Upload to your DAW of choice. 

(As an example, if you have a Mac, open Garageband, create a new ‘audio track’ and drag one of the sounds direct from your finder into that audio track.)

You can now use your new sample packs as a starting point when producing music or even as inspiration to explore new ideas.

Give it a go, you could be on your way to creating the next big hit!!

Dec 19

Last Minute Gift Ideas For Musicians and Music Producers

by in Melodics

2018 is coming to a close, and it’s very much been a rollercoaster of a year. But before we can get off the ride, we’ve got to get through Christmas first. If you’re stuck for a bit of last minute gift shopping and are struggling to think of what to buy for that electronic music playing or producing obsessed person (or people!) in your life, we’ve got you well and truly covered. Check below for a few quick and easy gift suggestions. Whether they’re just starting out and want to give this thing a crack, have been playing around for a bit, or are well in truly deep inside this thing we call music, we’ve got ideas for you of things they’ll love.

 

ROLI Beatmaker Kit

 One of the best things about Melodics is combining the sound of electronic music with the tactile qualities of played live music. How better to really sink into this intersection than with the right controller? Music technology company ROLI has really come to the party in this regard with their ROLI Beatmaker Kit. Comprised of two compact physical controller units, the light pad block and the loop block, the kit gives the user access to hundreds of expressive sounds to play around with on the controllers, a copy of Ableton Live Lite to make basic recordings in, and a six-month Melodics subscription to help them hone those finger drumming chops. Once they tether it to their laptop, they’re away.

➡️Link

 

DJ Tech Tools Midi Fighter 3D

If you’re looking for a robust controller, perhaps one that evokes the feeling of tapping out ten hit combos on arcade and video games during your childhood (or maybe you’re an adult that still does), DJ Tech Tools’ Midi Fighter 3D controller is the present they’re going to love. Built like a tank, with 16 high-performance Japanese buttons, the controller is fully colour configurable and has total motion on all three axes. It’s a grunty Melodics compatible workhorse and comes with a promo code for 30 free finger drumming lessons. The Midi Fighter 3D is on discount for the rest of the year, order one before this Wednesday to guarantee Christmas delivery. Ableton, Serato and Traktor users will love it as well.  

➡️Link

 

Expansion Midnight Sunset

If the producer in your life is a Native Instruments user (Battery, Maschine, Massive, Monark, Reaktor Prism), they might appreciate a fresh set of loops, drum samples, and synths. Native Instruments recently dropped an expansion pack called Midnight Sunset, which explores the drum machine funk that was crucial to 80s boogie, p-funk, synth-pop, and 90s West Coast rap. We’re talking about a sonic palette that connects Shalamar, Prince, Rick James, Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre, and that’s before even getting into the contemporary boogie revival. Gift them some iconic sounds to get playing with. They’ll be getting more bounce to the ounce.

➡️Link

 

Splice Sounds

 Do you know what else the producer (or producers!) in your life needs? Even more royalty-free samples to use when they’re making beats. Splice is a cloud-based music creation and collaboration platform that integrates with most digital audio workstations and offers you automated online backup and a bunch of other bells and whistles. Splice has a subscription service called Splice Sounds, which gives users access to over two million samples, loops, FX, and presets, as well as exclusive artist packs. Slip a note with the promo code 2FREE18 in with their presents, and if they’re signing up as a new user, they’ll score two months of free access.

➡️Link

 

Melodics™ Subscription

Whether you’ve got someone in your life who is interested in dipping their toes into electronic music playing, and production, or a special someone, family member, or friend who is all in, but would like to be able to practice more, a Melodics™ Subscription is the perfect Christmas present. Ranging from 1 month to a full 12-month subscription option, you will be gifting access to over 500 lessons and courses across genres, and if they don’t have a MIDI keyboard, controller, or electronic drum kit, they can still use their computer keyboard. Learning has never been this fun. Whether you’re looking to learn how to play calypso, trap, juke, future RnB, hip-hop, house, or disco, there are lessons for you.

➡️Link

Aug 08

A fresh face to learning in Melodics

by in Melodics, Uncategorized

blog-learning-updates-annotated

We’ve made a few updates to the learning and courses section in Melodics based on your feedback. Here’s a quick guide to what’s changed and how to find your way around your next practice session.

  1. Choose between lessons or courses – play lessons one by one, or try our guided courses which introduce different musical concepts and themes within a series of lessons.
  2. Favourite and recently played lessons.
  3. Browse by – Sort and filter our lesson content to help you find what to play next. Sort by Artist, Free, Genre, Grade, Latest & Tags (skills and techniques).
  4. Search for a specific lesson.
  5. Preview – listen to a lessons before you start.
  6. More info – check out the full details of what you’re about to learn in this lesson.

Take a look and start practicing.

Feb 20

Level up! Win a Novation Launchkey 61 keyboard

by in Melodics

What better way to celebrate your progress on keys than winning a brand new keyboard from our friends at Novation.

How does it work? It’s simple:

  1. Play our keys lesson of the month, Reach Out (Grade 3)
  2. Take a photo or video of your setup while you’re giving it a go. 
  3. Post your photo or video on Instagram and tag @MelodicsHQ @WeAreNovation and add #MelodicsLevelUp
  4. You’re in the draw.

What are you waiting for? 

Competition ends in two weeks so get playing! 😎

Prize Draw Terms & Conditions

  • The prize consists of one (1) Novation Launchkey 61 Keyboard.
  • Entries Open at 12:00pm, 19th February 2018 (NZST) and close at 5:00pm, 7th March 2018 (NZST).
  • Prizes are not transferable and are not redeemable for cash.
  • Only one entry per person will be accepted.
  • The winner will be notified via Instagram.
  • Winner must make contact with Melodics within 7 days of being notified of their win, or another winner will be selected for the corresponding prize.
  • Melodics reserves the right to feature the name and location of the winners in future promotions.
Dec 05

Bassline Bootcamp from Mark de Clive-Lowe

by in Interviews, Melodics, Uncategorized

We checked in with producer Mark de Clive-Lowe to get the info on his new course.

How would you describe your new course Bassline Bootcamp?

I’ve made a range of bassline examples over different style and tempo beats. They all look at applying different ideas to take you from a simple single note vibe to bringing in fills and embellishments that you can apply in your own creations. Basslines are little melodies themselves so it’s a great way to learn multiple skills at the same time.

How would you recommend Melodics users approach your course to get the most out of it?

Some of the lessons have challenging aspects so I’d definitely recommend using the practice mode to loop up those bars or sections that are harder and slowing them down. Slowing down whatever you’re practicing is the magic trick to mastering something – it might not seem as fun, but it’s definitely the tried and true method.

What will Melodics users be able to do after finishing this course? How will it help in regards to their overall music production?

If you go deep and really nail it as well as taking note of the associated information – like what key something is in and what technique it’s applying – you should be able to build basslines around any chord progression, create fills and make alternate versions of your main idea.

Are there any other comments or things you want users to know about this course and the new Melodics lessons?

Practice makes perfect!

To try Mark’s course in the Melodics App simply download and head to courses in the LEARNING tab.

Oct 27

Introducing Melodics V2. Keyboards, Drums & Pads.

by in Melodics

Keys. Drums. Pads.

Melodics V2 is coming soon and we’re teaching you how to play the keyboard… and much more! The highly anticipated next version of Melodics adds support for keys, and a ton of new features for pad controllers and electronic drums.

Whether you’re a beat maker looking to add keys to your bag of tricks, or a drummer wanting to branch out – we’ll have you covered.

Melodics for keys will help you learn to play the chords, basslines and melodies of the music you love, whether you’re wanting to become a better producer, or just play for the enjoyment of your friends and family.

Melodics is free to try. To take your musical dreams further, subscribe and you will have access to over 400 lessons for keys, drums and pads – with new content added weekly.

Bonus extra add-on fun stuff for everyone!

We love hearing your feedback about Melodics, and we’re excited to be rolling out some great updates – for all instruments – including:

  • Choose your instrument within the app – keep track of your progress for Keys, Pads and Drums, with independent leveling for each instrument.
  • All new levelling system. Want to level up? Collect stars! See how many stars you need to hit the next grade and unlock more lessons as you level up.
  • New navigation. No more waiting for screens to load, version 2.0 is snappy AF.
  • A new view – the Finger Allocation screen is essential for keys, get the feel of how you have to place and move your hands over the keyboard before you work on playing the lesson.
  • Wait Mode – Playback will automatically pause until you hit the right notes, allowing you to step through complex rhythmical patterns or melodies. Paired with Practice Mode, Wait Mode is a great way to break down tricky phrases!
  • All new Learning page for a fresh look at courses and lessons. View lessons in list or grid mode, and browse by artist, genre, grade or tag.
  • New and Improved labelling of tracks in the play view to help you quickly work out which sample is on which pad
  • Colour coding for each hand, so you can see at a glance which part goes with which hand
  • Favourite Lessons – Add a lesson to your favourites list from the lesson screen, or within the lesson itself. Favourites are stored on line, so now they’ll be shared across computers.
  • Pause – press pause during lesson playback to have a deeper look at at difficult sections.
  • Scroll through the lesson arrangement before playing to preview what’s coming up.
  • Volume control always available. Control volume levels more easily within lessons – adjust the metronome, your notes, guide notes and the backing track levels direct from the play view.
  • Customisable Metronome sounds – Pick your metronome, with the familiar sounds of Ableton Live, Logic, Maschine, and many more.
  • Easily manage your account on melodics.com

We’ve also squashed some pesky bugs

  • Fixed an issue where your level could be reset as you passed over level 12 and above
  • Smoothed playback. Improved performance that could cause jittery playback for some users.
  • Plus a ton of other performance improvements.

We have a deal for you!

As a special pre-launch offer, if you pick up an annual subscription now you’ll get lessons for ALL instruments for the price of one instrument.

Already a subscriber? You’ll have all instruments until your subscription rolls over.

If you’ve been thinking about building your pad skills, and you’re interested in learning keys, now’s the perfect time to subscribe!

  • This deal applies to new annual subscriptions or upgrades from monthly to annual subscriptions purchased before 12 November.
  • You will have access to all instruments for the 12 months until your subscription renews.
  • Discounted Instrument bundle subscriptions will be available at the end of your 12 month subscription period.

Melodics V2 is coming soon! Stay tuned for the release before the end of 2017.

If there’s anything else you’d like help with, or if you have any extra feedback just get in touch. 😃