Producer's Approach to Music Theory

Arriving late to the world of music theory myself, I have experienced the frustrating barrier to entry around musical terms, theory language and staff notation. When starting from scratch at music school, way behind my peers, I developed some of my own alternative frameworks for understanding theory by ear, in a more intuitive way. Using these methods I eventually progressed far enough to be selected as the music department’s primary student instructor, teaching group musicianship and ear-training classes to other music majors. In this course I will be applying these same concepts and skills from a production standpoint and presenting a way for music-makers to push their creativity using the tools in theory without complicated terminology, sheet music, or even the ability to play an instrument.

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Will Henley-Dias
On TIL since 2022
Will Henley-Dias (Vooo) is a multi-instrumentalist & producer based in Oakland, CA. With a degree in music theory and a background in jazz, he has produced for grammy award-winning artists, released solo records featured by NPR, and tutored musicianship and ear-training courses at university level.
What you'll do
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Harmony
I plan to cover a range of subjects involving harmony from the fundamentals like scales, intervals, and chord construction to advanced concepts like chord extensions, ear-training, functional harmony and more.
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Songwriting
In this class we'll discuss approaches to starting new tracks, creating cohesive arrangements, building and releasing energy throughout a track and using songwriting tools to create certain moods.
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Production
Much of this class will involve learning and practicing the nitty gritty of music creation: recording, sampling, mixing, processing, sound selection, editing procedures and more. I will be using Ableton Live throughout these classes but students are welcome to use their DAW of choice as I plan on using mostly universal techniques.
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Instrumental Skills
For the sake of keeping this course flexible and accessible to a large group I don't plan on doing hour-long deep dives into bass and guitar technique, but I do plan on answering questions and giving advice with regard to musicianship, technique and practicing on the instruments I am proficient with. Because keyboard is a staple in music production, I do plan on covering various keyboard skills.
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Career
The interpersonal side of the music world is just as important as the creative side. Having worked in various roles, maintained connections, encountered conflict, grown a platform and collaborated in high-stakes situations, I plan on being an open book to students, giving advice about the social, financial and psychological aspects of the music world.
Who you are
For this particular class my goal is to accommodate a variety of experience levels, leaving room for students to get more familiar with the basics, push themselves with more challenging ideas, and hopefully grow in areas they may not have expected to. Overall this class will be most suited to students who have some basic production knowledge but it isn't necessary to play an instrument or have any music theory background.
What to bring
- Your DAW of choice - Questions and ideas on what you'd like to improve - (Optional) Your instrument of choice - Examples of music you'd like to deconstruct (songs, beat videos, etc.)

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