Our Music Foundations Courses » Music Foundations Level 1: Pads & Rhythmic Theory


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Music Foundations Level 1: Pads & Rhythmic Theory

Explore the science behind the beat using Ableton Live and pad controllers as tools to dissect, analyze, and build new rhythms in various dance music genres.

About This Course

On the theory side, you’ll learn about note subdivisions, MIDI notation, rhythmic structures, quantization, and specific types of rhythms, instruments, and sounds used in various genres. On the creative side, you’ll perform exercises to become more proficient on your MIDI pad controller as you dissect, rebuild, and compose beats in Ableton.

What You’ll Learn

  • Proper hand positions and techniques for playing a MIDI pad controller
  • Rhythmic notation in the MIDI editor and on the staff
  • Time signatures: 4/4 and 6/8
  • The Clave: the African key to rhythm
  • Role, purposes and possibilities of different drum sounds
  • Adding variation: layering, fills, and breaks
  • Analyzing beats in existing songs from 12 different genres
  • Creating your own original beats in Ableton Live in 12 tempos ranging from 65-140 bpm

Course Goal

At the end of this course, students will have a greater understanding of rhythm and be able to create beats in various styles. Upon completion, students will have created at least six Impulse drum kits with custom drum sounds, and composed at least 32 original beats to accompany melodic and rhythmic tracks.

What You’ll Need

  • A Mac or PC computer with a web browser and broadband Internet access
  • A MIDI drum pad controller with eight or more pads, such as the Akai MPD-18, Korg PadKontrol, Native Instruments’ Maschine or Maschine Mikro (in some cases your keyboard may feature drum pads as well and you can use these; this is fine, but many students do prefer separate pad and keyboard units)
  • Ableton Live (full version or Suite)