Shortcut your learning journey

This is not a tutorial, this is a music education

It's a video course designed for absolute beginners, assuming zero pre-existing knowledge. Step by step I introduce all the key building blocks needed to start finishing your own electronic music compositions. 

I'm Oscar from Underdog, and I created this course to save you YEARS of trial-and-error. There is a lot of music production knowledge out there in the world, but it is badly organised and not clearly structured for a beginner. This course teaches you the foundation that you need for future development. It starts from clear first principles, and ensures that later on you won't get lost when more advanced topics are introduced.

This course is built up of a core curriculum, and an intermediate curriculum. You can complete the core curriculum in 5 weeks and you'll be finishing your first songs.  The intermediate curriculum goes deeper into specific topics and takes the time to explore nuances and details.

The course also qualifies you for a -40% educational discount on Ableton Live, should you want to buy it after the trial period is over.

THE CORE CURRICULUM

DAW basics & drum programming

We'll talk about the basic audio editing skills needed to navigate your DAW, and learn to programme effective drum tracks using audio and MIDI workflows.

Rhythm & harmony theory

The key to emotionally impactful music is not random, and it's not secret: it's just a few core rhythmic and harmonic concepts that we explore in a series of short videos. Once these are understood, your music will be coherent, focused, and emotionally impactful.

Programming instruments with intent

If we understand the theoretical ideas, we now just need to put them into practice: how do we programme different musical voices and what roles do they play in a composition? We also learn the basis of synthesis to customise sounds to fit into our composition.

Mixdown basics

Even the best musical ideas will fall flat if the audio engineering behind them is all wrong. In this chapter we will learn the foundations of the domain called "mixing", to help us create space for our elements and balance them against each other.

Arrangement & climaxes

We learn most of the concepts in this course while working inside an 8-bar loop. But once that loop is polished enough, it's time to tell a musical story with it, and in this chapter we loop at the concepts behind doing exactly that.

Intermediate curriculum

Once you are comfortable with the core curriculum, it's time to delve deeper into each aspect and get better at it. To help you on your journey, we include a tonne of in-depth topic treatments with this course.

  • Advanced drum programming techniques

  • An rundown of 3rd party VST plugins

  • Studio setup concepts and advice

  • Critical listening exercises (house, techno, pop & electronica)

  • How to use compression & managing dynamic range

  • How to use and record hardware synths and effects

Four printable posters

Keep all your learning within arm's reach

Underdog sample & MIDI chord pack

This Foundations course comes bundled with the Underdog Sample & MIDI pack, with loops and drums to get you started. It also contains MIDI chord progressions for instant inspiration. This pack will get you started, and it is a good first step for later building your own sample library.

FAQ

  • What equipment do I need for this?

    Any computer (PC/MAC) will do, plus the free trial version of Ableton Live. A pair of headphones would be nice too. In the course we discuss what else you might want to buy, if you plan on upgrading. The course also qualifies you for a -40% EDU discount on Ableton should you want to buy it once the trial version is over.

  • Why should I take this course? Why not self-learn via YouTube?

    You can, and should try to self-learn via YouTube! The problem with a lot of content out there, however, is that it is unstructured: it's not clear that you are getting the right puzzle pieces at the right time at the right skill level. This course offers you that structure: after this course you'll understand how it all fits together, and then you can build on that by self-learning.

  • Will this teach me everything about Ableton Live?

    I like to say this is an ART class, not a SOFTWARE class. I teach artistic concepts and how to implement them via the tool, in this case Ableton Live. So it doesn't show 100% of what Live is capable of. Think of it like the difference between a graphic design course vs. a photoshop course. One is about the principles, the other about the tools. This course is the former.

  • How do I get the EDU Ableton Live license?

    When buying the EDU license on www.ableton.com/en/shop/education/, submit your proof of purchase as verification!

  • Do you only teach in Ableton Live?

    In this course I exclusively use Ableton Live to illustrate all the concepts. However, the concepts are universal and you can probably find analogous functions in your DAW of choice. If demand is high enough, I might make expansion modules for particular DAWs. Let me know in the "discussions" tab inside the course!

  • What if I have questions or something is unclear?

    Every class has a dedicated "discussion" tab, where you can ask questions or make comments. I will keep an eye on these, responding to the most common questions, and if necessary amending the videos to address questions.

  • Will I have lifetime access to the course?

    Absolutely :) Follow it, then take a break, then follow some more. Then forget about it, rediscover it, and take it several times. You do you <3.

  • I'm already an intermediate producer, will this be of use to me?

    I often get the feedback that the way I explain is a good balance between simplicity for beginners, and nuance for more advanced students. You might also just want this course to complete certain missing parts in your production skillset - I believe it's priced reasonably accessibly to allow for that too :)

  • Is this a live or video course?

    This is a pre-recorded video course structured for you to watch at your own tempo. The videos stay available to you to watch and re-watch. To share your learning journey with others on the same path, come to the Underdog Discord channel!

What people say about the course

I have never in my life sat for seven hours straight to learn something

Hydralicious

I'm only half way in and I have to say that I've lost count how many times I've felt like I got my money's worth. I have never in my life sat for seven hours straight to learn something. You are truly an amazing teacher and everything that I feared before deep diving into this has been squashed away. Thank you!

Filling in all the blanks

DEEP Papaya

This course has done wonders for filling in all the little blanks that I've missed not having any sort of formal training. Lots of "Oh! That's how you do that!" along with the fundamental "theory" subjects. I've made some tracks in the past, but this one I'm working on as I do the course feels, by far, the most professional of them all. Thank you, @OscarDog for putting this course together. It's super well done.

The glue that puts everything together

Artakan

I just started it, and even though I consider myself not a newbie, after going through hundred of tutorials, this course gives you the glue to put everything together, it's fantastic thank you @OscarDog !!!

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Chapter 1: Welcome & DAW orientation

    • Welcome & How to use this course

    • Getting to know your DAW interface (basic editing skills)

  • 2

    Chapter 2: Drum programming

    • Composing drums using audio samples

    • Composing drums using MIDI

    • Optional: intermediate drum programming

  • 3

    Intermezzo: The Roadmap Workflow

    • The roadmap as a workflow starting point

  • 4

    Chapter 3: Simple synths & filters

    • Adding simple synths & filters to your composition

  • 5

    Chapter 4: Harmony

    • Harmony 1 - names and intervals

    • Harmony 1 quiz - names and intervals

    • Harmony 2 - scales

    • Harmony 2 quiz - scales

    • Harmony 3 - the seven chords

    • Harmony 3 quiz - the seven chords

    • Harmony 4 - chord progressions

    • Harmony in practice 1 - example composition

    • Harmony in practice 2 - how to find good chord progressions

  • 6

    Chapter 5: Composition

    • Bass composition - Three bass styles

    • Pads composition and automation

    • Leads composition and EQ

    • Effects composition and creating your own samples

  • 7

    Chapter 6: Synthesis basics

    • Synthesis in theory

    • Synthesis in theory quiz

    • Synthesis in practice: Live's "Analog"

    • Synthesis in practice: Live's "Wavetable" v2

    • Synthesis in practice: tweaking our composition

    • Optional: 3rd party VST plugins

    • Optional: hardware synths and effects

  • 8

    Chapter 7: Mixing and referencing

    • Mixdown: what's it all about?

    • Dimension 1: Low to High

    • Dimension 2: Left to Right

    • Dimension 3: Near to Far

    • Limiting and Referencing

  • 9

    Chapter 8: Arrangement and climaxes

    • Arrangement and climaxes (1/2)

    • Arrangement ant climaxes (2/2)

    • Course end (congratulations!)

  • 10

    Bonus: Track Analysis Sessions

    • Track Analysis 1: Techno (Ben Klock - Sub Zero)

    • Track Analysis 2: Electronica (Moderat - A New Error)

    • Track Analysis 3: Pop (Lil Nas X - Industry Baby)

    • Track Analysis 4: House (Detroit Swindle - The Fat Rat)

  • 11

    Bonus: Intermediate topics

    • Rerouting & Resampling Workflows

    • Sidechain compression and LFOtools

    • Parallel processing

    • Organising your Samples Folder

    • Session view & Designing a live performance

    • Using organic sound samples & foley

    • Studio setup and monitoring

    • An introduction to compressors (part 1/2)

    • An introduction to compressors (part 2/2)