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Berklee Online: Master of Music in Music Production

This is a guide highlighting available resources to the Berklee Online community.
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An Analysis of Common Songwriting and Production Practices in 2014-2015 Billboard Hot 100 Songs: Over the past two decades, there have been multiple studies and analyses conducted to separate and identify the components of a hit song in popular music. Some of the research has focused on a body of work (corpus studies) while others have honed in on individual songs. This paper is a multi-factor analysis of popular music recordings that attained ranking on the Billboard Hot 100 charts over the period 2014 to 2015. The purpose of this research study is to define current practices used in modern songwriting and music production. It is the author's view that in today's commercial music market both songwriting and song production techniques share a good deal of overlap. Production and engineering techniques are becoming a much more important part of the composition in today's market, branching out from their historical role of simply reinforcing good tone or adding ear candy. Many modern hit songwriters are also producers and vice versa. By applying statistical analysis to a number of metrics, including tempo, form, introduction length, song length, archetypes, subject matter, and repetition of title, common trends of songwriting and music production were garnered. Items such as number of weeks on the Hot 100 and the song's peak position and number of songwriters and the song's peak position showed statistically significant relationships. Common practices identified in modern production and songwriting included, but were not limited to: 1) Writing songs about love and using the 'Lover' archetype, 2) Using the song's title as the hook and repeating it multiple times, 3) Co-writing, 4) Experimenting with new song forms, and 5) Using different textures in the song's production that draw in listeners from different genres.

Practical Production Analysis: Helping Students Produce Competitive Songs A common goal among music production educators is that upon completion of their studies, students will be able to produce songs that are competitive in today's market. The challenge is that we cannot begin to cover all the genres and subgenres in which students express interest. This paper introduces a simple production analysis method that not only helps students achieve the aforementioned goal, but also empowers them to modify the curriculum to fit their genre of choice. This method can also be used with students who have varying levels of skill. This paper addresses four core areas of proficiency (form, instrumentation, texture variation, and audio/production techniques), the classroom method, analysis process, and the benefits and challenges that were discovered



Remixing dub reggae in the music classroom: A practice-based case study on the educational value of music production for listening skills and stylistic analysis: This article examines learning opportunities of music production tasks by an exemplary unit on dub reggae, following an action research approach. It addresses the educational areas of sound design, musical knowledge, analysis, and listening skills, taking the sound of dub reggae as starting point for learner-centered activity. The main premise is to advocate music production technology as an effective tool for music learning allowing students to experience techniques of music production firsthand, vividly illustrating creative approaches of remote musical cultures, their successive influence on popular music, and aesthetic experiences special to technologically created sound. The overall goal is to facilitate a higher awareness and a more detailed understanding of produced sound, and practical competences of integrating technological sound into musical action. The study took place within two vocational college courses for social and health (N = 10; 7 women, 3 men; average age 21 years) and art and design (N = 9; 5 women, 4 men; average age 18.3 years), and aimed to investigate the methodical practicability and the success of the suggested educational approach. It provides preliminary insights along with recommendations for improvements and further applications.

Perceptual Evaluation and Analysis of Reverberation in Multitrack Music Production - Artificial reverberation is an important music production tool with a strong but poorly understood perceptual impact. A literature review of the relevant works concerned with the perception of musical reverberation is provided, and the use of artificial reverberation in multisource mixes is studied. The perceived amount of total artificial reverberation in a mixture is predicted using relative reverb loudness and early decay time, as extracted from the newly proposed Equivalent Impulse Response. Results indicate that both features have a significant impact on the perception of a mix and that they are closely related to the upper and lower bounds of desired amount of reverberation in a mixture


In Search of the Golden Age Hip-Hop Sound (1986–1996) - The notion of a musical repertoire's "sound" is frequently evoked in journalism and scholarship, but what parameters comprise such a sound? This question is addressed through a statistically-driven corpus analysis of hip-hop music released during the genre's Golden Age era. The first part of the paper presents a methodology for developing, transcribing, and analyzing a corpus of 100 hip-hop tracks released during the Golden Age. Eight categories of aurally salient musical and production parameters are analyzed: tempo, orchestration and texture, harmony, form, vocal and lyric profiles, global and local production effects, vocal doubling and backing, and loudness and compression. The second part of the paper organizes the analysis data into three trend categories: trends of change (parameters that change over time), trends of prevalence (parameters that remain generally constant across the corpus), and trends of similarity (parameters that are similar from song to song). These trends form a generalized model of the Golden Age hip-hop sound which considers both global (the whole corpus) and local (unique songs within the corpus) contexts. By operationalizing "sound" as the sum of musical and production parameters, aspects of popular music that are resistant to traditional music-analytical methods can be considered.

Never mind the bollocks: A tech-processual analysis -  Never mind the bollocks, here's the Sex Pistols was a record made under highly unorthodox circumstances. Four contextual cornerstones of record production study are considered: the recording workplace (studio); recordist(s); the sound recording and production technology; and production processes and techniques. The tech-processual context of Never mind the bollocks is considered in full, before a detailed production analysis of the track Submission. The analysis reveals the extent of the contribution made by recordists Chris Thomas and Bill Price to the overall sonic character and shape of the record. This is not an example of auteurism, but an illumination of how Never mind the bollocks has come to be understood as a quintessentially rock—as opposed to punk—record.

Innovation and Diversity in the Popular Music Industry, 1969 to 1990: This study investigates the organization of the music industry in the United States and its effect on innovation and diversity in American popular music during the 1970s and 1980s. I revise and update Peterson and Berger's (1975) analysis of the popular music industry and observe that, contrary to their assumption that high market concentration leads to homogeneity and standardization in popular music', innovation and diversity in popular music in high market concentration depends on the system of development and production used by major record companies. Major record companies employ an open system of development and production that incorporates innovation and diversity as an effective strategy in maintaining the viability and control of the market. As examples, I discuss new styles of music appearing in the 1980s, radio and music video exposure, and distribution and retailing. I show that the level of innovation and diversity in large culture industries depends more directly on the specific organization of each industry and the structure of its market than on the degree of market concentration.


Historical development, sound aesthetics and production techniques of the distorted electric guitar in metal music - The sound of the distorted electric guitar is particularly important for many metal music genres. It contributes to the music’s perception of heaviness, serves as a distinguishing marker, and is crucial for the power of productions. This article extends research on the distorted metal guitar and on metal music production by combining both fields of interest. Analyzing isolated guitar tracks from heavy metal records, ten tracks from each of the last five decades serve as sample for a historical examination of metal guitar aesthetics including tuning, loudness, layering, and spectral composition. Building upon this data, an analysis of 287 guitar recordings explores the effectiveness and effect of metal guitar production techniques.