Ben Böhmer Masterclass: An informative, in-depth course
German DJ and producer Ben Böhmer is a top-class musician- known mainly for making deep house and progressive house, he is, without doubt, one of the brightest artists in the scene. As it turns out, he’s also quite the teacher! The Ben Böhmer Masterclass with Production Music Live (PML) is as fun and easy to understand as it is deep and informative.
Like most other online masterclasses, this production course is formatted as a series of videos that form a walkthrough of how to do a specific task- in this case, we watch as Böhmer details how he made the song “Beyond Beliefs“, from his 2021 album, “Begin Again“. It’s a remarkably thorough lesson, and importantly so. Making a song is obviously a very involved and thoughtful process, and Böhmer does excellently in not only showing exactly what he did to achieve a given sound, but also explaining the rationale behind his decisions. For instance, the first part of the song which he analyzes, the arpeggio from which he built the rest of the track, is covered over nine minutes. He shows every plugin he uses, every effect, every technique, and takes the time to make sure the viewer understands how and why. He even walks you through a mixing session. The bonus material is equally excellent- you get to see the creativity at work as Böhmer creates a track idea from nothing and watch him detail how he uses Ableton in a live setting.
The course itself is generally split into the following sections:
Sampling himself by reusing a part from “Flug and Fall”, Böhmer makes an arpeggio that forms the basis for the entire track. Cutting stems and even showing us the exact effects he uses (like the Rob Papen Distort or the PuigTec EQ), he builds the sound of the track meticulously. To pad, he makes a synth sound he likes and looks for “happy accidents”, or simply put, plays around till he hears something he likes. As he says, it’s about placing good sounds in patterns that work, but the process is much easier said than done. Every detail, from delay on the pads to sidechain compression on the drums, is thoughtfully made and polished.
Böhmer puts his song into three parts: Intro, middle, outro. Elements are slowly and gradually brought in, with each serving its own purpose (ex. synth waves are introduced to create tension). The intro and outro are very similar, but the middle is, itself, essentially a breakdown followed by a build-up leading into a drop. The theme, which is constant, goes through various movements. Everything only comes together towards the end, creating a satisfying balance between tension and relief.
Finally, Böhmer goes through all of the tracks, determining how he wants to pan them, whether to put them in stereo or mono, and other such considerations. He details how removing or boosting frequencies goes a long way to achieving the specific tone he wants in a track, and explains why doesn’t like doing too much to the master channel. He says that sometimes 80-90% of the song is already mixed just by the time he’s done with putting the elements together, and tells us about the process he takes working with mixing engineers.
Naturally, you will not become a master producer overnight after completing this course. This is not a how-to-produce course so much as an extraordinary insight into the amount of work and thought that goes into making high-level music, with the added benefit of seeing how specific effects and techniques help to build Böhmer’s signature style- and there’s nothing wrong with that. The key here is to glean everything you can- see the amount of attention he puts on EQ and understand how important it is; listen to the reasoning and care put into the arrangement of the track; watch as he shows the flow and harmony both within the parts of the song and again when they come together. If you pay attention and apply the overarching lessons here to your own style and workflow, then you’ll just how valuable a course like this is.
Want to get started with the Ben Böhmer Masterclass? Get it here while it’s still on sale at only €67 (normally €99.90)!
Image Credit: Ben Böhmer Press / Provided by Measure PR UK