The Pursuit of Harmony

The benefits of learning to reverse-engineer music

The benefits of learning to reverse-engineer music and re mixing music.
Understanding where you are and where you want to be as an artist can sometimes be
overlooked and misunderstood on the process involved and the time it takes to master your
craft.


One thing I can definitely say from my own experience is that if I looked back I could definitely
pinpoint where I was lacking in my process of being a music producer.


If there has been one thing so far in my music career that has been able to shed some light
and create many aha moments I would probably definitely look no further then the process of
reverse engineering some of my favorite music. I've been using this technique over the years in a
lot of my classes with my students and from my own experience the results have been profound.
So what is the reverse engineering process and how can it help me in my Productions and
remixes?. If you really come to think about it majority of the work that you will be doing on most
of your musical projects revolves around you pretty much using a good percentage of your ear
and that's what we need to listen to when learning to reverse-engineer any piece of music.
A finished song has many parts when you really sit back and have a listen on what is going in the
music. I'm going to give you a few nuggets of musical tips that I use when reverse engineering
any song. Keep in mind there's a lot of information and understanding that I will be talking
about on these key topics so for the sake of this article I'm giving you the bread and butter to
kick-start you on a musical discovery. Let's get started


Here are the main topics I really focus on when producing a track or when reverse engineering any song:


Bars and Beats
The layers involved
The overall progression
And finally the overall mix


Let's have a brief look at each one of these and understand where we're getting at when it comes
to the reverse engineering process.


The bars and Beats is the overall bar count that most music will follow as it moves through time.
Many different genres of music have their way of how the overall bar count is structured. Such
as 2 bars 4 bars 8 bars 16 bars Etc. Understanding this aspect is key to be able to extract from
any song what you are listening to. This in my opinion is a great way to develop a skeleton of any
music that you listen to regardless of genre.


Next let's have a look at the layers involved. When we normally listen to music through time were 

usually listening too many layers at the same time and not one at a time. So the trick in this

stage is to really really use your ears to be able to distinguish between the parts or individual

tracks in the overall song that you're listening to such as Bassline, Drums, Guitars, Vocals Etc.
You will be amazed at the more you listen the more you will uncover for each segment of the
music such as courses versus breakdowns buildups all the fun stuff that goes on in the overall
song.


Next is the overall progression. Again keep in mind that there's a whole theory of understanding
how this all works which we teach over at musicboxx. Now understanding the progression has
to do with some basic understanding of musical Theory. The main factor in this topic is to get
a grasp and understanding of how the music progresses Through Time while using a key or
key system in the musical language. An example of this could be how your chords progressed
through the overall song. How your Melody is structured and moves along with the Baseline
to create a type of movement. A lot of times this can be related to the arrangement and work
differently for the chorus maybe the verse or even the bridge.


And finally we have the overall mix. This is the one where I tell all my students they will be
spending a lifelong learning experience as they progressive as an artist. Here is where we
try to listen back to most music and discern how the overall mix of the music has been put
together. Here we try to focus on the main dynamics of the overall music when it comes to
effects ,volume control and more of the finer details that are involved when a track is mixed.
Here we try to listen to things such as reverbs delays fader movements and the overall
Dynamics of how the music is sitting. Keep in mind when you first start doing this technique you
may miss a few things here and there but the trick is to go back and listen what's fresh ears as
you will start to uncover more more detail in the overall track.


I hope this has shun some light as to taking a more practical approach into making your
Productions better and learning what we as listeners and musicians are actually listening to when

listening back to some of our favorite songs over the years to an inspirational journey into music

production.