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Slam Academy Founder Releases New Book

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Dr. J Anthony Allen, Founder and ACT, writes book on music theory for electronic music producers

Slam Academy Founder, Dr. J Anthony Allen has taught music theory and composition at many universities and private schools all over the world. Allen is known for spearheading the Music Theory Online Program at Slam Academy, which got enough attention that Dr. Allen was asked to speak at the 2017 Loop Conference held at Ableton, Inc. in Berlin, Germany.  He wears many hats in the entertainment industry besides being a professor of music, including music producer, songwriter, recording engineer, sound designer, DJ, remixer, multimedia artist and performer. With all of this industry experience under his belt, it was a natural step for Dr. Allen to write a book combining music theory with digital technology. He takes us on a journey of sound on why certain notes sound good together, chord progressions, patterns, textures and song analysis. Curious on how Skrillex makes those “scary” and wobbly bass sounds?  This book explains it all. Yes, “psycho chords” really are a thing.

credit: Jamie Maldonado

Born and raised in Michigan, Allen holds a PhD in Music Composition and a Bachelor’s degree in Guitar Performance, and currently teaches at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has worked with many forms of interactive media and his work has been described as “a study in ominous sound and motion” (Baltimore Sun), “an aural hallucinogen” (Minnesota Public Radio), and “a beautiful and engaging use of technology” (Cogapp: The Art and Science Blog). In 2003, Allen joined the Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Art team as assistant director and lead producer through to 2009. He has spread his teachings to students at the University of Amsterdam, Peabody College, University of Minnesota, MacPhail Center for Music, McNally Smith College of Music, St. Thomas, and Augsburg University, just to name a few.

Allen’s pursuits are grounded in the idea that advances in composition must explore the unknown, with an acute respect for music as a social creature that cannot thrive in isolation. An innovator in the field of electronic performance, Allen often performs with a set of glove controllers which he designed, built, and programmed.

J, pictured in the Ice Fields, on an iceberg somewhere off Svalbard. Sailing on the Antigua. – at Arctic Ocean

As a solo artist, Allen’s project experiences range from works written for the Minnesota Orchestra to pieces developed for film, TV, and radio. In 2014, Allen was a semifinalist for the Grammy Foundation’s Music Educator of the Year Award.

His music can be found on the Hackademica, SEAMUS and Panacea3 labels and is also available on iTunes and Spotify.

http://janthonyallen.com/

https://twitter.com/janthonyallen

 

Music Theory for Electronic Music Producers:

The producer’s guide to harmony, chord progressions, and song structure in the MIDI grid.

 

As an online class, Dr. Allen has had over 50,000 students use this ground-breaking curriculum to learn music theory. Students and producers who have wanted to learn music theory to improve their own music, but have been intimidated by traditional approaches, music notation, and abstract concepts will find this book to be the answer they have been looking for.

From the Author:

“How music theory is usually taught is unfair. It starts with the assumption that you can read music and understand the language of classical music. My book leaves all of that behind – focusing only on the MIDI grid that producers are already familiar with to learn all the key concepts of music theory, and ultimately, make better music.”

This book covers all the fundamentals of music theory, but is written using the language of the DJ and Producer – the MIDI Grid. It includes “analysis” projects that look at the harmonic and melodic ideas in songs by popular producers including Zedd, Boards of Canada, Daft Punk, Deadmau5, Bonobo, Richie Hawtin, Moby, Skrillex, and Aphex Twin.

Praise for Music Theory for Electronic Music Producers:

Page 58

“Aspiring electronic musicians have choices to make when it concerns their own education and training. This text makes one choice much easier: start here and get learning, quickly. Grounded and easygoing, the book uses real-world examples to help you make sense of music’s inner workings while steering clear of dense theories.”

– Michael J. Ethen, PhD
Musicologist

Page 195

“This book knocks the oftentimes alienating world of music theory completely onto its side. Difficult to explain concepts are perfectly demonstrated for the aspiring electronic music producer who might have no formal music training. A must have for all aspiring producers.”

– James Patrick (DJ, Producer, Educator)
Slam Academy, Dubspot, IPR, Ableton Certified Trainer

Page 108

“With Music Theory for Electronic Music Producers, Dr. Allen has produced a remarkable resource: an extensive tour of musical theory that leverages some of our favorite modern tools – the virtual studio and it’s piano roll note display. By introducing us to the “why” as well as the “what” of music theory, this book helps us to understand what makes music tick and how to improve our own work. In addition to offering a sound theoretical foundation, the deep dives into analyzing tracks by Skrillex, Aphex Twin, and Deadmau5 keeps our attention focused on real-world production. MTEMP will definitely go on the top of my recommendation list for anyone that needs a fresh view of musical concepts.”

– Darwin Grosse
Director of Education, Cycling ’74

Enroll: Free Online Week 5/21 – 25/18               Attend: Book Signing 5/25/18

Purchase the book on Amazon

A Conversation with Scott LeGere

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Slam Academy Launches Music Industry Program

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – March 9, 2018 @ Slam Academy  – We welcomed a quick visit with Scott LeGere, McNally Smith’s former Music Business department head, as he was in between meetings, for an opportunity to catch up with his busy life.  Scott is joining Slam Academy this spring to teach the new Music Industry Program. Slam Academy has always offered students various vocational programs in music production and performance, and with the addition of the Music Industry Program, students can now round out their Slam Academy education with industry and career advancing concepts including copyright, business registration, marketing, and emerging revenue sources.  Over the past 15 years, LeGere has played key roles in the ownership and operation of audio recording facilities, independent record labels, media schools, and commercial music production companies. During this time, he has engineered Grammy nominated albums, produced critically acclaimed independent projects, and lectured nationally in industry focused conferences and university classrooms.

 

Tanya Lano, Slam Academy Recruitment Specialist:

“First of all a big Thank You for coming in today and supporting us with the launch of the new Music Industry Program.  We understand you have spent many wonderful years with McNally, and many other schools. We are curious on your perspective on education, how people are getting their education, and your feelings about the closing of McNally.”

Scott LeGere:

“Hey Tanya, thank you, glad to be here. From a macro level, the educational world is changing. But that shouldn’t surprise anyone because the entire world is changing.  Technology, automation, tools powered by the internet, etc and mobile access are fundamentally changing businesses all over the world. When the largest hotel chain is Airbnb and they don’t own any hotel rooms you see a change is afoot.  When the largest taxi company is Uber and doesn’t own any vehicles you see change is afoot. The internet really is a great democratizer. And that’s a good thing. If there is information you want to learn about you can probably find it online, provided by a whole slew of talented individuals.  One of the biggest challenges of higher education is the high cost.

“One of the reasons why I am excited to teach at Slam Academy is seeing the community that has formed around the classes and offerings here.   I had the honor of speaking at a graduation this past summer and was really blown away to see all the instructors at Slam Academy having really intimate and deep knowledge of all of their students.  This is a specialty school, though you could say it’s not a school, it’s a community education location! Slam Academy doesn’t have an infrastructure of a larger institution, you don’t have this department or that department, you don’t have subjects siloed away in a governance system that was derived hundreds of years ago.  I think education is ripe for evolution and revolution, and in many ways Slam Academy is on the forefront of that. Seeing how community minded and supportive the students were here of each other, the faculty knowledge of all the students, so of course I was excited to lend a hand and teach the Music Industry Program. After talking to some of the team here you probably would have done it without me with someone else because it’s a natural step for this group, but I’m thrilled to be able to be here.”

Tanya Lano:

“Speaking of the internet, you hit a good point.  It has allowed us a non-traditional educational approach, having access to video tutorials, manuals to download, and it’s also changed how people release their music with emerging independent record labels, etc.”

Scott LeGere:

“You can joke it’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times.  The internet, the way a lot of people in Silicon Valley refer to it, it’s disruptive. Digital technology is disruptive.  It’s not just the internet, it’s the ability to share processes and share documents, powered by global communication. It’s disruptive. Well, in disruption some business plans are challenged. But, within disruption some business plans can really grow and prosper.  What’s interesting is, just coming from a production standpoint, and this has been the heart of Slam Academy’s mission, is that to make music 20 years ago and to make a record, you might have needed a million dollar recording studio. The only way you would be able to afford that is to basically get a loan from a record label or a publishing company and go through this whole mechanization and system.  If you didn’t fit into the cookie cutter box that that system was looking for, and if you didn’t fit the sound or the look, you might not have ever gotten those opportunities. There were some great records that came out over the last couple of decades, but we have to assume that there are some phenomenal talents that never got that opportunity. Today, with a laptop you can make a record in your basement, in your bedroom, in your garage, it’s really exciting. This aspect of technology has democratized production and allows anyone to come forward and make their art. That’s fantastic.  Now, there is an equally challenging prospect to that. More and more people are making records. When I entered the studio world in the late 90’s on average about 30,000 albums came out per year in the United States. Today, we are seeing over 20,000 records get uploaded per week to Beatport. We are looking at about 100 times the amount of content coming out on a weekly basis. This is where the Music Industry Program fits in. Open up your laptop, grab a controller, plug into Ableton and start making some exciting music. The challenges become where you can do it, but so can anyone else.  How do you break through the 5000 other tracks that were released that day? How do you start to build a name and a career for yourself? Those are the things we are going to start to talk about.”

Tanya Lano:

“Would you agree that some employers are looking for collaboration skill sets coming into the workplace?”

Scott LeGere:

“Unquestionably. I’m over simplifying here, but because I’ve been teaching for 16 years, I’ve been fairly diligent at reading job openings and postings. I want to know what companies are looking for so I can help make that transition for our students.  The older model was the Bachelor’s Degree, for years and years, we saw you must have a BA, lately over the last two years I’m seeing “college recommended.” I’m guessing that recommendation is based on you’re going to have some maturity, follow through, and with tremendous amount of valuable things that can come out of college.  The skills that people are asking for are softer than they have ever been. We need collaborators, communicators, ‘thinking on our feet’ people, and paratroopers, as in can you jump into our problem here and help out with whatever the effort is.”

Tanya Lano:

“When big changes happen it can bring out the best in people and you hit a good point, Scott, of being community minded and supported. Getting a business program running at Slam Academy is definitely a natural step for us.  Our students are excited to get support to release their music, and have been asking their teachers great questions for business tactics. Just know how happy we are to have you help guide our ship.”

Scott LeGere:

“I think ‘guide’ is much too strong a word! At the most, maybe I can help to point in a certain direction and we all can collectively run that way together. I think what I’ve been able to see, getting into the studio business in the 90’s, and watching it grow and watching it collapse, and suddenly get radically challenged from home studios. I’ve watched the studio business flip upside down, along with the label business, advertising and post production, and now it’s the education business that is flipping upside down. Since I’ve lived through so many of those changes, I’ve had the opportunity to see what they become.  And almost always the results have been positive. Sure we can bemoan the loss of some of our great recordings studios in America that have been turned into condos, or something else, but I wouldn’t trade today’s era for a moment. When a motivated young person can share their story they want to share with the world with an app like Ableton or GarageBand, today is just too exciting. That’s the piece I’ve been trying to bring to the classroom for 16 years. I’ll get on a soapbox, and get upset, for generations, whenever someone has talked about the arts, the immediate response is, ‘you shouldn’t do it, you’re never going to make it, you shouldn’t date musicians,’ and so forth.  We’re looking at an industry that is growing by leaps and bounds. Now that streaming has become the preferred platform for listening, we’re looking at annual revenues at publishing companies, distributors and record labels that are increasing by significant factors. A record group, Awol, which is a subsidiary of Colbalt, the European publishing giant, they just had a 100% increase in revenue from 2016 to 2017. Most small businesses are happy when they have a 5% year-to-year growth, not 100% year-to-year growth. We are seeing streaming rates jump all over the world by 50-80%. We realize with these devices we can get a Spotify or Apple music account, more people are listening to more music, more money is flowing into the system, because this is an industry that is growing. We have more television channels, commercials, films that are being produced that need more music, more radios opportunities whether they are terrestrial or streaming, there is a great demand for music.  Music is what makes the world go around. It’s still one of the most powerful forms of communication on the planet.”

Tanya Lano:

“I like that point, Scott, that looking at this as not a crisis, but an opportunity.  Sometimes we see so much negative out there, but it’s great to have a positive and optimistic look for our future leaders.”

Scott LeGere:

“I’ve seen it.  The inspiration that J (Dr. J Anthony Allen) and JP (James Patrick) and other instructors bring to students. One class is teaching the excitement that comes from these new digital tools and I’m going to try to teach the excitement that comes from a globally connected community of people listening to music. And how to tap into them and hopefully over time how to accrue more listeners and convert some listeners into fans.”

 

Watch Scott LeGere’s Ted Talk X @ Carlton College

 

Since the closing of McNally Smith, Slam Academy has enrolled a handful of their displaced students through the McNally Smith Transfer Scholarship. While some students have chosen to start with one program, others have looked to Slam Academy to wholly replace their music education, enrolling in all available programs. The Music Industry Program will launch on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, running 11am – 2pm weekly for 12 weeks. Slam Academy also offers free 2-hour introduction classes one week prior to all program starts; the Introduction to Music Industry class will be held Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 11am.

Inside Look at Studio A @ Slam Academy

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Classroom by Day… Performance Hall by Night

Slam Academy is a multimedia art and music studio located in Minneapolis, and Studio A – Performance Hall gets a lot of use for various different events and training.  The space hosts events in many disciplines, including live music by national and international talents, classes, lessons, and open studio time every week. The space includes a generous four-corner sound system and plenty of space to experiment with light, sound and images. When it isn’t being used as a classroom or a venue, you will often find our faculty hanging out there, working on their own music.

     

Studio A is our newly renovated space. It has a full range 3-way PA with custom 21″ bass bins stacked high, video projection, and seats about 45 people. The main room is used to host our larger classes, workshops, and special events. Studio A is a full-fledged performance venue, complete with a 4 channel, 3 way sound system, full DJ booth, and accommodations for an entire band.

One of the favorite features of Studio A is the recurring event every Friday from 4-6pm called OPEN DECKS.  This is an opportunity for prospective and current students to play on the 3-way PA system, whether it’s for practice or just a chance to show off some new skills, and get a sense of what it would be like at a real club venue.

Open Decks March 9 @ 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Open Decks March 16 @ 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Also every Friday in Studio A, from 6-10pm, is a recurring event called Slam Jam.  This is an opportunity for featured guest artists to perform for a live streaming event.  If you would like to request a booking for a Slam Jam set, please send an email to [email protected].  Check out a recent Slam Jam set by Tanya Leigh.

Slam Academy also provides [FREE] introductory classes held at Studio A for students that are curious about our training and programs.

[FREE] Intro to Electronic Music March 10 @ 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
[FREE] Intro to Electronic Music March 21 @ 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Come check out Studio A today and schedule a tour!  Or attend our next Open House!

5 Great Reasons to Attend an Open House

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… Even if you’re not ready to invest

Pursuing the right school to attend can be stressful at times.  It can take a lot of research time to find that perfect place to learn, but before you dismiss that school you think is too expensive you owe it to yourself to take a look.  Why? Because it’s fun and you might find out something you didn’t know.  Once you tour all of the schools you would consider, you will find it easier to make a decision of which one is right for you.  

Reason No. 1 : Learn about how much you can invest in your education

What you can afford to buy plays an important factor in your decision.  Sometimes you don’t always figure that out until you are deep into the process.  Attending an open house allows you to get a realistic expectation of how much you need to budget.  Typically there is a staff member that is trained in helping students with information on how to pay for school.  It’s also an opportunity to get advice on scholarships that may be available.  Be clear about your intentions and if you are not a serious buyer, then say so.

Reason No. 2 : See the school in action and learn from the crowd

Open houses present an opportunity to see students train, meet staff members and get a sense of the culture.  Be alert to whether the tour guide or staff member engages you when you first come in, and pay attention to how others acknowledge you.  This plays an important role on how you would be treated as a student.  It allows you get face-to-face time with the students and staff.  Bring your tough questions to ask!  Be sure your tour guide is knowledgeable and genuinely interested in you, your story and your goals.

Reason No. 3 : Learn about your needs

Sometimes buyers are not sure what they want or are looking for, so understanding what you want to gain and benefit is important.  You would be very surprised what you gravitate toward when you start looking around.  You may see something you have never seen before and it changes your perspective. Open houses help you to learn about the layouts and amenities provided.  This will contribute to defining what you need to get you where you want to go.

Reason No. 4 : Touch the stuff and get to know the competition

 Take the time to research as many “like” schools as you can to understand the difference between them.  Check out all of the rooms, look at the equipment and technology and overall care put in to the facility.  It’s like buying a car and looking under the hood to make sure all the parts are working.  It’s crucial that your investment will give you the training you need on the “latest and greatest” technology.

Reason No. 5 : Get a feel for the neighborhood

Is the school located in an area where job opportunities are nearby?  Is the neighborhood buzzing with excitement?  Are you looking for housing near your school of choice?  You’ll get a sense right away if the location will benefit your living needs.  And it will give you a chance to see other nearby businesses.  

 

Every 2 months, Slam Academy opens its doors to students that are interested in its programs.  Get registered today: Open House March 10, 2018  3-5pm

Also on March 10th, Slam Academy will be hosting a free 2-hour introduction class to electronic music.
Get registered today:
Intro to Electronic Music March 10, 2018 1-3pm

Details
March 10, 2018 3-5pm
Public Event
https://slamacademy.com
Slam Academy – 1121 Jackson Street NE, Ste. 142, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 293-7526

Slam Staffer Teaches Beats By Girlz

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Slam Academy staff member, Tanya Lano, taught a successful first day of class for the Beats By Girlz Ableton Series 1 on February 3, 2018 hosted at Slam Academy and supported by Beats By Girlz – Minnesota Chapter, She Rock She Rock and Ableton.

 

Beats By Girlz is a non-traditional, creative and educational music technology curriculum, collective and community template designed to empower students to engage with music technology.  It was developed and written by Associate Professor at The Berklee College of Music, Erin Barra-Jean.  

 

Slam Academy proudly supports Beats By Girlz, knowing that electronic music can be a male-dominated field.  To encourage more women to feel at home in this artform and explore electronic music Slam offers a scholarship called the Beats By Girlz scholarship.


Tanya joined the Slam Academy team in Fall 2017 as their Recruitment Specialist.  She supports the students at Slam Academy by providing information and helping them make educational decisions.  She is a role model by being an active member in the electronic music community as a DJ, producer, label owner and teacher.