Track Deconstructions: Point Blank Music School: Avicii ft. Aloe Blacc – SOS

‘Demonstrating how the most disparate musical fragments can seamlessly blend, it’s another compositional masterclass.’ 

Intro to Track Deconstructions:
Those of you who are regulars at Listen to Discover will already be fully aware that there are always two key elements involved in features: connection and detail. Lying at the centre of coverage decisions, connection comes first via a release immediately catching the ear for a multitude of reasons. Then, once the track has been chosen, the detail arrives in the form of reviews that consider musical nuances, artist intentions and the lyrical storytelling of the release. For me, it’s what makes Listen to Discover so different to many other sites. Therefore it’s great to be back with a third feature in the Track Deconstruction series in collaboration with Point Blank Music School.

How does the feature work?
In the series of videos, a well known track is chosen, completely stripped back and recreated step by step to sound as close to the original as can be. And trust me, the similarities are phenomenal! Considering everything from musical contexts and uses of samples to chord progressions and production techniques, they not only give an insight to everything you could want to know, but are the
 perfect way for new artists to learn more about some of the best tracks in the world and gain further inspiration. Equally, for those considering further music-tech studies, it’s an enticing window into what’s on offer with Point Blank Music School’s London courses.

“In the halcyon pre-coronavirus days of 2019, Point Blank presented at the International Music Summit in Malta where their Head of Curriculum, Ski Oakenfull, shared one of his famous track deconstructions. This time Ski turned his focus to one of dance music’s biggest legends, the late Avicii, breaking down his track ‘SOS’ ft. Aloe Blacc.

The collaboration between the producer and singer is the ultimate feel-good anthem blending melodic plucks with beefy kicks and infectious vocals. ‘SOS’ marked the first posthumous single from the Swedish artist as well as his second number one and has since gone on to rack up over 400 million streams on Spotify alone. At Point Blank, one of the many things they specialise in is teaching budding artists how to produce, mix, master and release tracks just like this one. Find out more by checking out their line of courses. Want a closer look at the project’s MIDI files? you can download the pack including bass, piano, lead, arpeggio and more for the price of your email here.

First of all, Ski lays down the foundations of the track by programming a number of different beat patterns and effects into Ableton Live 10 using his Ableton Push 2. He then pulls back the curtain on some of the music theory behind the track delving into the chords and melodies used throughout the song’s verse, pre-chorus and chorus. Ski figures out the song’s key signature by looking for the most dominant note in the track which is known as the ‘tonic’ note or key centre. After all the chords and topline notes are locked down Ski drops in the Aloe Blacc vox on top before creating his own TLC ‘No Scrubs’ mashup.” [Curtis MacPherson, Point Blank Music School]

So why Avicii feat. Aloe Blacc’s SOS? 
As is always the case when a posthumous track is released, SOS connects in a different way to how it may have done otherwise. The motifs themselves are simplistic, and highly accessible but when you hear it all working together you somehow appreciate the musicality even more. However, while you can hear there is a lot going on in the original, it wasn’t until watching Ski’s Track Deconstruction that you really appreciate the journey to the final sound. Commenting “It will all start making sense soon” after programming a series of swooshes, Ski will keep you guessing how it will all come together. And then suddenly it does. This approach, of proving how even the most disparate sounding fragments can blend to make one whole sound is a huge takeaway point. However, with a fantastic emphasis on the overall tonality of the track as well as all aspects of the chord creation, this Track Deconstruction really is one for the artists as well as producers. 

Discover how much you can learn from just one release by watching the Track Deconstruction below. 

Thanks Point Blank Music School for collaborating with Listen to Discover.

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Find out more about Point Blank Music School on their official website here.

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