In Summary: Timbaland Teaches Producing and Beatmaking is a truly inspiring 3-hour look into Timbaland and team’s creative process. Timbaland’s passion is infectious. I would recommend Timbaland’s Masterclass course for any aspiring music producer and any die-hard Timbaland fan.
That said, the All Access Pass might be the better deal, giving you access to all of MasterClass’s high quality courses for a year for about twice the cost of the single course.
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Jump To A Section:
- My Timbaland History
- Justin Timberlake and Timbaland
- Course Contents
- Who Is This Class For?
- Timbaland’s Collaborators
- My Main Criticism
- Timbaland Produced Songs
- Final Thoughts
- Best Beats Playlist
My Timbaland History
Why should you care about this indie white guy producer‘s opinion about Timbaland? Honestly, most people I meet are surprised that I am (and have been) such a fan of Timbaland.
Truth be told, I have been a fan of Timbaland since 1998. I was in fourth grade, and a cute girl shared with me Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody?” The track was weird (baby noises) but undeniably catchy. And lest us not forget, a cute girl recommended it to me.
His hook into pop music of that time only continued to grow deeper. His collaborations with Missy Elliot were some of the most undeniably danceable, catchy (again, kind of weird) pop of the time. His work with Magoo, Ginuwine, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Madonna, and Nelly Furtado were the fabric of late 90s/early 2000s pop music.
In short, his work was Singular.
Justin Timberlake and Timbaland
Finally, my love for Timbo was solidified with his contributions to Justin Timberlake’s first solo album, Justified. “Cry Me A River” is a modern classic. Honestly, the people that JT chose to collaborate with on that album were already people I respected and adored (Pharrell!). Justin was playing his career how I secretly would have if I had the resources and confidence.
And then there was Justin Timberlake’s second solo album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, which was deeply influenced by Timbaland’s production.
Timbaland was now rightfully secured as one of my favorite musicians. His unique style went on to influence my musical work as a freak folk producer.
My music philosophy is: Creativity is a welcoming thing. As long as you love music, you’re welcome in this world of producing.Timbaland
Now, I know you didn’t come to this article to hear me fanboy about Timbaland. Let’s get down to it…
Timbaland’s masterclass is roughly 3 hours of video content, broken into 15 courses. Each course comes with a well crafted workbook, complete with a glossary of terms and assignments. The assignments are definitely not a requirement, but seem to be the optimal way to get the most out of the course.
Here is a complete breakdown of the chapters:
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- Chapter 2: Studio Session: Making a Beatbox Beat
- Chapter 3: Building Beats: Tim’s Process
- Chapter 4: Making a Beat: Getting Warmed Up
- Chapter 5: Song Origins: “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”
- Chapter 6: Making a Beat: Starting With a Chord Progression
- Chapter 7: Making a Beat: Tweaking and Layering Drums
- Chapter 8: Song Origins: “Pony”
- Chapter 9: Making a Beat: Manipulating Vocal Samples
- Chapter 10: Making a Beat: Creating a Breakdown
- Chapter 11: Song Origins: “Gossip Folks”
- Chapter 12: Making a Beat: Adding a Topline
- Chapter 13: Song Origins: “Are You That Somebody?”
- Chapter 14: Tim’s Influences
- Chapter 15: How to Persevere
If I’m honest, one of my criticisms of the course is the ordering of the chapters. I feel there could have been more logic as to how the courses were spread out. For instance, “Tim’s Influences” was Chapter 14, whereas it felt it could have been put closer to the beginning to give more context to the entire conversation.
Who Is This Class For?
Early on in the course, Tim makes it clear: If you are hoping to learn how to record with a DAW or learn his mic placement, this course is not for you. This course is not a deep dive into software (although you do get glimpses at Team Timbo’s setup in Ableton Live and Logic). This course is not about EQ’ing and plug-ins.
This course is about creating a feeling, building from the heart. The class aims to give you an insider look into Timbaland’s process. Not the technical and tedious, but the pure joy of music making. Thus, this class is for someone that already has a strong grasp on your recording set-up and basic technical elements of recording.
That said, if you are a true Timbaland fan and not a music producer, you might find great enjoyment watching Timbaland in his element. Timbaland’s enthusiasm is wildly infectious.
There is a moment where the music completely takes him over and he goes wild. I instantly noted, “he is such a lovable weirdo.” As I was noting this, Tim exclaimed, “You see what the feeling made me do? Class, that’s what it should do for you. I found the magic of Harry Potter.“
This course is for the person that wants to find the magic of Harry Potter.
Our workflow is an ongoing party. We just transfer sounds to one another.Timbaland
I think there is something to be said of this approach. There is so much ego within music making, and the fact that Tim is so transparent that music is a team effort is an enlightening attitude. I know for myself, I have wanted to do everything, but that has only made me tired and spread thin.
My Main Criticism Of This Course
If I had to find something to nitpick with the Timbaland MasterClass, I simply wish there was follow through from chapter to chapter.
For example, the first chapter follows Timbaland starting a beat from his beatbox method. I wish they had followed this song through completion. That is, let us watch the team turn that beatbox into a fully synthesized beat, with synth elements and adding a topline.
[I had never heard the term topline until this course. Topline: the vocal melody of a song. So there you go. I definitely learned something watching this masterclass]
Further, let us watch them develop the lyrics after finding their melodies. I can see that they left some space for the audience (i.e. class) to interact and shape the beat in their assignments, but I feel that would have been an incredible insight to watch Timbaland take a song from zero to completion.
That said, they somewhat do this later on with another song; however, I feel it would have been incredibly impactful and inspiring to watch them take a song from literally nothing to a fully realized track.
Timbaland Produced Songs
Intermixed throughout the course, Timbaland breaks down some of his best beats and the inspiration that led to their creation.
In these song origins, Timbo reveals the genesis of such classics as Jay-Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder,” Ginuwine’s “Pony,” Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody,” and Missy Elliot’s “Gossip Folks.”
I wish these chapters went a bit deeper, but they were still an incredible peek behind the curtain of Timbaland’s craft. These songs are all testaments to Timbaland’s ability as a collaborator. In all of these segments, he is quick to admit the power that other people bring, be it Jay’s poetry or Aaliyah’s voice or Missy’s personal vision.
Final Thoughts on Timbaland’s MasterClass
Like anything, you only get out of it what you put in. Yes, you could just binge these videos and be done with it. Or you could take the challenge of the assignments and build a song in conjunction with the lessons.
Timbaland Teaches Producing and Beatmaking is an incredibly inspiring look into Timbaland’s creative process. Tim’s passion is infectious and makes you want to hit pause and go straight to your DAW.
I would recommend Timbaland’s Masterclass course for any aspiring music producer and any die-hard Timbaland fan. That said, the All Access Pass might be the better deal, giving you access to all of MasterClass’s high quality courses for a year for about twice the cost of the single course.
Ear Candy: Timbaland’s Best Beats
I will leave you with a YouTube playlist that I created, highlighting some of Timbaland’s best work as producer, as well as some lesser known songs. You have to admit: His music makes you bounce.