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Out Now: A New Course With Ryan Lott (of Son Lux) on Designing Custom Instruments

New Course Announcement!

Welcome to our next course. And welcome to an exciting, creatively unlimited new beginning in how you make your music. It all starts here…

Welcome to Ryan Lott: Designing Sample-Based Instruments, out now on Soundfly!

Piano, guitar, bass, drums — most artists turn to common instruments in an attempt to make uncommon music. But why not start with totally unique source material to write new songs? What happens when you throw those expected instruments out the window completely? Discover what’s possible with self-designed digital instruments.

In this course, Ryan Lott, composer, film scorer, and bandleader of Son Lux, will show you how to find and construct inspiring, unpredictable sounds, and turn those sounds into playable instruments. Learn to write music in response to instruments that emerge through experimentation, rich with contour and variation. And see what kind of music you can create when you move beyond the limits of traditional instrumentation.

Ryan walks us through the boundary-pushing techniques he uses in his music — experimental pop songs, scores for films like Everything Everywhere All at Once and Looper, video game soundtracks, and dance collaborations — to catalyze new creative ideas and build music that evokes complex emotions.

While this course can be taken using any DAW of your choice, you might want to be reasonably familiar with your software. Consider brushing up with our courses Intro to Making Music in Logic Pro X and Intro to Music Production in Ableton Live (they both come with your subscription to Soundfly). Ryan also dives deep into his use of the sampler, Kontakt by Native Instruments, so make sure you’ve got a sampler and/or a MIDI controller to follow along.

This course was designed for producers looking for more control in their sound design, composers and film scorers who want to add evocative and otherworldly qualities to their music and sound treatments, and songwriters in search of an inspiring new tool to drive their writing process forward.

If that sounds like you, then let’s get started!

Let’s talk about outcomes. Some of the specific things we’ll be looking at in the course include:

  • How to discover and create interesting sources of sound.
  • How to look at familiar sound sources from new angles and tap into their unexpected creative potential.
  • How to make the most of the recording process.
  • How to import sounds you’ve collected into a sampler and make them playable by mapping them to a keyboard.
  • How to take advantage of the inherent elements within a sound as you compose and create with it.
  • How to use creative processing to bring your instruments to life.
  • How to find fresh, compelling compositional and arranging ideas using the instruments you design.
  • How a custom instrument Ryan created became the creative core of the Son Lux track “Live Another Life.”

All that said, one of our favorite aspects of this course is the breadth of little surprises it contains along the way — from how to effectively coach a performer, to how to prepare a piano and more — so we hope you embrace your musical curiosity and follow the various rabbit holes where they lead!

Preview a full lesson in Ryan Lott: Designing Sample-Based Instruments.

Meet Your Instructor

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RYAN LOTT

Composer, Songwriter, Producer, & Bandleader (Son Lux)

Ryan Lott is a composer/film scorer, producer, songwriter, and bandleader. An avid collaborator, Lott has worked with choreographers Stephen Petronio, Travis Wall, Gina Gibney, and Jodie Gates, and dance companies like Ballet de Lorraine, National Dance Company of Wales, and BalletX. His film scores and arrangements include The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (2014), Paper Towns (2015), Mean Dreams (2017), and the iconic sci-fi film Looper (2012).

He is frequently commissioned by new music ensembles, including Eighth Blackbird (Lott contributed to their GRAMMY-winning 2015 release Filament), GRAMMY winners Third Coast Percussion, and yMusic who enlisted Lott to compose their entire 2017 release First, as well as the Royal Concertgebouw and even Paul Simon! Lott also created the original game soundtrack for “Tell My Why,” heralded as “the new gold standard for trans characters in games.”

In 2007, Ryan founded Son Lux, releasing music that “works at the nexus of several rarely-overlapping Venn Diagrams” (Pitchfork). In 2014, Son Lux became a trio, both live and on record, with the additions of guitarist-composer Rafiq Bhatia and drummer Ian Chang. Their latest release is an album trilogy called Tomorrows, realized fully in 2021.

Son Lux scored A24’s highly-acclaimed film Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022), which features collaborations with Mitski, David Byrne, André Benjamin (aka André 3000), Randy Newman, and Moses Sumney, among others.

All of Ryan’s work shows an interest in using non-traditional sounds to mess with an audience’s expectations — something that is at the center of his course on Soundfly — yet his music is always highly emotive, combining elements in contrast for a result that is familiar yet unexpected.

Check out our playlist of Ryan’s music here.

How does a Soundfly course work?

Great question! We offer two ways to experience our courses: on your own with an all-access subscription or with personalized coaching from a Soundfly Mentor.

It costs as little as $19 per month to subscribe to Soundfly. And with your subscription, you’ll get unlimited access to all of the premium course content on Soundfly.com, including this course, to go through at your own pace. This includes all the videos, tutorials, demos, quizzes, activities, downloads, and other materials that make our online courses one of a kind!

But that’s not all, subscribers receive an invite to join our private community Slack channel, exclusive perks from partner brands, and exclusive access to livestreams, office hours, and contests. Plus, you’ll be entitled to a 25% discount on custom mentorship sessions.

If you’d like personalized guidance, feedback, and support from a professional as you go through the course material, you can do that with one of our incredible Soundfly Mentors. Simply subscribe, and fill out a Mentorship Interest Form (found inside all our courses), or head here to learn more about what custom mentorship entails and to get in touch with us directly.

Are you ready?

Let’s get you signed up, so you can inject a new dose of creativity into your music by composing with your own custom-made digital instruments, with Ryan Lott.

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Soundfly Team

Soundfly is a new kind of music school for today's musician. We create creative courses and daily articles for the curious musician. Meet the whole Soundfly Team here.