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Music Production

Emotions & Music

Learn how to portray any emotion with your music!

(Status: Open for Enrollment in the July - August Cohort)

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Using music to enhance the emotions of a story is the number one responsibility of all media composers. Whether composing a character theme or scoring an action sequence, the success of your score will depend on whether or not you get the audience to feel the right emotions!
In this course, you’ll learn all the skills necessary to ensure that your emotional cues never fall flat. You’ll learn the psychology behind how and why music is able to portray emotions so effectively, as well as specific strategies for planning and composing music that can portray or enhance any emotion that your story calls for!

About Stephen

the "tabletop composer"

Stephen is a professional media composer and trained therapist. 

In 2019 he graduated from the University of Michigan with a Masters Degree in Social work and a concentration in music composition. 

Stephen has scored dozens of projects ranging form short films to live stage productions in New York, and has worked with hundreds of students from all over the globe. His experience teaching, background in psych, and love of music all make him particularly passionate about helping composers learn how to tell their stories with original and emotional music. 

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Stephen Berkemeier, the tabletop composer

Emotions & Music Roadmap

This course is split into 6 modules

Pencil and notepad

How Music Portrays Emotions

Learn the theory behind how and why music is able to portray emotions, including the four fundamental moods of music. Discover what key elements are needed in your music to help effectively enhance and portray any emotion you need, and develop the foundation needed for the rest of the course. 


Happy Emotions & Adapting Themes

Learn how small tweaks to your music's energy and valence impact the sound of happiness and other high energy/bright emotions. Also learn how to adapt character themes to portray multiple different emotions throughout a film. 

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Sad Emotions & Transitions

Learn how small tweaks to your music's energy and valence impact the sound of  sadness and other low energy/dark emotions. Also learn how to transition a theme through multiple different emotions within a single scene. 

angry face

Angry Emotions & Gesture

Learn how small tweaks to your music's energy and valence can have a big impact on Anger and other high Energy/dark emotions. Also learn how to create effective musical gestures to add nuance and detail to your emotional pieces!

calm face

Calm Emotions & Background Textures

Learn how tweaks to your music's energy and valence can have a big impact on calmness and other low energy/bright emotions. Also learn tools and strategies for composing ambient textures that fit perfectly in the background of any scene!


Soundtrack Planning & Applying What You've Learned

Get a quick summary of everything you've learned as well as simple but useful strategies for applying it all when writing your next soundtrack!

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Course Curriculum


1. Course Introduction

2. How Music Portrays Emotions

3. How We Understand Mood

4. Describing Emotions in Terms of Energy + Valence

5. Manipulating Energy in Music (Part 1)

6. Manipulating Energy in Music (Part 2)

7. Final Thoughts on Manipulating Energy

8. Manipulating Musical Valence

9. Negative Valences in Music

10. Positive Valences in Music

11. Neutral Valences in Music

12.  Final Notes on Valence Strategies

13. Putting Everything Together

14. Weekly Assignment. 

“I've taken many different online courses, but this was the first one where I felt like I was given tangible strategies and tools that I can walk away with and immediately apply to my own composing process!"

-Louis Beetge, USA-

Best Suited For


This course is best suited for composers who feel confident in writing their own music but want to learn more about capturing specific emotions with their music. This is NOT a composing basics course! While we will cover some music theory, every student is expected to feel confident in their ability to write an 8-bar melody & chord progression in the genre of their choice. 

- I recommend a workstation (PC or MAC), speakers or headphones, and a DAW or notation software of your choice. 

- Basic understanding of your DAW of choice

- Basic understanding of music theory and composition

- Internet access 

Frequently Asked Questions


When do the weekly lectures take place? 

The weekly lecture time is set up at the beginning of the course. In the very first module, there is a "when to meet" link where everyone can share what times they are available. 


What if I can't make it to the lecture time? 

Every lecture is recorded and then posted into the group forum so you can watch at your discretion! If you have questions, you can share them in the forum and I'll prioritize answering them during the lesson. 


Are the Assignments Graded?

None of the assignments are mandatory or graded. However, they're highly recommended, and you get 1-2 pages of written feedback for every assignment you submit. 


I don't know a lot about music theory/orchestration. Can I still take this course?

Of Course! The only requirement is that you feel confident in your ability to compose a short melody and chord progression in the style of your choice. Students in the class have worked with everything ranging from solo piano, to orchestral music, and even 8-bit video game music. 


I'll be on vacation for a week or two during the class. Will this be an issue?

Not at all! Even though the course is split into 6 weeks, you're welcome to take it at your own pace. All lectures are recorded, and the assignments can be submitted on a rolling basis. Feel free to take breaks when needed!


Are there Payment Plans Available?

Yes, there are. When Enrolling, you can choose to make the full payment upfront or split the cost into 2-3 equal payments. 

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