Arts & Entertainment, Music

Instruments to Boost a Big Sound

Alicia Keys

Lesson time 14:11 min

Discover Alicia’s favorite instruments and her methods for achieving her unique musical sounds.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Choosing Instruments · Getting to Know the JUPITER-80 Keyboard · Getting to Know the Minimoog Voyager


[MUSIC PLAYING] - So we were in the vocal booth. We were talking about vocal arrangement, textures, you know, how to put different sonics even in the vocals. And now, I'm bringing you here into the control room with some of the sonics of "No One." So one of the things I've definitely learned, like I shared with you a little bit earlier, is that, to me, the less you put in sonically to a song, the bigger it sounds. It's something about the space, something about the way that you're just able to hear every part and identify every part that really just gives it clarity and it goes straight to the heart, right? Because, to me, that's where we're trying to go. We're going straight to the heart. Boom, direct. So "No One," talking through "No One," is very simple. There's not a lot of instruments in "No One," actually, which I love. Obviously, we have the piano. So that is super direct-- simple, easy, very memorable, sounds like clear. Another piece of "No One" that is really special to me is the kick. The kick on "No One" is just so-- it's great. It's gutter. It's strong. It's harsh. It takes up all this space. When you have the piano in there and you have the kick going, it just feels-- and then if you want to bring up-- --a little snare in at some point. Obviously, we also have that very just regular, raw, open hat. [OPEN HAT] So that it just feels exciting. It feels like a vibe. It feels like a bop. You can just-- right? It's just-- it's easy. It's not a gang of stuff. You don't have to-- I could do it with three fingers. It's 1, 2, 3. So the kick is really, really kind of the star of the rhythm section, is that kick. And then, outside of that, we have this JUPITER, which I spoke about, which was also so special because-- [JUPITER SONIC] --it's actually a feature. So I just follow the piano. And it had, like, a little sound that you don't usually hear, which is always good. And then, you know, when you get that part, we talked about how much of a hook that is. Because you didn't really hear that type of sonic. So that JUPITER is really, really special, and I brought it in at different times. And then the other piece that we talked about actually in regards to layering in the vocal arrangement was the v synth, which is such a fun instrument to play with. And the reason why it's extra good is because it really follows what you play on piano. So in this case, I'm singing into this thing. So when I'm singing into it right now, you don't really hear anything with my voice. But when I actually use the keys, (SINGING) one, one, one, one. And whatever words I want to say-- (SINGING) no one, no one, no one, no one. And the cool thing is, even if I sing something way off-- like, I mean, obviously, you can hear my voice, so you don't want be too off with. I was, like, (SINGING) ha, ha. If you took my voice out, you'd still hear the proper chord I'm playing. (SINGING) Ha. It's still a chord. (SINGING) ...

About the Instructor

With 15 Grammy Awards and more than 40 million albums sold so far, Alicia Keys is one of the world’s most beloved singer-songwriters. Now the legendary artist invites you into her studio to share her process for creating music built from authentic emotion. Breaking down anthems like “Fallin’,” Alicia shows you how she writes lyrics, crafts melodies, and explores sonics so you can discover the music you were born to make.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Alicia Keys

The legendary singer-songwriter and producer shares her approach to making music that resonates and helps you find the power of your unique voice.

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