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Adding synths

From: Remixing Techniques: Arranging and Song Form

Video: Adding synths

Now that we have a bassline and working drums--at least through the verse and the chorus--it's time to add synth parts. Since I already know what the chord changes are going to be, I actually don't need this piano part more, but I want to leave the track. I'll simply delete the data and retitle or repurpose this track. I'll call this Synth 1. And underneath, I will choose some sort of a stab-type sound. You know this is an R&B track that has a lot of background vocals so I want to honor that and I want to come up with parts that have maybe more rhythm to them than texture, parts that will help pulse the track along, create accents and punctuations at various points in the arrangement.

Adding synths

Now that we have a bassline and working drums--at least through the verse and the chorus--it's time to add synth parts. Since I already know what the chord changes are going to be, I actually don't need this piano part more, but I want to leave the track. I'll simply delete the data and retitle or repurpose this track. I'll call this Synth 1. And underneath, I will choose some sort of a stab-type sound. You know this is an R&B track that has a lot of background vocals so I want to honor that and I want to come up with parts that have maybe more rhythm to them than texture, parts that will help pulse the track along, create accents and punctuations at various points in the arrangement.

So the very first song I'm going to choose is something that I will probably use in the verse. Let's see this Attack Choir sound, and I'll unmute this. (music playing) That's a nice sound. So let's loop the verse and just come up with a part and then I'll record it in. (music playing) That works for me. It just highlights the chord changes ever so slightly.

(music playing) So let's record that in. (music playing) I will just record those four bars. One of the reasons that I'm recording everything in four-bar chunks is because when it comes to working on remixes, I almost like the parts to feel like they're sampled.

In the old days of remixing, a lot of times people who couldn't play would bite a sample from a record and they would combine multiple samples from one record and another record and another record and they would layer all these samples, and a lot times those samples were short one- or two- or four-bar phrases. So I like to incorporate a little bit of that philosophy into my keyboard programming with remixes. Paste this through the verse. (music playing) Excellent! Moving on to the second synth part, create another stereo instrument track. I'll call this Synth 2.

And I'll turn my attention to the chorus right now. I know I need something with some movement, something to add a little bit of excitement in the chorus, so I'm going to look for what I would call a motion sound or in a arpeggiated sound. So going back to Xpand, there is bank here called Action Pads, and here's this sound Dreamy Basic Pad, which is a nice lushness to it. (music playing) And arpeggiated-type pattern.

Let's take a listen to the chorus and I will play around with the sound to see if I can come up with part that will fit. (music playing) We'll play that again. (music playing) I think that works.

I'll clean it up a little bit as I play it in. (music playing) Now I went for it and it didn't really work, so let's do it again. (music playing) One more time. I'm recording as I noodle around, because I just might get the part is I'm experimenting, during the recording process.

(music playing) I like the last four bars better than the first four bars. I followed the bassline a little bit more accurately. So let's quantize that, and let's take the last four bars.

We can get rid of this, get rid of this extra bar here. We have our four-bar region and bring it back to the beginning, and just checking to make sure everything is in order. (music playing) Excellent! So it's time to add another synth part.

We'll call this Synth 3. Stereo, Instrument Track, and I will Option+Drag over here so that Xpand is already open. I've obviously go the same sound, because I copied the plugin, but I'll quickly move to something that's like a lead sound. So let's look under Soft Leads and here's this Air Phase One sound. (music playing) And that's kind of nice.

Just add a little bit of keyboard melody in the choruses. (music playing) So this part may actually be somewhat of a layer with the part I just added, Synth 2. But it's going to introduce a different set of frequencies that will help the chorus feel a little bit thicker, a little bit lusher.

So let's go ahead and record. (music playing) One more time. It's feeling like an actual doubling of the part is really what's needed here. So without even playing it in again, I'll copy and paste my MIDI down here and see how these two sounds sound together. (music playing) Those sound nice. Let's listen to them in contact with the rest of the track.

(song playing) Excellent! As you can hear, the rhythmic subtleties of these new parts enhance the groove of the track and also serve to fill in some sonic holes that needed filling.

Remember, there is a very fine line between just enough and too busy. I'm not just adding parts to add parts; the rhythms of these parts are very deliberate, and I'm always keeping the end goal of a finished radio arrangement in mind.

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This video is part of

Image for Remixing Techniques: Arranging and Song Form
Remixing Techniques: Arranging and Song Form

31 video lessons · 5571 viewers

Josh Harris
Author

 
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  1. 2m 59s
    1. Welcome
      1m 17s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      23s
    3. Why did we record this course in four different DAWs?
      49s
    4. Using the exercise files
      30s
  2. 4m 58s
    1. A general overview of musical arranging
      2m 4s
    2. An overview of remix arranging
      1m 34s
    3. An overview of radio and club arranging
      1m 20s
  3. 51m 30s
    1. Referencing the original or demo version of the song
      3m 2s
    2. Listening to stems and deciding on the musical direction
      4m 36s
    3. Creating a sketch arrangement
      8m 36s
    4. Developing the drums and bass
      13m 31s
    5. Adding synths
      8m 43s
    6. Adding guitars
      7m 49s
    7. Arranging the rest of the song
      5m 13s
  4. 51m 54s
    1. Referencing the original or demo version of the song
      5m 7s
    2. Listening to stems and deciding on the musical direction
      3m 42s
    3. Time stretching stems and creating a sketch arrangement
      11m 18s
    4. Developing the drums and bass
      11m 10s
    5. Adding synths
      10m 30s
    6. Working from the hype backwards
      4m 27s
    7. Arranging the rest of the song
      5m 40s
  5. 18m 31s
    1. Trimming down the club version
      3m 32s
    2. Identifying arrangement changes within the body of the song
      9m 44s
    3. Listening through the final arrangement
      5m 15s
  6. 19m 38s
    1. Adding a vocoder
      5m 36s
    2. Adding filtered delays to vocals
      7m 42s
    3. Adding drum fills
      6m 20s
  7. 14m 48s
    1. Listening through the final radio mix
      4m 12s
    2. Listening through the final club mix
      6m 47s
    3. Listening through the final radio edit
      3m 49s
  8. 38s
    1. Final thoughts and next steps
      38s

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