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Remixing Techniques: Arranging and Song Form
Illustration by John Hersey

Adding synths


From:

Remixing Techniques: Arranging and Song Form

with Josh Harris

Video: Adding synths

Now it's time to add some additional synth parts. I'll begin by adding the texture-- synth pads, things of that nature. Create a new MIDI track. And I will move towards some of Ableton's built-in synth sounds for this portion. Right away I'll move to the Synth Pad folder and this Amped sound, just by its name alone, is intriguing to me, so I'm bringing this in, and take a listen to it.
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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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Remixing Techniques: Arranging and Song Form
2h 44m Intermediate Dec 10, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Josh Harris shows how to create radio and club arrangements, and a radio edit of a club mix. He utilizes four different digital audio workstations (DAWs)—Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Logic, and Reason—and shows how to build different arrangements from the ground up, by adding guitars, drums, bass, and synths. Each DAW explores different types of arranging scenarios. Plus, learn how to add ear candy and take your arrangements to another level.

Topics include:
  • Reviewing the different types of arranging: music, remix, and radio/club
  • Referencing a previous version of the song
  • Listening to stems
  • Creating a sketch arrangement
  • Adding synths and guitars
  • Developing the drums and bass
  • Using time stretching
  • Creating a radio edit from a club mix
  • Adding special effects like drum fills and delays
Subjects:
Audio + Music DAWs Mixing Music Production Audio Plug-Ins Mastering Remixing
Software:
Ableton Live Logic Pro Pro Tools Reason
Author:
Josh Harris

Adding synths

Now it's time to add some additional synth parts. I'll begin by adding the texture-- synth pads, things of that nature. Create a new MIDI track. And I will move towards some of Ableton's built-in synth sounds for this portion. Right away I'll move to the Synth Pad folder and this Amped sound, just by its name alone, is intriguing to me, so I'm bringing this in, and take a listen to it.

(music playing) It's a very vibey spatial sound. I like it. (music playing) Go ahead and lay that in. And I'll start right round the first chorus. (music playing) That works. It almost has a Brian Eno-type vibe, which I like.

And again, a nice 8-bar region here to work with. And I already know that's a chorus part, and I'll quickly distribute that to the other chorus sections of the song, and taking a quick listen. (music playing) Excellent! I like the sound, but I'm going to apply a very cool remixing technique that you actually hear in quite a few songs, even on the radio today: side chaining a compressor.

So the first thing I do is I go into the Audio Effects folder and I choose Compressor. And I open it up so that I have the ability to get into some of these other parameters, and I'll turn on the Sidechain. Then I'll create an extra audio track, which I will call kick trigger. Now, there are several ways to do this, but I feel that this actually makes the most sense.

I'll copy and paste the kick drum onto the kick trigger track, mute the kick trigger track, go back to the pad track that we just added, and select kick trigger as the Input source to trigger the sidechain. So now what's going to happen is the kick drum that's playing every quarter note is going to pump the compressor, and the pad will respond accordingly. (music playing) We'll go right up to the chorus so we can hear it. (music playing) And as we solo it out, we can hear it. It has a pumping breathing effect. Pretty cool! It adds a little bit of rhythm to the track, pulses it.

Unsolo that. And now I'll just fill in some holes here. I like what the bass is doing, but I think there could be some more movement, so I'll create another MIDI track. Go into the Synth Rhythmic and choose Bass Groove. Just to hear what this is doing. (music playing) It's like an arpeggiated bass sound. (music playing) It's a little bit low. Let's move it up an octave. (music playing) I'll just play that in and see how that feels.

But I'll do this on the verses. It's not something I only want for the choruses. I'll go back to measure 5, and do our 1-bar count in. (music playing) Let's trim that region up there. And I need to bring this back because it's actually pretty loud and it's kind of in the way.

So let's quickly loop this 8-bar section here and play it from measure 5. (music playing) Bring it back that much, because I just want to actually feel it more than I can hear it.

So let's take the loop play-off and copy and paste this throughout the whole song. We may drop it out, but for now we'll paste it throughout the whole song. Let's add another layer. Let's add a layer to this pad. I like this pad here, but I think it could be a little bit thicker; it can be enhanced. (music playing) So I'll create another track, and this is very easy.

We'll select another pad sound. I'll go into the Synthetic Voice folder, look for something that almost has like a choir-type sound, and Additive Choir, double-click on that. We'll listen to it. (music playing) Now, that sound doesn't sound so cool on its own, but what we're going to do is copy and paste the MIDI from the other pad part down to this track and create a layer. This is something I like to do to thicken and just create different textures.

Now, what we'll also do is add the compressor, just like we did on the other pad track, and choose Compressor. Open up the parameters, choose Sidechain, and assign kick trigger. I'll need to lower the threshold to actually engage the compressor, because right now it's all the way up at the top. (music playing) Now, I like that, but it's an octave too low.

So I'll erase what I pasted, double-click on these notes here, and we can see the MIDI data, and highlight them, and move them up an octave. And I know that my first note was G, and you can see on the side there, the piano roll. That should do it. Taking a listen. (music playing) Something didn't move correctly there, so I'm going to undo that, and I can see that my notes moved.

So again, you have to be careful when doing some of this editing that things stay in place. I'll just do Select All and move this up to D4. Let's take another listen. (music playing) Excellent! That sounds much better.

Copy and paste this to the other choruses. So I'll leave the MIDI notes area, go back to my vocal here. Resize the screen a little bit. And actually, at this juncture, I'll very quickly put the vocal in some sort of context, as far as adding a quick delay to it. And actually, I'll add a compressor to it as well, just something very basic. Turn my sends up. Throw a reverb on Return A and a delay on Return B, just so that we're not listening to a dry, boring vocal.

I like Filter Delay. And I'll set this so that it has kind of an interesting rhythm to it. I'll just quickly take a listen to the vocal. (music playing) I'll turn the metronome off. (music playing) It gives a little depth to the vocal, so, putting everything back in the mix. There we go. (music playing) Obviously, when I mix it for real I'll clean that up a little bit, but that just gives us a little bit of context.

Again, the delay's echo adds a little bit of rhythm and pulse into the track. So now we have more or less the synths that we're going to use in the song. One thing I'm going to add in the next movie is what I would call a hype, but right now you can see that as with the drums, it just took a few minutes to add some parts, do some layering, do some transposition, and all of a sudden we have a pretty full sounding arrangement that's unfolding. Now that we have a few foundational synth parts in place, you can really hear the arrangement coming together. I generally like to leave my synth parts as MIDI all the way up through the final mix down.

The one disclaimer is if I am working on a laptop and using CPU-intensive sounds, at which point I will print them as audio and just bring them back into the session.

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