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Developing the drums and bass

From: Remixing Techniques: Arranging and Song Form

Video: Developing the drums and bass

Now that we have our sketch arrangement in order, let's dive in and develop the drums and bass a bit further. Go back to my Exercise File folder and audition a few more loops. (music playing) I like this loop. What I'm looking for at this point is something that has a bit of movement to it, that will help pulse the track a little bit, give it a bounce. I'll bring this loop in. And we'll call this top 2, move it here. And visually I want to move this kick drum over so that everything looks even, and I'll actually trim the vocal a little bit too.

Developing the drums and bass

Now that we have our sketch arrangement in order, let's dive in and develop the drums and bass a bit further. Go back to my Exercise File folder and audition a few more loops. (music playing) I like this loop. What I'm looking for at this point is something that has a bit of movement to it, that will help pulse the track a little bit, give it a bounce. I'll bring this loop in. And we'll call this top 2, move it here. And visually I want to move this kick drum over so that everything looks even, and I'll actually trim the vocal a little bit too.

Whenever possible, I like to do this bit of housekeeping as I build the arrangement. It just streamlines the workflow process. When you see something you can quickly edit, move, shift around, you take care of it then and there. So now I'll move this back. We'll just take listen to this loop, copy and paste it for about 16, 24 bars, and take a listen to it from the beginning. (music playing) That's working nicely.

I don't know that we're going to have it in the verse, but it's working nicely with the vocal. So I'll leave that in. And just go through a couple of more of these to see if there is another loop I might want to add, or if it's time to just shift gears and program a little bit of drums via MIDI on top. (music playing) I'll bring this loop in, just as an extra. It might be a good one to throw on top of the chorus for just that extra bit of movement.

I'll call this top 3, place it up here, and I'll copy and paste these throughout the entire arrangement. One of the things that I like to do with arranging club music is to almost take a hip-hop approach and copy and paste things throughout the entire song, and then do what's called mute arranging, or just delete things as I don't need them. So let's take an enlarged view of the vocals, just so that I have an idea of where I am in the song, because there is so much space.

And I'm going to Select All right now. I'd like all my audio clips to start firing right at measure 5. I like the way that looks. So we've got three drum loops on top of a kick drum, and we know we're not going to be using those for the whole song, so I'll quickly listen through the song. And this is not a straightforward verse-chorus song; the chorus is sort of a subtle chorus. So where I hear the chorus is "I'm waiting, waiting in the road." For now I'll mute out the top two loops, and I'm going to do a quick edit on the first loop.

There is a little bit of noise in this loop. (music playing) Right there. I want to take that out of the verse; I don't think it's appropriate. I'll splice the file and take this section out and then replace it with what was going on just a few beats before. So now let's listen. (music playing) So I like the way that sounds. It it's a little bit cleaner. There is space for the vocal.

I'll bring this back. Now we have a 2-bar drum loop. And I'll consolidate these regions into a new region, begin to delete what I don't need, and map this out a little bit. (music playing) That's what I'm going to call a chorus.

So, at this point, let's have a second loop come in. We'll have our loop 2, top 2. And let's just quickly go to a couple of bars before that section. (music playing) That's nice! That loop picks it up a bit and actually, at this point, let's bring in the version A of our top one, that has that little bit of noise in there that we caught out just a few minutes ago.

(music playing) It's the subtleties that make the difference when it comes to arranging. So what we just did here is we edited our audio loop so that the loop is slightly different in the verses, and then it returns to what it was when we originally brought it into the session at the chorus, and I work my way through. (music playing) There's verse 2. So I'll just grab these, and I'll just delete a little more over here to give myself some room.

So I'm almost arranging on the fly a little bit. As I listen to this song, I'm quickly making edits, adding and dropping things, and this is the groove that you'd like to be in eventually when it comes to arranging: just making these snap decisions as you're hearing things. (music playing) Okay. So I'll bring this loop back in, and I'll add, since we're now in chorus 2, top 3.

Now, I don't know what it sounds like yet; it may be a little redundant, but we'll take a quick listen, and probably we'll pull it down. I don't want there to be too much hi-hat happening in the mix. (music playing) There is a little something happening in the back of that loop that I like, a little bit of splashiness that I think adds some nice frequencies on the chorus.

So chorus 2 I'd like to be a little bit different than chorus 1. That's what we're doing here by adding the third loop at chorus 2 and just listening on. (music playing) Continuing on. (music playing) So now I'll just delete all this copying and pasting that I did a few minutes ago, now that I'm beginning to build an arrangement in the drums.

And the bass is working for me. Now that I'm hearing it with some drum arrangement in progress this far into the song, the bass is working. I actually don't think the bass line needs to change. I believe it can be this 8-bar figure that just repeats the whole song. The drums and other keyboard elements are going to change as the arrangement unfolds, and that will give it some variety from section to section. So, moving on. (music playing) I'll probably leave this just like this for now.

(music playing) I'll bring back to verse drums. (music playing) Bringing these drums in. (music playing) I'm going to delete that out there. Save these extra drums for this section.

(music playing) As you can see, in just several minutes we were able to knock out the majority of the drum arrangement, and as the rest of the arrangement unfolds and I add keyboard parts, I will then go back and fill in some of the holes that I've left deliberately in the current drum arrangement.

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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 · 5601 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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