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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.
Building on the previous movie, it's time to import all of the remix parts, or what I like to call stems, into our session and listen through everything. But first, let me clarify what stems are, in case some of you might not be familiar with the term. A stem is a bounce of a file as it sat in the final mix of the song. In other words, a drum stem is a bounce of all the drums as one stereo file with their EQ compression and volume automation settings from the final mix of the song. For most remixes, I receive vocal stems only, which typically includes a stereo file of the lead vocal and a stereo file of the background vocals.
Such is the case with this song, Around the World, by Natalie Brown. I was provided with two sets of vocals. And as I increase the width of my browser, you will see BG VOX DRY, BG VOX WET, LEAD VOX DRY, LEAD VOX WET-- basically wet and dry versions of the lead and background vocals. Although I can add these directly to this session, I will copy them so that all of my audio files live within the same Audio Files folder, and I will choose New Track as a destination.
Next, I will change the BPM of the session to 104, and I will add a click track, which I can do by creating an Aux track, naming it Click. I'll put it up at the top, go to my Mixer, and choose Click, under Instrument. It's important to go through this process because even though the vocals say 104 beats per minute, I'm not 100% sure if they lock up against the grid.
So the first thing I'll do is take a listen to them and see how they line up against the click track. I'll start by listening to the dry vocals. We'll just listen to the leads and backgrounds together, and we'll start from the very beginning. (music playing) I can already tell by listening just 20-30 seconds into this song that these are indeed locked up against the grid. That's why I like to give the stems a chance.
Every once in a while you may get a stem that you import and it's a quarter note off or it's a few milliseconds off and you have to then go in and line it up. But you never want to assume that just because an audio file is labeled a certain way that it actually is what it says it is. These locals and these projects that you come across, a lot of them are done at home and people are not always aware of how to export files properly. So it's just good housekeeping to always double-check the assets or the audio files that you're provided with for a remix.
Now, as I solo out the background vocals, I can already tell that I'm going to need to follow the chord changes of the original, because these vocals here-- (music playing) --are basically spelling a chord. (music playing) And they're pretty prominent; they're very prominent part of the song. So if I cut them out on a radio mix I'm left with very little vocally, especially when the lead vocal plays off of them in the chorus. This is what the lead vocal is doing in the chorus.
(music playing) So you can hear that if the background vocals were to be omitted from the arrangement, we'd be saying goodbye to the majority of the vocals on the chorus, which is not an option for a radio mix. For me, listening to the remix parts and determining the BPM of the original version, or in this case double- checking the BPM of the original version, are some of the most important parts in creating a remix arrangement.
The included stems play a huge role in the parts you may or may not use in your arrangement and once you actually zero in on the BPM of the song, you now have a handle on what your time stretching options are, if you even need to do any time stretching. And in the case of this song, because it's a radio mix, I'm going to leave the BPM at a 104, and I won't need to involve any time stretching in this particular arrangement.
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