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Listening to stems and deciding on the musical direction

From: Remixing Techniques: Arranging and Song Form

Video: Listening to stems and deciding on the musical direction

Just like the chapter on creating a radio mix arrangement, it's time to import our stems. In the case of this song, we only have one stem, as you can see in the Audio folder to the left, Dry_Vocal_128 bpm. Before I import that stem, I will remove the original version of the song, and I will hit the Stop button, which will return the cursor to measure 1. Fortunately, in this scenario, the BPM of the vocal was provided for me. Again, referencing my course Remixing and Techniques: Time Stretching, this vocal is the end result of changing the vocal from 6/8 time to 4/4.

Listening to stems and deciding on the musical direction

Just like the chapter on creating a radio mix arrangement, it's time to import our stems. In the case of this song, we only have one stem, as you can see in the Audio folder to the left, Dry_Vocal_128 bpm. Before I import that stem, I will remove the original version of the song, and I will hit the Stop button, which will return the cursor to measure 1. Fortunately, in this scenario, the BPM of the vocal was provided for me. Again, referencing my course Remixing and Techniques: Time Stretching, this vocal is the end result of changing the vocal from 6/8 time to 4/4.

Ableton automatically turns the Warp marker on as I import the file, and I'm going to turn it off, pull my Start point all the way to the left, and this will allow me to listen to the raw audio file. It says it's at 128 BPM and I will change my Tempo to 128.00 BPM, turn on the metronome, and just have a listen, making sure that everything sounds in beat. Hitting the Stop button to return the cursor to measure 1, and here we go. (song playing) Everything sounds in beat so far.

I'll hit the Tab button, go back to my Clip view, and I am going to turn this up a little bit. The vocal feels a little quiet right now. Hit the tab button and I am back. And I'll scan further up into the song, just to make sure that everything stays in time over the several-minute duration of the song. (song playing) Excellent! Everything seems to be in order.

The vocal is truly locked to grid at 120 beats per minute. I'll turn the metronome off, and I'll scan around the song just to listen to some of the peaks and valleys of the vocal performance and begin to think about what I would like the musical direction of my club mix to be. (song playing) So you can tell by looking at the waveform, even if we didn't listen to anything, there's a lot of space around this vocal. There are no background vocals; it's just a solitary lead vocal.

As I listen to this, the first thoughts that come to my mind are something spatial, somewhat textural, not anything that's too hard or anthemic, but something that just has a nice almost melancholy-type texture to it. And those are the first musical ideas that pop into my head. Much like working on a radio mix taking inventory of the provided audio files, as well as being 100% certain of the BPM of the stems that were given to you, is extremely important.

You always want to have a musical game plan before you begin working on your sketch arrangement.

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Remixing Techniques: Arranging and Song Form

31 video lessons · 5619 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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