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It's almost impossible to create a quality musical arrangement without having some pre-existing version of the song to reference, even if that version is merely a piano and a lead vocal. In the world of remixing there are instances when an artist or a label will request a radio remix, with the hopes that this new version will either add to whatever radio play they are currently receiving or help them get the radio play that they desire. Over the years I've worked on many remixes that were purely geared for radio, often reproducing an entirely new track just using the vocals and nothing else from the original version.
I'd like to take you through this process using a song by Natalie Brown called Around the World. Those of you who have taken my Remixing Techniques: Time Stretching course will recognize the song. I'll import an MP3 version of the original and Pro Tools will convert it, and I always set my Quality on sample rate converting to Tweak Head. It's important to leave the sample rate converting option on Tweak Head at all times. It just ensures that when you import outside samples that you have the highest quality of sample rate conversion possible.
I'll select the Audio folder and I'll designate New Track and there's our clip. So, let's lower the volume, because you never know how loud a file that you've just imported is going to play, and let's take a listen. (music playing) I generally listen to one verse and one chorus just to get the feel of the original, and I can already tell from the background vocals that I will probably have to follow the chord changes of this original version.
I might be able to get away with swapping out of few chords, but those background vocals have an R&B feel, they're layered, and they're essentially spelling out chords in the way that they are harmonized. So, don't underestimate this part of the arranging process. Many questions about how your arrangement will unfold can be answered by spending a few minutes listening to the original version and asking yourself a few important questions. That should help you begin to develop a focus on a musical direction.
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