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Remixing Techniques: Arranging and Song Form

Time stretching stems and creating a sketch arrangement


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Remixing Techniques: Arranging and Song Form

with Josh Harris

Video: Time stretching stems and creating a sketch arrangement

I like to take care of all the necessary time stretching before I lay down a preliminary or sketch parts. I'll turn Warping back on in Ableton and now my audio file, my solitary Lead Vocal, will follow my BPM change. Move this up to 130, quickly check it with the metronome, make sure everything is in order. (song playing) Excellent! I can turn the metronome off, rename my track, and begin to bring in some drums.
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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

Time stretching stems and creating a sketch arrangement

I like to take care of all the necessary time stretching before I lay down a preliminary or sketch parts. I'll turn Warping back on in Ableton and now my audio file, my solitary Lead Vocal, will follow my BPM change. Move this up to 130, quickly check it with the metronome, make sure everything is in order. (song playing) Excellent! I can turn the metronome off, rename my track, and begin to bring in some drums.

One thing that I like to do is actually not program kick drums using MIDI or a sampler or anything like that. I'll bring in three single-shot kick drums. (music playing) Which are basically just single hits. (music playing) Bring in one, bring in the next, and bring in the next. And I essentially want to put a kick drum on every downbeat: right here, right here, right here, and right here; it's 1, 2, 3, and 4. So, Option+Drag.

We have 1 bar. Do the same thing with the second kick drum, and with the third. Rename our tracks, resize the screen, and I will quickly consolidate these into 1 4-bar audio region. Okay.

Now, let's paste this all the way through the song and begin to audition each kick drum. Bring the volume down a little bit and I'll start up into the song. (song playing) And I'll audition these as the song plays.

(song playing) I like kick 3 the best. There is something round and deep in the sound, and I think that'll work the best with our vocal.

So, I can remove the first two kicks, and we just have one kick, which I will rename kick 1, so that there's no confusion. Resize my vocal. Now it's time to bring in a sketch bass line. I'll create a new MIDI track, call it bass. I'm using the Nexus 2 Audio Units plugin. I am very familiar with this plugin, so I'll move right to a bass sound that I believe will work.

In the Bass category, here's Deltabass. (music playing) I like this bass sound because it has attack, a little bit of body, and it's not muddy-sounding. I'll set up my metronome. I can create a count-in by right-clicking--it's already set to 1 Bar--and I'll begin by double- checking the Record Quantization, which I have set the Sixteenth-Note so that as I play, my MIDI data will be quantized. Since I already know the original chord changes of the original song, it helps me in determining what chord changes I will most likely use for this mix.

I am looking for something that has a bit of mood and vibe to it, something that's a little melancholy that will work with the vocal and support the vocal. At the end of the day when I work on a club remix, I almost want it to feel like the singer cut their vocals or recorded their vocals to my track. So, I go for that sort of relationship between the music that I create underneath the vocal, the song, the song structure--just basically capturing some amount of integrity of the original song, so that people might not even that this is a remix.

(song playing) Let's take a quick listen to that and make sure that everything is in beat, turn the loop play on, bring the playhead back to measure 3.

(music playing) Turn the click off. (song playing) Turn this back so that we have a perfect 8-bar loop and paste it throughout the song. Now you'll notice that I played the bass line in before adding any other drums beside the kick drum. Now it's time to bring in what I would call a top-end loop.

So, I'll look in our Exercise File folder. And I have some loops from my own personal library, joshharris_dance_ volume1 and Joshharis_drums_volume1, and these are all royalty-free loops that I created several years ago that have helped me with my workflow, because I have a lot of loops here that don't have kick drums in them and I can quickly bring them into sessions and get up and running. (music playing) I'll bring this loop in. I like the way this sounds.

I think it's got space in it. It should help the vocal breathe a bit. I'll rename this top 1, for top loop 1, move the track, and copy and paste this throughout the entire arrangement, pull the volume down a little bit, and let's scan around the song and just see how it sounds. (song playing) Let's take that back a little bit.

(song playing) I can see that I made a mistake in my pasting right here. I was a little bit hasty, so I'll redo this. (song playing) Bring this back to the beginning. (song playing) And the same thing happened when I pasted the bass line, so you can see I've accidentally trimmed too much off.

So, let's correct that. Let's see if that takes cares of the problem. We can move up further into the song and we will know. (song playing) That sounds in order. Now let's add one more keyboard part to give us some chord definition, add another MIDI track, go back to Nexus, and I'll move into the Plucked category. These are sounds that have short attacks and have a punchiness to their character.

(music playing) And there is our sound. Take it back to the beginning. (song playing) I'll redo that because I need to play that an octave higher on my keyboard. (song playing) Excellent! Trim up the font, trim them back. We have an 8-bar MIDI region. Copy and paste that throughout arrangement of the song. And I can see something is not quite right, because it doesn't line up with my bass.

So, let's undo that and take a closer look. And I can see in this is not exactly-- there we go--now it's exact. I'll continue pasting. That looks better. Rename this pluck 1 and let's take a listen. We'll scan around the song. (song playing) I hope this shows you just how important working out a sketch arrangement is.

Certain bass lines and grooves feel better at certain BPMs than others. We may have only pushed this track up 2 beats per minute, but 2 beats per minute can make a difference. Remember that with full vocal remixes the main goal is to support the vocal with your track, so spending a few minutes experimenting with different ideas, much like we did in this movie, is extremely important. As I move forward, I now have a bass and drum groove that I know works, and I'm not going to be fumbling around later on down the road and backtracking.

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