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Choosing foundational synth parts and sounds

From: Remixing a Song in Logic Pro

Video: Choosing foundational synth parts and sounds

Now that we have our bassline programmed in, it's time to move on to choosing our foundational synth parts and those particular sounds. As I start to add what I refer to as foundational synth parts, the remix will really start to take shape. I generally start with the chorus sections first since those areas of the remix typically have the densest amount of production and require the most synth parts. Let's go ahead and open up the ES2. I will choose the ES2 from my list of virtual synths and I generally like to start with a synth pad or some sort of sound and part that helps to find the chord structure of the remix.

Choosing foundational synth parts and sounds

Now that we have our bassline programmed in, it's time to move on to choosing our foundational synth parts and those particular sounds. As I start to add what I refer to as foundational synth parts, the remix will really start to take shape. I generally start with the chorus sections first since those areas of the remix typically have the densest amount of production and require the most synth parts. Let's go ahead and open up the ES2. I will choose the ES2 from my list of virtual synths and I generally like to start with a synth pad or some sort of sound and part that helps to find the chord structure of the remix.

So I will choose Dark Pad 03, and this is what it sounds like. (Music playing) Okay, so this is an important tip. The first chord is B minor and the notes that are in the chord B minor are B, D, F#. I'd like to take the third of the chord out removing the D, and just play B, F# and then the octave B.

This helps give the remix a slightly darker sound. I am not putting the third of the chord in which basically will make a chord either major or minor and will really affect the color of the musical changes. Let's go ahead and program in this pad sound. (Music playing) Let's go ahead and quantize this part.

Even though it will quantize at 16A Swing, when I am holding down notes for a whole measure, I like to just quantize them to quarter notes. Let's trim up this extra space at the beginning that we don't need making our section 8 bars and let's just take a listen to it. (Music playing) Now, here's something that's fun to do.

Let's play around with transposing this part up or down an octave. In the Inspector Window we have all of our MIDI parameters. You can double-click here and type in 12, there are 12 notes that will take it up in octave or I will put it back to 0 and I can choose -12 or +12. So here's what it sounds like an octave down. (Music playing) It's a little muddy.

Let's go ahead and try it an octave higher. (Music playing) I like it, but I'd actually like the first chord to be an octave lower. So I am going to go to my Scissors Tool, which is a secondary tool, and we access the secondary tool by hitting Command and there's the scissors, and I am going to cut it right there.

I will single-click and highlight the MIDI region that is just the first chord which is the B minor chord without the D and I will turn off the Transposition and let's take a listen now. (Music playing) So, I like that better.

Now, we're looking at a MIDI region that has two measures of an 8 bar phrase as its own MIDI region. Visually, this can become distracting as you start to copy and paste and build the arrangement later on. So I simply hit the Escape key, select the Glue Tool, highlight the MIDI region and boom, they merge. Double-click Escape which will return me to my main tool, which is right here, the arrow and let's take a listen. (Music playing) It's all there.

Let's go ahead and copy and paste. The reason that we're working with just this 24 bar chunk here is that I've listened to the song, I know what the chord changes are, there are no surprises musically later on in the song and I generally like to take a 24 or 32 bar section, usually the first verse and the first chorus and if there's something after the first chorus, I like to loop that which generally is 24 or 32 bars and work within that framework. I'd like to play all of my synth parts in within this section of the remix to make sure that everything works in a verse chorus fashion.

I don't worry about the other sections of the song just yet. We'll cover that when we get to the arranging section of the course. We have our pad in, I am going to close that window, and I'd like to have the pad pump similarly to the secondary bassline. So here's a neat trick. Instead of having to set up the compressor with a side chain all over again, let's streamline the process and we will copy the compressor settings from our bass track. So all we need to do to do that is we go to the plug-in, hold down Option, hold down Command, and a little hand pops up when you click on the plug-in. Drag it over to the next track and release and there we go.

One thing you do have to check, double- click the Compressor and make sure that the side chain is actually there. Sometimes the side chain won't appear here and it will be on None. So if you're not hearing the compressor work, you need to check that parameter, close out of the Mixer Window by hitting X and let's take a listen and see how this pad sounds. (Music playing) It's sitting nicely in the pocket.

Before we move on to adding another foundational synth part, I want to make mention of our main Output Meter here. It is going into the red, this is nothing to worry about at this time, this is something we will address when we are in the mixing section of the course. So as you add elements and there are more sounds traveling through this Master Fader, you will see it hit the red a few times. This is why I've backed it down to -8db and I may back it down a little bit more as we add more parts, But it's nothing to be concerned about. If this was the final mix down, then it would be a problem.

So let's go ahead and add what I like to call a Synth Comp part. I will choose the EXS24, and Stereo, and underneath, Synth Leads, going to choose Basic Velo, close the window, and there's our sound. (Music playing) So let's go ahead and experiment with some rhythms.

What I mean by rhythms is I'd like to think of these parts almost as if they're drum parts; very rhythmic, very syncopated. Yes, I am playing the keyboard part but I could just as easily by playing a shaker part or a hi-hat part. Let's go ahead and play the track and I will experiment with some different rhythms. (Music playing) Let me give you an example of a non-syncopated part. (Music playing) That's not very exciting.

I am going to actually go ahead and loop the chorus for this part because this part may only appear on the choruses, it most likely will not appear on the versus. So I am going to just loop the chorus sections right now and I will experiment with some different patterns and you'll hear that as I play these keyboard parts, they really do feel almost like drum parts. They just happened to be played with synth sounds. (Music playing) Okay. So I more or less have an idea of the part I'd like to play and rhythmically how it's going to go.

Let's go ahead and record this in. (Music playing) I wasn't crazy about that performance, so I am actually going to delete it and do it again, and just before I hit Record, double-check. This particular sound, the harder I hit it, it opens up the filter, that's the velocity part of the patch.

So I have to be careful that I don't play the part too hard. Okay, let's try it again. (Music playing) And we'll quantize it.

I have an extra section of the MIDI region that I don't need. We trim it back, we have a perfect 8 bars and let's take a listen and let's actually mute out the vocal at this moment, just to listen to all the instrument parts. (Music playing) That part is working. It actually is really the bassline, it's the same rhythm as the bassline.

So we're supporting a rhythm that we already have in the track. This gives you an idea of how to build up the song after you have the bassline in. Define your chord structures, begin to put rhythmic elements in, that we call foundational synth parts. I hope this offer some ideas for creating your foundational synth parts, always think about the rhythm of the parts as well as the textures. Choosing sounds at this stage of the remix is critical because it will really determine which direction your track is heading.

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This video is part of

Image for Remixing a Song in Logic Pro
Remixing a Song in Logic Pro

35 video lessons · 6636 viewers

Josh Harris
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 16m 14s
    1. Welcome
      1m 8s
    2. Using Logic Pro as a remixing environment
      4m 45s
    3. Optimizing Logic's performance and monitoring system usage
      4m 29s
    4. Working with software synths
      3m 15s
    5. Using the exercise files
      58s
    6. Relinking audio files
      1m 39s
  2. 22m 51s
    1. Setting up your session
      2m 34s
    2. Determining and verifying source BPM
      1m 30s
    3. Lining up vocals over a kick drum
      5m 36s
    4. Choosing destination BPM and time-stretching in Flex mode
      4m 30s
    5. Exporting time-stretched vocals and importing into a session
      4m 23s
    6. Thinking about your direction
      4m 18s
  3. 22m 50s
    1. Using Apple Loops
      6m 8s
    2. Auditioning drum loops
      5m 46s
    3. Layering drum loops
      4m 45s
    4. Drum loops and drum programming
      6m 11s
  4. 19m 56s
    1. Chord changes and harmonic structure
      4m 18s
    2. Getting bass sounds and programming bass lines
      8m 50s
    3. Layering bass sounds and side chaining
      6m 48s
  5. 34m 20s
    1. Choosing foundational synth parts and sounds
      11m 46s
    2. Layering synth parts
      10m 21s
    3. Lead line hooks
      5m 37s
    4. Synth candy
      6m 36s
  6. 12m 19s
    1. The importance of arranging
      2m 26s
    2. Arranging your track
      9m 53s
  7. 23m 3s
    1. Creating vocal samples and transitional sounds
      11m 57s
    2. Advanced vocal editing techniques
      5m 44s
    3. Filling holes in the arrangement
      5m 22s
  8. 47m 30s
    1. Mixing philosophies
      6m 30s
    2. Mixing drums and bass
      5m 40s
    3. Mixing synths and transitional sounds
      12m 14s
    4. Mixing vocals
      10m 36s
    5. Final touches, referencing, and mastering your final mix
      5m 17s
    6. Listening to the final mix
      7m 13s
  9. 47s
    1. Final thoughts
      47s

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