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Remixing a Song in Logic Pro

Layering synth parts


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Remixing a Song in Logic Pro

with Josh Harris

Video: Layering synth parts

As we move into adding additional synth parts, or what I like to refer to as synth layers, I'd like to encourage all of you to take the time to build up the track, experiment, add a lot of parts, it's okay in the stages of the remix process if you add too many parts. A lot of the remixing process is constructing to then deconstruct. What you have to be aware of is when you cross that threshold and the track is just too crowded. What we're going to do in this movie, is add some additional parts. And I am going to take a listen to what I have so far and you may notice as I play the track right now that the foundational synth parts from the last movie are slightly different.
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  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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Remixing a Song in Logic Pro
3h 19m Intermediate Dec 01, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Josh Harris demonstrates constructing a remix using only a pre-existing vocal track as a starting point. The course shows how to time-stretch vocals, offers suggestions for establishing a musical direction, and explains how to audition and layer Apple loops. The course also covers programming beats using synths, generating vocal samples, arranging the remix, and creating master-quality final mixes.

Topics include:
  • Using Logic Pro as a remixing environment
  • Setting up a session
  • Lining up vocals over a kick drum
  • Analyzing chord changes and harmonic structure
  • Programming synth parts
  • Arranging a track
  • Demonstrating advanced vocal editing techniques
  • Mixing the drums, bass, synths, and vocals
  • Mastering the final mix
Subjects:
Audio + Music Audio Plug-Ins Music Composition Remixing
Software:
Logic Pro
Author:
Josh Harris

Layering synth parts

As we move into adding additional synth parts, or what I like to refer to as synth layers, I'd like to encourage all of you to take the time to build up the track, experiment, add a lot of parts, it's okay in the stages of the remix process if you add too many parts. A lot of the remixing process is constructing to then deconstruct. What you have to be aware of is when you cross that threshold and the track is just too crowded. What we're going to do in this movie, is add some additional parts. And I am going to take a listen to what I have so far and you may notice as I play the track right now that the foundational synth parts from the last movie are slightly different.

I took some time to massage them, make some adjustments and just dial them in a little bit more to where I was extremely happy with them and felt that they were keeper parts. Let's take a quick listen and I will actually just loop the chorus section again, we don't need to listen to the verse right now. (Music playing) Okay, so at this stage of the remix, I'd like to think about frequency holes.

and what I mean by frequency holes are; what frequencies are available right now? When I am listening to the track, there is a bass, there is a secondary bass part, but I still like a little more meat in the low end. The first thing I am going to do is add a synth layer, which is basically going to outline the chords, the B, G, E, F# chord changes, just a single note part in the lower register of an EXS24 sound. So I select EXS24 from my list of virtual instruments and I really like this sound under synth leads called Dance Basic.

I have used this on dozens and dozens of remixes, it sounds like this-- (Music playing) --nice fat saw wave, and what I am going to do is just basically play whole notes, outlining the chords. So let's go ahead and lay that in. (Music playing) And I will go ahead and quantize that to quarter notes, trim the extra MIDI region.

It doesn't sound good to my ears to just leave this sound as is. So much like we did in the last movie, I am going to go ahead and copy the compressor from the synth pad track and move it over to this track. So we hold down Option and Command and drag, close the Mixer Window with X and let's take a listen. (Music playing) It sounds a little fuller to my ears, and I like that.

So I am going to un-mute the vocal and let's take a listen with the vocal briefly. (Music playing) Sounding really good with the vocal. The next thing I am going to do is add a piano. And I will choose it from the EXS24, in the pull-down menu, under Acoustic Pianos, Steinway Piano.

(Music playing) Let's go ahead and record in octave parts. Here we go. (Music playing) And I will quantize them to a quarter note.

The purpose of this part is to add a punctuation on the downbeat of the chorus and actually throughout the chord changes of the chorus. I like the tambour of the piano, it has a nice attack and it really helps the chorus feel like a chorus when we hit the downbeat. So the grand piano is in. The next track I am going to add is an apple loop. So I open up the Audio Bin by hitting B and I will drag this on to the Arrange Window. I will put it right where verse 1 starts.

Now you see I accidentally drag this on to a MIDI track. So I'm going to create a new audio track which is Stereo. I do not need to open the Library, and I will simply drag this down and move it over to the chorus because we're working with just the chorus section. Let's take a listen to this part. (Music playing) Clearly, it's not in the same key as our track.

So what I'm going to do, and this is one way to get the most mileage out of instrumental apple loops. Let's figure out what key this is in. I am going to mute everything else out except for this part and the piano. I don't want to hear the piano track playing, so I am going to mute the MIDI region, by just highlighting the MIDI region and hitting M. That mutes it. The piano is still accessible to me as a virtual synth. Let's listen to this apple loop. (Music playing) This apple loop is in the key of C, our track is in the key of B; B minor to be specific.

So here's what we're going to do. I'm going to take the Scissors Tool. I am actually going to put the piano part back in, because what I'm going to essentially do is take this apple loop that's in the key of C, and cut it up and have it follow our chord changes. We know as we expand the screen that we have one chord change for two measures. I am going to use the Scissors Tool and cut up this 4 bar apple loop and just paste the back half to cover 8 bars.

So every two measures, we have a new chord. We know it's in the key of C. As we play with the Transposition, we know that there are 12 notes in the scale. So let's double-click and enter our own data, and since it's in the key of C, I'd like to go one-half step down for B. So the first two bars now is transposed down to B. The next chord change is G. So if we're working from C and we count backwards on the keyboard, C to B to B flat to A to A flat to G, that's actually five half steps.

So we'll double-click and enter -5. Now, we're moving onto our third chord change which is E. I'd like the E to be higher than the B. So I'm going to enter a value of +4. If we start at C and go up to E, it's four half steps; C# D, D# E. And finally, F# which I'd like to be above E. So I will double-click and enter 6. Let's listen to this track against the piano track and the piano track will keep us honest and make sure that we have the correct transpositions.

(Music playing) Everything sounds great. Now, let's listen to everything in a little bit of context. I shrink the tracks on the Arrange Window, and I will un-mute everything, and I'd actually like to name this track.

This is part of good housekeeping. We double-click on the track, and I will call this -- well let's call it what it's actually called in the apple loop. So I will expand the screen, it's called trance travel synth. I will double-click here and call it trance travel synth and let's take a listen to what we have. I will mute the vocal out right now, I'll pop it back in, in a moment. (Music playing) I love it.

I think it sounds great, there is a lot of texture there, there is a little bit of edge to it. I am going to un-mute the vocal. You'll find throughout this course at different stages I am constantly muting and un-muting parts to make sure that everything is working together. This is a very important lesson not just in remixing but in production overall. The elements of your track have to work together, and they really have to work with the vocal when you're working on a full vocal remix. So let's take a listen to the track so far with the vocal in it. (Music playing) Sounds fantastic.

Think about what it is you're looking to accomplish by layering synth parts. It's very easy to get carried away and add too many layers, resulting in a track that is way too dense. As mentioned earlier, I prefer to work on this part of the process in the chorus section, which is these 8 bars. This is the part of the mix that will most likely have the most amount of parts in it. My suggestion is that as you build up your synth layers, build up a section of the song that is actually going to have a lot of parts in it when the mix is actually finished.

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