tallahassee, Florida, USA
colin ... i like synthesizers ..
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Electronic Music discussion: Rules For Remixing, How Do You Approach It?
Written October 06 2009 , Tags: remix
So im working on a remix for an artist located in my city. unfortunately it is not an open remix contest, but the track have been sent to about 45 people, the best will be released on beatport along with the single.
im not a person that does remixes exactly, so i wonder what everyones approach or experience with remixing is.
do you tend to stay true to the genre or the original tune, .. how much of the original do you include, .. how much do you modify it .. how much to you pump up the drum tracks. assuming it wins and goes to be mastered, how do you make sure the tune is ready to for that?
the track ive started is already going nuts,.. a crazy synth line, a deep bass that moves the track into very dark territory, a minimal opening and most all of the original track is in there in some form, with a bit of modification.
so what are your thoughts? have you ever done one of these and had it released?
I usually enjoy remixing a lot more than I enjoy my own music. The genre you're remixing is going to have a gigantic impact on your choices- primarily because the content you have to work with will be dramatically different. I could never remix anything without a strong melody. I'd go crazy trying to remix a minimal genre.
I prefer to remix pop/rock songs. I always remove all chord work that was sent to me and strip the song down to melody, and rearrange from there. I get a rhythm established first, make that work with a bassline, and then I start making making piano rolls of the arrangements. Often I'll make a piano roll of the chord work that was sent to me and then start changing voicing. Once I have arrangements in place, I take care of the instrumentation, then revisit and refine each of these steps into a cohesive piece. I typically work on the song in 8-16 bar chunks, and then rearrange those chunks as the last thing.
Step one is establish rock solid timing on your project file- the rest of your time is wasted until you do.
assuming it wins and goes to be mastered, how do you make sure the tune is ready to for that?
This isn't specific to remixes: But there are a bunch of things you can do that can help:
Mix it carefully. Use a mixing/monitoring calibration system (k14 works well for electronic stuff).
Make sure there's plenty of headroom and no overs. Listen on different systems, on headphones and over the air.
Don't use master bus dynamics processing (no compression or limiting), that's the mastering engineers job.
It depends on what I have to work with. I prefer using audio (loops or full tracks), since my host does not play well with others. But usually I start by taking the most interesting sounds, and seeing if I can make something more interesting by looping them at weird points, reversing them, timestretching them, pitch shifting them, or generally changing them in some way. This can be subtle or extreme. Once I have a fragment I like, I start trying to build a new melody ar a new rhythm with it, usually by processing more bits in a similar way and stringing them together or layering. Then I either re-work the rhythmic elements, or add new rhythm tracks/samples, and start building some sort of song structure from there.
I don't really have any rules, beyond the practical mix advice cbit mentions above (no overs, no bus compression or limiting, etc.). I don't have any qualms about adding original sounds or making something unrecognizable. I just let the original parts take me where they want to go...
Rules? Wow, what a strange notion.
Back in he early 80s, a remix was exactly that, a re mix. "They" would take the multitrack reel-to-reel, and play it again, and the producer & engineer would set the volume and panning of each track, in a different way. Sometimes there would be an unused extra track, some guitar or synth line that was not used in the original version, and bring that up in the remix. This would be mixed down and then recorded to a two track master, also reel-to-reel. This would be done more than once to get more material on the 2-track. This was all tape, all analog, by the way. Then the razor blade would be brought out to cut the newly mixed two track tape. And the tape (the sticky kind, not the recording kind) would be used to rearrange the pieces, to stick them back together in a different sequence. That was a remix!
Digital recording, computers, and samplers got more powerful & cheaper and .. converged. Nowadays a remix an be anything, though is most often a small amount of vocals from the original and the rest is done from scratch. The tempo can be changed, even the time signature (i've heard 6/8 mixes down in 4/4, very nicely). I guess the only thing that even needs to be retained are (some of) the vocals and the key. everything else is , well, anything goes! Hope that helps.
Mix advice belongs in a different thread- you should do the same or better for someone else as you would your own work, nuff said?
yeah, rules here seems weird. If I have the chance, I will make a track using the stems they give me without ever hearing the original. I basically use what they give as sample fodder and make a track that I would like from that.
If I've heard the track before, I will try and reinterpret the original around something that I really like about the track. Like for the halcyon remix I posted her not long ago, the concentration was on the non-verbal use of the vocals. So I rechopped and looped and mangled the original vocal sounds, and went from there. I also ended up making it half-time and adding a more modern bass sound.
I generally try to form a core that sounds and feels enough like the original, and then from there make something that I enjoy, however weird it gets.
i like the idea of rules. not necessarily genre related.
but giving yourself rules helps your workflow.
lately, i've been using stems only for sample material (not unlike mixit).
i'll make it a point to utilize melody structure to give a nod to the original piece and then move from there.
kinda like jazz...
it depends on what you're aiming for. sometimes you might be expected to produce something that fits into a genre. at other times, you might be given total creative freedom. very often i'd listen to the track and spend a week or two (depending on available time) not doing anything, but allowing the tiny ideas about doing a remix, that sit at the back of my head, to come to fruition. very often that yields results. sometimes it doesn't so i'd force myself to sit down and start playing around with things. if that doesn't work, i'll take the frustration as a starting point and turn it into something useful. i've done a fair number of tracks this way, and it tends to work nicely.
production-wise, you can take risks and explore the material and turn it on its head, or you can be more straightforward and just do a club/"dub" mix.. do not be afraid to make something that bears no resemblance to the original, other than through pure sonic feel... i tend to end up with 3% of the original included (just because you asked).
My favorite remixes are the ones that just take a little piece of the original and then take it in a completely different direction, like this DP remix of the Chems Video . Its more like a totally new track, you would have never guessed it was a remix.
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