Creating a Remix: Techniques and Tips

What is a Remix?

A remix is a musical work that refreshes the signature sound of a track with new creative elements. When working on a remix you need to have good source material.

For example, if you plan to remix a song with a vocal, make sure to have the acapella ready for use. It’s also helpful to sketch out an arrangement for the remix as a reference.

Stems

Music stems are isolated tracks of a song that contain different musical elements like bass, drums, vocals, keys, guitars, FX etc. They are essential for sync licensing and can help remixers rework the track and give it their own unique sound.

To create stems, mute all the tracks in your session except for the one you want to export as a stem. Then use your DAW’s ‘bounce’ function to export each track as an individual audio file, usually in a lossless format like WAV or AIFF. This reduces the number of files to just 4-12 and saves a lot of space on hard drives.

Providing stems to your collaborator will make it easier for them to work on the remix. It’s a good idea to name the stems clearly so they can be identified and located easily when the time comes to use them. It also helps to keep the stems organized in a dedicated folder to avoid confusion and misunderstandings.

Vocals

The original vocal track of a song can be a great starting point to create a remix, especially if the singer has a strong, distinct, and recognizable voice. Retaining recognizable vocal elements can help establish a link between the remix and the original, which can make it more appealing to listeners.

To remix a song, you will need to acquire permission from the copyright holders, which are generally the original artist or band and the music publisher. In many cases this will involve obtaining two types of copyrights: 1) the master recording rights, usually held by the original artists; and 2) the song copyrights, generally held by the music publishers.

Our Remix plug-in uses cutting edge technology to separate a full mix into instrument groups (called stems) – including vocals, piano, bass and drums. By dragging the track bubbles upwards and downwards, you can increase or decrease the volume of each group. You can also drag the tracks left and right to pan them.

Melodic Lines

The melodic line is a sequence of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single unit. It’s usually the most memorable and recognisable element of a piece of music.

A good melodic line will add structure to your remix and help the ear follow the progression of your track. To create a melodic line, start with the original song’s chords and play around with them. This will give you an idea of what notes to keep and what to change.

Remember to keep the original tempo and a consistent key. Keeping these elements intact will make it easier for your remix to be recognised as part of the original song and help your remix stand out from other tracks of the same genre. Tip: Try using a software program like Mixed In Key to find the key of the original song, or simply use a good ear. Creative effects like Replika XT, Guitar Rig and Raum can also be used to enhance your melodic lines.

Arrangement

Remixes involve rearranging the individual instrumental and vocal stems from an existing track. The remixer can also add their own sounds or instruments to the mix. This might include a bass line, percussion or melody. The remix can be completely different from the original or it might stay very similar but have an added twist.

The distinction between a remix and an arrangement is important because there are rules for copyright protection of the music that you produce. For example, US copyright law provides a clear path to making legal covers or arrangements of songs but it’s harder to create a remix without permission from the copyright owner.

Once the remix is complete it needs to be mastered. This process adds a high quality polish to the sound and ensures that it can compete with other tracks in its genre. The iZotope Mix & Master Bundle streamlines the mixing and mastering process into one workflow with advanced tools like Ozone 10 Advanced, Neutron 4, Tonal Balance Control 2, Neoverb and more.

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