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6 essential remixing skills you need to master

There's a lot you need to learn if you want to make it as a remixer, and these half dozen bite-sized tips are a great place to start.

For more remixing tutorials, get the September 2018 edition of Future Music.

1. Beyond pitch and time

Timestretching, pitchshifting and conforming audio and MIDI tracks to chords are essential skills for remixing and bootlegging. Learn how your DAW handles these tasks and investigate the many plugins out there designed to make them easier.

2. Layer by layer

If a track’s made up of layers, with one new element added every few bars, there’s a chance you’ll be able to duplicate the channel and use phase inversion to isolate elements from each other.

3. Straight down the middle

With a mid/side plugin like Voxengo MSED, you can mute the mid or side signals, helping isolate certain elements. The mid information comprises any audio that’s exactly the same in both speakers at any given point (mono), whereas the side signal represents what’s different in both speakers. The point being, as you’ll see, certain mono elements can be extracted from stems or full tracks.

4. Lofty conversion

Many DAWs have some form of Audio to MIDI conversion, meaning you can take an audio file and spit out a MIDI representation of it. Naturally, this is great for remixing, helping you quickly layer or replace recorded parts with virtual instruments.

5. Beats working

You can isolate individual hits from a full beat using phase-inversion, mid/side processing and manual or automatic slicing. Again, look into your DAW’s particular tools in this department, as each has its own ways of doing things.

6. Groove is in the art

Groove templates let you steal the exact feel (ie, the detailed timing and dynamics) of an original piece of audio. By imprinting the exact swing or ‘groove’ of the track you're remixing onto your own audio and MIDI clips, you can make your re-imagining feel a little more authentic.