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Questions in regards to remixing

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so yeah, I've been plodding along at a snail's pace as far as getting started goes. It's kind of disgraceful, really. Anyway, I was about to start work on my first remix, but then I remembered seeing talk about chord progression in a few places. Admittedly, I still don't know much about how the harmony relates to the melody or how to create a halfway decent chord progression or what have you, although I may have picked up a few pointers when looking through the forum for anything that I thought would help me.

So I guess my questions are these:

1. Which would be better for me to work on first: the harmony or melody?

2. How does the chord progression factor into making a remix?

3. How would I go about making a chord progression, even if it's only a simple one?

Feel free to let me know if any of these questions are going beyond my current skill level, even though I'm really just looking for some basic pointers. Any advice is appreciated.

Edit: It just occurred to me that I may be overthinking things again, but it's all the information that's out there can make one's head spin if they don't know what they're doing.

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Every song has a chord progression in it to begin with. Sometimes it's clearly expressed in the form of backing chords, sometimes not, it's your job to find it.

The way you SHOULD go about a remix is:

1) Learn and understand the song.

2) a) Embellish what is there and build on it.

or

B) Reinterpret what is there and make it your own.

or

c) All of the above.

3) Take time in considering the instrumentation and pay attention to the timbre of the original, that way you get a better grasp of what the original arrangement is doing.

4) Present your version in a manner which is enjoyable to listen to and well balanced sonically.

The chord progression is the most important part for me when I remix a song because it gives me clear ideas on where to go and what to do. If you cant hear the progression easily then just play some whole notes over it, and build it that way. Whichever notes sound best under each part are usually the correct ones. If you can't do it that way, then transcribe the song into MIDI and look at the notes in a piano roll, line up all the notes in a measure (usually works best with arpeggios) to start on the upbeat and then you see the chord shape they form, that's the chord playing under that measure etc etc.

The point is, the progression is already there, you need to find it and work with it to make a remix that is successful. And don't limit yourself with arbitrary roadblocks like "current skill level", you can learn anything at any time if you dedicate real time and concentration to it.

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You're not getting past your current skill level any time soon if you don't challenge yourself. :D

1. If you have a chord progression you wanna use, take the source melody and adapt it to the new chords. If you have an idea for a new take on the melody, write than and then find chords that fit. Doesn't matter which, it's the result that counts.

2. When it comes to fairly conservative mixes, using different chords results in a different mood without necessarily altering much else. Ekaj's take on Red Brinstar is one of my favorite mixes in this regard because of how the chords are altered, resulting in a very different mood. Likewise, Tyler Heath's take on Dragon Roost Island screws with both melody and chord progression, and the result has a very different feel than the original. Or, to toot my own horn, there's this.

While making it, it's a guideline for melodies. Whether or not you have the chords blocked out, the chords you choose will lead to a different harmony and thus a different mood.

3. Pick four chords. Use those. :P

If you wanna get a little more complicated, you can look at the notes used in the melody and pick chords that use those. You can write a bassline and figure out how you wanna modulate (change the chords of) that, as I did in my track linked above.

Music history has some typical progression to draw on for different genres and styles, you can look up chord progressions on wikipedia or google it for examples. Music theory can exmapl why some chord progressions work better than others and why they have different moods. Just read stuff, listen to stuff, and experiment and you'll get it. :D

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3. How would I go about making a chord progression, even if it's only a simple one?

Have a smartphone? There's an app for that - http://prochords.dk/w/ (and countless others).

Repeat after me: chord generators are good.

In the best case, they encourage you to find your own combinations.

In the worst case, you're still going to be more original than

, and you'll learn whether something fits or it doesn't. When it's you or the machine trying to make up 4 chords that were already used dozens of times, they're still going to be 4 chords that were already used dozens of times.

Alternatively, http://chordmaps.com/

Edit: It just occurred to me that I may be overthinking things again

You are. The whole thing about chord progressions is just so you don't hold C-E-G all the time and think that's sufficient.

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Chiming in a little late. I say don't get too hung up on chords and other theory. The stuff is really quite simple, armchair math at best. I say get the melody and the bass down, and build on from there.

Let me know if you want me to break down scale & chords theory in one post, I'll be happy to. Like I said, it's all just numbers. Once you know the basic chords and the scale, it's easy to build instruments and counter-melodies and such.

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Better late than never, DarK PurPLe. Your input is very much appreciated.

I'd like to see your break down if you are willing to give it. I'm very interested in what you have to say there.

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The numbers are not the problem, learning to fluently play scales and transposing without a hitch are. That's what you should get hung up about - they're comparable to a fluid, legible handwriting or 60 WPM touch-typing plus correct command of grammar and spelling for authors.

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To be brutally honest, I'm just accepting what everyone is saying. I'm not sure whether it's because I don't know anything, because I'm gullible or perhaps both. The only thing that I am sure of is that I need to stop screwing around and learn this mess for myself instead of having seven different people telling me how to do it.

I'll probably work off of some combination of the advice given so far to get me started, especially what Yoozer said about learning the scales. There is so much that I need to learn, and I guess the scales might be the best place for me to start (I only understand C Major, and that's probably a loose understanding at best).

I think my curiosity is satisfied for now. Thanks for all the input, but feel free to continue chiming in if you have something to say.

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C Major is essentially the same as every other scale. It's just easier to visualize on a piano because it's all white notes.

C D E F G A B ... That being your scale, you build the basic chords with 3 notes, skipping one in between. They are identified by roman numerals. Such as:

I = C E G = C major

II = D F A = D minor

III = E G B = E minor

IV = F A C = F major

V = G B D = G major

VI = A C E = A minor

VII = B D F = B dim

and so on...

For minor scales, it's all the same as major, except you begin with VI instead of with I. For example, A minor is also all the white notes, but you begin with A instead of C.

Everything is determined by the number of semitones between each note. For instance, a major scale (where 1 is a note and o is a skip)

101011010101

So as soon as you find your root note, you can easily build a scale and then chords in major or minor scale. There are more variation but this is the basic theory.

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If you can't think of a chord progression, think about how you want your song to sound during each measure. Then put a harmony note down. If it doesn't fit, shift it up or down until it does. Then write down what letters are in the harmony you have. Fill in what's missing (a middle note) and keep trying until you get the chord you want there. I already know music theory, but it still doesn't help me in FL Studio without the use of my MIDI keyboard. I can play chords better than I can think them up.

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I'm don't think this is something I need to worry about right now, but I'm just curious what the general consensus is on FL Studio's built-in sampler. I don't have any real plans to use any samples at the moment (well, samples for anything other than drums, I mean), but I just thought I'd ask now before I decide to make those plans in the distant future (not sure if I'm being obtuse or if I'm expecting the unexpected).

Also, should I put this inquiry into the original post? I don't think it's that important, but if it is, let me know.

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I'm don't think this is something I need to worry about right now, but I'm just curious what the general consensus is on FL Studio's built-in sampler. I don't have any real plans to use any samples at the moment (well, samples for anything other than drums, I mean), but I just thought I'd ask now before I decide to make those plans in the distant future (not sure if I'm being obtuse or if I'm expecting the unexpected).

Also, should I put this inquiry into the original post? I don't think it's that important, but if it is, let me know.

Any sort of high end sample libraries typically use high end sampler software like Kontakt, or use their own built-in sampler (which will work in Fruity Loops as a plug-in).

I use the FL sampler for single samples, like drum hits, vocals, and recordings of basically anything (once the recording has been edited in an external program like Audacity).

As far as melody and chords go, your best friends when it comes to making music are your EARS. If something sounds bad, chances are something is seriously wrong with it. Understanding music theory can help, but understand how melodies and chords work together is fundamental.

For the most part you should probably keep the notes of your song in-key, and use chords that are in-key, of course, with exception, but once again, your ears are going to show you what works and what doesn't.

If your ears need help, maybe you need to spend time training them. If you spend time listening to classical music instead of pop, you'll realize music is more than a 2 note melody repeating over and over on top of some whiny auto-tuned vocalist. I don't know what your particular music background is, but I think you get the point.

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