Learning: The Theory Behind A Great Remix

It looks like you're using an ad blocker. That's cool! We get it :)
You can support us by sharing this story or following us on Facebook.

Back to Top

Learning: The Theory Behind A Great Remix

What needs to be considered when creating a remix? After initially speaking with Gorgon City, Paul Kalkbrenner and Porter Robinson about the various ways to approach one, we decided to dive deeper and learn more about the theory behind piecing together a great remix.

Enter Patrick Nellestein and Eric Chapus (Endorphin) who are both an integral part of the ‘Bachelor of Composition and Music Production Course‘ at the Australian Institute of Music, who deliver cutting edge education for diverse careers in the Australian music, entertainment & performing arts industries in both Sydney and Melbourne.

Having been involved in the curation of this well credited creative-based course for years and asked/picked many brains before, it felt appropriate to turn the tables and pick theirs for some tips and factors to consider when facing a remix. Leaving us with a yearning for a learning, we further touched on how the aspect of creativity was injected into this particular course and the results of doing so.

Tell us about some of the subjects, including any that relate to remixing? (Answered by Pat Nellestein)

The Composition and Music Production course is split into three Major Study streams: Composition, Music Production, and Digital technology.

  • The Composition stream explores compositional techniques and knowledge to create and develop music. The student produces their own Creative portfolio which can explore remixing, and electronic music; the style, or genre of their creative portfolio is up to the student.
  • The Music Production and Digital technology stream covers how music works, and the tools we use to create it. Via analysis of tracks, and sessions, the student develops a deep understanding of how to produce and deliver a particular sound, that they have either heard, or imagined.

What are three tips you would suggest when approaching a remix? (Answered by Eric Chapus)

  • Tip 1: Pay attention to the original hook, Lyrical content or chorus. Without including the essence of the original song, you may disappoint the record label or the artist that employed you in the first place.
  • Tip 2: You need to stamp your own compositional style to the remix… A good idea is to keep the vocals and perhaps chorus chord structure and compose the rest from scratch. The reason they are getting you to remix is usually because they like your style and programming.
  • Tip 3: define the context the remix will be used for… Is is to be played in clubs or spined on commercial radio… This in itself will really determine the direction and approach you should be taking.

What’s the difference between a good and great remix (to you)? (Answered by Eric Chapus)

A great mix is a weapon the label or artist can use to broaden the commercial appeal of the original single. IE: the single being played in clubs or at radio etc. Therefore it needs to be edgy but somehow retain a commercial ideology.

Do you think synth hardware is a resourceful investment? (Answered by Eric Chapus)

Unless you are a retro purist… The practical use in my opinion does not justify the huge investment. A lot of amazing synth plugins have been created in the last few years that emulate quiet remarkably the sounds of the old hardware synths as well as being an amazing source of new and innovative sounds including state of the art sample libraries like all the NI Kontakt libraries etc.

I am particularly interested this days with the development of alternative soft controllers that you can use on your iPad via wifi to control you DAW environment etc. I like the nostalgic aspect of owning a vintage mini Moog or modular synth but cannot justify it any longer. I am more fascinated by cutting edge controllers like Ableton Push or Keith Mc Millens QuNexus.

How has AIM evolved the course to stay current with electronic music trends? (Answer by Pat Nellestein)

The Composition and Music Production course design has developed and evolved with the current Electronic music trends. Not a typical Composition course, students can learn everything about structure, harmony, melody; but explore these through Electronic music production. With the tools and technology to create Electronic music, The Composition and Music production course views these as standard instruments.

The device in which you compose, create and deliver you sound, (same a s piano, guitar, drum kit, etc). All require knowledge of the instrument, practice, and skills to produce high quality music. It is also within our department, that we have purpose built Electronic Music Production Suites, which are fitted with all the latest electronic music software, and hardware devices such as QuNexus, QuNeo, Akai controllers, Maschine, APC40, and Launchkey.

Where do you see electronic music going in 2014? (Answer by Eric Chapus)

Lately, as electronic music has become extremely mainstream, I have seen or should I say… heard a lot of cross pollination between indie sounding bands incorporating electronic sounds to create a blend and perhaps new genre. Example James Blake, Bon Iver…

This cross pollination has become evident as well in the electronic scene as our perception of a perfectly digital sound has become eroded and lots of new electronic acts are veering to imperfect field recordings IE: iPhone recordings and the likes instead. No longer are we getting exited by the expensive high end and perfect sounds but getting more exited about giving our public a closer and more personal experience into our sound. I associate this phenomenon perhaps with the social media generation that needs to hear and feel closer to their favourite bands and acts.

Go and record your dog eating in the kitchen or record yourself walking down the street… Bury it in the mix or feature it in your track…. It may be more powerful than lifting a sample from a 1970s vinyl and certainly more original…

Is there a philosophy behind how you curate the course? (Answer by Pat Nellestein)

We like to tailor the course for the student, rather than give them a set design they have to fit into. Whether it is producing music for film, electronic music, songwriting, classical, or performance based music, the student can focus on an industry pathway that provides them with the practical skills and industry knowledge to excel in their chosen field. With our constant evaluation and development of the course design and content, we provide students an industry leading education in composition, music production and performance.


To learn more about the AIM Bachelor of Composition and Music Production Course starting on the 19th of May, you can check it here! And if you are interested in entering the AIM presented Kilter ‘They Say’ remix competition, download the free stems here and get cracking!


Related Posts