Open up the Surface Music Kit app on your Surface device.
Navigate to the Templates section. Songs in the Template section either have “(Original)” or “(Remix)” at the end of the song name. Original templates contain only audio elements from the original recording of the song. Remix templates contain elements of the original song along with custom “companion” remix material. This companion material consists of audio elements created by producers that are designed specifically as remix elements for the specific song.
Original templates are great if you would like to build a remix or mash-up from scratch. Remix templates are ideal if you want to quickly work with material that you know will fit well with the original song. In addition to the (Remix) at the end of the template name, Remix templates also have a banner across the left corner that indicates a Remix template.
For your first remix using the Surface Music Kit, we will be working with a Remix template. However, in order to get a sense for the original song, let’s first take a look at the “Original” template.
From the Templates section, open up the Template Bosley - Boogie Dancing (Original).
With the session open, you can see that there are already some notes that have been recorded to create a simple arrangement. Hit the play button to play this demo song.
All of the elements of this template are from the original song. Tracks 1-6 are loops from the chorus of the song, and tracks 9-16 are short “one-shots” from the original song.
Take a few minutes to play around with the different elements, both loops and one-shots, to get a sense of original song elements.
After spending a few minutes playing around with the original elements, hit the Left arrow at the top left of the screen to go back to the Templates section. From the Templates section, open up the Template Bosley - Boogie Dancing (Remix).
With the session now open on your screen, you can see that there are already some notes that have been recorded to create a simple remix arrangement. Hit the Play button on the blade to play this demo arrangement.
You can immediately see and hear some differences between the Original and Remix templates for Boogie Dancing. While some of the elements are the same as in the original (such as Boogie Vocals Chorus and Boogie Guitar Chorus), there are new elements that have the word “Remix” in them (such as Boogie Drum Remix and Boogie Remix Lead Chorus.
In Surface Music Kit templates, original elements of a song have the name and instrument only, while companion remix material always has the word “Remix” somewhere in the element name. If an element has Remix in it, you can know that it was specially produced to work with the song in the file name. This applies both to the stems, or “loops” of the song, which are typically placed in templates on tracks 1-8, and one-shot samples, which are usually placed on tracks 9-16.
Take a few minutes to listen to the remix arrangement and notice how the new drum beat and instrumental parts change to overall feel, style, and general mood of the song.
Next, lets clear out the demo arrangement so that you can build your own, unique remix. To do this, click on each track name that has notes (tracks 1-8). All of the notes on that specific track will become “highlighted” and you’ll be able to see the waveform. With the notes highlighted, click “Clear notes” at the bottom left of the screen. Repeat this for all tracks that have notes on them.
Now that you have a clear session, it’s time to start building your remix. First, let’s rename and save the session. To rename the project, click on the title at the top and change the filename to Bosley - Boogie Dancing - My First Remix”. To save your new project, click the three dots at the bottom left hand corner of the screen. Then Click Save.
Now that we have a fresh project, lets get started on our first sequence. First let’s lay down the a capella, or vocal track.
There are two ways of creating a looping part in the Surface Music Kit. One way is to place the location maker at the bar where you would like to start the note. Then, hold down the “Record” button on the blade while at the same time pressing the numbered pad on the blade that corresponds to the track you want to record (in this case, it’s Track 1). The entire note will then appear in the session. Next, move the location marker to end of the note (in this case, track 9, as it’s an “8 bar” loop). Repeat the same process here, of holding Record and the Track number. Then repeat this on bar 9, 17, and 25. Now we have a “loop” of the vocal part that continues until bar 33.
Note: Sometimes it seems hard to get the location marker exactly on the beat you want to start the note. It’s easier if you zoom in a little bit in order to get it right on the beat. Remember, to zoom in and out, you pinch the Surface touch screen in and out. Alternatively, you can get the note “close” and then select it and move it on the bar after “recording” it in. This technique is very useful in speeding up your creation process in the Surface Music Kit.
Next, let’s add the remix drum beat to our creation. To add the drum loop, we are going to use a different technique than we did for the vocals. Because the Boogie Remix Drums Chorus loop is shorter (only 2 bars) it would be tedious to add them one-by-one in using the location marker and the record + pad #. Instead, we will be recording the drum loop in real time. This will also give you a chance to practice your timing while you “perform” the drum loop into the session.
First, hit the Play button on the blade twice to return the location marker to the beginning of the session. Next, make sure that the Click function is turned on, by pressing the two small circles on the top right hand corner of the screen so that the circles are filled in. This means that a click will sound on the beat during your recording.
If you’d like to practice with the beat before recording, hit the Play button and play along with Pad 6.
In order to get the beat started, lets add just the first note using the method we used for the vocals. This will let us know the length of the note, and also give us a little lead time before we start recording. First, Hit the Play button twice to get the session back to 0. Then hold down the Record button and Pad 6 to add the first note. The note will now appear in the session. You can see that it only goes to Bar 3.
When you are ready, hit the Record button on the blade. When the location marker gets to the end of each note (ie. at bars 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, etc.) hit Pad 6 as close to the beat as you can. Continue until you get to the end of the vocal part. Because this is a stem and the “Use pressure on pads to control volume” in the editor is off, it won’t matter how hard you hit the pad each time - the volume will stay the same.
The important part here is to try to get record note as close to the beat as possible. This will take some practice, but fortunately, if you make some mistakes it’s easy to go back afterwards and line up the notes to the grid. In order to do this, first zoom in a bit so that you can get more precise. Then select the note you want to move so that it enlarges and the waveform appears. With the note selected, drag it so that the beginning starts exactly on the beat.
After you have finished this process, your session should have a looping Vocal part and looping drum beat, the basics of an electronic remix.
Now, it’s time to be creative and add new harmonic elements to the arrangement and create a unique remix. First let’s add some loops, (tracks 1-8).
Hit the Play button on the pad two times to return the location marker back to the beginning of the song. Then hit Record. Play around with adding different sounds to the remix. First, start with adding a bass line. You have two bass lines to play around with, Pad 5 and Pad 7. Choose whichever one you like better, or switch back and forth between the two. They won’t sound very good if played at the same time, however, as they with overlap harmonically and make the mix sound “muddy.”
After you’ve added some bass parts, play around with the other elements and add them in at various point of the arrangement. Don’t worry about making mistakes, you can always Undo, delete notes, or move notes around. The idea right now is to just get some material up there and use trial and error to find a sound you like. You can try hitting two pads or more pads at once to record multiple parts at the same time. The parts will only sound good if they are exactly on the beat, so as with the drums, move any “missed notes on the grid after recording.
Once you have added some elements, you may find that the vocals and drums get a little repetitive because they repeat over the entire arrangement. Play around with deleting a vocal note or drum note here and there, and notice how dropping out the vocals or beat can make the arrangement more dynamic and exciting.
Once you are happy with you main “stems” (tracks 1-8), play around with adding various “one-shots” to the mix (tracks 9-16), to spice up the arrangement and make it even more unique. And if you make any mistakes, remember, you can always hit the Undo button on the blade.
After you’ve added some elements and edited them to fit the grid, your remix may look something like this:
Congratulations, you have created your first remix. At this point, click the three dots at the bottom left corner of the screen and Save your remix. Next, click the Export button to create a WMA version of your remix that you can listen to any time!
In future lessons, we’ll learn about creating your own beats from scratch, taking elements from other songs, and more advance features.