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How to Set Up a Remix Project in BandLab for Education

BandLab for Education is a fantastic resource for music learning and creating. If you've read my previous blog post giving some ideas you might try to get started with DAWs, then you know what I mean. Remixing is slightly more advanced to set up and get started for the facilitator but the educational benefits are very worthwhile. Learners explore how a song is put together, how to make an interesting arrangement and basic music technology skills. For this project, you will need to get your hands on some vocal stems. Stems, in recording terms, are the individual fully produced parts of a particular song. Having a vocal stem would be much like having the vocal part isolated to sheet music, but instead, that part is in .WAV or .MP3 format (an audio file). Check out this video on how to set up stems for your learners to remix in BandLab.


Finding Stems

The most time consuming part of this project, if you are doing it for the first time, is finding the stems. Some bands, like Imagine Dragons, release their stems on YouTube. There are lots of stems available on YouTube and a number of other sites. If you use a YouTube to Audio converter or are able to record system sound with Audacity, that would be your best bet. I also have access to a number of stems for various songs. Please check this Google Drive folder for a collection of vocal stems to get you started.


Also check out the site lalal.ai where vocal and instrumental stems can be extracted from an original track. There is a small fee associated with it, but if you are going to be doing it a lot, it could be worth the cost. One more option is to look for a cappella hits on Amazon Music or other streaming service. Search the song name and the word "bpm" or "acapella" beside it to find vocals designed for remixing. You can even ask a local artist about using their stems for a remix.

Tips for Success
  • There has been a movement since the early 2000s to not play to a click track during a recording for a more natural ebb and flow on the recording. This means that there are some songs that will not line up to a click unless you use some advanced time shift features in Ableton or ProTools. To save on your stress, just avoid this ones for now until you are more skilled at using a DAW or you could isolate one section of the song where the tempo does not fluctuate.

  • It is pretty safe to assume that most 80s, 90s, and early 2000s songs are to a click. Anything before or after those are less likely to line up to a click.


DJ mixing in the background with the words "How to set up a remix project with BandLab for Education"
How to set up a remix project in BandLab for Education

Make it an Assignment

This short video takes you through how to set up the remix as an assignment for the first time. This video assumes that you've set up your school and added your students already:


Tips for Success
  • In BandLab, the longer a single loop is repeated (looped), the more out of alignment it goes over time. For example, if your learners are keeping the same drum groove for a 4 minute song, by the end of the song the alignment will be off enough to notice even if the stem is lined up to the tempo. If they want to use the same one, be sure they reset the loop at each section of the song so there are fewer alignment issues.

  • You might only require them to do the chorus of a song to avoid alignment issues all together.

  • For younger learners, shorter songs or sections of songs are preferred.

  • If learners want to change the key or the tempo, they should do that before a lot of tracks are added.

  • Be sure to save often and also make sure there are not a lot of tabs open in the browser. If the BandLab workstation is extremely laggy, this is very likely the issue. If that is not it, be sure to save right away and restart the browser.

I want to hear about your remixing delights. Let me know in the comments or contact me to let me know how things are going.


Until next time, Happy Musicking!


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