If you’ve been following our digital music tutorials over the last six months, you will have become something of an MP3 guru. You’ve learned to rip CDs and record vinyl and cassette to MP3. You’ve made compilation CDs and learned how to beat match and DJ mix your digital tunes. This week we take a slight detour from the world of music consumption, and delve into the more creative realm to experiment with rearranging and remixing songs in Sonic Foundry’s Acid Pro 4.
Sonic Foundry recently released the fourth incarnation of its loop sequencing software, ACID. This version introduces some great new features such as effect automation, MIDI, and virtual instrument support. These are advanced features that we will take a quick look at in part two of this tutorial. In part one, we explore the basics of editing, time stretching and looping. The great thing about performing these tasks in ACID is that everything you do is “non-destructive”, which means your editing and experimenting do not permanently change the files you are working with. This gives you virtually infinite undo capabilities and maximum creative flexibility.
The first thing you need to do is decide on a song to remix and a style to remix it into. These can be the same if all you want to do is shorten, lengthen or change the tempo of a song. When you have chosen a song and a style, it’s time to cut out some loops to use in the remix.
Import your song
First, open ACID and use the file browser to find your song. Then double-click the file to import it into the ACID project. If your song is more than 30 seconds long, you will be prompted by the ACID beatmapper function to automatically determine the music’s tempo. When this happens, click next. You will then be presented with a graphical waveform display of the song. Here you need to locate the first beat of the music, which you do by dragging the “Downbeat” marker to the beginning of a drum or percussion sound as shown in figure 2.
When you have done this, click next. ACID will now attempt to select a four-beat loop starting from the point you specified. In this screen, you should preview the loop to make sure it is correct and, if it sounds off beat or out of time, drag the loop start and finish indicators until it loops correctly. ACID will play a metronome sound to help you match the beats to your song.
When your loop is smooth and continuous, click next. Step three of the beatmapper process will let you scroll through the song and test that your beats are on time. If they aren’t, you may need to go back and forth a couple of times until it sounds right. To finalise your beatmapper settings, click next and finish.
You will now have a track appearing in your timeline for the song.
Extracting a loop
Now, using the pen tool, which should be selected by default, draw your song into the timeline. For now, just draw between the markers labelled 1.1 and 3.1. This is effectively the same as eight beats or two bars. If necessary, you can zoom in on the timeline -- use the plus sign in the lower right hand corner. Now click the loop icon in the playback controls and then click play. You should hear a perfect loop of your song’s intro.
To get a feel for ACID’s real-time capabilities, try changing the tempo of the song using the slider located above the chopper/explorer window on the left hand side. In part two of this tutorial, we will run through the process of creating more loops and putting them together to build the remix.