How to Make an 8-Bit Remix

Written by michael frazer
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How to Make an 8-Bit Remix
Capture the retro sound of Atari, Nintendo and Sega consoles with 8-bit music. (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Recording artists including deadmau5, Crystal Castles, and Matt & Kim contribute to the growing interest in the 8-bit electronic genre by mixing the iconic sounds of Nintendo and Atari with their individual styles whether it be house, electronic or indie. Remixing a track in 8-bit style is a way to pay tribute to the days of lo-fi video games. With an audio plug-in, you can remix any track to continue the 8-bit sound.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Song you want to remix
  • Digital audio workstation such as Ableton Live, Reason, Garage Band or FL Studio
  • 8-bit plug-in such as YMCK's Magical 8-Bit Plug, Sam's Chip 32 or Tweakbench's Triforce

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  1. 1

    Find and download a song you want to work with.

  2. 2

    Set the tempo and key of the track.

  3. 3

    Open the file in your digital audio workstation by either dragging and dropping it or by selecting Import from the File menu at the top of the screen.

  4. 4

    Break up the song into its constituent parts: verse, chorus and breaks. Skip to Step 7 if you do not plan to rearrange the track before building upon it.

  5. 5

    Highlight with your cursor the portion of the track you want to use.

  6. 6

    Cut, copy and paste individual portions, placing them to create a new arrangement.

  7. 7

    Look for the section "Notes" or "Midi" on your digital audio workstation to create midi loops or track-length sequences to build upon the track. Use the vertical axis of the "Notes" or "Midi" section as a guide to the specific notes you are entering and the horizontal axis to determine the interval or length of the notes.

  8. 8

    Double-click in the "Notes" or "Midi" section to enter individual notes and create variations on the melody and harmony or add new sounds until you are satisfied with the sound of your remix.

Tips and warnings

  • To get an idea of the remix process, listen to one repeatedly, breaking it down mentally.
  • Sometimes you can find individual stems (constituent parts of the track such as vocals or guitar in their individual channels) by searching the Internet. If you cannot find stems, try searching for a cappella (vocals only) versions of the track.
  • Vary the 8-bit sounds you use including square waves, triangle waves, pulses and noise. The more you use, the more variety your remix will have.

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