This is my 2024 cover of Sandstorm by Darude (released late 1999). You can listen to it here:
Sandstorm by Darude (from Finland) was first released in late 1999 and sold more than 1 million copies in the USA. The original length was 7:26. My short cover is 1:31 and was made for my amazing sister Nicola.
You can see the original on YouTube here.
This section is designed as an overview of the major steps I took to make my cover. It is not a step by step tutorial but I hope you will find it useful for creating your own cover of this song. I've included all the files I created at the bottom of this page. You are welcome to use them in your own project, subject to the conditions in the Copyright section at the end of this page.
Here is the process I went through. It isn't meant to be the definitive "this is what you should do", it is simply the steps that I took. Use what you find helpful and ignore the rest :)
How I Made Sandstorm
I used a program called Snap Downloader to save the audio of the Sandstorm YouTube video as a WAV file and imported it as an audio track to a new Logic Pro project. This allowed me to easily refer to it while making my cover. No part of this audio file was used in my project. The original is in E minor at 136bpm.
I'm a big fan of Doctor Mix on Youtube and Claudio created a video called Sandstorm Deconstructed which explains the various tracks that make up the song. He also sells his MIDI and audio tracks for about 5 pounds here. Full disclosure, Doctor Mix's tracks sound much closer to the original than mine does :) NB: None of his tracks are included below. If you want them you'll need to buy them from Doctor Mix and I highly recommend them.
I wanted to closely follow the original track and Dr Mix’s version, although similar, doesn’t. That’s okay though. The Dr Mix tracks were an excellent reference.
However, Dr Mix decided to make his version 140bpm although the original was 136bpm. So now I have two reference sources that aren't the same tempo because my reference track is 136bpm and the imported MIDI and WAV files from Dr Mix are 140bpm. I decided to speed up the 136bpm reference track slightly to 140bpm so that everything lines up on the correct beat. So my finished project is also 140bpm.
(To do this in Logic I started a new project set to 136bpm and imported the Sandstorm reference track, selected the reference track, press COMMAND-F to put into Flex Mode, if the Flex symbol (sideways hourglass to the right of the Solo icon) is not on then click it, make sure the flex drop down says Polyphonic, then change the project tempo to 140bpm, bounce in place and export the new WAV file). Here is a detailed tutorial from ClintMusic on how to do this.
Lead Synth Sound
Sandstorm is all about the lead synth sound and I spent a lot of time trying to get this right. Darude used a Roland JP-8080 which shows "Sandstorm" on the screen when powered on, which is where he got the title.
The Dr Mix synth lead is only provided as a WAV file so I had to recreate the MIDI file. I used Neural Note to convert the audio to MIDI but a lot of manual finessing was required as I was trying to recreate the original melody which Dr Mix didn't use.
Dr Mix chose to recreate the lead on a Minimoog Model D with a square wave on oscillator 1 at 8’ and a saw tooth on oscillator 2. Oscillator 2 is two octaves below on 32’ and a further -5 below that. My Model D plugin didn’t sound like Dr Mix’s analogue hardware so I used an EQ to massage the sound. It still didn’t sound like the original (I’ve found that the Model D VST plugin from Moog often sounds quite different to the original synth). So I explored other options and I'll list them all for you to consider:
1. This video by Hammock shows how to use the ES2 synth (free in Logic Pro) as the lead and on the video it sounds pretty good. But not quite what I was looking for.
2. This video from Jon Audio recreates the lead on the free Vital synth (any DAW). It also sounds pretty good.
3. But I think this one sounds the best using the Serum synth plugin, and it’s the one I used. Thanks to Sam Smyers for this video. However, on my setup, the square wave on Osc B which plays the high part of the sound was too high and I changed the octave from +1 to -1. I'd recommend following Sam's instructions to the letter and then if your sound is also too high you can try my octave change.
The result is a shorter version of the original with my own take on the music.
I hope you find this interesting and perhaps helpful with your own music.
My song is a cover. What makes it a cover you ask? It's a cover because it is a new performance of a previously released song using new music. The original melody has not been altered. No samples of the original song were used.
I give you permission to use the information and files on this page, that I have created, in your own music for educational purposes. You may also change my arrangement/music in order to make it your own.
If you create your own cover version and would like to use it to build an audience for your work, you will need to obtain a licence from the owner of the original work (I obtained my licence from Songfile). If you don't obtain a licence then you may not be allowed to upload it. All revenue from your cover will probably be paid to the owner of the written arrangement by Spotify, YouTube, etc. You can find out about licensing here.
This information on copyright is provided as general information which I hope you find helpful in order to do your own research. I am not a lawyer and it is not legal advice.
The files below are provided without warranties of any kind. By downloading any of these files you agree to indemnify me against any losses you incur by using these files including claims against you for using these files (for example, if you use my files to create a song and try to profit from it without obtaining a licence from the owner of the original Musical Work).
If you don't have Logic Pro and will use another Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) you can import these MIDI and audio files:
Audio Files - A WAV file is provided for each track. Files have the track number at the start of the filename. There is no track 1, 4, 8 or 11 as these were used in the DAW as headings for groups of tracks and don't contain any music.
MIDI file - When you import this into your DAW you will see the correct tempo and musical notes for each track. However, the instruments can't be included in the MIDI data. Therefore, I've included a description of the tracks as follows: "Chords" is track 2, "Lead (Serum)" is track 3, "Classic Choir" is track 5 (NB: for some unknown reason the MIDI export put the Classic Choir and Lead (Serum) on the same track. Drag the Classic Choir onto it's own track), "80s Wave Bells" is track 6, "Plucky Synth Bass"is track 7, "Hi hat" is track 12 and the remaining 4 tracks are 13-16. Download the audio files above for the effects tracks and to hear what each track sounds like.
If you have Logic Pro you can import the entire project here:
Logic Pro Project - All of the instruments/sounds used are standard Logic Pro or Apple instruments/sounds and therefore free (as you own Logic), except for the Lead Synth on Track 3 which I created in Xfer Serum, a paid plugin. However, you could replace this with the provided audio files or use your own synth patch (alternative suggestions are included in the main article above under the heading "Lead Synth Sound").
If you make your own cover, send me a link. Or if you have any questions feel free to Contact Me