Tag Archives: acapella

How to Remix with Ableton: Fix an Acapella

27 Dec

In the last two posts on how to remix with Ableton, we talked about how to warp an acapella using two different techniques. But, sometimes, especially when you are using an acapella from a song recorded with a live band (not with a box full of wires, like we do har har), there will be minor inconsistencies in the acapella. THIS MUST BE FIXED.

OK, sorry. They don’t always have to be fixed, and you should probably pick your battles. Warping the bejeezus out of a soulful Nina Simone vocal phrase always struck me as…untoward.

But sometimes, little inconsistencies that would fit with the groove of the original backing track don’t exactly fit our purposes. In this case, we should be ready. So, I have this handy, two-step method for handling this. Remember, this only applies when the track has already been warped.


Remember that, when you move a warp marker, everything between them will be stretched. This is, in general, to our benefit. But, in this case, you are liable to try to fix something extremely small and end up pulling the whole acapella out of wack.

The solution to this is to quarantine your problem phrase. Find the phrase that you want to fix and make sure that there are warp markers isolating it from the rest of the track.

New Warp Markers

Regardless of which warp mode you’re using, Ableton should allow you to add a new warp marker at every significant waveform event. Go ahead and double click all of the pertinent bumps in the waveform. Don’t go too crazy, but be thorough.

Now (and this is super important), turn off the grid lock (Cmd+4)! This will allow you be a lot more exact with your modifications. If you don’t do this, you will get frustrated very quickly because you’ll keep on overshooting where you’re tryign to drag the warp marker.

You should now be able to move the warp markers to conform to how you feel the melodic phrase should sound.

From here on out, you are goign to have to play it by ear (har har), because each melody is different and the amount of warping you want to do is up to you. I would recommend, though, that if you are going for transparency, you might want to remove unecessary warp markers when you are done with your modifications.

That just about does it for warping acapellas. To be honest, I think that, if you can warp an acapella (or anything without a drumset), then you can warp anything. So, it’s good practice, even if you aren’t planning on remixing anything.

Next Post: We’ll talk about how to think of new chord changes for a melody that you are remixing. Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions.

P.S. Don’t forget that, if you sign up for the Ableton Live Course before 1/1/2012, you’ll be eligible for a free bonus module on Marketing Your Electronic Music! SIGN UP HERE

How to Remix with Ableton: Warping an Acapella Part 2

22 Dec

Last post, we discussed how to warp an acappella whose backing track was still faintly audible. In this post, we’ll continue talking about warping acappellas, but focus instead on acappellas that have absolutely no audible backing track. We’ll work on warping the melody itself!

Our strategy for this technique is still basically the same as our first technique, though. In the first technique, we focused on warping one bar and then using the “Segment BPM” from that bar to warp the rest of the track, but in this technique, we’ll discuss how to warp one “region” or phrase of 2, 4 or 8 bars. Once we’ve warped that region, we can use the Segment BPM to warp the rest of the track.

*EDIT* Here’s the acapella that I used in this video: Marvin Gaye-Sexual Healing (Acapella)

Most melodies consist of at least one repeating rhythmic section. Even if the notes of the melody change, the rhythms are fairly consistent and tend to repeat. Look at the waveform of any acappella and you’ll be able to see this if you look for repeating shapes. And this holds true for rap acappellas just like sung acappellas.

All we have to for this second technique is isolate one “cycle” of a melody. Once we’ve done this, find the first occurrence of a note in this cycle and put a warp marker there. Right-click this warp marker at “Set as 1.1.1.” Remember that we don’t really care if it is ACTUALLY the downbeat.

Then, find the beginning of the next cycle or melodic phrase and place a warp marker. Now, eliminate all the warp markers in between (if they happen to be there).

Once you’ve done this, stretch this second warp marker so that the melodic cycle takes up 1, 2, 4 or 8 bars, depending on what’s appropriate. Loop it to make sure it sounds somewhat passable.

Now, find the segment BPM from this segment of the acappella and type it into the global tempo box. Right click on our 1.1.1 and select “Warp from Here (Start at [Global Tempo]).

Now, try it with a click or a drum track and it should sound, well, amazing!

I have one more short video ready about acappellas that I’ll post tomorrow, so as not to inundate y’all! It’s about my method for fixing small inconsistencies in the rhythm of either the acappella or a vocal that you recorded in the shower!

P.S. Make sure to sign up for the email list to get updates on tutorials like this, plus a sweet discount on the Clip Module!