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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!

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