It’s been a while, but yes, we’ve got a new Sound Design Space article!
Vocal chops… they make or break a song. I think they’re just awesome in general. What am I referring to specifically? Check out these two tracks:
Pretty nice huh? We’re going to be looking at how to create something similar within FL Studio using an acapella.
What You’ll Need:
- FL Studio (we’ll be using SliceX)
- A nice acapella (I’m using this one here which is free to download)
- A few minutes of spare time
Alright! Let’s get to it.
Step 1 – Find a Section
Although this whole acapella sounds nice, we don’t want to use it all. If you’ve got to many different vocal chops in a song, it’s going to sound horrendously messy and out of place, because of this we’re going to find a section that has a few different pitches and/or vowels.
I chose a two phrase section as you can see in the image below. Feel free to use the same section or something different.
Why did I choose this particular section?
First of all, I like the differentiation in pitch and timbre during the first phrase, and in the second I admire the vocal effect that’s been placed on top. This opens up a lot of room for creativity and also provides a unique sound.
Isolate and Make Unique as Sample
The next thing we’ll want to do is get rid of the surrounding audio from the acapella (we don’t need it and it’s good to keep things organized), and then make our chosen sample unique for organization purposes and so we can easily open it with SliceX.
Click on the top left drop down list inside the audio clip, and underneath Sample click Make Unique as Sample. It will then ask you to save it somewhere, by default, it will save in the same place as your acapella.
Note: If you get a dialog box that reads “This clip is not used anywhere else…” click yes and continue.
Step 2 – Slicex
Okay, we’re starting to make some progress.
Now you’ll want to go into FL Studio’s browser and find the acapella section that you just made unique. Right click on this and select Open in new Slicex channel.
Straight away we’ve got some vocal chops created that can be played with our keyboard or organized in the piano roll. I’m going to delete the parts I don’t like and move some markers around until I have some nice vocal chops. Note that this takes a lot of trial and error and it’s completely done by ear. This stuff takes time!
- Marker #1 & #2 I don’t want because they’re just breath samples. While this kind of sound can work absolutely fine, it’s not what I’m after. I right click on the two markers and delete them.
You’ll notice now that all the markers have renamed, so marker #1 is now in a different place.
- I’m not a fan of the chop at marker #1, and after moving it around the section a little I find that it doesn’t appeal to me, so I delete marker #1.
- Now marker #1 has moved over to the next slice, I like where this is and think it’s perfect, so I leave it.
- Marker #2 is also really nice, and I leave it where it is.
- I move marker #3 over just a tiny bit as it was in between the middle of two different words/pitches and sounded a little weird.
- I delete marker #4 & #5 as I don’t like the sound of them. Then I move the new marker #4 over to the next grid-line.
4 vocal chops seems like enough, and I’ll have to leave it there otherwise I’ll spend days writing this post! I deleted all other markers after marker #4 to clean things up, here’s how it looks:
Note: the image above is zoomed in, therefore you can’t see the rest of the section we cut.
Step 3 – Making a Melody/Motif/Vocal Chop Phrase
So we’ve got a total of 4 different chops, all sounding slightly different. I’m not going to tell you how to write your vocal chop line, simply experiment. Go into the piano roll for the Slicex channel and go crazy.
Here’s what I came up with, if you want to follow along:
Adding Extra Notes + Velocity
It’s sounding okay at the moment, but I want it to be a little more complex and interesting. I’m going to add a few more repetitive notes with much lower volume/velocity in between some of the chops that are already there:
This really spices it up a little and makes it sound more ‘trance’ like. Feel free to experiment with different velocities and note placements.
Step 4 – Adding Effects
I’m not going to spend too much time showcasing step 4 because effects usage is quite subjective. All I’ve added is a bit of reverb & delay as well as filtering at around 200Hz:
You might want to add these to a send track to keep things cleaner – this was just a quick job.
Vocal chops are an awesome way to invoke euphoric and emotional response, so now that you know how to create them, what are you waiting for?
But seriously, experiment with different acapellas, try layering, try to increase the transient by compressing them – go wild!