Last month, we used editing and effects
to turn a phrase from a lead vocal into a padlike
cloud of sound. This month, we’ll ratchet
things up. Longtime Keyboard readers
know I’m a fan of a technique I call “digital
glossolalia.” Literally, the term refers to the
phenomenon of “speaking in tongues.” In an
electronic dance music context, it takes an
existing vocal (that, naturally, is in tune with
the original track), and edits it into an entirely
new hook. I cover this technique in my book
The Remixer’s Bible (Hal Leonard), and a
few years back, I used it to create a hook for
the remix of Martijn Ten Velden’s “I Wish You
Would.” Here’s how it was done. Note: click "Step 4" and steps thereafter for the audio examples.
Step 1. We’ll start by placing the vocal sample, as-is (unsynced)
over the Apple Loop from last month’s example.
Step 2. Next, we split that vocal
into smaller segments using
Logic’s “Split Regions by Playhead”
function, which uses a
single keystroke: \ (backslash).
You could split each segment
into varying note lengths, but for
this example, we’ll stick to equal
Step 3. Once you’ve got everything sliced, it should look
something like this.
Step 4. Now, delete a bunch of slices, listening for both cool vowels and melodic notes to leave in.
Certain consonants can be problematic, depending on your objectives, so keep that in mind as
well. After you’ve made the deletions, your remaining slices may look something like this.
Step 5. Here’s where the real fun begins. As your drums play,
experiment with reordering your slices. For best results, try to
create a one-measure loop out of the most compatible slices, then
copy that loop for four measures, changing the fourth measure
subtly for a “turnaround” at the end.
Step 6. Once you’ve got a pattern you
like, try adding rhythmic effects. For
this type of process, tempo-synced
delays are a tried-and-true technique.
Here’s an example.
One final note to Ableton Live users: Glossolalia effects like this can be
whipped up in record time by simply using the “Slice to new MIDI track” option
on a vocal segment. Use eighth- or sixteenth-note intervals, then rearrange the
MIDI events into a similarly rhythmic loop. Presto!