Posts Tagged ‘how to vocal samples’

Reworking Vocal Samples Into Something Original

June 3rd, 2011

By D’Layna Huguez-Dixon

When I talk with music producers, occasionally I’ll get one who says, “I don’t like using vocal samples because I’ll end up sounding just like everybody else.”  This is a valid concern, but doesn’t have to be the case.  It is a little like saying, “I don’t want to add a saxophone in because I’ve heard other producers use saxophones—people will think I am just ripping off their sound.”

Many producers think of vocals and instrumentation differently, when in reality, what is the voice but an instrument that can truly speak?  In the same way you can find a hundred different melodies, layers of harmonies and a myriad of rhythms buried inside a three-chord progression, vocal samples are only limited by our creativity and imagination.

Just like remixing or covering an old song or using licensed music samples, it’s all about making it your own and taking it to the next level to set you apart!

Here are some tips used by top producers, including myself to make their vocal samples sound unique.

  • Change the key – maybe move it from a major to a minor.
  • Add a filtered effect
  • Change the tempo of vocal
  • Stretch the vocal
  • Mix and match samples to create your own vocal lines
  • Chop up vocals -  You can chop up vocals manually or by removing silence between words.  Most recording programs have a feature that will remove silence.
    • In Sonar, the Remove Silence feature allows you to split long audio clips into smaller ones, which opens a variety of creative possibilities.  I use this feature when working with vocal sample lines that do not fit the timing of a new music track.  After I remove silence, I move each word to fit the timing, thus creating a fresh new vocal line.  It’s tedious, but the results are worth it!
  • Layering vocals – Pan one dead center and the other two hard left and right or whatever sounds good to your ear.  Add different effects to the ones you have panned left and right.

In our previous blog “Major Turned minor using Cubase 5“, DJ Karas walks us through just one way of taking a cookie-cutter sample and truly making it your own.  Using software such as Sonar, Pro-Tools, Logic Studio, Cubase 6, Propellerhead Reason 5 or Ableton Live, the possibilities of mixing, matching and overlaying vocal and instrument samples is truly endless.

If you have any tips, tricks, tools or techniques, step up and share your knowledge.  We’d love to see them and so would everyone else.

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Working with “Acapella Vocal Samples”

March 5th, 2010

By D’Layna Huguez-Dixon

So you’ve got a slammin’ track, some cool vocal samples, now what? What’s the magic formula for adding vocal samples to music and walking away with a masterpiece? I talked with a few friends who are absolute pros at this. What they said was, “It’s a little nudge here and a little nudge there.” Voila you have a song!


It sounded pretty easy, so I decided to give it try. Well, let me tell you, it’s not that easy. I nudged left, I nudged right, but pretty soon it became downright frustrating. I thought, maybe it’s just luck and all I’d have to do is drag and drop the vocals directly onto the track. This was in hopes the vocal samples would roll onto my track like lucky dice and I’d end up with a masterpiece… yeah right.


I will say that in applying this process, I came up with a few vocal arrangements that I would not have sung naturally. The outcome was funky vocal arrangements that ended up being pretty cool. I had to smack myself and say, “You go girl!” 


This aroused my creativity to try a few other methods. As a singer, I naturally sing on-the-one. Alternatively, I tend to anticipate my vocals while singing to the beat. My method is to learn the vocal sample part while letting the music play over and over again. Then, when it feels natural and I’m comfortable with the placement of the vocal sample, I place it in the track.


Another method I use is to mix and match various vocal samples. For example, I find the vocals I like. Then, I arrange them to fit my track exactly by editing them, (making them shorter, longer, blending them, or speeding them up). This is done to create my original arrangements.


The beauty of mixing and matching vocal samples is, in essence, the key to letting your individuality shine. There are some who may hesitate using vocal samples they’ve heard used before. I beg to differ! Your creativity is unlimited in the power of your arrangement process. It’s all in how YOU assemble the vocal samples in the mix. Our customers have proven this method over and over again. It never fails to amaze us how creatively different the arrangements can be.


Remember, there is no wrong or right way to use a vocal sample. What some may consider the wrong way, may at times, produce a surprisingly, amazing arrangement!


We would love to hear your little vocal sample production secrets! Drop us a line at and we’ll post it on our site and you’ll get all the credit!