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Remixing Techniques: Time Stretching
Illustration by John Hersey

Double timing the music and then time stretching the vocals to a slower BPM


From:

Remixing Techniques: Time Stretching

with Josh Harris

Video: Double timing the music and then time stretching the vocals to a slower BPM

You may remember from Chapter 2 in the course, when I provided an example of time stretching a vocal in Reason. That it's best to set Reason to the BPM of the audio file prior to importing it. We've already established that the original tempo of the song is 68 Beats Per Minute, and we've also established that we are ultimately going to double time the music. Before I import the vocals, I will double time the tempo right now. So 68 times 2 is 136. Underneath File, I choose Import Audio File.
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  1. 5m 36s
    1. Welcome
      1m 41s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      46s
    3. Why did we record this course in four different digital audio workstations (DAWs)?
      45s
    4. Using the exercise files
      2m 24s
  2. 3m 4s
    1. What is time stretching/expanding?
      1m 4s
    2. Exploring different time-stretching scenarios in remixing
      2m 0s
  3. 31m 17s
    1. Understanding where to get a capella vocal tracks
      2m 30s
    2. Time stretching in Pro Tools
      6m 44s
    3. Time stretching in Logic Pro
      4m 51s
    4. Time stretching in Reason
      5m 17s
    5. Time stretching in Ableton Live
      5m 16s
    6. Understanding the roles of multiple DAWs in a time-stretching workflow
      1m 2s
    7. Dealing with wet vocal stems
      4m 2s
    8. Choosing the tempo for different styles or genres
      1m 35s
  4. 21m 6s
    1. Importing vocals and using the 10% time-stretch rule
      7m 42s
    2. Comparing several vocal time stretches at faster BPMs
      6m 20s
    3. Putting the time-stretched vocal in context
      7m 4s
  5. 26m 43s
    1. Setting up your session for double timing a vocal
      7m 27s
    2. Double timing the music and then time stretching the vocals to a slower BPM
      8m 54s
    3. Putting the time-stretched vocal in context
      10m 22s
  6. 28m 53s
    1. Setting up your session to slow down a vocal track
      2m 34s
    2. Calculating the BPM and tempo of the original track
      4m 18s
    3. Time stretching the vocals to a slower BPM
      6m 46s
    4. Comping the time-stretched vocal and the original vocal
      6m 49s
    5. Putting the time-stretched vocal in context
      8m 26s
  7. 54m 12s
    1. Starting from a pre-existing Pro Tools multitrack session
      13m 34s
    2. Tightening up a vocal that drifts from the click track, part one
      9m 55s
    3. Tightening up a vocal that drifts from the click track, part two
      7m 37s
    4. Subdividing 6/8 time and changing the time signature to 4/4
      7m 5s
    5. Editing vocal phrasing to work with 4/4 time
      7m 0s
    6. Time stretching the vocals to a faster BPM
      9m 1s
  8. 38s
    1. Goodbye
      38s

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Remixing Techniques: Time Stretching
2h 51m Intermediate Jun 28, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Josh Harris demonstrates time-stretching techniques in four of the major digital audio workstations: Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Reason, and Ableton Live. Josh covers the basic time-stretching treatments, where minimal tempo adjustment is needed, and then moves into more difficult territory—remixing at a much slower or faster tempo than what the original tracks were recorded at—where time stretching is pushed to the extreme. Another technique shows how to create a composite vocal from multiple time-stretched tracks. Each lesson employs real-world musical examples to clearly show where each time-stretching technique is useful and how the results of time stretching affect the sound of a song.

Topics include:
  • What is time stretching or expanding?
  • Understanding how time stretching fits into the remixing process
  • Working in Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Ableton Live, or Reason
  • Calculating the tempo of the original track
  • Dealing with wet vocal stems
  • Importing vocals with the 10% time-stretch rule
  • Comparing time-stretched vocals at faster tempos
  • Putting a time-stretched vocal in context
  • Setting up a session for double-timing a vocal
  • Creating a 4/4 remix from a song originally in 3/4 or 6/8
  • Tightening up a vocal that drifts from the click track
Subjects:
Audio + Music Music Production Music Editing Remixing
Software:
Ableton Live Logic Pro Pro Tools Reason
Author:
Josh Harris

Double timing the music and then time stretching the vocals to a slower BPM

You may remember from Chapter 2 in the course, when I provided an example of time stretching a vocal in Reason. That it's best to set Reason to the BPM of the audio file prior to importing it. We've already established that the original tempo of the song is 68 Beats Per Minute, and we've also established that we are ultimately going to double time the music. Before I import the vocals, I will double time the tempo right now. So 68 times 2 is 136. Underneath File, I choose Import Audio File.

I'm going to choose the dry vocals, I prefer to use dry vocals whenever possible especially when it comes to time stretching, that way I'm not adding a layer of treatment to the audio file that needs to be time stretched. We'll select Open, and boom there's our Background vocal. Now to avoid importing an audio file on top of another audio file, I'll select Redrum, choose Import Audio File and then choose the Lead Vocal Dry. And as you can see, it created a brand new audio track and named the track the name of the file.

So we'll mute out Redrum, and let's see if by any chance these vocals just happen to line up against the click as they're freshly imported. Before I play the audio files, I choose the Mixer, and let's bring these levels down. I don't know how loud these vocals are going to be, and I always like to practice good housekeeping with this. F5 takes me back to the Arrange window. Let's move our song pointer up closer to the first chorus.

(music playing) This is a little soft, we can turn those up, a little bit more. (music playing) As you can clearly hear these vocals are not locked up against the click track. So let's take a few minutes and line them up.

I highlight both tracks, want to trim up the dead space here, and I will bring my song pointer closer to my start point, and let's increase the width of the Arrange window here, so we get into a pretty fine division. You'll notice that Reason has a box for snap. In other words, when you're moving the audio, it snaps to whatever you tell it to snap to. In this case, we have it snapping to a bar. So I'm going to subdivide this down to 64th notes and you can see these little subdivisions were created here in the Arrange window.

Let's expand our view and what we're going to do here is slowly just bring these over. I brought it over a half a measure. Let's see if that happens to work. (music playing) It's a little bit ahead. So, let's go back, and move them over just a little bit to the right. (music playing) Still feels a little bit ahead. We're moving in 64th notes.

(music playing) That's sound pretty tight so far. Let's zoom out and take a listen to this song when we're at the verse. I'll unmute my Redrum drum module so that we have more than just a click track as a rhythmic reference point. (music playing) Excellent. That sounds nice and tight against that drum programming.

We're at 136 right now. We know that's not going to be our destination BPM, that's our source BPM. Let's experiment with a couple of different BPMs. Let's go down to 128 and just see what that sounds like, it might be a little too slow. We'll go right up to the chorus again and take a listen to how the Background vocal sounds at a new BPM, 8 BPM slower. (music playing) Feels a little sluggish to me. Let's bump it up two more BPM to 130.

Let's take a listen to the song as we're moving into technically our second chorus after the first verse. (music playing) I like the new BPM of 130. Let's leave it here for now. I'm still not sold on the pocket or the feel of the vocals.

Keep in mind that this song was recorded at 68. We've double timed the vocals, and we're slowing it down now. In a ballad, which is what the original version is, there's a lot of space around the drum beats, so the vocal can move a little bit but technically still be in time or in the pocket. Now that we're double timing the music, and we're adding more drums, there are some things that are exposed here and the pocket just isn't quite tight enough. So let's go back to the beginning of the song and expand our view and move these vocals ever so slightly to the right. They feel a little bit on top.

So we move two 64th notes to the right. Let's take a listen to this. (music playing) Now the chorus vocals feel really locked in the pocket to me but the Verse feels too behind.

Let's take a listen to the vocals slightly nudged to the left. We don't want to do both tracks, we want to just do one. Actually let's go 2 to the left because I thought that verse vocals sounded pretty tight. And we head them starting at that point. (music playing) To me that sounds a little bit better.

When it comes to time stretching vocals in this scenario, I actually like my vocals to be very on top of the beat. A lot of this nudging and finessing is subjective, it's your personal taste. I happen to like the vocals to sit a certain way when it comes to slowing them down and double timing a ballad like we're doing in this situation. In the next movie, I'll spend a few minutes programming some more drums and putting in a reference bass line so that we can listen to these vocals in a little bit more context.

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