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Remixing Techniques: Time Stretching

Tightening up a vocal that drifts from the click track, part one


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Remixing Techniques: Time Stretching

with Josh Harris

Video: Tightening up a vocal that drifts from the click track, part one

I'm going to begin by creating a new Pro Tools session, and if you're following along in Pro Tools, this will be the exercise file that you can open. I'll select New Session, select Stereo Mix, our Sample Rate is at 48K. I will save this session in the Jody Nardone - Waiting in the Road Remix folder so that all of our files will live within the same folder. If you're using another DAW, you'll want to create your own new session and then import the lead vocal and cowbell tracks that I exported for you in the last movie.
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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

Tightening up a vocal that drifts from the click track, part one

I'm going to begin by creating a new Pro Tools session, and if you're following along in Pro Tools, this will be the exercise file that you can open. I'll select New Session, select Stereo Mix, our Sample Rate is at 48K. I will save this session in the Jody Nardone - Waiting in the Road Remix folder so that all of our files will live within the same folder. If you're using another DAW, you'll want to create your own new session and then import the lead vocal and cowbell tracks that I exported for you in the last movie.

I'll go ahead and import those files right now, and I like to copy the files, not add. I can add these directly to the session, but I'd rather copy them so that Pro Tools creates a fresh copy of them that will live in the Audio Files folder that's attached to our session. I select New Track, and boom, there are my two tracks. I'll also create a new Master Fader as well as a click track, which we'll come back to in a moment, but I'll go ahead and set it up right now.

Select Click from Instrument dropdown menu, and there is our click track. We can solo it just to make sure it's there. (audio playing) Excellent! Most of today's music is recorded against a click track or against quantized loops so that everything is what we call tight against the grid. In this particular scenario the band had a click as a reference to cowbell track that I exported from the last movie. But as you can hear, they drifted from it. And also, this song is not in 4/4 time, which is the popular time signature of most of today's music. This song is in 6/8.

So the very first thing I will do is change the time signature, and the way I do that is I select Transport, and I'll disengage the Conductor Track giving me the ability to change the Meter of the session. So I'll change this to 6/8, starting at measure 1, click OK, and now, as you can see, we're 6/8 up here instead of 4/4. The next thing that I will do is group the lead vocal and the click crack from the previous session-- the Cowbell Click Track--together so that as I edit them, they will move together.

I'll just actually leave it Group 1. So now that the tracks are grouped together, if I make one large the other follows. The first thing I will do is zoom in here on the clip and actually just get rid of this dead space here. I'll go right up to zero samples, right where this Cowbell starts. I'll use my Command+E function to create a slice within the clips. Shrink the screen back, put Pro Tools in Shuffle mode, and when I delete this dead space, boom, my clips automatically move over to the very beginning of the session.

I take Pro Tools out of Shuffle mode, and I'm back in Slip mode, and now our Cowbell starts exactly at the downbeat of the session. So let's take a listen to the Cowbell against the Pro Tools click, and we'll mute the vocal for now. Actually we don't even need to do that because the vocal doesn't start for about 25 seconds. So take a listen. (music playing) As you can clearly hear, the Pro Tools Click Track at 120 beats per minute in 6/8 time does not line up with the click track that was from the original multitrack session.

The first thing I will do is mute the Pro Tools Click Track. Now that the Pro Tools Click is muted, I'm going to use Pro Tools' Manual Tap Tempo feature to determine what the BPM of the original multitrack session was. And underneath the Window menu, I'll select Transport. Over here by Tempo, I will highlight the 120, and as I play the session for measure 1, I will tap T on my keyboard. Let's take a listen to the Cowbell track, from the original session I will tap T on the keyboard to keep time with it, and you'll see the Tempo change in the Transport window.

(audio playing) It looks like 128 is the Tempo. Just to double-check that, what I'll do is I will actually hit Enter, change the session's Tempo to 128, close the Transport window, turn the Pro Tools Click back on, and now play the Pro Tools Click with the Cowbell at the new Tempo of 128 to hear if everything is locking out.

(audio playing) Excellent! It sounds like everything is very tight. The audio file track of the Cowbell and the Pro Tools Click Track are tightly synchronized with one another. So now I'll mute the Cowbell--and actually, I need to disengage our mix group so that I can turn the vocal back on. I'll shrink the Cowbell. In fact, I will deactivate the Cowbell track, and I need to highlight just the Cowbell track, and underneath the Track menu, I'll make it inactive, and then I'll right-click and hide it.

So now, all we have on the Arrange window is the lead vocal and the Pro Tools Click Track. The next step will be to program with Pro Tools' instruments, specifically Xpand, a drum pattern that mirrors on some level the drumbeat from the original multitrack session. So underneath Track, I'll hit New, and I will create two instrument tracks, Stereo, hit Create, and there we go.

The first one is going to be a hi-hat. The second one will be a kick and a snare. I select Xpand2 from the Instrument dropdown menu, and I'll copy by holding Option, clicking the mouse, and set it up on the kick-snare track as well. Underneath the Drums category, I choose Hi-Hats menu, and as you can hear, once I record enable the track. (music playing) Now I'll play a subdivided hi-hat pattern against the Pro Tools Click Track that's similar to what the drummer did in the original version.

(audio playing) I'll expand the screen, put Pro Tools back in Grid mode, and change my Grid Division to 1 bar, Quantize, underneath the Events Operation pulldown menu. And I'll quantize to a 16th note. I'll take a quick listen to the hi-hat pattern I just programmed, because as I look at the data here on the screen, it looks like I only picked up the last two notes of 1 measure and maybe the first two notes of the last measure here in my Regions window, so let's take a listen. (audio playing) Measures 5 to 7 sound the best to me, and I'll expand the screen.

As I take a look at my mini notes here in the MIDI region, I notice that they are not quite lined up against the Pro Tools bars and beats. So underneath the Grid dropdown menu here, I'll select Bars|Beats. The Grid menu is actually not in Bars|Beats, it was in Min:Secs. Now that it's back in Bars|Beats, as you can see, it looks like these notes are actually falling on bar lines now. So let's take a listen. (music playing) I like the last two measures the best, so I will highlight those and copy and paste them over here at the beginning and just take a listen to make sure everything is sounding tight. (audio playing) Looks like I trimmed off part of the first note.

So what I'll do is let's see if I can just take the first 2 bars here, and just do duplicate. (audio playing) No, I'm still losing my first beat. Let's undo what I just did and take a listen to the 4-bar phrase, and let's put Pro Tools in Loop Playback, underneath the Options dropdown menu. (audio playing) As I listen to this 4-bar loop, I notice that the first few hi-hat beats sound a little bit off.

So underneath the Event dropdown menu, I'll choose Event Operations > Quantize and apply the 16th-note quantization to all these MIDI notes. Now the pattern should be tight. (audio playing) Wonderful! So let's take this 4-bar hi-hat pattern and actually start it at the very beginning of the song. And what I'll do is I just hit Command+C and Command+V, and then I will use Command+D to just duplicate this pattern all the way up until the end of the song.

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