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- 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
Skill Level Intermediate
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.