Resampling a Vocal Recording

Hello, this is Luca, and welcome to a new SampleSound tutorial. Today I’m gonna show you how to resample a vocal recording!

Resampling a vocal can lead to many interesting results, and in this video we gonna see a couple of examples: we’ll be exploring some sound design techniques to transform a voice into a modern EDM lead, or a gentle choir pad.

Anyway for this tutorial I’m using Ableton Live 11 and its Simpler, but all the techniques I’m gonna show you can be easily replicated with any native sampler or plugin.


So, here I have created a simple beat using some SampleSound hip hop and trap loops (…) - we also have this vocal recording (….)

The most useful parts for resampling are the ones where the singer holds a vowel (…) and the pitch is stable (like this) (…) or this - So let’s take this part (…) slice it - and load it into a new Simpler in a New MIDI Track - so, let’s create it and drop the sample down here. So this is Simpler in Classic Mode.

First thing to do when resampling a vocal or any melodic sound in general, is to tune the instrument correctly: unlike synthesisers, samplers will play the sound at its original pitch on C3 - as you can see from this Tuner, I’m playing a C3 on my MIDI keyboard, but the instrument outputs a Eb, which is the original sample pitch. So every note I play will output a wrong pitch.

We go to the Controls page, then change the Transpose until we align the note and the pitch: I keep playing a C on my keyboard, then move down the transpose until I get a C also on the Tuner. Here we go.

Now the instrument is in tune, and I’m ready to create any type of sound.

Vocal Chop Lead

The first sound we wanna make is an Major Lazer-style vocal chop lead (…)
Any lead sound is usually monophonic, so we go back to the main Sample panel, and we change the Voices parameter to 1.

We also slightly adjust the Volume envelope, keeping a very short Attack (just to avoid clicks) and a short Release.

A main feature of this kind of sound is the Glide. If you’re not familiar with this
technique, it’s basically like MIDI Pitch Bending, which creates a continuous pitch modulation rather than a steppy one, but instead of recording it with a Pitch Bend Wheel, Glide works with overlapping notes.

Let’s go again to the Controls page, enable the Glide function, then adjust its
Time parameter, somewhere between 80 and 150 ms. If you play Legato notes,
overlapping notes, you will get the pitch sliding from one note to the next, without the envelope being retriggered;

if you play Staccato notes, it will behave in the usual way, with the pitch moving by steps and the sample being retriggered from the start every time.

In the MIDI clip view, you can hear how this effect is present only on overlapping notes.

However, as it often happens with samplers, there might be a problem with the
length of the sample: if a note lasts longer than the sample, or if we play many
overlapping notes with Glide on, the sample ends.

This issue is more prominent with high pitch notes, as the sampler reads the sound faster to get a higher pitch.

One solution is to enable the Time-Stretching engine, called Warp in Ableton: not every sampler has this feature, but basically, with this on, the length of the sample doesn’t depend on its pitch - so now every note will be the same length.
However, this doesn’t fix the original issue, as the sound will still stop at some
point. Plus, as you can hear, Time-Stretching always causes some artefacts and
glitches to the sound, which is not ideal.

So, a better solution, when possible, is to loop the sample. In Simpler you have to enable Loop, and basically play with these three parameters (Loop, Length and Fade) to get the best possible seamless loop (…) It’s not always easy to find the right spot (sometimes it’s impossible!), but in this case I think the result is acceptable and the problem is fixed.

Ok , let’s now do some final tweaks: maybe we can set some short decay pitch
envelope, just to add some transient to the sound and of course let’s also add some audio effects, like some Reverb, some EQing and also Sidechaining with both the kick drum and the snare drum as triggers.

“Choir Pad”

So with this technique, we can create any type of vocal-like sound: let’s make
another one, some sort of choir pad, like this (…)

Let’s grab another part of the original vocal recording (…) like this one - let me
slice it and load it into a new simpler in a new MIDI track (…)

As we did before, the very first step is to tune the instrument: I get a Tuner and I
play a C3 on my keyboard: as you can see there’s a B in my Tuner, and this
means that I have to Transpose up one semitone in the Controls page.

A pad sound is usually polyphonic, so we’re not gonna use any Glide this time,
and I set the Voices parameter to 12, just to make sure we can play many notes
together with long releases. Then we increase the Attack value of the volume
envelope to 500/600ms, and set a very long Release.

But even if the release is so long, the sample finishes and the sound is cut. So we need to set up a looping region as we did before.

We can create a good seamless loop as we did before, or maybe we can move
the start or end point beyond the ideal region, and get something more irregular
and sometimes more interesting.

As in every pad sound, we can also close the filter a tiny bit - maybe add some
envelope to it, to give it some attack and make it a bit more noticeable.

And finally again some audio effects: for this sound it’s very important to add
some chorus or doubling effect to intensify the feeling of multiple voices singing
together, as in a choir (…)

Then surely we also have some reverb or dimension expander effect to make it nice and 3D, but also to push it a bit back in the mix.

You can use this sound as it is or maybe use it as a layer to some other synths or sample: the important thing is that you keep that kind of vocal / choir-like vibe to it.


So yeah, this is it: we’ve seen how to create two different types of modern
electronic vocal sounds by resampling a vocal recording. We’ve learned how to tune a sampler, how to correctly use the Glide function, how to create a looping region, how to use audio effects and so on…
Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next time!