Vocals fill an important gap in the mid-range of the audio spectrum that is often unoccupied by other instruments in the mix. This is amazing for artists that can sing, but it leaves the rest of us struggling to fill the missing piece in our tracks. Platforms like Splice are full of short vocal samples that sound great but are not long enough to fill an entire song alone. Luckily we can stretch the use of these vocals through clever sampling and remixing.
One of my favorite methods of vocal editing is to turn them into pads that sit in the background. This fills the frequency spectrum without complicating the overall mix. This can be accomplished in a few ways:
Finding a Sustained Note (Getting Lucky):
Pads should be loooong and drawn out, so if you are lucky enough to find a vocal where the artist holds a note, that sample can probably be used as a pad in itself. Simply drop the held note into your favorite sampler and voila! A pad synth! Unfortunately, most of us aren’t as lucky to have the perfect sample right off the bat, so we have to make our own.
Infinity Reverb (Adding some color):
The first method is to take your vocal and put a ton of reverb on it. A long enough reverb will produce a long drawn out tail that acts like a sustained note. There’s a catch though! Because they work by combining lots of little echos, reverbs tend to make the sound a little thinner and add their own color. This could be desirable in some instances but for the most part I find that it just sounds like a vocal that went through a reverb. It can be hard to make the reverb method sound like a true sustained note.
A Dedicated Tool (Quick and Easy):
That’s where Live Freeze comes in. I spent close to a year of R&D trying to tackle this exact problem of turning short instants in time of sound into sustained notes. Live freeze is able to turn a short sample into a sustained note for any type of sound from a singer to a snare drum. I use it all the time for vocal pads because it lets me use a single short vocal phrase for an entire song’s worth of background elements. Below is a video demonstration of the process:
You can get Live Freeze in Low Tides 1.3+. Check it out today!