Vocal Experiments In Ableton Live

We show you how to experiment with your own voice in Ableton Live

In this months blog we take a look into how you can use your own voice to create unique textures, pads and lead line in Ableton Live Suite. No plugins needed! 



1. Recording your voice 

Every great sample starts somewhere! In the video, we use an 'Aston Origin' for bright top end and sensitive input, but handheld recorders or phones are just as useful here.

We're looking for a recording of one held note that has character and texture. Try and get at least a couple of seconds! And don't worry about volume here, focus on an even pitch (preferably a C note)


Feeling inspired by these sounds? Then download them today and get creative for yourself with these free vocal samples


2. Load into a sampler

Once you're recording is in Ableton, load up the 'tuner' audio effect and scrub through looking for sections that are green, or within 10 cents or so of perfectly in pitch. Any section where you drift too far out, select it and hit CMD+E to chop that section out and re-pitch it back to the middle. You should end up with a few seconds of audio where you're performance is pretty much in pitch throughout. 

Hit CMD+J to 'consolidate' this chopped recording into a new complete audio file and drag it onto a new blank MIDI channel (CMD+Shift+T). You'll now have that recording in Ableton's 'Sampler'.


3. The fun begins

Providing your note is a C, just can now play your voice like a keyboard! If you've sung any other note, simply re-pitch it within Sampler. 

Here are some screen shots of settings I use in the different Samplers. Tweak from here!



By using the loop function with 'fade' turned up, you'll get smooth transitions as the sample loops. No more nasty clicks. 



By adjusting the envelope we can shape the sound from short and plucky to long and expansive. We can also control the filter here too.



Try utilising the built in Ableton arpeggiator when building expansive chord progressions. 



4. Vocal Effects

In the video, we use effects in two ways: to clean up the samples we're using (EQ, compression etc.) and in creative ways (distortion, panning, chorus etc.)


When applying effects, we would recommend approaching the sounds like you would any pad or synth. This isn't about enhancing the perfect pop top line (although some de-essing and compression experiments could be cool), but about creating something unique and exciting. Throw some distortion in!