Electro House Tutorial Day 5: Adding the Vocal Hook [7 Day Song]
Hi! I’m Dave from boyinaband.com, and welcome to day 5 of my seven day song tutorial on Electro House.
In day 4, I added a sexy trumpet-like lead synth – yes, trumpets are sexy. In day 5, I’ll be adding in a catchy vocal hook, provided by my homegirl Emmie from GraphicsGirl.co.uk! This will be done with NN-XT, Scream 4 and some Delay and I’ll also explain a bit about how I recorded the vocals in the first place.
Okay! Let’s begin.
Right click and create a combinator, naming it “Vocals”. Inside it, create an instance of NN-XT and initialize it.
Open up NN-XT and in the “Sample” column, right click and add as many zones as you have different parts of the hook. I recorded 4 parts to this hook, so I’ve got 4 zones. Add in the samples – check out how awesome GraphicsGirl’s vocals are too – I really had to co-erce her into doing this ’cause she’s quite shy, but I predict a rap career in her future.
I’ll just explain a bit about how I recorded her vocals. First, I took the mic stand down, since she’s 4 foot 8 inches tall. I used a condenser mic, which is ideal for capturing the voice since it’s more sensitive than a dynamic mic – also remember; condenser microphones require phantom power.
I used a pop shield to prevent any pops from the vocals, but you can just use a coat hanger with a pair of your mother’s tights pulled over it if you’ve been hit particularly hard by the economic recession. Also, if you make the microphone a little higher than the vocalist, they have to look up a bit, which makes them stretch their vocal chords and sing with more power (this was not difficult in my case due to the vocalist’s aformentioned height (Or lack thereof)).
I recorded 4 takes – each with a slightly different tone, then layered them on top of each other. This gives that full, multi-layered sound that a lot of popular artists use, which is much thicker than a single take.
Effects-wise, I added some heavy compression, EQ’d the high end over about 5khz by 6dB just to make it sound airy and have more presence and I also added some delay and reverb at this point.
So – that’s how I recorded them, I then exported each part of the hook separately so I could input them into NN-XT. So – assign each sample to a zone by double clicking the “No Sample” section and navigating to the sample, then double clicking it.
Once all 4 samples are in there, we want to assign each sample to a different note on the keyboard. To do this, make the Root, Lo Key and Hi Key the same on the bottom of the sample window. I’ll assign the samples to C, C#, D and Eb.
Now it’s time to add in the notes in the sequencer! If we draw an area with the pencil tool, then draw a note for each section of the hook then take a listen to the track – blammo, instant catchiness. Well, not instant, it took me a while to convince Graphics Girl to actually record the vocals, but it’s pretty fast.
If you listen though, some of the samples start slightly late – to fix this, click the offending sample and change the “start” value. In this case, it’s about 4%. Now take a listen – sorted. Nice and in time.
So there we’ve got a simple loop. I also want a different loop, one to build up more, so I’ll do the generic dance thing and repeat things at increasing speeds as the music gets closer to the build up. Just draw notes with the pencil tool as before in the pattern you want – I’ll just draw one in now.
Now take a listen – Sweet! Works well for a build up. Now, let’s add some effects to both bring out the vocal as more of a focal point and make it sit in the song better. Right click and create a Scream 4 distortion unit.
Dial it to “Tape” mode, set the damage control at half and have P1 at about 3/4 of the way around to bring out the high end and P2 at half to compress the vocals a bit more. I’ll also change the body type to “E” – this is essentially changes the simulated space the distortion is taking place in, just a slightly different tone to the sound, I think it has a bit more presence than the default “B” body type.
Finally, right click and create a DDL-1 digital delay line. Set the steps to 4 and the dry wet right down to about 14 with the feedback at 40 – since I cut some of my samples off before the recorded delay faded out, this will cover that up nicely!
And there you have it! A catchy vocal hook that will get stuck in your listener’s heads for years to come.
Join me again tomorrow for day 6, where I’ll be turning the parts we’ve got into a song, talking a bit about the arrangement of a conventional Electro House song and also one of my favourite things in dance music – teaching you how to add filter sweeps to the whole track. Until then, visit GraphicsGirl.co.uk – I’ve laid into her pretty hard in this tutorial and she’s pretty sensitive about her height, so she deserves that at least, it’s not exactly a tall order! Hah, hah, okay, I’ll shut up now.
See you tomorrow!