Making an acapella track from a recording

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Ryan Wasoba
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Making an acapella track from a recording

Post by Ryan Wasoba » Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:25 am

I'm about 80% sure that this isn't possible, but does anybody have any ideas about how to take an original recording and eliminate everything but vocals from it. Basically, how to make an acapella track from an original recording. Can this be done?
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JGriffin
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Post by JGriffin » Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:51 am

It's kinda like handing someone a cupcake and asking for just the eggs back...but I imagine you could try some flips and twists with phase cancellation. Just use the usual mono/phase-flip trick for removing vocals to create a no-vocal track, then throw that out of phase with the original mix one more time to cancel out the backing track...

It'd probably be really messy and not work well.
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Nick Sevilla
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Re: Making an acapella track from a recording

Post by Nick Sevilla » Mon Sep 22, 2008 1:05 pm

Ryan Wasoba wrote:I'm about 80% sure that this isn't possible, but does anybody have any ideas about how to take an original recording and eliminate everything but vocals from it. Basically, how to make an acapella track from an original recording. Can this be done?
No.
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leigh
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Re: Making an acapella track from a recording

Post by leigh » Mon Sep 22, 2008 1:45 pm

Ryan Wasoba wrote:I'm about 80% sure that this isn't possible, but does anybody have any ideas about how to take an original recording and eliminate everything but vocals from it. Basically, how to make an acapella track from an original recording. Can this be done?
It's tricky to do this for most modern mixes where it's so dense. A bit easier for older recordings, where sometimes the voice is mixed way out in front, or occasionally off to one side, or something else convenient.

You didn't mention if you're working on a specific song, but for practical purposes, check to see if a song was released as a single - not a traditional "radio" single, but a DJ market 12" single. Those will sometimes include the song mixed acapella, for remixing purposes.
dwlb wrote:Just use the usual mono/phase-flip trick for removing vocals to create a no-vocal track, then throw that out of phase with the original mix one more time to cancel out the backing track...

It'd probably be really messy and not work well.
Try it, it doesn't work. It intuitively sounds like it should work, but I hashed this out a while back:

You start with two channels, L and R.

The "removing vocals" trick is taking the difference signal of the two channels, or (L - R). The result is a mono signal. If played back on a stereo system, each channel is putting out the same signal, again, (L - R).

Now, you throw the "no vocal" track back into the original mix, out of phase. This is what happens:

left channel: L - (L - R) = -R
right channel: R - (L - R) = 2R - L

...which is one lopsided signal!

cheers,
Leigh

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Re: Making an acapella track from a recording

Post by JGriffin » Mon Sep 22, 2008 1:46 pm

noeqplease wrote:
Ryan Wasoba wrote:I'm about 80% sure that this isn't possible, but does anybody have any ideas about how to take an original recording and eliminate everything but vocals from it. Basically, how to make an acapella track from an original recording. Can this be done?
No.

Or that, yeah.
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

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Post by kayagum » Mon Sep 22, 2008 2:26 pm

Maybe give this a shot:


Image


http://alesis.com/vocalzapper

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Re: Making an acapella track from a recording

Post by JGriffin » Mon Sep 22, 2008 2:31 pm

leigh wrote:
Ryan Wasoba wrote:I'm about 80% sure that this isn't possible, but does anybody have any ideas about how to take an original recording and eliminate everything but vocals from it. Basically, how to make an acapella track from an original recording. Can this be done?
It's tricky to do this for most modern mixes where it's so dense. A bit easier for older recordings, where sometimes the voice is mixed way out in front, or occasionally off to one side, or something else convenient.

You didn't mention if you're working on a specific song, but for practical purposes, check to see if a song was released as a single - not a traditional "radio" single, but a DJ market 12" single. Those will sometimes include the song mixed acapella, for remixing purposes.
dwlb wrote:Just use the usual mono/phase-flip trick for removing vocals to create a no-vocal track, then throw that out of phase with the original mix one more time to cancel out the backing track...

It'd probably be really messy and not work well.
Try it, it doesn't work. It intuitively sounds like it should work, but I hashed this out a while back:

You start with two channels, L and R.

The "removing vocals" trick is taking the difference signal of the two channels, or (L - R). The result is a mono signal. If played back on a stereo system, each channel is putting out the same signal, again, (L - R).

Now, you throw the "no vocal" track back into the original mix, out of phase. This is what happens:

left channel: L - (L - R) = -R
right channel: R - (L - R) = 2R - L

...which is one lopsided signal!

cheers,
Leigh
No, you'd have to mono the full mix as well. I still think the results would suck.
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

"Lots of people are nostalgic for analog. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." ? Brian Eno

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leigh
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Re: Making an acapella track from a recording

Post by leigh » Mon Sep 22, 2008 4:17 pm

dwlb wrote:No, you'd have to mono the full mix as well. I still think the results would suck.
Oh, right, I left out that last step:

left channel: L - (L - R) = -R
right channel: R - (L - R) = 2R - L

-R + (2R - L) = R - L

So the final result, mono summed, would be the same as the "no vocals" mix generated in the first step of the whole process, just with the polarity reversed. It wouldn't suck per se, but it would be a "no vocals" mix instead of an "acapella" mix.

cheers,
Leigh

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Post by Mark Alan Miller » Wed Sep 24, 2008 4:58 am

If Melodyne DNA can identify individual notes in a mix (see the Music Messe vid where they change a Chet Baker solo in a group recording) then perhaps...
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Babaluma
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Post by Babaluma » Wed Sep 24, 2008 6:57 am

if the vocal is mono AND NOTHING ELSE IS PANNED MONO then you might try the centre channel extractor in adobe audition for the pc. i've tried it with simple stereo recordings before, and it has done an ok job, but still leaves some of the "other" sound. give it a go!

Ryan Wasoba
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Post by Ryan Wasoba » Sat Oct 04, 2008 12:50 pm

Thanks for the tips. I've tried a few things with polarity reversal, i'll give that suggestion a shot. I'm not expecting anything perfect.

The purpose of having the acapella is that some friends and I are trying to put together a band where we play the backing music to Michael Jackson songs along with the original vocal tracks. Kind of like reverse karaoke, or like a tribute band without making somebody try to sing like Michael Jackson.

So that's what I'm working with, Thriller/Off the Wall-era Michael Jackson tunes.

I've tried the noise reduction thing in Cool Edit (you know, the Peter Quistard version) by grabbing snippets of instruments, creating a "noise profile" and eliminating that sound from the recording. It usually works out okay at first but the vocals start to get warbly pretty quickly.
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leigh
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Post by leigh » Sat Oct 04, 2008 1:01 pm

Ryan Wasoba wrote:The purpose of having the acapella is that some friends and I are trying to put together a band where we play the backing music to Michael Jackson songs along with the original vocal tracks. Kind of like reverse karaoke, or like a tribute band without making somebody try to sing like Michael Jackson.
MJ - you shoulda said so! There's acapellas of his stuff floating around.

Google is your friend! Here's Billie Jean to get you started:

http://www.nme.com/video/id/Qp05PsoKeMU/search/acapella

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Post by Dr Rubberfunk » Tue Oct 28, 2008 3:51 pm

leigh wrote:
Ryan Wasoba wrote:The purpose of having the acapella is that some friends and I are trying to put together a band where we play the backing music to Michael Jackson songs along with the original vocal tracks. Kind of like reverse karaoke, or like a tribute band without making somebody try to sing like Michael Jackson.
MJ - you shoulda said so! There's acapellas of his stuff floating around.

Google is your friend! Here's Billie Jean to get you started:

http://www.nme.com/video/id/Qp05PsoKeMU/search/acapella
Yeah, the web is well stocked with MJ accapellas - some of them DIY, most not ...
7 or 8 years ago the whole 'Bastard Pop' bootleg (as in unauthorised release of 'mash-up' / 'cut n paste' type tracks) scene was pretty big in the UK and everyone who could get their hands on a track and its instrumental was making DIY accapellas. Here's a Youtube vid : http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=S0BLpoEYx4U
Line up the original and the instr. and phase reverse your heart out :)

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