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How To Make Skrillex Vocal Chords in Ableton Live (EDM)


Hey guys! This is Max and today I will show you how to make signature Skrillex Vocal Chords.

The very first thing you need to start is a Vocal Hook.

It can be even your recording - but what we'll be looking for is one even note with a constant pitch.

I've got this one:

After we found one simply mark the area around it and consolidate it by hitting [Command (Mac) / Control (Windows) + J].

and now we'll make a new MIDI track for it by hitting ctrl or command plus shift plus t.

Let’s drag it to the bottom bar (“Load Instruments and Audio Effects here”) to load the sample as an instrument.

And let’s convert it to Sampler by right clicking on the device name and selecting “Simpler>Sampler”.

To prepare the sample, let's narrow the range in Sampler, and in the “Sustain Mode” we’ll check the “back and forth” mode with a bit of added Crossfade, so we get the loop to be as smooth as possible.

We can paste in some chords from our MIDI Pack:

Maybe we can also tune our instrument, because the note we picked might not be the perfect C.

We can measure the actual pitch of notes we are playing if you add a “Tuner” audio effect behind the sampler.

To do so, let’s tweak the “Root” in Sampler, so that C on the keyboard corresponds to played C.

To fine tune it even more, we can use the “Detune” control to shift it slightly so that it’s as close to perfect C as possible.

To make our instrument sound even cooler, we can just go into the “Pitch” section and decrease the “Amount”:

From now on it’s only dependent on how you want it to sound.

For example, Skrillex likes a lot of distortion and OTT.

I’ll start by equalizing this sound, and we’ll cut the low and sub frequencies.

Then let’s add some OTT - it boosts the highs very nicely - we’ll add a lot (50% Dry/Wet)

To add stereo spread, we’re going to use a bit of an unconventional technique - we’ll use a very small reverb (room reverb) - size all the way down, decay to about 500 ms, and 30% Dry/Wet.

Next up is Overdrive - we’ll boost the highs and mess with the dry/wet. It sounds a bit harsh, but it will sound perfect as soon as we add some movement.

Our choice for adding movement is Auto Pan - in BPM mode and 100% amount (phase 0 degrees) it allows you to add really cool LFO-tool style volume automation.

We can also automate the “Rate” of the auto pan to create even more impact at the beginnings of chords:

We might try adding another auto pan (this time 180 degree phase) to actually move the sound a bit right and left in the stereo spectrum. We don’t want to overdo it - it’s the main sound in our track and we want it to be mainly mono:

If you duplicate this track and switch the instrument to a Wavetable playing a triangle wave, this is what the main chords + sub sounds like:

That’s it for this tutorial!

If you'd like to learn how to write harmonies, bass lines and melodies - check our full harmony bundle, where we teach you everything you need to know about music theory.

Good luck with your production!

- Max


See Also:

How to Design a Hypnotic Polymetric Lead in Analog (Melodic Techno, Ableton Live)

Ableton Analog Synth: Full Guide for Beginners

How to Process Vocals: 3 Levels of Vocal Effects (Free Vocal Samples Included)



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