Songwriting Tutorial

Songwriting with Vocal Acapellas

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29 Videos | Length: 3hr 5min 44sec
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Chapter 1 : The Song

  • Introduction 2:37


    Hear a before and after of the vocal acapella track, and the finished production that is built up in this series.

  • Lining Up the Vocals 11:30

    Lining Up the Vocals

    The original vocal files are brought into an empty project. The different sections are identified, edited, and aligned to the desired bar/beat positions in the time line.

  • Chords 10:08


    Follow along as chord progressions are developed to support the vocals in the different sections of the song.

  • Tuning the Lead Vocal 9:43

    Tuning the Lead Vocal

    Melodyne ARA is put to work on the lead vocal for some subtle pitch and vibrato editing.

  • Form 3:14


    The vocals are now rendered with Melodyne, and a rough form is set up. An extra bar is inserted at the end of the chorus, to be used for a build up into an instrumental section built on a repetition of the chorus chord progression.

Chapter 2 : Designing the Sounds

  • Guide Beat 3:32

    Guide Beat

    Here we?ll pencil in a simple beat that will serve as the basis for the drum parts.

  • Keyboard Sound 4:54

    Keyboard Sound

    A custom keyboard sound, created for this song by groove3 author Larry Holcombe, is analyzed and recreated.

  • Kick Drum 7:31

    Kick Drum

    To enhance the attack and body of the kick drum sound, three separate kick samples are processed and layered together.

  • Snare Sounds 7:17

    Snare Sounds

    Three snare samples are selected, tuned, processed, and blended, to create a snappy and unique sounding backbeat.

  • Hi Hats 2:31

    Hi Hats

    The Note Repeat function in Logic Pro X is used to create a trap style hi-hat part.

  • Bass 6:49


    A preset from Air Instruments Hybrid is set up, and enhanced with some soft saturation from Logic?s Phat FX. A simple bass part is added to the arrangement to support the chords. An ES2 patch is then added to double the bass sound in specific sections.

Chapter 3 : The Arrangement

  • Starting the Arrangement 6:59

    Starting the Arrangement

    With the basic sounds in place, the bass, keyboard, and drum parts are copied and pasted and edited as necessary for the different sections of the song.

  • Vocal Phrasing 7:17

    Vocal Phrasing

    The timing of the supporting pre-chorus vocal is time stretched to better match the timing of the lead, and the phrase ?It?s just a matter of time? is stretched, to create a lazy behind the beat kind of feel. The vocals are sub grouped to a bus and a plate reverb is set up.

  • First Verse 8:35

    First Verse

    See how an Omnisphere patch is modified to create a staccato sounding arpeggiated patch with different accents burbling and popping through on top of the sustained chords during the first verse.

  • Chorus 8:13


    To thicken the texture during the chorus, two Omnisphere patches are set up to double the existing chords. One is created from scratch using raw waveforms, the other is an existing sample based patch that is modified.

  • Lead Line 4:25

    Lead Line

    A simple melodic line is penciled in using an Omnisphere patch with a rhythmic envelope in place. Using the Waves Renaissance Compressor, side chain compression is set up so the melodic rhythms dip with the kick drum accents.

  • Layering the Lead 4:56

    Layering the Lead

    Two additional sounds are set up to layer the lead sound. They are side chained with the original, in order to track the original?s volume envelope.

  • Second Verse & Bridge 4:13

    Second Verse & Bridge

    Some existing elements are copy/pasted and new ones added for use in these sections of the song.

Chapter 4 : Transitions

  • Transition Into Pre-Chorus Pt. 1 5:26

    Transition Into Pre-Chorus Pt. 1

    See how a short vocal phrase is reversed, run through a long reverb, then reversed again, to create a reverse vocal reverb swell leading into the new section.

  • Transition Into Pre-Chorus Pt. 2 5:16

    Transition Into Pre-Chorus Pt. 2

    White noise is now set up and filtered to thicken the reverse vocal reverb swell.

  • Transition Into Chorus - Snare Roll 6:14

    Transition Into Chorus - Snare Roll

    The custom layered snare sound is sampled and turned into an instrument. A two bar velocity based MIDI roll is created, accompanied by pitch, & filter modulation, plus some additional effects processing.

  • Transition Into Chorus - Reverse Reverb Swells 8:52

    Transition Into Chorus - Reverse Reverb Swells

    Reverse vocal and instrumental reverb swells are created as a lead in to the chorus.

  • Transitions Enhanced 7:46

    Transitions Enhanced

    The transitions into the chorus and break are now enhanced with side chain compression, an apple lop, additional instruments, and some automation.

  • Transition Into Verse 2 6:38

    Transition Into Verse 2

    See how a reverse reverb file based on the lead line is created to wash across the transition into the verse. The bass and chords entry is edited to start a beat early, with pitch bend added to create a scoop up into the new section.

  • Other Transitions 3:29

    Other Transitions

    Various elements and automation are copy/pasted for the remaining sections of the song.

Chapter 5 : Mixing

  • Sub Group Processing 8:02

    Sub Group Processing

    Effects processing is now added to each instrument section to help smooth out the overall blend.

  • Mixing the Vocals Pt. 1 7:32

    Mixing the Vocals Pt. 1

    Vocal bus processing is put in place. A send/return quarter note delay is set up and automated. Compression is added and side chained to the lead vocal so the delays only ?bloom? at the ends of phrases.

  • Mixing the Vocals Pt. 2 5:05

    Mixing the Vocals Pt. 2

    A vocal effects bus with Portal from Output is then set up and automated for a long spacey granular delay/reverb effect on the stretched out/slowed down vocal phrase ?matter of time?.

  • Final Play Through 7:00

    Final Play Through

    A fade out at the end of the song is created on the master bus track. And the mastering plug-in Elevate from Newfangled Audio is set up on the stereo output before final playback of the full production.

Product Overview

Eli Krantzberg presents detailed videos on songwriting with vocal acapellas! Learn how to take a vocal acapella, and create an entire production behind it, including editing the vocals, tuning them, writing the chords and other production elements, arrangement, mixing and much, much more. This series is shown in Logic Pro X, but anyone can benefit from the information and apply it to their own DAW. You also get the acapella tracks so you can follow along and write your own song.

Eli welcomes you and lets you hear a before and after of the vocal acapella track, as well as the finished production that is built up throughout this series. He then goes right into it, showing you how to align the vocal tracks to your DAW tempo and grid, develop chord progressions for the different sections, and then tune and edit the vocals so they feel and sound right for the groove.

Next, you'll see how to get a beat going, add some keyboard sounds, and then hone in the kick, snare, hats and bass parts so they are supporting the vocals just right. The arrangement is then focused on, and you'll discover how to support and enhance each section of the song, including adding in synth lead lines and more.

The always important transitions are then taken on, and Eli reveals how to make going from one section of the song to the next exciting, by building things up with reversed audio, snare rolls, pitch bend automation and other techniques. Mixing your masterpiece is then explained, and Eli guides you on how to use sub group processing, bus compression, granular effects and other tools to make the production sound great.

To see what these songwriting with vocal acapellas tutorials will teach you and how you'll be able to take an acapella and build an arrangement around it, see the individual songwriting tutorial descriptions on this page. If you're ready to write a song around a vocal acapella, this collection of songwriting videos are perfect for you. Create your first song around a vocal acapella now... watch “Songwriting with Vocal Acapellas" today!

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