The idea of tuning vocals is often a heated topic with musicians and producers. Often, it’s that audible “T-Pain” vocal effect that you’re thinking of. And while this effect has its place in some genres, vocal tuning goes way beyond this particular use case.
Vocal tuning is a very practical, if not a necessary step for most modern music productions. And it may be just the thing to get you to feel more confident in your recording and release more music.
What I’m about to show you has been used on Grammy-nominated and Dove-winning records.
I use Celemony’s Melodyne because of its power to quickly tune a vocal track without the listener, or even the artist, knowing.
These tips and tricks will work on any version of Melodyne.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that this is for the Mac version. If you are a Windows user, the workflow will be the same, but the commands must be translated.
1 Set Up Global Commands
Before you dive into Melodyne and begin hacking away at your vocals, you’ll save time by properly setting up your global parameters and quick keys.
For global parameters, be sure to input the two following pieces of information before importing any tracks:
- The key of your song
- The BPM of your song
As you import your audio, it will sync to the BPM that you have set. This is why it’s essential to select your tempo before importing your track to avoid that frustrating feeling of your track no longer syncing to the song in your DAW!
Melodyne does a good job of determining the song’s key and highlighting the “in key” notes on the left-hand side of the screen. This is a great visual cue (and guidelines) for engineers and musicians who don’t have a firm grasp of music theory and primarily create music by ear.
Melodyne is an extremely powerful software, and it can be easy to get bogged down in everything it can do.
However, to keep your workflow fast, you need only four key commands for 90% of what you’re about to learn.
These quick keys are:
- The Pitch Tool (F2)
- The Cut Tool (F6)
- Undo All Changes (u)*
- Correct Pitch (Shift-CMD-P)*
You’ll notice that for the first three, you can rest your pinky finger on F2, your pointer finger on F6, and your thumb on the “u.” This small, but important workflow hack, will keep you moving quickly through what can be an extremely tedious editing task.
2 Make Your Cuts (Isolate The Notes Of The Melody)
When you first see a Melodyne session, you’ll be tempted to tune by selecting the big orange blobs and “snapping them to the grid.”
However, the blobs in Melodyne only represent Amplitude.
It’s the pencil-like line you want to pay attention to if you’re going to properly tune a vocal transparently.
This line represents the pitch and movement of a singer’s voice.
To tune the performance, separate the notes of the melody from the breaths, vocal scoops, and musical drifts. It’s in these “parts between the notes” that give a performance its life and authenticity.
You’ll have to manually go in and use your eyes and ears to cut out the melody to get this right. This way, when you go to tune it, you keep the performance intact.
This is also the secret sauce for tuning a vocal of someone else’s performance and them never knowing you touched it. …….
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