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Brian Shrader's Siteseeing Blog

Removing Vocals from Songs

Posted August 2, 2007

Who doesn't love singing in the car?  It's fun to pretend you can sing as well as the person on your iPod or CD.  No one else is there to hear the flat notes tumbling out of your face.  If you turn up the volume, the sour notes blend in with the song, and it sounds fine to you.

Well, I'm here to help you be a better singer.  Here's a way to take just about any song and remove the vocal track.  You'll need a stereo MP3 file of a studio-recorded song.  This won't work well with live recordings.  You'll also need a copy of Audacity, which is a wonderful and free audio editor.

According to the Audacity site, you can cancel out vocals when they are exactly the same on both stereo channels.  I have no idea how that works, but it does.  I've followed the instructions on the link and have successfully wiped out the vocal tracks.

You'll notice a few other changes to the sound of the remaining tracks.  The bass usually is wiped out.  You may also hear the effects they put on the vocals.   Vocals with heavy reverb sound muffled and a little out of time.

You can create your own karaoke tracks this way.  And it's just fun to hear the "guts" of these songs and hear how they are produced.  You might be surprised to hear all of the vocal harmonies buried in there and other musicianship you don't always notice.   It's an easy way to freshen up those good albums you love, but have heard too many times.

Try it out and let me know how it works for you!

2 Comments

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  • Decker Aug 3, 2007

    One guy who a lot of country fans love is Kenny Chesney... But when you hear him sing without any intrumentation in the background live.... It's one of the worst voices I have ever heard!!!

  • Steve Crisp Aug 3, 2007

    And if you want to hear something absoutely horrible, try listening to vocal-only tracks where all the instrumentation is gone. Most of everyone's favorite singers can't actually sing a lick. When you isolate the vocal tracks, things that are masked by the instrumentals strike you in the spine causing it to curl.

    For instance, those of you who love AC/DC would be amazed at just how bad Brian Johnson is on Back in Black when his vocal is isolated. One of the best songs ever when it is all together, but in isolation? It will curdle your blood.

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