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Cubase: Creating Vocal Doubles & Harmonies | Audio Examples

Hear For Yourself By John Walden
Published October 2022

These audio example MP3s illustrate the key ideas discussed in my Cubase workshop in SOS October 2022. >

In each example, the same short musical section is used, featuring a female lead vocal. This is accompanied by a piano, bass and drums arrangement, simply to provide some harmonic context for the vocal, so this is kept both musically simple and relatively low in the mix. The lead vocal has already been corrected for pitch and timing as outlined in the Cubase workshop from September 2022. >

Cubase 12 Creating Vocal Doubles And Harmonies Audio Example JW 01.mp3

This audio example illustrates the use of the VariAudio editing toolset to create a doubled tracked vocal part using just the lead vocal as the audio source for the double. It contains three sections as follows:

(a) For reference, the lead vocal with just the sparse drum, bass, piano backing track.

(b) The same arrangement is presented but a simulated double tracked vocal has been added. This was created by creating a real copy of the lead vocal audio clip. This was then quantised using AudioWarp to 16th notes (to create subtle differences in the timing of the two performances) and, in the VariAudio panel, the global Pitch and Straighten Curve sliders were used to create some pitch changes in the double relative to the lead. The double was then panned to the side, dropped in level by 3dB and, using the Track Delay slider in the Inspector panel, was time shifted by +20ms (to provide further timing separation between the lead and double).

(c) The same arrangement is presented but a simulated double tracked vocal has been added (panned to one side) using the more detailed VariAudio techniques described in the main text. In both this case, and in (b) above, the double has simply been mixed with the original lead throughout the full length of the performance, but it could easily be edited and just used to highlight particular sections (for example, in a chorus).

Cubase 12 Creating Vocal Doubles And Harmonies Audio Example JW 01.mp3

This audio example illustrates the creation of harmony vocal parts from a single lead vocal performance. It contains three sections as follows:

(a) The same lead vocal and simple musical backing is presented but the Generate Harmony Voices command has been used to create an additional four-part harmony based upon chord data held within the Chord Track. The harmony parts have been reduced in level by a few dBs, panned across the stereo field and had different Track Delays added to provide a little ting variation. Even so, in this case, the results are perhaps a little static. This is primarily because the underlying chord sequence (based entirely on simple major/minor triads) is very simple and rather slow moving. More harmonically complex chords with more frequent chord changes can produce much more interesting results with the Generate Harmony Voices command.

(b) a single harmony voice is added to the arrangement using the VariAudio approach described within the main text. In this case, using the vocal double as a starting point, all the Segments were shifted upwards in a single operation (using C notes as the reference and moving these to E). The Scale Assistant ensured all Segments were snapped to a note within the key/scale. Judged by ear, a few Segments were then subjected to a further shift up/down (usually so they seemed a better harmonic fit with the underlying chord changes) to create the final harmony. The harmony voice is panned slightly to one side for ease of auditioning.

(c) As described in the main text, the same approach is expanded to add two further harmony voices (one pitched above the first harmony vocal and one pitched below the lead vocal). All of the harmony voices were then subjected to some small-scale timing edits using the Free Warp tool within the Project window. The three harmonies, and a vocal double, were then panned and blended with the lead vocal and the rest of the music arrangement. While further manipulation of these harmony voices could easily be done, in this case, the results are generally much more interesting than those obtained with the Generate Harmony Voices command, although more work was obviously required.

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