Create one-off vocal
Textural treatments don’t have to be reserved for instrumental sounds; indeed, some of the best are wrapped around vocal parts, carefully designed to support particular lines and phrases. Let’s just qualify what we mean, as effects treatments are part and parcel of producing a vocal part. So which effects are we referring to if not to the standard tone, dynamics and reverb settings applied to most vocals? Here, we’re talking about effects which add subtle layers of extra detail such as gently undulating, filtered echoes, or reverb textures which seem to rise and fall with the contours of a track.
To take this latter example first, great things can be achieved when you place compressors after vocal reverbs and side-chain these dynamics modules with the lead vocal acting as an input trigger. What this means is that you’ll get an effect similar to that explored in the ‘Noisy Pianos’ video we’ve made this month, with the reverb’s level ducking whenever the lead vocal is performing (you’ll hear less reverb) and rising up whenever the vocal stops (more reverb in the gaps). But echoes sound-designed to match the tone of the track you’re working on can be extremely powerful too. Going back a few years, it’s worth listening to Avril Lavigne’s pop ballad I’m With You. Firstly, note the introduction of a special effect reverb on the word ‘sound’ at the end of the first verse. It’s mournful and fragile, which perfectly fits the song. Then listen to the introduction of filtered vocal echoes in the second verse. These are thin and vulnerable and, again, right on point for the song. Take time and care to create subtle treatments appropriate to your track too.
Some of the best textural treatments are wrapped around vocal parts