In the summer of 2015, I'm pretty sure I heard the song "Lean On" by Major Lazer and DJ Snake atleast 400 times. Good thing I love that tune, such a killer pop song. Unfortunately, every dang producer on the planet has decided to use that vocal sound (or a close replica) in the chorus of their songs. But regardless, it's super fun to play around with. So let's dive in and learn how to create the sound in "Lean On"
Alright so step one is we need that vocal sample. It's probably illegal for me to post a link to download the sample for free, but hey, I can direct you to where you can buy it. The sample come from a pack called Vengeance Samples Essential House Vol. 3. The sample file is called "Synth Roots C 238.wav", or something like that. Let's just say it might also be floating around the interwebz, with some super stealth browsing. Download it!
Yes those dudes use logic, so I'm going to do the same here. I'm sure you can do this in any vocal sampler from another DAW, but I'm going to keep it simple. So, let's load up Logic and create a new software instrument track. Make sure that track is highlighted, then open up the Inspector tab on the left (click the "i" button on the top left). On the track strip, you should see a button labelled "Instrument". Click that, and add the EXS24 Sampler to it. Alright we're all setup!
Once the plugin opens up, we gotta add the vocal sample in. So first, the "edit" button on the top right of part of the plugin window. Another window should open up called the instrument editor. Now open up a Finder window (yeah yeah, we're using Mac), and find the vocal sample file you downloaded. Drag that onto the keyboard in the EXS24 plugin window that opened up. The sample is loaded! You'll see a blue box on the keyboard where you dropped the file. You'll need to stretch that blue box to cover a wider range, as those are the notes the sample covers. Technically, you'll want to cover B0 to G1 on the keys.
Next step, close the instrument editor and go back to the EXS24 plugin window. Find the slider that says "glide". Slide that thing up to about 50-60 ms, you can adjust this to taste after. That creates pitch glide effect between the notes.
Alright we gotta program in the melody. Check out the screen shot to see exactly how it works. The notes you'll need are E1, F#1, G1, and B0.
Let's add some verb to give it a bit of flavour. You can really go anywhere with this, but we'll keep it simple. Go back to the inspector for the track, then add a send to Bus 1 (you should see a circle near the word "Send", click that). Another track will pop up to the left. You're going to add a reverb to that channel, I used the default setting on Silververb. Go back to the vocal sample track and send a bit over by click and dragging on the send wheel. You'll want to click then drag upwards to increase the level of verb, and vice versa. Mix to taste!
And that's it! Now you are pretty much a top 40 pop producer :) No but seriously, it is a lot of fun and you can add really any sound into that sampler and mess with it. The possibilities are endless. And yes, next time I do something this technical, I will include a video. Jeez one step at a time! Anyways, give this a try :)
Don't forget to follow Velveteen Audio on all social media platforms :)