How to make Ke$ha-style pitch-warped vocals

6th Mar 2012 | 12:35

How to make Ke$ha-style pitch-warped vocals
Backing track
Opening image © Tim Mosenfelder/TJM/Corbis

Step 1: Here we’re going to record a fun, playful-sounding track in the style of Ke$ha, complete with some of her pitch-warping tricks. We construct a backing track to which we add a half-sung, half-spoken phrase. The track features a doubled synth and bassline, plus some beats.

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How to make Ke$ha-style pitch-warped vocals
EQ and compression

Step 2: We apply a lighter tone to the vocal by EQing it, using boosts of 5dB at 10kHz and 2dB at 4.8kHz, and drops of -3.5, -2, -1.5 and -3.5dB at 80Hz, 200Hz, 500Hz and 1.4kHz respectively. Compression is then applied with a Ratio of 5.8:1 and quick Attack and Release times.

How to make Ke$ha-style pitch-warped vocals
Audio chops

Step 3: We chop the final phrase and stretch the line for the “boyfriend” lyric so it becomes twice the length, thereby playing back at half speed. This involves saving this section as a new audio file to ensure we don’t damage the original performance and then applying timestretching of 200% length. The result sounds glitchy but in keeping with Ke$ha’s style.

How to make Ke$ha-style pitch-warped vocals
Slowdown

Step 4: We apply a real-time slow-down to this phrase which ramps down over 1.2 seconds. This gives the last word (“shows”) a chance to start before its pitch drops dramatically. Also, rather than applying a linear slow-down, we apply a ‘negative curve’ so the pitch holds for longer at the top before ramping away more dramatically towards the end.

How to make Ke$ha-style pitch-warped vocals
Tuning

Step 5: Next we copy the final words of the first two lyrical lines to a new audio track. We then apply some hard tuning, fixing the vocal to tune to one note. This doesn’t work, however, as the chord changes halfway through. We make a duplicate track and split each phrase, tuning notes on track 1 to Bb and notes on track 2 to B.

How to make Ke$ha-style pitch-warped vocals
Finishing off

Step 6: We add reverb on Auxiliary 1 and delay on Auxiliary 2. We add these to all vocal channels before turning down the backing vocals by 3.5dB, and pan them mid-left and mid-right respectively. We slow down the word “sight” in the lead vocal. Finally, we set up a third auxiliary with pitchshifting of -1 octave. We send the phrase “feel my toes” here, via automation.

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