Aligning the Tracks in Java

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7 Aligning the Tracks
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8. If you start the Sweet Dreams event on beats 2.1 or 3.1, the two tracks will sound really good together. However, the sections still don t exactly line up, and the changes seem to occur in one track right in the middle of the other track s section. In fact, this sectionlevel misalignment will occur even when both tracks start right at 1.1. 9. Drag Sweet Dreams back to 1.1 again and click Play. It sounds pretty good. There is a four-measure instrumental introduction, and then Annie Lennox starts singing. Her first vocal section is eight bars long. However, halfway through it, at 9.1.1, the Depeche Mode track s main instrumental hook starts in. A new section begins in the Depeche Mode track, right in the midst of a Sweet Dreams section. Although you may want the instrumental hook to begin there, it shouldn t be out of laziness, but rather because you want it to start right in the middle of the Sweet Dreams section. Quickly looking at the lengths of the sections from the beginning of each song, you can see where the problem lies. The Sweet Dreams track starts with a four-measure intro, followed by an eight-measure vocal section, followed by yet another eight-measure vocal section. The Policy of Truth track starts off with an eight-measure instrumental section, followed by another eight-measure instrumental section (with the main hook), followed by an eight-bar vocal track. These sections are visualized in Figure 7-9.
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FIGURE 7-9: An example of section misalignment
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10. Line up the sections in one of the following ways:
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Double the Sweet Dreams intro so that the instrumental hook of Policy of Truth comes in right when the vocals come in. In this case, the Depeche Mode vocals starts right when the second vocal section of the Eurythmics started. Usually you do not want to have two vocals playing at the same time, so you probably would want to replace one of the two competing vocal sections with an instrumental section, cut and pasted from elsewhere in the track. This potential solution is shown in Figure 7-10.
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7 Aligning the Tracks
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Shift the Depeche Mode event four bars later, lining up its intro with the first vocal section of Sweet Dreams while the eight-bar instrumental hook is lined up with the second vocal section from Sweet Dreams. Then cut the Depeche Mode eight-bar intro in half, and copy and paste it to the beginning, layering it with the four-bar Eurythmics intro, as shown in Figure 7-11.
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FIGURE 7-10: One solution to the section misalignment in Figure 7-9
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FIGURE 7-11: Another solution to the section misalignment in Figure 7-9
You need to line up the right foreground and background sections to make your mashup flow smoothly. The order in which the sections play is also very important. 11 discusses arrangement in much greater detail.
7 Aligning the Tracks
Syncing Acapellas
Lining up rhythmic events to ACID s grid is pretty straightforward. The fact that there are visually detectable rhythmic elements helps you line up the percussive sounds with precision beyond even what you can easily hear. Lining up acapellas to ACID s grid can be a bit more difficult. Even the most rhythmic of rappers will not be robotic like a drum machine or click track. Because of this, you need to take extra steps when handling acapellas.
Using the Full Song
The easiest way to line up an acapella to ACID s grid is to first get your hands on the full song with vocals and instruments. Line it up to ACID s grid using the method already outlined in this chapter, assuming it has a constant bpm. Then, drop the acapella into the project, and line it up to the full version so the two vocal tracks sound exactly like one. Afterward, you can remove the full version, and your acapella will retain the same timing as the full song without you having to make a bunch of judgment calls or errors, or do a lot of hard work. Sometimes the acapella will have a slightly different arrangement from the full mix, in which case, you can only line up the portions that are identical. Other times, the vocals from the full mix and the acapella will be identical throughout. Because the full song is only being used for reference, it doesn t matter so much if it has low-quality audio.
If you want to work along with the example, download Whoomp! (There It Is) [Radio Edit] from the iTunes Store, and convert the audio file to an mp3 or wav. This is the full version, not the acapella from 1, although you ll need the acapella as well for this exercise.
Drop the file into ACID and beatmap it using either the Beatmapper Wizard if you have ACID Pro, or using the manual beatmapping method outlined in this chapter. Whoomp! has a pretty well-defined first beat. There is a short vocal, and then the first kick drum signifies beat 1.1 as is so often the case. The tempo should be around 129.421, and the downbeat offset should be around 105,359. Don t worry if your values differ from these slightly. As long as your percussive sounds line up with ACID s grid, you should be okay. Listening to the acapella of this song, it starts with the line Party people. This is the same vocal that starts off the full song, right before beat one kicks in. The problem is that because it comes before beat one in the beatmap, the intro vocal is cut off when you draw or paint the event. Ideally, you d like to line up the two vocals starting from the very first utterance, which in this case is not yet audible or visible in the ACID project because it comes before beat number 1. There is just over one bar of pure vocals in the full song before the drums kick in, so drag the full song event over to beat marker 3.1. Any beat marker will do, as long as there is enough room for the intro. Now, using the draw tool, extend the left side of the full song all the way to the left until you reach the beginning of the track. Make sure you drag the left edge of the event, or you will just move the event instead of extending it. Your event should now start somewhere right before beat 1.4.