Where to find good accapellas for DJing

5 Ways You Can Get Vocal Samples, DJ Tools, and A Cappella Versions

Right from the very beginning as a DJ, I often made fun of putting the vocals from one song on the instrumental part of another song live.

Two examples that I still like to mix live today:

  • Vocals from "Mighty Dub Kats - Son Of Wilmot" via "Bucketheads - These Sounds"

  • Vocals from "E Samba" via "New Order - Blue Monday"

But where do you get the vocals from, as a pure vocal track or a cappella track? I received this question the other day via email.

In response to this question, here are five ideas or possibilities that I have tried so far:

  • Buy a cappella version
  • Use normal version vocal samples
  • Karaoke version
  • Calculate vocal samples from the song
  • Remix competitions

Buy a cappella version

The fastest way to reach your goal is to offer an a cappella version of your desired song.

For a while I bought Defected's a cappella records on vinyl. I mostly digitized them straight away and used them live. This gave me a lot of vocal samples of the biggest house hits.

Older songs may have an a cappella version on the maxi CDs. Search the Discogs music database for your desired song. You may find a pressing that you can buy used on Ebay.

How is a cappella spelled correctly?

It is not that easy to find the pure vocal tracks because everyone names these tracks differently. Sometimes they are called "A Cappella", "Acappella" or "a-capella". During my research, I kept asking myself how a cappella "is actually spelled correctly?

Various spellings are circulating on the internet:

  • Acapella (> 23 million search result pages on Google)

  • A Cappella (> 16 million search result pages on Google)

  • A Capella (> 9 million search result pages on Google)

  • Acappella (> 1.3 million search result pages on Google)

  • Akapella (> 0.27 million search result pages on Google)

Would the version with the most search results pages be right? Then "Acapella" would be the correct spelling. According to Duden, only the spelling "a cappella" is correct, and I will use it in future.

Wikipedia and Duden agree that the term is derived from the Italian "cappella". According to dict.leo.org, the adjective translates as "unaccompanied".

For English usage, the Wiktionary lists three alternative spellings for "a cappella":

  • a capella

  • acappella

  • a capela

You can keep these different spellings in mind when searching for the vocal versions. To complete the confusion, the vocal versions are often sold under the name "DJ Tools".

Use normal version vocal samples

For the next possibility to play vocal samples of a song, I use song components with few instruments. That's how I do it on "Mighty Dub Kats - Son Of Wilmot" and play the intro of the song.

 

Cue and timing of the vocals

The vocal tracks are often set up somewhat delayed to one in the measure. That doesn't make it easier to find the right timing for the start point as a cue.

With some vocals I leave out part of the vocals and only set the cue point later. However, I always set the cues so that I can start the a cappella part on one in four / quarter time.

Find the karaoke version

Amazon offers special karaoke versions for various songs in the top 10 charts. In a karaoke version, of course, only the voice would initially be missing. But in some karaoke packages the different tracks of a song are also hidden.

In addition, the instrumental parts of the karaoke versions can be used to calculate the singing out of the songs.

Calculate vocal samples from the song

Of course, you are most flexible when you can calculate the voice out of every song. Then you have the acappella track of every song.

You can do this by using software tools like Ableton and subtracting the instrumental part from the rest of the song.

  1. Find the part of the song with the vocals that you want as a sample.

  2. Then you look for a place in the song where all the instruments are present, but not the voice.

  3. You copy this point onto a second track. For this track you add the audio effect "Invert" from the utility "Device Presets". Make sure the phase of the left and right channels are rotated 180 degrees. The buttons "Phz-L" and "Phz-R" must be green.

Theoretically, only the voice is left now because the phase-shifted part erases the instruments from the song.

 

However, this takes practice and won't work for every song. Even in the course of a song, very different results can sometimes come out if the vocals are not mixed in the middle. Sometimes audio effects such as echoes overlap the perfect a cappella track.

If that doesn't work, you could buy an instrumental version afterwards and subtract it from the song with the vocals. Or you are looking for a karaoke version, as I described above.

As I said, there is a lot of experimentation involved. I once worked on "Masters At Work - Work" for hours to figure out the rap part. The result was never perfect.

Remix competitions

Many producers put out remix competitions for their songs in order to get as many versions as possible. From this broad pool, they then select the best remixes for publication.

As a remixer you of course need the individual components of the songs in order to be able to rearrange them. Some of these remix parts are available free of charge.

Labels like Toolroom also sell some songs as "Traktor Remix Sets", for example here at Traxsource.com.

 

In any case, please note that the sound snippets are works that are protected by copyright. Do not use these parts for your own songs without asking. In the history of electronic dance music there are many cases in which the rights had to be re-licensed. This can also cost severe penalties.

With the finished a cappella samples, you could of course carry out your mix experiments live so far that you let the vocals run and swap the songs underneath.

Do you have any other tips for acappellas and vocal samples? I look forward to your comment further down this page.

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