General Question

iRemy_y's avatar

What's the opposite of instrumental?

Asked by iRemy_y (550points) November 14th, 2009

I have always wondered how people who remix songs get only the singing without the background song. I have no idea what that audio type is called. Any Ideas?

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20 Answers

ninjacolin's avatar


Sampson's avatar

a Capella.

OutOfTheBlue's avatar

Wrong, Acapella..

OutOfTheBlue's avatar

Sampson beat me to it..

OutOfTheBlue's avatar

Before you go ripping Acapella’s please be aware of copyright infringement, i been writing and copmosing and remixing music for some time not to mention Djing and remixing for 10 years and using vocals then releasing the on your track can get you in some shit, so can using a small 4 bar loop sample out of some one elses track….

ninjacolin's avatar

he’s right ^ you want to outfringe as much as possible but never infringe.

iRemy_y's avatar

@OutOfTheBlue I just want to post songs on youtube to show some friends and let them download it if they want to. other wise they’re for me =P

augustlan's avatar

Wouldn’t it just be the vocals?

iRemy_y's avatar

@augustlan yeah thats what i want

MissAnthrope's avatar

@iRemy_y – I have limited knowledge about the specifics of the following, but what you’re talking about is different channels in the audio track. If you open an MP3 in Audacity, you’ll see the two different channels. I think basically, you can remove or dim the vocals to make a karaoke track, so I would imagine you could also remove/dim the music as well.

P.S. Be careful of copyright infringement.

iRemy_y's avatar

@MissAnthrope yeah but i want to no what its called to just have the voice audio. instrumental means they stripped the audio, or the background music was released as a separate track, which is usually the case.

Shuttle128's avatar

I’d expect that they usually buy the rights to use it from the record company. Since the company has the separated tracks they could sell the vocal tracks separately. (In reality I don’t know how it’s actually done, but this seems the most reasonable)

MP3’s usually only have two channels, left and right. From an audio manipulation standpoint it’s nearly impossible to completely isolate voice from the instruments even with very advanced filtering. (I’m speaking from personal experience here)

OutOfTheBlue's avatar

@MissAnthrope It’s all good, i was just giving a heads up, i have wrote tracks and released them under white labels so no worries hehe…

@Shuttle128 Removing vocals from most tracks is fairly easy, especially older tracks where the vocals where mono on one channel and the track on the other. One thing you wont do it in is Audacity though lol There is actually software out now that allows you to target certain Hz with a photo in photoshop and remove the lines in the image, convert the file back to a Audio file and blam only vocals…

Shuttle128's avatar

@OutOfTheBlue What it sounds like you’re talking about is an FFT. Fast Fourier Transforms allow you to see the prevalence of certain frequencies in a sound file. Yes, you could filter certain frequencies but you will always (at the very least) lose some harmonics if you filter voice from the instruments.

OutOfTheBlue's avatar

You can use software to fix Harmonics.. You do not Filter anything with the technique i am talking about, you actually remove it with no filters….. It isolates the sound rather than using a filter, you then edit the image in Photoshop and remove the Freqs you want by DELETING them not filtering them.

You can use Photoshop to Audio editing with the image of the Audio.

iRemy_y's avatar

@OutOfTheBlue im having trouble understanding how photoshop could edit audio files… could you make a video or find one on youtube as an example?

OutOfTheBlue's avatar

Sure, do a search for Photosounder, the early versions had a loss of quality, it is now a loss less program…

EdMayhew's avatar

The when you ‘dim’ vocals in a mastered audio file what you’re actually doing is assuming that the lead vocal is panned dead center and the other instruments are panned stereo left and right. When you take one side of the file, and reverse the phase (flip the wave file so that it’s upside down) the vocals, being down the middle, will cancel each other out. This is fairly ineffective most of the time, and won’t work at all if the vocals aren’t central in the mix. Also, if there are other instruments down the center, commonly bass etc. they will be affected too.

There is no way to achieve the opposite affect and ‘dim’ the instruments, the mechanics don’t work.


Seems like a lot of hassle for little gain, and deleting frequencies had the same effect as filtering them as the end result is still their absence from the mix + why , why on god’s good earth would you edit a wave file in photoshop?

I can’t even begin to describe how wrong that concept makes me feel inside.

Any examples of tracks you’ve done in this manner? I’m desperately curious…

back @iRemy_y

In a real recording studio, the usual practice for many years has been to record all the instruments as separate, individual tracks so that you can alter the volume of each separate thing, i.e. if you want the bass louder you can turn it up because it a separate file. When this goes on cd, the song is ‘mixed down’ into a stereo file and all the tracks are no longer separate, however the original files remain unchanged. In order to isolate any element of a track, be it vocals or guitar or bass, it is these original files that you need to refer to, and from them you can get any little bit of a song without the rest of it.

For a little better understanding of the whole processof mixing and remixing, you might want to have a look at these vids :)

Notice how on the screen all the different instruments are individual files. You can ‘solo’ these to hear only one of them, make them louder or remove them from the mix completely.

Hope this helps a little, but there’s only so much I can explain to you in writing. If you’re really interested, get a copy of Logic 8 or some other easy to use recording software and play around with it until you get to understand it better.


EdMayhew's avatar

Oh and btw, singing without instruments is called a capella, but just the singing as a component of a full track is called the ‘vocal track’ or ‘vocals’

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