Art of Record Production Conference
May 17-19, 2019
Berklee College of Music, 921 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215
Sunday, May 19 • 15:15 - 15:45
Vocal Chops and its Aesthetics

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“Chop your vocals to bits, then go mad!” This is the introduction phrase to a Human Beatbox tutorial guide to the vocal chops technique. Vocal chops are fragments of vocal samples cut into smaller and larger clips, and played around with both rhythmically and pitch-wise to create hooks and effects. This technique has become extremely popular in the electronic dance music and mainstream popular music scenes during the last few years, and can be seen as the most recent incarnation of producers and listeners’ enduring fascination with android vocals. Examples of vocal chops can be found in Major Lazer & DJ Snake’s “Lean on Me” (2015), Seeb’s remix of Mike Posner’s “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” (2016), Martin Garrix & David Guetta’s “So Far Away” (2017), TRXD feat. Harper’s “Jealous” (2018), and several other hits.

In this paper, we propose a definition of vocal chops that addresses both the roots and novelty of this technique. In our examination of the aesthetics of vocal chops, we interviewed the producers of Seeb and TRXD – two production duos who make extensive use of this technique in most of their songs. We were interested in both their technical approach to achieve this effect but also in their aesthetic motivation for using this technique. In this paper, we will draw on these interviews as well as analyze two of their songs, of which they provided us multitracks. Further, we will discuss these findings in relation to the theoretical frameworks of ecological perception (Gibson 1979, Smalley 2007) and predictive processing (Clark 2016).

avatar for Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen

Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen

Associate Professor, University of Oslo
Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen is Associate Professor in Popular Music Studies in the Department of Musicology and RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion at the University of Oslo, Norway. She has published articles and book chapters on music production, digital... Read More →
avatar for Jon Marius Aareskjold

Jon Marius Aareskjold

Associate professor in Music Technology, University of Agder
Music ProductionImmersive audioBeer, boats and skiing

Sunday May 19, 2019 15:15 - 15:45 EDT
Classroom 411 (4th floor)