How do I listen to music without the lyrics?
February 15, 2013 1:26 PM   Subscribe

In a bid to learn some bass riffs, I am looking for software that will strip lyrics from songs and give me only the instrumental version of the song. That, and I've always wanted to listen to my favourite songs in their vocally stripped incarnations. Any suggestions?
posted by New England Cultist to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Go to Spotify and find the karaoke versions of the songs you want.
posted by megatherium at 1:36 PM on February 15, 2013

Empath probably has some better techniques, but here's a link that describes how this is done when making mashups (scroll down to #2). Here's another.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:38 PM on February 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

Audacity can do that. There are countless how-to guides on the web. I've never tried any myself so I can't comment on how well it works.
posted by COD at 1:43 PM on February 15, 2013

The problem with the standard phase inversion and cancelling trick described in some of these links is that everything panned to the center - which often includes the bass - is cancelled, not just the vocals so that may not work for you.

A better solution might be to use a plugin called knockout (works with audacity) which does the same thing but in the frequency domain. You can set a cutoff frequency to keep the bass intact.
posted by TwoWordReview at 1:53 PM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

You may also want to search for 'stems', basically musical works stripped to their individual instrument tracks. (NIN/Trent Reznor famously released a bunch of his songs in stem format for remixers)

Wiki Link

Googling will also give loads and loads of results.
posted by remlapm at 2:20 PM on February 15, 2013

Other people can give you suggestions for software that will attempt to do this. But I'll tell you right now that given the current state of technology, the results will not be fantastic. But if your goal is primarily to learn a bass lines, the results should be good enough. The simplest technique for doing this is to just cut out everything in the range of frequencies where the human voice is heard. Unfortunately, there are plenty of sounds in most music that fall into that range that you wouldn't want to cut out. Fortunately for you, the bass line is usually quite a bit below that level. Unfortunately, this process can also mess with the timbre of lower-pitched sounds because it cuts out some of their harmonics. Fortunately, this just means that the bass line might sound a little "hollowed out", and won't mess with pitch or rhythm, so you should be able to use it to learn the bass line easily.
posted by ErWenn at 9:06 PM on February 15, 2013

For learning bass lines you'd be better off with software which slows down a track without changing the pitch. Capo for Mac, for example, does this and on top of it actually shows the notes via frequency analysis.

On the other hand look up "remix stems" for freely available instrumental versions of tracks.
posted by yoHighness at 9:06 AM on February 16, 2013

Thanks in particular to hacks of Rock Band and Guitar Hero, you can find instrumental/isolated versions of popular songs, esp on YouTube, and sites like Studio Multi Tracks.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 10:09 AM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I'll try Audacity and see how that goes first. And thanks for letting me in on "stems".
posted by New England Cultist at 6:01 PM on February 16, 2013

This is a great askme. I've been down a youtube rabbit hole of isolated basslines.
posted by yoHighness at 6:17 PM on February 21, 2013

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