For example, on the song Drip or Drown by Gunna, I noticed that every last word on of the intro ("I got woodgrain on my Damier Buckle, Cool quarter mill in my Goyard duffle, ...") aligns with the clap on the beat.

When I try to do a similar effect on my end, I always end up under the impression that I talk too slowly (even thought the voice fits in the pattern), besides that I also have a hard time connecting sentences together.

Is there a formula or general consensus for how to flow synchronize voice with a beat?

  • 1
    Other than the obvious "practice, practice, practice," it's really not clear what you're after. Get someone to be a teacher, or at least an observer, to see whether you are in sync or not. – Carl Witthoft Mar 13 '19 at 13:16
  • I understand what you mean about the "practice, practice, practice,"! Thought I find that I lack direction in that regard! I like your idea of getting an observer to check if I am in time, but would there be an alternative where I do not depend on other people? – Mikkael Canne Mar 13 '19 at 13:24
  • Do you have an audio example? – topo Reinstate Monica Mar 13 '19 at 23:13

It's not a formula, but there are ways to make sure a vocal line fits well with a rhythm or beat.

Here's a map of a typical beat/rhythm, showing where the musical stresses fall:

ONE and Two and THREE and Four and

Usually the first beat of every measure is the strongest, then the third beat is second strongest, and then the second and fourth beats are less strong than the third beat, and the off beats ("ands") are the weakest.

Now let's do the same thing with the same vocal line you posted:

I got wood-grain on my Damier Buckle, Cool quarter mill in my Goyard duffle

I've never heard the song before, so I don't know how it's set to music, but I know right away how I would set it to music:

    1       &       2       &       3      &       4       &
  I got    wood     grain   in my   Dam-   ier     Buck-   le
    1       &       2       &       3      &       4       &
    Cool   quarter  mill    in my   Go-    yard    duff-   le

There's more than one way to do it, but the important part is that generally, the stressed syllables in the lyrics should line up with the strongest beats in the music. Usually, if your lyrics sound "off" in some way when you set them to music, the first place to look is at the stresses in the lyrics and how they line up, or don't, with the stresses in the beat.

Sometimes it's hard to know what syllables are stressed in the lyrics. The trick for figuring it out is to forget about the music completely and just say the lyrics like you're just talking to someone. Say it at least three times, each time trying to let go of the music and say it as casually as possible. Starting on the third time, listen carefully to how you're saying it. You should be able to hear and feel which syllables you are stressing.

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  • Thank you very much for this explanation. You helped me see things a whole lot better! – Mikkael Canne Mar 17 '19 at 17:02

A perfect take is always best, and you’ll approach that with lots of work put into practicing.

That said, a lot of contemporary recordings line up every little noise to the grid. Most DAWs (recording software) have a feature that does this. It involves setting markers in a recording and then quantizing or manually moving them where you want them to go. Whether the artist you mentioned applied this technique, I have no idea, but the track is extremely mechanical and repetitive, so I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.

The technique can be applied to achieve impossible perfection in a recording, but, if you’re set up to make recordings, you could also use it for practice. Record several takes of a passage you think needs work and you’ll see where your rhythm is off. You can then quantize your performance and practice along with it until you successfully attain the rhythmic accuracy you’re looking for.

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  • Thank you for the useful advice!! – Mikkael Canne Mar 17 '19 at 17:01

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