How To Create Interesting Ambient Textures with Melodyne

Melodyne has to be one of the most advanced software applications in regards to time stretching and pitch shifting capabilities. I find that you can take a simple melody or synth line you have created  

Melodyne has to be one of the most advanced software applications in regards to time stretching and pitch shifting capabilities. I find that you can take a simple melody or synth line you have created, pull it into Melodyne, and turn it into an absolutely amazing ambient soundscape. I will show you how with Melodyne's time-stretching abilities.

Step 1 - Choose your Audio Sample

First choose an audio sample that you wish to pull into Melodyne. I have exported out an audio loop I created in Logic. Next launch Melodyne and create a Melodyne project with the same tempo as the loop.

For the Global Tempo, change it to the tempo of your audio file. Go to File > New Arrangement, Then choose: Window > Realtime Play Offsets.

Our audio file's tempo is 105BPM, so we are changing the project to that.

Choose Fix to Arrangement, and choose Whole Arrangement, to give the entire arrangement that tempo. Then import or drag the loop into Melodyne.

Here is what our loop sounds like:

Step 2 - Stretch that Down

Now is the time to see how far we can stretch this audio file. We have taken the tempo and divided it by 2 (we still want to be able to pull this file back into our Logic project and stay in sync with the project), that gives us 56.5BPM. You can now export this audio file out by going to File > Save Audio.

You can choose to save each separate track as a single file if you have imported more than one audio file into Melodyne. We have only imported one so we are going to choose to save the audio out as a stereo mix.

Melodyne does not introduce as many artifacts as other time stretching applications; it still retains much of the original audio's sound qualities. Take a listen below:

Repeat the same process but now divide the tempo in half again.

Here is the audio sample now at 26.25BPM:

And here again now at 13.2BPM. How crazy is that!

What you can also do is reverse the audio by going into the negative tempo values. Interesting ambient reverse sounds can be created this way.

Step 3 - Back to your Project

You can now pull these samples back into your relevant project and create interesting sound textures as the samples are still in time but slowed down by a half or a quarter, etc... of the original audio. As long as you remember to divide the tempo by equal divisions you shouldn't have any problems pulling the files back into your project, and syncing up with the rest of the audio.

Here is what my time-stretched pieces sound like mashed up into my Logic project:

Step 4 - Conclusion

Use Melodyne to create interesting soundscapes in your projects and you will be amazed at the results. To learn more about Melodyne, check out David Andris's tutorial:

Gary Hiebner is an enthusiastic South African Sound Designer and Apple Tech Head! Gary has been involved in the South African music industry for the decade, and in this time has also been involved in the sound design and music production for many advertising agencies and media houses. Gary is a devoted Logic and Ableton user, but he al... Read More


Rounik Sethi
Nice tips! I use Flex Mode in Logic to create similar style ambiences. Really like the way you bring the ambience back into Logic and "mash it up".
Gary Hiebner
Thanks Rounik. Flex Mode is great in Logic. But I find you hear less artifacts with Melodyne when you start stretching it by extreme amounts. Would be great if Melodyne could incorporate a time stretching algorithm you could use in Logic, as opposed to using the plugin. Would be more "native" then.
Rounik Sethi
Yes, I agree. Although sometimes grainy is just what I'm after... ;-)

By the way, have you tried out the Serato PitchnTime and/or iZotope's Radius as algorithms for use in Logic's Time and Pitch Machine? I used Radius a while back and was very impressed.
Gary Hiebner
True, sometimes that grainy effect is exactly what is needed. I've tried Radius but not Serato. The Radius was very impressive. Why can't Apple just buy out Melodyne, then incorporate their technology into Logic. That would be amazing.
Rounik Sethi
Yeah! That would be amazing. Now that Logic 9 has flex time, it would make sense for a future version to incorporate a "flex pitch" feature... We'll have to wait and see!
Kent Sandvik
Yes, in Logic you could import any audio file and then stretch it far out with option-clicking on the lower-right corner and drag.

I've done this with some parts like a Lockheed SR-71 aircraft taking off, stretching it really far. And then it started to sound like a Steve Roach ambient track (by adding a lot of Space Designer reverb.
Rounik Sethi
Hi Kent, It's also interesting when you enable a flex mode on that region and then stretch it out (Option-drag)... Depending on the flex mode you choose... You know there's a 30 day demo for Melodyne available now:

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