Vocal Chops: Everything You Need to Know

Vocal Chops: Everything You Need to Know Vocal Chops: Everything You Need to Know

Modern music production has made it easier than ever for us to cut, shuffle, and rearrange samples to our liking. The same goes for creating vocal chops, which transcend genre through their rhythmic, melodic, and textural ability.

Luckily, we know a thing or two about creating your own vocal chops, which we'll detail below. We'll also explain what exactly a vocal chop is, share some popular examples, and uncover where you can source vocal samples so that you can start incorporating this technique into your own compositions.

What Is a Vocal Chop?

You've likely heard vocal chops in some of your favorite songs, but what exactly is a vocal chop? Essentially, a vocal chop is a cut section of an isolated vocal or portion of a track containing a vocal, with the intent to manipulate or rearrange it into new sounds. Music producers splice vocal samples, pitch them up or down, stretch them, and process them in a variety of fashions to add interest to their compositions.

The History of Vocal Chops

Vocal chops can be traced back to the early days of hip hop and the development of electronic music. Pioneers like Jean-Michel Jarre used chops and loops to create unique textures in his music. While hip hop, rap, and electronic music remain the most concentrated in terms of chops, many genres borrow this technique from time to time nowadays.

Great Examples of Vocal Chops In Music

You'll know a vocal sample chop when you hear one. Here are just a few excellent examples of vocal chops in popular music:

Let Me Love You by DJ Snake and Justin Bieber

Artist DJ Snake is often accredited with bringing vocal chops back into the pop landscape in the 2010s. You can hear those chops at work, serving as the main melody for Let Me Love You by himself and Justin Bieber:

Find You by BAYNK

Electronic artist BAYNK is great at incorporating vocal chop loops and cuts into his compositions. In his song Find You , half of the melodies are built by vocal chops:

Pretty Bones by Yeule

Pretty Bones by Yeule can attribute much of its interesting texture to the vocal chops and sound that introduce the track and re-enter in the chorus:

Shelter by Porter Robinson & Madeon

This EDM classic uses vocal chops to propel the song forward, creating a catching melody in the process:

Sleepyhead by Passion Pit

This indie classic has a distinct vocal chop that brings weight to the chorus and helps with the track's overall memorability:

Where Should I Use Vocal Chops?

Vocal chops can be helpful in a variety of contexts. Here are just a few places you may consider using vocal chops in your song:

Chorus Hook

A vocal chop serves well as the sticky end of a chorus or hook. It's a great way to introduce catchy melodies into a composition and create an earworm for your listeners. You can experiment with layering chops on top of each other, or even harmonizing your chops to add some depth.


You can use vocal one shots or chops as transitions between sections or phrases of a song. Instead of a drum fill, try adding a fun chop at the end of your next 8-bar phrase.

Sticky Intro or Outro

Vocal chops in the intro or outro of your track can help give listeners a sense of what's to come without giving too much away.

Cool Textures

The voice really serves as its own instrument, which is what makes vocal chops so unique. Use chops to create beautiful textures in your track, or load them onto a MIDI keyboard and have them serve as their own instrument.

Where Can I Get Vocal Chops?

To create vocal chops, you'll need to create or source multiple samples to chop from. Fortunately, there are several ways to acquire your own vocal chop loops or vocal one shots to serve as a foundation for your exploration:

Royalty Free Samples

You can use royalty free sample libraries to source audio files with vocals for chopping, or isolated vocal samples. Note that you technically cannot sample published music without clearing the sample with the copyright owners - royalty free sample libraries do not require the same diligence.

Collect Vocals From Friends

If you have some musical friends, see if they mind you playing around with their isolated vocal takes. This is a fun way to start a collaboration and can also offer some different vocal textures than just your own.

Make Your Own

Making your own vocal chops can help you learn to use your voice in innovative ways, and it's free! Start by singing a phrase and then manipulating it further as outlined below:

How to Make Your Own Vocal Chops in 5 Steps

Are you ready to create vocal chops? We'll walk you through the process of taking initial vocal samples into complete, polished chops for your next track:

Sing a Phrase

One of my songs No One Cares , enters with a melodic vocal chop. To create this chop, I started by singing a melody within the key of my song. I didn't think too hard about it, and as you'll hear, it's not perfect! Sometimes you just need a place to get started. The great part about vocal manipulation is that your processed audio file can sound completely different from your source.

Chop to the Beat or Otherwise

From there, I started to splice the vocal file at different points of the beat, whether that was on the sixteenth, eighth, or quarter note. I turned the grid on in Ableton and came up with the chop.

Turn Your Chop Into an Instrument and Arrange

Note that you can also turn chops into an instrument so that you can play them with a MIDI keyboard. To do this in Ableton, simply open a new MIDI track, and drag and drop your vocal chop sample into the instrument section.

Add Finishing Effects

I created another layer of the chop, processing with Fracture by Glitch Machines to create a digital, electronic sound.

Listen to the Chop In Context

Once you're happy with your vocal chop, listen to it in context of the rest of the song. I decided to have the chop during the introduction of the track to give the opening an interesting texture:

Creating Vocal Chops FAQs

Are you ready to incorporate vocal chops into your next track? Consider these commonly asked questions and answers to guide your production:

What is a vocal chop?

A vocal chop refers to a small portion of a larger vocal, oftentimes rearranged and resampled to create interesting sounds, melodies, textures, and rhythms within the larger context of a song. While vocal chops primarily stem from the dance music and hip hop community, they are now broadly used across several genres of music, including pop.

Are vocal chops royalty free?

Vocal chops are only royalty free if they are sourced from a royalty free sample. Chopping up a song does not clear a sample: the only way to do this is to secure an agreement with the owners of the copyright and master recording of the sampled song, before releasing anything created using that sample.

How do I make vocal chops?

The process for creating vocal chops will vary depending on your DAW, but essentially, you take an audio clip of a vocal and slice it into smaller portions. These portions can be rearranged, resampled, and manipulated to create fun textures and melodies to keep your listeners hooked.

Where can I use vocal chops?

We describe ideal vocal chop scenarios above, but you can essential use these beat building elements anywhere in your track that makes sense! A chorus hook, introduction, or as a transition between different sections or phrases can be an excellent space for vocal chops.

Vocal chops can make excellent additions to nearly any genre of music. Hopefully, this guide made it easier for you to envision their use cases within the context of your compositions, but don't take our word for it, put these strategies to the test! Have fun playing and experimenting with vocal chops in your next track.

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