Make a Formant Filter
Formant filters (loosely) simulate the characteristics of the human voice. When a formant filter is set to the letter “E,” for example, it emphasizes the frequencies contained in the “E” sound, cutting out everything else. Sweeping the formant filter’s frequency causes the vowel sound to change. If you’ve heard a dubstep “talking” bassline, you’ve heard a formant filter in action. Build your own formant filter in Ableton Live by combining the formant EQ presets in an effect rack, then sweeping through them using a macro knob.
Drop an audio effect rack onto a synth or sample. Navigate to the EQ Eight plug-in folder in the Ableton plug-ins browser, then open the Formant folder. Drop the Vocal A, Vocal E, Vocal I, Vocal O and Vocal U presets into the effect rack (click the image for an enlargement):
Click the “Chain” button in the effect rack to open the chain selector. Drag and drop the blue chain boxes so that they’re more or less evenly spaced across the chain selection region:
Right-click the row of numbers at the top of the chain selection region and select “Map to Macro 1.” Turn the “Chain Selector” knob to cycle through the vowels:
To make the transitions between the vowel sounds smoother, drag the white lines at the top of the chain selector box so that the selector crossfades between the effects instead of jumping from one to the next: