19 August 2013

Productive Procrastination: Gender-bending Rock Bands

Due to recent, very unfortunate events in my personal life, I've been finding it harder to work on my novels (or at least write as many words as I used to on a daily basis), and it's been more of a challenge than ever to sit down in front of a blank page without thinking about the past.

And since my latest work in progress is about a boy who finds love and a purpose in life through being in a garage rock band (tentatively titled: The Rocket Baby Dolls, or as I like to call it on Twitter, #RockBandNovel), I turned to music for inspiration and hopefully also motivation. But the longer I listened to certain songs that were on my WIP's playlist, the more I wished that certain songs were sung by male artists rather than female so they could better fit my novel (which has a male protagonist as well as a male lead singer in the band within the story). So after a few minutes of wandering about on the Internet, I figured out how to make female singers sound male (without making them sound like complete aliens) using a program called Audacity.

This is what Audacity looks like, opened up.
And yes, this is a screenshot from my computer.
The general rule of thumb, I discovered, is that if you decrease pitch (using the effects in Audacity) by 20%, this makes a female artist sound male (with a little adjusting that could make the final percentage between 17 and 25, depending on the original voice of the individual). Do the opposite (increase pitch by 20%), and you could, theoretically, make a male artist sound female.*

The video below was the end result of my experimentation. I also ended up gender-bending songs by male artists, just to see what they'd sound like. Some songs turned out better than I thought they would, while others didn't really sound that great at all. Please take a listen down below. Featured bands include: The Civil Wars, Metric, The Killers, and more. These are all songs that are in my WIP's playlist, which I will also share on this blog after it's finalized.

Although the experimentation might not be directly related to writing my novel (ie: messing around with people's voices won't get words written on the page), I feel like it's helped a lot in terms of developing its "sound," since one of the challenges I face with this particular manuscript is putting into text what is essentially a very aural world (due to the fact that the readers won't be able to actually hear what the band or any other musical event in the story sounds like.) And the better I develop the "sound" of this novel, the better I will be able to put into words what I hear in my mind. Additionally, like with every WIP, just thinking about the characters and the plot while listening to the different versions of the songs really helped me focus on the ideas I have for this project.

Here's hoping that this inspiration is enough for me to get out of my slump and finish writing.

But in the meantime, I hope you guys found my experimentation to be interesting! If you have any more questions on "gender-bending" music or would like to listen to more of the gender-bended songs in the video (or have requests for another song that you'd like to be gender-bended), please feel free to comment below or send me a tweet! :)

*I say theoretically because I found it much harder to make male artists sound female. I sometimes completely failed no matter how hard I tried (see: Julian Casablancas, the lead singer of the Strokes, in the video above...and the female version of the Smiths was such a catastrophic failure that I didn't even dare include them in this, haha) and had to experiment more with the pitch percentage (which ended up being anything from 15 to 35) on the other songs. It might work better with other artists but the ones I chose were only ok at best (although the Killers ended up sounding surprisingly good.)


  1. Best of luck escaping your writing slump. Your latest novel sounds interesting and your idea about music might work for you so go for it.

    1. Thank you so much, Sheena-kay! :)

  2. I've been in someone of a slump this fall, too. But I do like the sound of your next book. We will find our stride in time. :)



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