Improve Your Rap Flow with Rap Vocal Improvisation | Learning To Scat



In today’s video, I’m going to show you how to improve your rap flow with Rap Vocal Improvisation by learning to scat.

Scatting is something many rappers struggle with and it’s such an important tool that we use to not only come up with dope rap cadences and catchy hooks, but it’s also a key tool we use to make our lyrics and cadences work perfectly together.

At the end of the day, every syllable you rap is a music note. And once you get good at scatting you will have hundreds of different ways you could take any of your lyrics and structure them musically within your bars! 

Because scatting in essence is the ability to replicate a musical pattern and change it in many different drastic or subtle ways. This allows us to never be tied-down 100% to any cadence because we know so many ways to change any cadence and make it sound good!

GETTING STARTED

To get started with scatting just pick a 1 bar cadence pattern from one of your favorite songs.

And stick to using 2 sounds you can say fast back to back like “muh” “nuh”

“Muh-nuh-muh-nuh-Muh-nuh-muh-nuh-Muh-nuh-muh-nuh-Muh-nuh-muh-nuh- Money!”

As you get more comfortable with scatting you will use many more sounds, but for now, keep it simple!

When it comes to the mechanics of how scatting works, there are two main elements you must understand. The first element to scatting is Translation.

1 TRANSLATION

What I mean by Translation is the ability to take a cadence from one song and correctly rap it over another instrumental.

For today’s example, I’ve taken a bar of J Cole’s cadence from the 0:53 second mark of his song “Pride Is The Devil” and I’m rapping it over an instrumental I produced called “Bounty Hunter”. If you like this instrumental I’ll post a link to where you can get it in the video description below.

Here’s how it sounds with me first rapping his lyrics, and then me scatting his cadence.

A key takeaway here is that you don’t have to remember all the lyrics in order to scat someone’s cadence. In fact, we already do this when we’re trying to sing a song we don’t remember all the lyrics to. That’s because It’s easier to remember musical patterns than it is lyrics.

Now here are some tips to make sure that the cadence you’re using will translate well over your instrumental of choice.

1 Beginning

Pay attention to where the cadence begins. Does it land on the 1st beat? Lead into the 1st beat? Or come after the 1st beat? If you get this wrong your cadence won’t feel the same. 

2 Tempo

Your cadence may not feel right If there is more than a 20 bpm difference between the instrumental you’re scatting over and the song you got your cadence from.

You’ll know if you run into this issue by ear if you notice you’re having to scat your cadence significantly faster or slower than the song you got it from.

If this is the case either pick a cadence from another song that’s closer to your instrumentals’ tempo or pick a different instrumental that’s closer to the tempo of the song you got your cadence from.

If you’re curious to know the tempo of a song you can use a free tool like Tunebat to quickly get a fairly accurate tempo reading.

2 IMPROVISATION

The second element of scatting is Improvisation. This is the act of taking a cadence that you’ve successfully translated from another song and then you play around with changing it in many different ways! And there are 3 main core techniques of doing this which will allow you to take any cadence and improvise it in hundreds of different ways!

1 Divide & Merge

DIVIDE

Divide some longer notes such as 8th notes into two 16th notes. For example, on J Coles cadence I could turn both 8th notes from beat 1 into four 16th notes.

Do you see how much difference changing only 2 notes makes but it still feels very similar to the same cadence?

MERGE

You can also do the reverse and merge some multiple shorter notes into longer notes such as turning two 16th notes into one 8th note.

For example, I turned two 16th notes into one 8th note on both beat 3 and beat 4.

2 Change Where The Cadence Begins or Ends

The second way to improvise your cadences is to change where your cadence begins or ends.

BEGINNING

For example, on J Cole’s cadence, he begins directly on the 1st beat. So I’m going to pause for the entire 1st beat and half of the 2nd beat.

ENDING

Now let’s do the opposite and keep the beginning of J Cole’s cadence the same but change the ending. J Cole’s original cadence fills in the entire 2nd half of his bar with 16th notes. I’m going to simple pause for the entire 4th beat.

3 Add or Reduce Pauses

And the 3rd way we improvise cadences is by adding or eliminating pauses. In J Cole’s cadence, there are zero pauses. I’m going to simply pause for the 1st half of the 2nd beat! 

Now that you know all three of these core scatting techniques try to use each of them one at a time on a cadence that you like. And once you feel comfortable start combining all of them together at the same time to unlock even more possibilities! 

And don’t let all the visual graphs I used today throw you off! Their purpose is to help you visually understand the mechanics of how we improvise cadences. When we’re scatting we’re not thinking about every single note we use and where it’s placed. Scatting is all about feeling and hearing not thinking. I could scat for 1 minute and it would take me hours to break down and logically understand everything I did! 

If you’re someone who’s struggled with scatting, which one of today’s tips did you find to be the most helpful?

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