How Jacob Collier uses a Vocal Arrangement Technique called Scooping

Compilation and analysis of Jacob Collier's use of a vocal arrangement technique called Scooping.

I made a compilation and analysis video of one of Jacob Collier’s vocal arrangement techniques, called Scooping (as described in June Lee’s transcriptions).

From my understanding, the gospel-oriented scooping is a set of two chords, with step-wise motion voice-leadings, often in straight eighth or sixteenth notes.

I went through all transcription videos available on YouTube and found almost no scooping technique used for rhythmic heavy, ethereal, or folk-like songs. Jacob usually use scooping for expressive, soulful, down to earth kind of vocal effects. It functions as either an uplifter or a downlifter, using the pentatonic scale, but of course being Jacob, he sometimes harmonizes them with chromatic substitutions.

Several observations after attempting to apply this techinque in my work:

  1. Pay attention to the word choices. Jacob Collier uses “wow” or “oh” for many scooping instances, but the effect is too recognizeable, and might not be fitting for genres other than the Steve Wonder type of R&B.
  2. Note-choice is important. Sometimes the most prominant voice is not the top one. Jacob Collier uses a lot of volume automation to bring out important voices, usually the one in pentatonic scale, in post-production.
  3. Layer voices in different tuplets. The effect sounds fantastic, although quite difficult to sing.