What is the term for a song that has had its music removed? That is, a song that originally had vocals and instruments, but now just has vocals?

(I know that term for the inverse case, i.e. a song where vocals have been removed and just the instruments remain. That one is called "karaoke". I need a term that I can google for software to remove instruments from a song)

  • 2
    I've heard the term "vocals only". Since in a recording of a song, unless it's "live" (in a concert), vocals are recorded separately, nobody actually removes the music, you just don't mix it in. Oct 7, 2015 at 16:32
  • 2
    I would probably call it a vocal track..
    – ssav
    Oct 7, 2015 at 16:34
  • 1
    A starting point would be sound.stackexchange.com/questions/23731/…. It might be too technical for a complete beginner, but it does suggest some programs.
    – Karen
    Oct 7, 2015 at 17:40
  • 2
    @dotNET Just so you know, that will require a lot more work and finesse than a beginner audio engineer might expect. The much simpler and more common way is to record the vocals separately, and release that as its own track in addition to the finished recording with all of the separate instrument tracks combined. Trying to separate the vocals from a finished recording will require precise editing, and will probably be impossible with many bands that have very murky sounds.
    – Crazy Eyes
    Oct 7, 2015 at 18:58
  • 1
    @stannius A song without vocals is an instrumental. A song with the vocals removed is a karaoke track. Unless you include the word version, it is assumed that at no point was there ever any singing. +1 to everyone who said that trying to do this is exceedingly difficult.
    – Mazura
    Oct 8, 2015 at 1:23

4 Answers 4


Even though a cappella is technically correct, I think the term you're really looking for is vocals.

If you're trying to isolate the vocal track from the instrumental tracks of a song (which I think is what you're doing), the result can be called: an isolated vocal track.

You can use these terms: isolated vocals, isolated vocal tracks, vocal track, vocal only songs, as a search term on most audio/video websites on the web.

  • A cappella can also mean a vocal performance of a song with the background music stripped. Oct 7, 2015 at 16:42
  • @Nihilist_Frost Interesting. I've never heard a cappella used that way before. Could you give me an example? Oct 7, 2015 at 16:44
  • This answer more correctly describes what I'm searching for.
    – dotNET
    Oct 7, 2015 at 16:45
  • Then me and other people misinterpreted your question. I goofed my first comment on this answer - The background music is stripped, but other vocals are used to substitute for the stripped music. Oct 7, 2015 at 16:49
  • 2
    @DamkerngT. This is a rendition of the Final Fantasy VII victory fanfare acapella. These renditions usually entail that a talented group of vocalists (or single vocalist, through editing) provide the role that instruments would normally play, in addition to any sung lyrics. Think of the "barbershop quartet" American trope. A cappella refers to this; a song rendered without instruments and only with vocals. I don't think it can be used to refer to a vocal track that's separated from an already-recorded piece.
    – Crazy Eyes
    Oct 7, 2015 at 18:49

a cappella

(With reference to choral music) sung without instrumental accompaniment:


This doesn't necessarily capture the had it's music removed part of your question. There might be a technical term for isolating vocals from a song in an audio software application, but I don't think there is any term in general use.


(Of music) performed on instruments, with no vocals: a largely instrumental piece

This is a more accurate term than karaoke when describing a music without vocals. Karaoke implies a pre-recorded backing track that’s used as an accompaniment for singing.

  • Incidentally, I was googling for an audio software that could isolate vocals for me and therefore needed a term to begin with. :)
    – dotNET
    Oct 7, 2015 at 16:32
  • Vocals are the singing/voice component of a song, as far as I heard. Oct 7, 2015 at 16:38

It's probably an a cappella song.

A description over here:



Actually, "karaoke" is the term for the act of singing badly over an instruments-only track, commonly inebriated...not for the track itself.

In the media world, especially in the world of music mixing, it's common to be asked to do a "music-minus" track, which is understood to be the backing tracks mixed with the vocals muted. Common use of these "music-minus" tracks is for television performances, where the singer will be singing live against the backing tracks. Another common use is when the vocal will be dubbed in a different language.

  • It's spelled karaoke. (I'd correct the answer myself except for the silly "you've not corrected 6 or more characters" rule)
    – bye
    Oct 8, 2015 at 11:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .