Author Topic: cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.  (Read 4930 times)

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drblowthingsup

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cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.
« on: November 27, 2009, 05:07:29 PM »
I had every plan to plaster my new song with zillions of vocal harmonies and i just cant seem to get anything sounding badass enough, and i noticed watching the 'here is the news' frost* report that the orchestra of voice is a pretty big part of the frost* sound, so is there any advice by any of you experiency types for making unnecessarily big harmonies?
:D

Offline Jem

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Re: cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2009, 06:45:25 PM »
It's a shame the live album's not out yet coz I tackle this very subject on the accompanying Frost Report whilst doing the bv's for The Forget You Song.

In a nutshell, I do it by not autotuning the bv's first of all. AT'ing BV's makes them thinner unless you start tuning them individually +/- 10 cents here and there. But that's deeply tedious.

Then I tighten them all with Vocalign, this is optional although it helps greatly with diction I find.

The other trick is to not do hundreds of the same thing, unless you're after a football terrace kinda vibe. I find 3 takes per harmony does the job for me. But don't just stop at root, third and fifth, try octaves and 7ths and 9ths, pedal notes, whispers even.

The fourth thing, and this is the secret weapon, is to sing each take slightly differently, try going a bit operatic on some takes, or going a bit munchkin on others, try a slightly different accent (yes, really) on some too. Vocalign will take care of the timings so it'll still sound coherent.

It makes for a clear, yet giant sound.

The next trick is keep the instruments out of the way of the vocal frequencies, you'll most likely need to go a bit automation mad for that with the eq's of stuff.

There. My brain is now yours! :lol:

Offline Jem

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Re: cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2009, 06:47:31 PM »
Oh and try mixing some vocoder in as well, but play great big bonkers chords! :D

Offline Pedro

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Re: cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2009, 06:55:19 PM »
*re-doubles the want on TPE
"Putting food on the table is more important than 7/8"

Offline Tricky

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Re: cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2009, 08:23:44 PM »
Jem said.... techy stuff  :roll:
Well I didn't understand much of that, but I'm sure it's the sort of masterclass material that you wouldn't get anywhere else.

And like Pedro said: Roll on TPE!   (as opposed to aerosol TPE)  :oops:
When the future\'s looking dark, we\'re the ones who have to shine...

Offline DueyC

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Re: cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2009, 09:23:46 PM »
Quote from: "Jem"
I find 3 takes per harmony does the job for me.

That's how John Wetton does the Asia harmonies...and he learned it from Mike Stone, who was the engineer responsible for Bohemian Rhapsody.

Offline sawtooth

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Re: cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2009, 01:49:16 AM »
Another chap doing absolutely huge vocal choruses is Devin Townsend and it's really exemplified by his latest album Addicted.  On board for this album he's got an absolutely stunning singer Anneke van Giersbergen of The Gathering and Ayreon and her crystal clear vocals are stacked up in close harmonies.  Gawd - I sound like his flippin' agent! ;)

Another trick he uses is to add noises or other subliminal sounds that can't really be heard in the mix, but reinforce the vocals. I seem to remember Jem's protools vids doing a similar thing with little details like that.

Devin has put up a similar Protools walkthrough :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3D5OIyTZM9U

in which he shows all minutae that go to make up the track Supercrush, but you really need to hear the finished track to make sense of it, since Devy's 'tutorial' is a bit more hapazard and random than the one Jem did of Here is the News.

I suppose this really belongs in the Other Bands thread or maybe it's sufficiently techy for Gear Corner. If anyone thinks it needs to be moved (or deleted  ;) ) feel free but I thought it added an extra illustration to this topic  :D

Offline Trapezium Artist

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Re: cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2009, 01:53:06 PM »
I'm quite torn about such "exposés", to be honest.

On one hand, yes, it's interesting to hear the processes and techniques by which just a man and his dog (or a man and his cube  ;) ) can put together such complex and elaborate pieces of music, bit by bit, from fairly simple ingredients, and I don't for a moment deny that there is huge musical talent, as well as technical skill, needed in order to ensure it ends up sounding wonderful (like Frost*, rather than the dog's dinner that that Devin Townsend track sounds like in its final incarnation).

On the other hand though, I always feel slightly let down when I hear of autotuning, vocaligning, melodyning, and wotnot, as if I somehow can't quite trust what I'm hearing as being fully human, authentic, natural. I mean, I'm no folky-type and I have no illusions that much of the music that I love has indeed been manipulated in some way, either via ProTools today or a razor-blade and sellotape in Eddie Offord's day. But much like with sausages, I find I don't really want to know how it's made ...  :shock:

Perhaps that's why live music is so compelling: despite its imperfections relative to the recorded version, it seems to bring you closer to the source ...

Speaking of which, this evening we're off to hear Strauss' "Ein Heldenleben" in The Hague conducted by Edo de Waart ... always good for the (heroic) soul ...  :D

[Edit: don't get me wrong, Jem; I hugely appreciate that you share this stuff with us in such an open way. I'm just voicing a wider philosophical concern I have about life, the universe, and everything: must be because it's a grey old day outside ...]

Offline rogerg

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Re: cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2009, 01:59:19 PM »
yeah, sorta like finding out that Van Gogh painted by number....

Offline gr8gonzo

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Re: cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2009, 02:17:46 PM »
Quote from: "rogerg"
yeah, sorta like finding out that Van Gogh painted by number....

whaaaaat???  :cry:
...and I can feel the world is turning...turn around

Offline Mouse

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Re: cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2009, 03:25:01 PM »
I must say Jem, I really do appreciate these little tech explanations and tutorials. As someone who is fascinated by harmonies, I found it fascinating and very educational. Brilliant stuff!  :D

Have you thought about teaching music technology...?  ;)

@Roger: Heh.  8-)

Just thought I'd mention, Songs From The Wood by Jethro Tull has some amazing vocal harmonies in it.  :)

Offline RacingHippo

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Re: cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2009, 05:37:50 PM »
Prog + awesome vocal harmonies = Moon Safari.

Forgive me if I'm repeating myself... ;)

No autodyne malarky going on here => http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q--hBeDDWBo
(Although I suspect they'd have benefitted from more than 2 mics and some better monitoring!)

I wonder if they use vocalign on their studio recordings...

Edit: here's a better one. With no mics OR monitors :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnAHcez9Hak
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Offline Jem

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Re: cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2009, 06:01:05 PM »
Studio trickery t'was ever thus. I blame The Beatles.  :lol:

Autotune gets such a lot of bad press. It's no more dangerous than a vocoder. And the world LOVES a vocoder! :D

Offline Gandalf1986

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Re: cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2009, 06:08:19 PM »
I love it indeed! Even though the name sounds like the name of a giant japanese robot! LOL
You talk
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You miss the point completely
These things I do they\'re not for you
I\'m sick and I\'m tired
Leave me alone...
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Offline Mouse

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Re: cacophonies of harmonius awesomeness.
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2009, 09:37:32 PM »
I'd love Vocoders even more if those Martians would leave them alone.  ;)

And they were cheaper. In fact, I wish all super brilliant keyboards were cheaper.  :lol: