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A Vocal Experiment that Seems to Be Working
#3047821 06/06/20 06:13 PM
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When you do all the vocals yourself, it's important to avoid sameness. Signal processing is one option, but I've been experimenting with options that involve the performance itself.

My vocals usually follow a progression: Scratch vocals, new vocal with some tweaks (maybe a lyric or melody change here and there) that fits in better with the tracks as they've developed, and then when all the tracks are nailed down, the final vocal.

Usually I'd record newer vocals over the older ones, but didn't do so in some songs and found that sometimes, replacing parts of the final vocal with sections from previous vocals adds a different vibe that makes the part more interesting.

So now I'm taking it one step further. I'm currently recording a song with a very sparse arrangement, which places more importance on the vocal than usual. There's nothing else to carry the song, not even a solo. So I'm going to record a vocal take in the morning, another in the afternoon, and another at night for a few days in a row and see what happens.

It's kind of like "meta-comping" where performances are comped instead of phrases.

Do any of you do this kind of thing?

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Re: A Vocal Experiment that Seems to Be Working
Anderton #3047823 06/06/20 06:37 PM
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I never record over anything. I may or may not use something later, if it's gone I've lost that option. Plenty of tracks available, just mute them and leave them until you feel like you are done tracking and see if anything is good there later. I've found it is "dangerous" for me to make decisions too soon after creating, letting things sit for a while can really change the value I place on them.

I think you are on a good path and it shows how we can change and evolve- curiosity and creativity can result in new ways of expressing - I hope I am in that mode to the end.

I've come to prefer simpler arrangements. I'd rather make it sound "big" (if/when the song requires it) by making the individual parts sound bigger.

I've always appreciated the beauty of silence in the music of others but it seems a hard lesson to learn when recording my own stuff. The ability to do a "kitchen sink" arrangement is tempting but I always end up feelling like I've created a mess - and I have. Long ago, Thelonius Monk used to catch my attention with his perfectly timed omissions, simple but compelling.

I don't consider a recording to be something that a live band could do, recording is a fantasy world where anything can happen.

Lately Ive been pondering using a bass tuned EADG with roundwounds AND a bass tuned BEAD - fretless with Rotosound Tru Bass strings (flat but brigher and more flexible) on the same song, some parts seem to want one or the other and why not?

I've also been working lately on what I call "open mic" style, just an acoustic guitar and vocals done live. I've learned a LOT by taking somebody else's song and reinterpreting it with more dynamics or slowing it way down and seeing what it can become. A recent one I have gotten some interesting variations from is Just Like A Woman by Bob Dylan. There is a lot to work with in that one!


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Re: A Vocal Experiment that Seems to Be Working
KuruPrionz #3048021 06/08/20 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
I never record over anything. I may or may not use something later, if it's gone I've lost that option. Plenty of tracks available, just mute them and leave them until you feel like you are done tracking and see if anything is good there later. I've found it is "dangerous" for me to make decisions too soon after creating, letting things sit for a while can really change the value I place on them.

I sort of split the difference. I don't like having an "unfinished" feel, so if I have a new part that I think is clearly better than an older part after A-Bing them, I nuke the older part. I know you can hide tracks and such in a DAW, but I dunno, committing to what I'm doing seems to get projects done faster.

Re: A Vocal Experiment that Seems to Be Working
Anderton #3048029 06/08/20 05:33 PM
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I don't keep something if it is just not good but questionable takes may get another spin in the context of where the song ends up. I agree, if I kept EVERYTHING it could get pretty messy.

In Waveform, clicking the Record button changes it to "Abort and Restart", I've used that fairly often, especially if I toss a clunker early in the take.

One thing I find helpful is the way Waveform allows adding tracks. If I select the bottom track of all the keeper tracks, I can add more tracks at that point and push all the "possibility tracks" down to the bottom.
It is also super simple to drag one or more tracks anywhere I want them, the session track numbers automatically re-set to the current layout.
Organized chaos? Guilty as charged...

It's sort of like keeping the usable bricks when tearing down a house, maybe they are part of the new house.

I am not so much in opposition of your way of working - it works for you - as just wanting to toss another possibility out there. Perhaps somebody will find it useful.
I am usually planning on a low track count for the final arrangement, I've done enough "kitchen sink mixes" to want to avoid that for the most part. So a few extra "strays" doesn't end up being a huge number.

I feel like there might be deeper problem in my song if I have to start "decorating" it too much. A signature decoration or flourish should be plenty, I've dug myself in way too deep enough times to not want to go there anymore. Hope any of the above makes sense, cheers, Kuru


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Re: A Vocal Experiment that Seems to Be Working
Anderton #3048054 06/08/20 08:32 PM
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I've used a variety of techniques - some intentional, some accidental - to help me nail vocals. I like your idea of recording full-thru takes multiple times at different times of the day. I bet your pipes like spreading out the work into shorter, more frequent sessions, too.

What I end up doing so often is recording a few scratch vocals 'till I feel like I at least have some sort of ideal to shoot for. Then in a longish mid-morning session I'll record pretty short sections over and over and over 'till I get one I really feel good about - that one becomes the actual take (the rest deleted.) In most cases, I record one phrase at a time, as many takes per line as it takes. So, yeah - it's record, rewind, delete, record, rewind, delete until I get a keeper then move on to the next phrase.

This technique I just developed on my own, as it's the same way I practice tunes on instruments. Bite sized pieces, over and over and over. There's no rush and no fees clocking in the home studio!

I get pretty fixated on how phrases begin and how they end. Such as swoop up into the first note (like Elton John does so much). Vibrato all thru or only on notes held a certain length? Hold the last note or clip it off? Start with a loud attack and drop volume and intensity from there? (like Boz Skaggs and lots of old time R&Bers). The first sound sets the mood, and the last sound has to set up the transition to the next phrase, etc.

I also tend not to record chorus sections and verse sections in the same session. They are so different, I seem to do better keeping them separate.

And I use different mics quite often between verses and chorus. Something detailed and full for the verses, something less focused and often less hi-fi for the choruses and backup parts.

I so envy the singers that can walk in, do 2 or 3 takes of the entire thing, and walk out, done. That's beyond my abilities...

nat

Re: A Vocal Experiment that Seems to Be Working
Anderton #3048218 06/09/20 10:44 PM
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I just designed a song to motivate myself to multi track record. And it's worked. I wrote a bluesy 2 part harmony melody - a lot of Eb 4 (above middle C) and F 4 . Problem is that it's hitting the top of my usable vocal range. So I'm forced to do a vibrato if I'm holding the note.

I recorded a piano bass (left hand) with rhythm chords (right hand) - trying not to be too busy and leaving room for some percussion and maybe some guitar (what I think of as) punches. But I had to work and do punch in recordings to fix spots where I muffed a lyric or a pitch. After all that work - my vocals are set - unless I detect a screw up. The fun will be freely inserting some percussion and some guitar - having left some space for trying things.

Kuru. You mentioned Monk. He had a knack for finding nooks and crannies in harmonies and rhythms. I have a personal theory that Monk's sweet spot was around 1957-1960. Coltrane played with Monk maybe in '57 for something like 8 months. My thought about them is that they were an idea pairing - Coltrane with his "sheets of sound" playing just about everything juxtaposed against Monk's halting funky syncopations. I have a thing for juxtapositions. But if you haven't heard them together....

But now I'm wondering what I might do sound wise with the vocals. Some distortion or something. I recorded the piano w/Rode NT4 XY and voice with a BLUE Baby Bottle bottle. The piano was recorded L 9oclock R 3 oclock and the vocal tracks straight up.

This is indeed forcing me to learn.

Re: A Vocal Experiment that Seems to Be Working
Strays Dave #3048236 06/10/20 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Strays Dave
Kuru. You mentioned Monk. He had a knack for finding nooks and crannies in harmonies and rhythms. I have a personal theory that Monk's sweet spot was around 1957-1960. Coltrane played with Monk maybe in '57 for something like 8 months. My thought about them is that they were an idea pairing - Coltrane with his "sheets of sound" playing just about everything juxtaposed against Monk's halting funky syncopations. I have a thing for juxtapositions. But if you haven't heard them together....

But now I'm wondering what I might do sound wise with the vocals. Some distortion or something. I recorded the piano w/Rode NT4 XY and voice with a BLUE Baby Bottle bottle. The piano was recorded L 9oclock R 3 oclock and the vocal tracks straight up.

This is indeed forcing me to learn.

My brother built a hi-fi system and somehow brought amazing records home. Even though he doesn't play in any notable way, he was a HUGE musical influence on me. I was into Cream, The Band, Procol Harum and all of sudden I'm listening to Miles, Monk and Trane - Tibetian Monks Chanting, Turkish Village Music, Story Telling Songs from Kenya with m'bira (thumb piano), Ali Akbar Khan, Blind Blake, Lightning Hopkins - just tons of fantastic music. Monk was unique, you can't help but notice the places he played air. Still dig it but don't listen to much of anything lately. Was a huge Mingus fan as well.

As to the vocals, maybe download Voxengo Boogex or Ace (not sure who makes it), both are free and good sounding tube guitar amp models. Maybe copy and paste a duplicate vocal track and blend one clean track with a dirtied up one.

You are on the right track - record stuff, see what happens, record more stuff.


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