Recording Part 5

Harmony Vocals, Backup Vocals and Ear Candy

 

††††† As we get closer to wrapping up the recording portion of this tutorial, itís important to remember that while the drums, bass and lead vocal are the foundation on which the song rests, the rhythm guitar and other instruments add the structure, the song is not complete until itís decorated properly. Thatís where harmony vocals, backup vocals and ear candy come in. They are what make the song interesting and fun to listen to.

††††† Harmony vocals can be treated as another lead vocal that is integral to the foundation of the song or they can be used as accents to emphasize certain parts of the lyric. The time to determine how the harmony vocals are to be used is in pre-production. Recording time is too valuable to spend trying to decide how the harmony vocals are going to be incorporated into the song. The recording process is virtually the same for harmony vocals as it is for the lead vocals. Donít accept sub-par performances just because they arenít the lead vocal. If they arenít right, theyíll stick out like a sore thumb. The most efficient way Iíve found to do this is to have the vocalist(s) that are singing harmony sing one verse or chorus at a time. Iíll set Sonar to loop that portion and they can sing several takes in one go. Then we go back and compare the takes to see which one is going to be the right one. I will sometimes combine 2 or more different takes to get what Iím looking for

††††† Backup vocals are most commonly the ooohs and aaahs and have to be treated as another instrument. If possible, everyone singing the backup vocals should be singing at the same time in order for them to hear the other vocalists and adjust to them. Itís really hard to stand in a vocal booth by yourself and sing ooohs by yourself. You feel kind of goofy and you donít know how the whole thing is going to sound like. The same technique of looping the section you want to record and have the performers sing to it is what I do here as well. Just like everything else in the recording process, donít think you can fix it in the mix. If someone is not up to the challenge, find someone else to cover their vocal part. They might get their feelings hurt but whatís important is the finished product. Itís permanent and youíre going to be judged by it for ever.

††††† Ear candy, as discussed on the website, are the little sounds you can just barely hear. They are an extremely effective tool to get people to listen more intently to the song but they have to be used judiciously or they can overpower the song. Remember, weíre decorating here and the last thing we want is for people to be turned off by too much. A really cool effect that can be used like a keyboard pad is to use an acoustic/electric guitar as though it were a microphone. Have the guitar tuned to the key of the song and plug it into an unused track. Play back the song as loudly as possible with the guitar as close to the speaker as possible. The strings will start to vibrate sympathetically and produce an eerie, almost haunting sound that is in perfect tune with the song and will rise and fall in volume. You can then use effects like a phase shifter or flanger that is tied to the tempo of the song to add more color. Another way to add some interest is to listen carefully to the rhythm guitar and try to pick out the overtones that are particularly interesting and them mimic them with another instrument or guitar feedback. These are just a couple of ways to and some interest to your songs. Experiment a bit and Iím sure youíll come up with a few of your own.

Your Home Studio - a basic tutorial on home recording studio setup, including building a home recording studio, digital recording techniques, computer recording information, recording software information, how to buy equipment for a home recording studio and operating an audio recording studio at homeYour Home Studio - a basic tutorial on home recording studio setup, including building a home recording studio, digital recording techniques, computer recording information, recording software information, how to buy equipment for a home recording studio and operating an audio recording studio at home

 

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Shure SM57 Instrument/Vocal Mic
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