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Leadvox sounds so different from harmony vox in this hit C&W record...Why?

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  • Leadvox sounds so different from harmony vox in this hit C&W record...Why?

    Here's a great old Conway Twitty recording, dating (I think) to the 1990's.

    Listen to the chorus. (00:50) This is one of those C&W records which blends a classic-sounding leadvox with a very modern rock-sounding harmony vox treatment, a-la The Eagles or The Beach Boys.

    Question: How do they get the leadvox to sound so sharp, focused and nuanced (lots of nice transients to suggest vocality, star quality, personality).... while the backup harmonies sound so streamlined, airy, transparent and "anonymous"...?

    If I can even use some synaesthesia here, it sounds like the harmony voices have been stretched upward, elongated and narrowed... giving them a very "vertical" kind of feel. As though they were a "curtain" of sound.

    How do you get such different sounding voxes on the same record... Micing? Compression? EQ? Exciters? Chorusing? Stereo imaging? (I do think this record is pre-autotune, and I wouldn't be surprised if the harms were all overdubbed by the same guy).

    Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


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  • #2
    A good recorded song with a good natural ambience of a larger recording room. I don't hear any artifical reverberators.

    The background vocals are more distant from a stereo pair, so about 2 yards from the stereo pair, eventually tracked more then one time and each time the choir changed position and stepped back 20 inch, and the choir also uses a stereo room pair on the choir, it could be the same stereo pair as the lead vocals, or a seperate pair.

    The musicians are seperated with gobo.

    The recording room must be huge.

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    • #3
      EEK. I'M NOT WORTHY. Thanks, Angelinissimo.
      Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


      Friend me on FACEBOOK!

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      • #4
        What he said. Small vocal group, recorded in stereo at a little distance, double or triple tracked. I'll typically squash backups with a fast attack to get that smoove sound. But you tell they've sung very much that way too. Very smooth, no transients.

        Contrasted with the lead vocals probably recorded 6 inches away in mono.

        Another obvious example of this would Micheal McDonald. He has a lead vocal persona and a backup persona. Thinking of Minute By Minute here. There's lots of in your face spit and breath and all sorts of sounds the mouth produces in his lead vocal. Once he shifts to backup though, he gets very smooth in his performance. Eating the consonants to a degree. Just the opposite of his lead vocal performance. Then they stack his voice to a Micheal McDonald choir, basically emulating the Nashville singers on the Twitty track.
        __________
        Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
        Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
        Jesus

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        • #5

          The recording room must be huge.


          How huge is huge? Can you posit some possible dimensions of this room?
          Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


          Friend me on FACEBOOK!

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          • #6
            The backup choir: Two dudes? Three? Overdubbed , what, three times? (with extensions like 7ths and 9ths ghosted-in as sweetening?)
            Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


            Friend me on FACEBOOK!

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            • #7
              A. Einstein has got it right. It's a technique I learned from Bruce Swedien and continue to use every day. It can be done in a medium sized room, there's enough distance you can get on the mic to make it physically farther away from the Ld Vocalist. Conway's on a great mic and close to it in a booth more than likely, while the BGs are in a brighter room farther away from the mic. You can close your eyes and see that the BG singers are physically behind the Ld Vocalist. Back in the day, they commonly used a Harmonizer on the BGs adding a few cents lower, and a few cents higher to thicken them up.

              I do this on Instruments as well, and decide in the mix if the A GTR player should be in front of the piano player or behind the piano player, and the same with all the other players too. Depth my friend. This can be done while micing the original performance, or after the fact by re-amping.

              I looked for the song on Spotify to hear it clearer, but couldn't find it in the huge catalog of songs that Conway has, but did hear a song called "She's Got One Thing On Her Mind," and it was the same treatment with the same BG singer('s). Now I'm going to be listening to Conway all day .. thanks a lot Ras.

              Russ
              Nashville
              "In Order To Predict The Future .... Create It"

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              • #8
                Thank YOU, Russ. I love pre-autotuned country.

                Those old Harmonizers.... how did they work, exactly, with no digitization of the signal?
                Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


                Friend me on FACEBOOK!

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                • #9


                  This is probably the unit used, also another cool trick, was to run Vocals through a Dolby B card, even though they weren't recorded with Dolby B, just use it as an effect.


                  Russ
                  Nashville
                  "In Order To Predict The Future .... Create It"

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                  • #10

                    Seems to me like it could be a chamber, digital and/or plate but there are buckets of added reverb. And it's gated in a fakey way. Totally artificial sounding overall, no matter how the reverberation components were captured or generated. Very 80s. (Yes, used as a pejorative.)


                    With re the b/u vox, it's the harmony parts they're singing, of course, but they certainly appear to have thinned out the bottom to get them to float in their range a little better without getting in the way of other instruments. Reading what others have written, it sounds right to me about the tracking of them. I remember hearing about the harmonizer trick as Russ describes back in the 80s but I wasn't working with many harmony groups back then. (And when I was, they were usually chanting something destroying corrupt, bourgeois society. ) I've since used all sorts of pitch shifting tricks on vocals, including burying in somewhat tuned copies of lead vocals.
                    .

                    music and social links | recent listening

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                    • #11
                      How huge is huge? Can you posit some possible dimensions of this room?


                      since you asked specific question in the OT, I concentrated on those questions while I listened to the song once ----> intuitivelly I thought it must be a very reflective movie sound stage, the size where they record full orchestras, how big are they, I would say something in the region of at least 20 x 20 yard, rather larger.

                      ... since Russ is here, there is a photo on the wall in Bruce's office where he records Michael and a full orchestra, Michael sings reather at the edge of the room near the wall and eventually seperetaed by a little gobo, and the orchestra fills the whole movie soundstage, I think that room is at least 30 x 30 yards.

                      We often record huge rooms, but only bring this rooms in on very low levels. Also slow songs tend rather to have longer ambiences, simply because there is more time and space for large ambiences in songs with slower tempi.

                      And Russ, thank you for the great mix of the James Bond movie theme song !!! ---> I just do that song once more with an Chinese punk electro band from Beljing in a few week, they had a sonic shock when they heard your mix, hee hee

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                      • #12
                        You work with Bruce Swedien, Angelo?
                        new album - smoke
                        forum - the asylum

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                        • #13


                          also another cool trick, was to run Vocals through a Dolby B card, even though they weren't recorded with Dolby B, just use it as an effect.


                          Russ
                          Nashville


                          Hence that "airy" quality?
                          Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


                          Friend me on FACEBOOK!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            A. Einstein .... that's YOU now Mambo ??? Gosh I'd sure like to hear the Chinese guys when your finished.


                            Russ
                            Nashville
                            "In Order To Predict The Future .... Create It"

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                            • #15
                              You work with Bruce Swedien, Angelo?


                              Bruce records and mixes for us. I make arrangements for Bruce's production.

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