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Phil: a delay question, in the studio with Phil


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  • Phil: a delay question, in the studio with Phil

    sup phil. since you are my lead music production/studio pundit, i figured i'd ask you first.


    basically on lots of records, many newer rap songs and tons of other songs, you'll hear a verse and then just one word, usually the last one, gets repeated in tempo however many times. i assume they're not just turning on a delay pedal with trails just as the singer is about to sing that word and then turning it off right after the word is sung. i guess in this age it is all digital post-production where you can take a segment and apply repeats just to that.

    but also like on pink floyd's comfortably numb the word 'hello' and a couple others seem to get the same treatment. in that case was it just sung repeatedly (it doesn't sound like it to me) or any ideas on how they managed that?

    but then also for live versions of more current songs usually the word is repeated too through a delay. how do they pull this off live smoothly?

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  • #2

    I'm not Phil, but...

    You could always automate a send from a track, and have it "turn on" (increase the level of the send) just for the word only.  Attach that send to a delay (or to another track with a delay on it), and crank the repeats.

    I don't know about live, unless someone is doing the above manually on the console?  (Or, perhaps the artist can click on a button that splits the signal and routs it to a delay in parallel.)


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    • ispunk
      ispunk commented
      Editing a comment
      You could duplicate the vocal track and mute it until the last word and put the delay on the duped track

    • Phil O'Keefe
      Phil O'Keefe commented
      Editing a comment

      Fractal nailed it - :smileythumbsupsmall: - you automate the aux send that's feeding the delay, bringing it up only on the word you want to apply the delay effect to.

      For live, you just reach over and turn up the corresponding aux send that is feeding the delay line - on a song like Comfortably Numb, it's fairly easy since the world "hello" is fairly "isolated" - by that I mean there's some space in front of it and after it, making such a manual aux send "mix move" quite easy to accomplish. If it's a word that is in the middle of a line, it would be much trickier to pull off in a live situation.

      As far as how it was done in the studio on Comfortably Numb, I'm not certain... but we're talking 1979 tech here, so it's quite possible they used an early digital delay for that. They could have used tape delays instead, or even repeated the word several times as part of the vocal performance as you suggested, and then just take each subsequent appearance of the word and make it softer / darker at the board to simulate an echo effect, but I'd be really surprised if that's how it was actually done in the studio.