That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by twilightsong »

I don't know for a fact, but it wouldn't surprise me if ELO made heavy use of an Eventide unit to get that really tight, pitch-perfect harmonization. I don't object to that, but personally never cared for it. I much prefer the sound groups like the Raspberries or even ABBA would achieve -- natural, simple, and gorgeous.

Of course NONE of them come close to the rich, beautiful harmonies that the old groups got, groups like the Moonglows, Platters, Pied Pipers, etc.

I'm not a big fan of harmonizing with oneself. Obviously, if you're doing your own thang at home on your DAW, it's better than nothing. But I think it's often better to employ somebody else with a voice that compliments your own.

The great harmony duo's were, uh, great because of the interesting ways their voices combined with each other: Everly Bros... John, Paul, and often George... Simon and Garfunkel.

Michael Jackson (by way of Quincy Jones) created some nice harmonies with himself, however, and it sounds like he made pretty heavy use of a Harmonizer. It worked for him, and the music of his era.

Except for Country, I think those days are past us.

I know I haven't addressed your question... sorry :lol:
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by HowlingUlf »

They were musicians in a time when musicians were musicians so they had practiced their butts off to prepare for all sorts of musical high precision acrobatics like being able to sing without autotune but instead including ear training, harmony classes and harmony singing.

But you can try a VST compressor ...
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by HowlingUlf »

Steve Fogal wrote:But another example would be Freddy Mercury, he did all the harmonies and obtained a similar sound to ELO and he of course pulled it off. Well, I'm certainly no freddy Mercury :roll:
He was backed up by Roger Taylor and Brian May as well. John Deacon prefered to just play the bass. I liked Roger Taylors voice better than FM's, much rawer and it was him that sung the top harmonies, not Mercury. Listen to "Live Killers" to hear mr. Mercury cheap out and chose a lower melody than the original! I can't listen to that album anymore! Never the less he's heads and shoulders above just about any other frontman/composer/singer. Brian May had a softer voice that probably blended well with the other two. OTOH he did his own guitar harmonizing stuff that nobody but Les Paul himself ever tried. Queen was ... a good band hahaha! 8-) 8-) 8-) 8-) 8-)

BTW listen to what Les Paul and Mary Ford did ... IN THE FREAKING FIFTIES!!! :o The only explanation is that they didn't know any better. They didn't understand that they couldn't do that so they did it anyway. Today some of it sound a little corny but from a technical standpoint it's flawless!

And Mary Ford sung harmony with herself. I never understood why you can't do that? I know there is a mantra exercized by a large number of people that harmonizing with yourself is not a good idea but I don't think it sounds bad, strange or in any way inferior to havinging two or more different singers??? :?
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by Paul Woodlock »

Steve Fogal wrote:ELO is the only thing that pops in my head when I think of a certain sound..there may be other bands or tunes that use this, but I'm drawing a blank for better examples...

But, I have this one song that I'm trying to get that, and I sang a bunch of backround harmonies yesterday and that itself gives me at least a glimmer of what I'm after but the pitches are off a bit and I'm listening to them mixed fairly low and without any FX's or treatment.

What can be done to treat this type of vocal to get that "ELO" stacked harmony vocal sound? I tend to think it's in part, the harmony itself for starters :idea:

Should they then be overly compressed? Squashed to no end? Doubled up? What other suggestions?

I also have another tune that's going to require such a background vocal sound (not currently working on).
Record each harmony 12 times and pan 6 left and 6 right. You want each pitch to be sightly off to create the chorus effect. If you record a take that's too off delete it and re-record it.
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by HowlingUlf »

think solo violin VS string section ;)
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by HowlingUlf »

Use Cubase! :idea: :lol:

you can set the locators in Cubase to loop over a small portion of the song and while it's playing over and over you zoom in with your mind and ears on the melody and learn it to perfection i.e. learn how your lead vox sounds so you can repeat it to perfection one section after the other. If you listen to a loop like that you start to hear it in a new light so to speak. Little inflictions you didn't notice at first jump out at you etc. Try to parrot it perfectly and eventually you really know the lead line.

Then you can figure out the first harmony line and record that. The same with a third individual line if you really thing you need that. After that it's just doubling and adding an octave above and/or below and more doubling.

Did I say more doubling? Don't forget that! :)
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by Guest »

You certainly are not Freddie Mercury. Never will be, or anything even close.

Now, go punish yourself. You deserve it.

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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by Paul Woodlock »

Steve Fogal wrote:
Paul Woodlock wrote: Record each harmony 12 times and pan 6 left and 6 right. You want each pitch to be sightly off to create the chorus effect. If you record a take that's too off delete it and re-record it.
Wow, and I thought my idea of only doubling each 3 part harmony, then panning L/R was a lot of tracks! :shock: One thing for sure is, the raw 3 part harmonies I've done sound weak, so multiples would make it stronger...especially on the falsetto notes.

I can do slightly off pitches no problemo!

Also... The reason I brought up asking little to no effect (reverb/delay) is because that sound is so tight and closed (best explanation I have) ...maybe the sheer number of vocal tracks will act to compensate being that they won't be in perfect unison..or maybe it's all the compression giving that smooth tightness.
Yup sheer number of tracks gives the fat chorus effect. record with compression and add a bit on the group too

The good thing today is that in cubase you can easily edit the multi tracks to tighten up the consonants.

btw - I once read a thread, on gearslutz I think, between some guy and the Earth Wind and Fire engineer George Massenburg about how a certain vocal sound was achieve on one of EWFs albums. Guy was convinced it was effects. Massenburg tried hard to convince him it was just sung that way.

I used to record mass vocal harmony on 24 trk machines by copying a rough mix of the tune onto another 24 trk tape and using the other 22 tracks to build up huge overdubs of harmonies. then mix down and spin them back onto the main multi-track as a stem pair.
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by Paul Woodlock »

Steve Fogal wrote:
Paul Woodlock wrote: Yup sheer number of tracks gives the fat chorus effect. record with compression and add a bit on the group too

The good thing today is that in cubase you can easily edit the multi tracks to tighten up the consonants.

btw - I once read a thread, on gearslutz I think, between some guy and the Earth Wind and Fire engineer George Massenburg about how a certain vocal sound was achieve on one of EWFs albums. Guy was convinced it was effects. Massenburg tried hard to convince him it was just sung that way.

I used to record mass vocal harmony on 24 trk machines by copying a rough mix of the tune onto another 24 trk tape and using the other 22 tracks to build up huge overdubs of harmonies. then mix down and spin them back onto the main multi-track as a stem pair.
Well, been playing around with the backround vocal tracks, cutting out all low end with EQ made it sound a lot more smooth with just the upper frequencies sparkling through..it sounded cluttery in the mix beforehand. They have to all be resung anyway...so I'll do the multiple takes then, edit for the best multiples.
Yeah forgot to mention, you'll get low mid build up and have to cut it out. :) - try singing some bass harmonies to add to the mix too :)
Ah, the limitations of ONLY 24 tracks...those were the days :) Just think that if only The Beatles had Cubase back then! I doubt if Paul M. would have his bass on just the left track.
I occasionally come across some old 60s soul MP3s in my collection that have instruments hard panned. Sounds quite refreshing. :)
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by twilightsong »

Paul Woodlock wrote: I used to record mass vocal harmony on 24 trk machines by copying a rough mix of the tune onto another 24 trk tape and using the other 22 tracks to build up huge overdubs of harmonies. then mix down and spin them back onto the main multi-track as a stem pair.
I've done that, too, but I did it the real man's way -- using a 1/2" 4-track and a 1/4" 2-track!
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by twilightsong »

Steve Fogal wrote:
Ah, the limitations of ONLY 24 tracks...those were the days :) Just think that if only The Beatles had Cubase back then! I doubt if Paul M. would have his bass on just the left track.
What a lot of people don't know is that all the Beatles albums except the last two (Abbey Road, Let it Be) were first mixed in mono -- the Fab Four, George Martin, and Geoff Emerick sitting in front of a mixing board driving a single center-mounted speaker. Then, after the Beatles left, Martin and Emerick would produce "stereo" versions, and when the Beatles heard them, they invariably HATED them.

It was only recently that a boxed set of the original mono recordings was released, and, completist that I am, I bought it. I think you can buy some of these individual mixes on iTunes now.

As Steve said, the stereo mixes leaves a lot to be desired, at least as far as the modern ear hears them -- bass and drums to the left, guitar and harmony voc to the right, etc. Still, the strength of the songs mitigates this aspect.

But the mono versions are a revelation. In mono, a song like "Ticket to Ride" sounds MASSIVE -- a huge wall of glorious sound coming at you. I bet if I played it back over just one HUGE speaker it'd sound even better. The way they were meant to be heard
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by HornForHire »

I agree with what's been said: double each harmonie a few times, cut the low frequencies and pan them left/right.
Watch out with high frequencies as well, they shouldn't overpower the lead vocal.

One more tip: don't sing all the esses, t's and d's etc. with all the harmonies, you never get them to sound at the same time.
For instance if you sing 'friends', only sing the 's' with the lead vocal (or one or two of the harmonies) and sing 'friend' with the rest of the voices, otherwise it will sound like 'friends-s-s-s'. Also don't emphasise the 'f' in this case, or it will sound like 'FFriends'.

Good luck!

Wim

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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by curteye »

Aloha Steve
in 1970 I worked with the 5th Dimension in Vegas (Ceasar's,Flamingo etc) and in those days
the guitarist in the band (me) had to travel/be on call for the singers so they could practice
harmonies at any time.

They were constantly working on their vibrato so that the oscillations would be the same or complimentary.

I have found over the years that very few vocalist can change the rate of their vibrato at will but
these guys were able to do it.
I have also heard stories that the band 'Alabama' would lie in their beds at night
and practice this same technique.
HTH
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by alexis »

curteye wrote:Aloha Steve
in 1970 I worked with the 5th Dimension in Vegas (Ceasar's,Flamingo etc) and in those days
the guitarist in the band (me) had to travel/be on call for the singers so they could practice
harmonies at any time.

They were constantly working on their vibrato so that the oscillations would be the same or complimentary.

I have found over the years that very few vocalist can change the rate of their vibrato at will but
these guys were able to do it.
I have also heard stories that the band 'Alabama' would lie in their beds at night
and practice this same technique.
HTH
{'-'}
I love this thread!

Curteye, I think I know what you mean about the vibrato ... but can you give an example or so to clarify? Thanks!
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by alexis »

Steve Fogal wrote:ELO is the only thing that pops in my head when I think of a certain sound..there may be other bands or tunes that use this, but I'm drawing a blank for better examples...

But, I have this one song that I'm trying to get that, and I sang a bunch of backround harmonies yesterday and that itself gives me at least a glimmer of what I'm after but the pitches are off a bit and I'm listening to them mixed fairly low and without any FX's or treatment.

What can be done to treat this type of vocal to get that "ELO" stacked harmony vocal sound? I tend to think it's in part, the harmony itself for starters :idea:

Should they then be overly compressed? Squashed to no end? Doubled up? What other suggestions?

I also have another tune that's going to require such a backround vocal sound (not currently working on).
BTW, Steve - can you give a link to a song, or name a title, in particular that has that stacked sound you are describing (I used to love ELO back in the day!).

Is it a different stacked sound than heard in "Because" by the Beatles? (I guess I'm not allowed to put a youtube link on this forum?)
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-Get variable-tempo audio to follow a grid here,
-Replacing freely-timed section into a variable tempo project

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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by NorthWood MediaWorks »

HornForHire wrote:I agree with what's been said: double each harmonie a few times, cut the low frequencies and pan them left/right.
Watch out with high frequencies as well, they shouldn't overpower the lead vocal.

One more tip: don't sing all the esses, t's and d's etc. with all the harmonies, you never get them to sound at the same time.
For instance if you sing 'friends', only sing the 's' with the lead vocal (or one or two of the harmonies) and sing 'friend' with the rest of the voices, otherwise it will sound like 'friends-s-s-s'. Also don't emphasise the 'f' in this case, or it will sound like 'FFriends'.

Good luck!

Wim
Thanks for this tip Wim. I am going to use it next time I unleash my voice on Cubase!
regards - Robin

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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by curteye »

alexis wrote: think I know what you mean about the vibrato ... but can you give an example or so to clarify? Thanks!
Sure A,

The best examples come from instruments.

Think of a trombonist and pay attention to the slide.

When the player hits the note and starts the vibrato it starts slowly and builds in speed and then ramps back down in speed.

I dont know if you younger guys have ever seen a Leslie speaker in action.

Usually used in conjunction with a Hammond organ (B3/C3/A100 etc) the top and lower part of the Leslie rotates. (Well the bottom does not actually rotate but there is a baffle that 'swishes' the sound around).

When the player activates the 'Leslie' function, this changes the speed of the rotation; but it is not instantaneous.

Like in the trombone example, the vibrato starts out slow, then builds in speed and then ramps back down.

To hears some great organ examples of this, check out some (old very old) recordings of Booker T and the MG's (Time is Tight etc)

This technique can be achieved by a vocalist but the singer has to be very good or work really hard to do/learn it. Usually both. Tho' one time I heard a maid in my hotel doing it as she was cleaning rooms. Some folks have the talent and don't even know it. (lucky stiffs)

Now scale this up to a group of singers.

The Mills Brothers and Andrew Sisters or Glady Knight and the Pips, Alabama, Carpenters
could nail this.

This is called: 'Blood Blend' meaning that families grow up talking/listening and singing in the same way. 'It's in the blood' was the way it was put to me.

Give it a try yourself.
Start singing a note and then apply vibrato.
Now try and change the speed of the vibrato. With practice (and some talent) it can be done.

Now if you can get a number of singers doing it at the same time, the result is magical.

These days I am practicing Mongolian throat singing. I'm terrible at it but I'll keep trying.
(It's fun to do and it annoys my wife:)

BTW
Notice that nothing I have written here (re: vocalist) has anything to do with recording gear.
Once you get the vocal source happening, then
it's time to slap on your compression,eq, verb etc and 'bob's yer uncle'.
And the better the vocals, the less of that other stuff is needed.

HTH

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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by Lenny Lee »

Steve, You've probably gotten enough tips that you should just proceed with the harmonies
and discover what works best for you.
Back in the 80's and early 90's I'd put the 'wall of sound' harmonies on many of my tunes, because I was
such a fan of The Beatles/Utopia etc etc......but I've sorta gotten away from that now in an effort
to not sound too dated. Many of those over the top recording techniques have been left behind by
many because they they sounded sooo freakin big, but not necessarily real, and they were a big reason why
so many bands never sounded as good live as they did on record.

Why not try just doing the harmonies once, then blending them the best you can and add compression and
either delays or reverbs to sweeten, blend them into your mix and see how that sounds.
If you still want it bigger, then try doubling them and repeat the process - rather than starting with 5 layers
of each part without even hearing what it sounds like with less. You may find that you like it a bit more organic sounding.

Check out this tune I sang lead and backups on for Ian and Helen Lares back in '06(for the Cybase II Project). Each harmony was sung just once, and I think it sounds pretty big. The harmonies begin at 1:15.
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_so ... ID=3845634
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by Paul Woodlock »

Steve Fogal wrote:
Lenny Lee wrote:Steve, You've probably gotten enough tips that you should just proceed with the harmonies
and discover what works best for you.
Back in the 80's and early 90's I'd put the 'wall of sound' harmonies on many of my tunes, because I was
such a fan of The Beatles/Utopia etc etc......but I've sorta gotten away from that now in an effort
to not sound too dated. Many of those over the top recording techniques have been left behind by
many because they they sounded sooo freakin big, but not necessarily real, and they were a big reason why
so many bands never sounded as good live as they did on record.

Why not try just doing the harmonies once, then blending them the best you can and add compression and
either delays or reverbs to sweeten, blend them into your mix and see how that sounds.
If you still want it bigger, then try doubling them and repeat the process - rather than starting with 5 layers
of each part without even hearing what it sounds like with less. You may find that you like it a bit more organic sounding.

Check out this tune I sang lead and backups on for Ian and Helen Lares back in '06(for the Cybase II Project). Each harmony was sung just once, and I think it sounds pretty big. The harmonies begin at 1:15.
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_so ... ID=3845634
Actually, I've been toying with just ONE set of 3 part hamonies in MONO so far in my mix..though I did like 5 takes of each...I haven't even tried to work with/place the multiples on various tracks yet.

For the same reasons you mentioned, I understand what you mean about being "dated" ..as if my age wasn't enough of a factor in writting aged..I mean 'timeless' songs :lol: so I am getting used to less, and it may not have such a dated sound afterall...?...at least not for that ...so far...as for the song, it's definitly an old school pop/rock (a different song than you heard) think 70's artists types like the Gerry Raferty days, etc, etc, etc...This wasn't intentional on my part, it just came to me this way, so I'm staying with that inspirational vibe.



As I said, and now that you mentioned it may sound dated and maybe even a bit rediculous, I may not even need all that many multiples, but I will definitely try out the 3 part harmony 'as doubles' on the L/R field. This is not a major part of the song, not doing these kinds of harmonies all throughout, but just at key points..it came to me, that this is called for, not that I have an idea that I want to see if I can force it in there...it begs to belong...just my mono 3 part harmony I've been listening to has already confirmed this.

Oh, and I'll check out your audio/song example now :ugeek:

Who cares about sounding dated? In fact when everyone else is trying pretend they are not middle aged you'll probably carve a nice little niche in going retro. :)

Over the last year I've purposely listened to very little music that's this side of 1990. I spent so much energy trying not to be dated and keeping my finger on the pulse I neglected the old stuff. I'm catching up! :D

Who cares about not recreating it live either. Stack up those harmonies if you want that sound. :) :)
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by Lenny Lee »

Paul Woodlock wrote:
Who cares about sounding dated? In fact when everyone else is trying pretend they are not middle aged you'll probably carve a nice little niche in going retro. :)

Over the last year I've purposely listened to very little music that's this side of 1990. I spent so much energy trying not to be dated and keeping my finger on the pulse I neglected the old stuff. I'm catching up! :D

Who cares about not recreating it live either. Stack up those harmonies if you want that sound. :) :)
Don't worry. It's something only a songwriter would understand. >> :) <<

It's got nothing to do with pretending anything . It's about evolving as an artist. I used to do it that way.
After a while I felt I was being too predictable, too static, so I began trying new things, not for anyone elses sake, but to satisfy myself.

Soo....let's hear this 'finger on the pulse' music you speak of, or were you just speaking theoretically while
feebly attempting to throw in a couple of digs? :mrgreen:
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by Paul Woodlock »

Yeah exaclty you can always use recordded parts live if you ever do it live.

All I'm saying is just make the music to what sounds best to your ear and who cares if it sounds dated.

Michael Bubbly is just the latest panty moistening device. Roles previously played by Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart, Tom Jones, etc, etc

Commercialised gusset thrills. :)
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by twilightsong »

I used to (not that long ago actually) be a proponent of the "you must try to sound current" mantra, but I've turned about 180 degrees on that one... I think you should do the music that you like/love; if that's current or cutting edge, great; but if it's retro or old school, equally great.

If everybody was trying to sound "current" or "relevant," what would happen to the older genres like Jazz and Baroque? Come to think of it, what would happen to the soul of music itself if a majority of musicians were trying to write and play "current" music that they didn't really believe in?

The Roland rep in my area was in a Hair Metal band back in the day and they actually got signed... while they were in the studio recording their first album, the label unceremoniously dropped them -- because Nirvana's record had just reached number one. My point is, the guy to this day writes and records the same Pop Metal he was doing in the late 80's, and loves it. I can't think of anybody that's emulating Nirvana these days.

I have often tried to sound "current" but invariably my tunes end up sounding very 90's-ish. It even seems that lately some decidedly 80's tunes are coming off my pen. It wasn't intentional -- just came naturally, You know, like the BEST music, of any era. :)
"There is no avant-garde; only some people a bit behind." -- Edgar Varese
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Cubase 5.5.2/ Win 7 64-bit/ Quad 9550/ UAD-2/ Wavelab 4/ more sample libraries than I can remember

twilightsong
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by twilightsong »

Harmony is making something of a comeback. I'm sure you've all heard a few of the Fleet Foxes tunes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrQRS40OKNE

And yes, I've seen them in concert and they are quite capable of recreating these harmonies live
"There is no avant-garde; only some people a bit behind." -- Edgar Varese
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Cubase 5.5.2/ Win 7 64-bit/ Quad 9550/ UAD-2/ Wavelab 4/ more sample libraries than I can remember

Guest

Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by Guest »

You can write a song using a guitar/keyboard, as it's been done for some time now at least in a contemporary sense and sequence it like so many do then re-approach it with those same instruments used to originally compose the song.

Then of course you can program rhythms, naturally if you bring human drums/percussion into the situation it will alter the tune, not to mention playing the song again from scratch and re-doing it live with a band as it were.

It is mostly the job of sound designers to make something vogue or not and producers, not so much the band or the original songwriter but of course theory will always be trumped by intuition.

Paul Woodlock
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Re: That ELO (?) backround harmony vocal stacked sound (?)

Post by Paul Woodlock »

twilightsong wrote:I used to (not that long ago actually) be a proponent of the "you must try to sound current" mantra, but I've turned about 180 degrees on that one... I think you should do the music that you like/love; if that's current or cutting edge, great; but if it's retro or old school, equally great.
Same here Doug.
If everybody was trying to sound "current" or "relevant," what would happen to the older genres like Jazz and Baroque? Come to think of it, what would happen to the soul of music itself if a majority of musicians were trying to write and play "current" music that they didn't really believe in?
[/quote]

I guess to some being current means you are more likely to get signed into commercialism and hopefully get a bigger audience for your art ( as well as the finance, fanny and fat ones).
Got a Brian - Morans

"It's better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are not" -- Andre Gide

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