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Author Topic: Tips for Backup Vocals  (Read 7065 times)

eLe

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Tips for Backup Vocals
« on: April 21, 2004, 06:12:12 pm »

Hi,

Can someone point me to some good tips on mixing backup vocals?

Thanks.
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eLe

Dave Martin

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Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2004, 10:47:31 pm »

It kinda depends on what you're after - the tricks that you might use for a single BGV change when you want three parts, and may change again if you're doubling or tripling. And the genre makes a diference as well. What kind of stuff are you doing?
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asylumdigital

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Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2004, 11:36:51 pm »

What type of music are you working on?

peace!
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hargerst

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Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2004, 01:51:12 am »

Okay, while we're waiting on eLe's answer, some thoughts on recording BGVs:

I tend to eq them a bit on the thin side, so the singer sounds a little larger than life.  If there's just one BGV, I'll pan it a little to one side (usually to the right).  If there are several BGVs, I'll pan them close to, but not centered.  

I still love to double and triple and even quadruple BGVs, just to give myself some options if I have enough open tracks. I usually have them change place for each pass, and I don't let them hear their previous tracks until they're all done.

Anybody else?
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

Fletcher

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Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2004, 06:47:31 am »

FWIW, even on "rawk" stuff I will still often run an "air" track when mixing... I split the backing vocal group off to a stereo pair, filter out everything below like 4kHz, crank the shit out of like 12kHz compress the snot out of it, filter the remaining lows and mids out of it... then blend to taste.

It often allows me to run the backing vocals lower in the balance but still allows them to be heard and understood.

Sometimes it's cheesey as all get out and I remove it... other times it's the extra zing they need.

As always... YMMV
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
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If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
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Fibes

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Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2004, 11:01:58 am »

Yeah i like 'em thin too and one compressor which i hate for most everything gets called when i want grainy thin bvox. The DBX 1066, it adds (or should i say takes away) just the right amount of tweeze.

Stacking multi-vocalist unison parts with other multi-unison harmonies is fun and squezzing 'em all through a small area helps give the impact yet leaves some real estate. Doubling some parts with instruments and stacking it in the back of the room can add just the right amount of "unique" to the timbres as well.
Band passed slide is a great aaaahhhh or ooh.
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eLe

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Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2004, 01:04:53 pm »

Wow... This was my first post and I never expected to get such a reply. Thanks.

I'm doing some stuff that could be considered pop/rock and looking for those smooth R&B-like sounding BGV. Usually 4 part harmonies.

What a great forum!

Thanks again,
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eLe

Immanuel Kuhrt

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Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2004, 02:07:06 pm »

Fletcher wrote on Thu, 22 April 2004 12:47

FWIW, even on "rawk" stuff I will still often run an "air" track when mixing... I split the backing vocal group off to a stereo pair, filter out everything below like 4kHz, crank the shit out of like 12kHz compress the snot out of it, filter the remaining lows and mids out of it... then blend to taste.

It often allows me to run the backing vocals lower in the balance but still allows them to be heard and understood.

Sometimes it's cheesey as all get out and I remove it... other times it's the extra zing they need.

As always... YMMV


I guess lo-cutting twice must be, so the sub 4K frequencies still get some impact on the compressor? Are you talking 6/12/18/something else lo-cutting? Not being a native English speaker, I am a little uncertain whether you boost or cut out the 12K stuff, when you say "crank the shit out".

Immanuel
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Dave Martin

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Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2004, 12:08:45 am »

He means to turn up the frequencies around 12K, I believe.
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asylumdigital

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Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2004, 05:24:43 pm »

Usually for that modern R&B sound...Doubling or tripling each harmony part works wonders for the background sound.

Blend, compress & pan to taste.

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peace!
Scott Slagle
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Immanuel Kuhrt

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Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2004, 05:27:23 pm »

Thanks Dave
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jeffjazz

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Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2004, 01:54:44 pm »

what works ok usually when doing the smooth stuff is multiple tracks for voices - not many small errors can be heard, and it sounds big and beautiful.

eq so there is a deficiency on the bgv and a boost on the lead vox. usually around 6k works for me. cut the bgv slightly at 6k and bus them through a compressor that is very tight.

then to give them their own sense of space, send the compressed bgs out to a separate reverb. if you want, compress again with the reverb - but make sure to cut some highs out of the verb.

for separation with the lead voc, boost the lead slightly at 6k or whatever you cut on the bgs.

lotsa times i find it helpful to double or triple track the lead voc on the chorus and send them through the bg processing chain. then you have the big lead vocal take supported by shadows of its former self.

or something...

mudd
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John Ivan

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Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2004, 09:38:23 pm »

First, Let me say ,the new place looks great!! The information I find in this and the other forums here is just amazing!!

I did a collection of R&B tunes for an old friend last year and he can really sing. We dumped the synth tracks down to two tracks on the DA-88's { this was the whole music track} and that left 22 tracks for big lush back ground vocals. As mentioned above, look out for the bottom end building up with this many tracks. I to went for some "big air" up top. I chose 15-k shelving for this and was very happy.One thing that ended up being a problem was the "S's" and breaths. I didn't want to do away with them all together but, having all 20 or so tracks breathing at the same time was a drag. I ended up dumping some of them into cool edit and taking out the breaths,while leaving one or two tracks per part alone.This way, the breaths sounded natural but they didn't overwhelm the track. I then put them in a stereo buss with the following. A Harris AGC followed by a Harris FM limiter. This is an old broadcast chain I got from my dad and it gives stuff the airy,big compressed sound. I have also put multi tracked country guitar busses through this chain and it sounds all "finished". I have really been into bussing stuff in stereo a lot lately instead of using individual comps on stuff. The big thing about big lush back ground vocals is, some of what we do to get them Big and lush,seems counter intuitive. Don't be afraid to beat them into submission with EQ and compression!!
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eLe

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Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2004, 12:37:12 pm »

Thanks to everyone!
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eLe

Greg Youngman

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Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2004, 04:15:53 pm »

asylumdigital wrote on Fri, 23 April 2004 14:24

Usually for that modern R&B sound...Doubling or tripling each harmony part works wonders for the background sound.

Blend, compress & pan to taste.




Exactly what I do.  If you got one vocalist singing all the parts, record 3 or 4 tracks of them doing each individual harmony note.  If you've got 2 or 3 (or more) have them all sing the same note for all the harmony parts instead of multiple takes of them singing the whole triad (or whatever intervals the haromny is) at once.  That way, it's nice to be able to mix multiple tracks of the individual notes for the harmonic balance.  Like being able to bring up/down the individual notes of guitar versus the whole thing.


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