Sunday, September 25, 2016

Recording two vocal layers for thicken up the song

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
This article is related to our Vocals mixing article and our Vocals recording one. 

We are talking about a technique that is sometimes overlooked but that adds weight to a vocal track in the same way we record different layers of guitar to thicken up the "wall of sound".
We are talking of tracking two exactly identical takes of a same vocal track (sometimes of ALL vocal tracks), to give more weight and thickness to the performance.

This technique requires a singer with a perfect sense of timing, otherwise it will force the mix engineer in a huge editing work, sometimes almost impossible, with the result that he will just mute one of the two tracks.
If the performance is good and well timed the vocals will sound like they are recorded with a chorus effect, but unlike using that effect the sligh imperfections made by a real second take will make the sound much more alive and thick, and less '80s pop.
This technique of doubling the vocal track is also important to cover better some performance imperfections, since the two tracks will give the impression of masking each other's weaknesses.

This technique is used very often in r'n'b music, sometimes also in rap, and it is very effective in general in every "vocal centric" genre.
If vocals are distorted (es. growl, scream, rasp, false chords), the thickness effect is exaggerated, like doubling a very distorted guitar track: the number of voices will seem to be more than two, and it is very often used in choruses.

When doubling vocals we can both record 2 identical takes or get creative using 2 different ones (for example one sang 1 octave lower and one 1 octave higher, or one in deep growl and one in scream, or one sang from one singer and one from another - this last one requires even more skill from the 2 singers to get each take exactly at the same time one another): in this case we can get crazy with creative automations, deciding for example that during the verse we want to add a couple of db to the lower track and put the high pitch one in the background and then during the chorus we can switch them, but the usages of this tools are really infinite, and it will really add a new dimension to our songs.

Once we have started recording more takes, we may even arrive to see the classic way of recording just one vocal as dull or limiting (for certain genres, obviously if our singer is Freddie Mercury it is sufficient his own voice raw and without background music, and the album will be perfect :D ).

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