Harmonizing with myself

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Andrew, Oct 27, 2004.

  1. Andrew

    Andrew Guest

    Hey guys,
    I wanted to start off by saying that this forum has answered many questions of mine, and it is the most valuable recource I have found to help me with recording questions and problems.

    I have recorded a song in which I sing the lead and harmony. I do this because:
    1. I don't know anyone who can nail the backups in a reasonable amount of time, and
    2. I have heard this done in hundreds of songs, and it seems to blend really well

    The song sounds good, but also sort of "fake", like the vocals blend too well. The first thing anyone says when they listen to it is "you're singing your own background vocals!?!". This is something that is not so obvious in professional recordings, even though you know that it's the same person.

    Are there any recording/mixing techniques that can help create some seperation in the harmony and lead parts, that will make the vocals sound less "fake"?
  2. boheme6

    boheme6 Guest

    try using various combinations of different mic/pre/eq settings so tonally the voices aren't' exact.
  3. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2003
  4. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    hey I can tell in other recordings when the artist is doing ther own vocal harmonies and so what!
    that's just the way its done. from Alanis to the latest richard marx CD that just came out- they are doing their own harnony, it shows and so what, its great! So don't worry about it- if it sounds good. its good- :D
  5. Myg

    Myg Guest

    You can also use the "Max Martin trick" Make two extra dubs of every vocal track. One panned to the left, one to the right and one in the middle.
    That means: if you have a lead vocal and a harmony vocal you will end up with six tracks.
  6. radioliver

    radioliver Guest

    What does the Max Martin trick achieve?? I donT' see how it'll do what he's asking (seperating lead and harmony).
    Can u please explain a bit more?
  7. Chappy

    Chappy Guest

    I agree with "maintiger". There's nothing wrong with harmonizing with yourself. Just as long as it is done right by choosing the harmony and by the final vocal mix. Just listen to "let down" by Radiohead, or any Alanis song.
  8. Andrew

    Andrew Guest

    thanks for the help so far,

    I tweaked the eq like boheme suggested, and then nudged the harmony a little off center and it seems a little better.

    Maintiger, I totally agree with you. It just seems like the vocals are walking all over each other, to the point that it doesn't sound as natural and seperated as I would like.
  9. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    Sep 4, 2004
    Indianapolis, IN
    Home Page:
    I generally put more 'verb or early reflections on backing vocals to help them sit behind the lead - haven't had the chance to overdub the same voice on harmonies.
  10. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2004
    Quakertown PA
    IMO, there are several ways to approach this. If I'm doing 3 part harmonies ex. Eagles I'll use extra compression and more reverb to create a sort of a wash of the background vocals. This allows the lead vocal to stand on it's own because the harmonies aren't as distinct. If it's just lead and harmony I find it helps to sing very precisely. By that I mean match every word and inflection with the lead exactly. The more precise you are the less the harmony stands out and will blend with the lead. The looser the harmony the more it stands out. Depending on the style of music one or the other may be better suited but performance can make all the difference.

    Hope this helps! :D
  11. shock

    shock Guest

    You may also try putting some reverb without predelay on the backing vocals while using a reverb with a predelay of around 30-60ms for the leads which makes them stand out more.
  12. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001

    Try (just like the other guys on here said) different mics on different takes. And it helps to change pre-amps also.
    I sometimes have the best luck with these ideas when I use a BIG vocal sound for the main vocal track (say 2 tracks recorded in stereo), and the harmonies with reverb and recorded (on 1 track in mono) and try to make them small sounding.
    Then when I mix down I can put the main vocals up front and pull the backing harmonies down by dropping the EQ on them and panning them so they are somewhere to still be heard but are close to being lost in the mix.
    Say if the main vocal track was at 100%, then the backup track would be only a fraction of that depending on your taste.
    And I agree with all the prior post on this topic, however it also is very inspiring when someone hears your recordings and all they want to know is "how you got that teriffic sound?" Not that they can hear how you doubled your voice.
    Good luck!
  13. cleamon

    cleamon Guest

    An old technique I know, but I've found it useful - I record some of my harmony tracks by shifting the pitch of the pre-recorded tracks slightly. This also slows or speeds up the tempo as well. The recorded harmony track when played back at the correct pitch will have a definite change of character to it. Also adds some "thickness". Of course you shouldn't take it to an extreme or the "chipmonks" will appear :shock: . I've also found this useful when I can't reach the high note. I'll drop the pitch a note or two (say from D down to C). Record the harmony there since I can now hit it, then play back at normal.

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