This site is supported by the advertisements on it, please disable your AdBlocker so we can continue to provide you with the quality content you expect.

Welcome to Our Community

Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.

Tracking Blind Guardian-style choirs

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by schwinginbatman, May 27, 2015.

  1. schwinginbatman

    schwinginbatman It's shittay!

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    499
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Kansas
    So my band is nearing the end of tracking for an EP, and one of the things we still need is backing choir vocals, in the vein of Blind Guardian, Grave Digger, or Sabaton. This is my first experience with serious vocal layering like this; up until now, I've never worked with particularly talented vocalists who could do this sort of thing.

    I'm at a bit of a loss, as a result. My plan was to do this:

    Middle track: root of each chord
    High part: 3rd of each chord (and maybe fifth?)
    Low Part: 5th of each chord (or double of root if two high parts)

    I intend to double track each part. Does anyone have any experience in doing something like this? Would my plan work?
     
  2. Jormyn

    Jormyn Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2009
    Messages:
    391
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Depends entirely on the melody. You might be better off to write it out in MIDI so you can hear all three parts through a synth and tweak the notes as you go. Strict third-up and fourth-down harmonies won't necessarily sound the best for every part of your song.

    You might consider going with a lot more than two tracks for each part, as well. Why not do five of the main and four each for the others? One take of the main part can be down the center, a little louder than everything else to help the melody stick out, and then all the others would get panned somewhere off to the sides.
     
  3. Kohugaly

    Kohugaly Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Messages:
    258
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Here're my 2 cents:

    1. you need at least 3 singers to make the choir sound convincing. If you just record 1-2 singers and layer them, it will not fool the ear of a listener (what I mean, you'll be able to tell it's just one guy recoded multiple times and layered). The singers should be decent, but do not necessarily need be pros.

    2. take your time to prepare the harmonies. As mentioned by Jormyn, 3rd-up and 4th-down may not necessarily sound best, but it's definitely a place to start. it's hard to give any specific advice without listening to the song. Perhaps if you know someone who works with choir (maybe in church or folklore group) or someone who studied composition at conservatory, he might help you a lot (I'm talking first hand experience here - we have that kind of guy in our band).

    3. as for the recording, you do not have to track all those 3 guys separately. Having them singing into one mic all at once will most likely sound more natural than artificially mixing them in DAW. You may for example have them track first voice unison into one mic, then second harmony, then third. Or you may have them sing the harmonies together and layer those performances. If you can, take your time to experiment.
     
  4. guy in latvia

    guy in latvia Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2013
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I actually think the BG sound is all about Hansi layering his vocals to insanity, at times it even sounds like there are 20+ layers going on. But yes, if you do want to have a "real choir" type of sound, it would be ideal to get several people with good pitch to all do the same notes in different doubled takes with a condenser in omni.

    Regarding harmonies, it depends strongly on what the other notes in the section are, typically octaves, 3rds and 5ths sound best, IMO. Also, keeping the choir parts as simple as possible is usually the best approach, because if you go too crazy it becomes distracting and annoying and can start taking away from the music. In the end, I believe a choir is just an accent to parts in songs and should never be pushed in the foreground.
     
  5. Pharaoh's Curse

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2013
    Messages:
    231
    Likes Received:
    19
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Take a listen to Matt Smith's band Theocracy, he does multiple layers of vocals to perfection.
     
  6. schwinginbatman

    schwinginbatman It's shittay!

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    499
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Kansas
    Yeah, I didn't point it out in my original post, but I'm having a bunch of people come in. The singer from my other band, the singer of a local power metal band, my girlfriend who has toured Europe in a choir, my bands bassist who typically does low harmonies to our singer, and possibly myself.

    I already intended to write the parts out in GuitarPro and go from there, I'm primarily focused on what will be necessary to track it. I've been hearing some good ideas here, I'm learning a lot.
     
  7. Kohugaly

    Kohugaly Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Messages:
    258
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    To make things clear, I didn't meant that layering a single vocalist will sound worse, than tracking a choir. My point was, that it will sound different (not necessarily better or worse) than a choir and that listeners will be able to tell/feel the difference.

    As for tracking, I'm also curious how people approach it. My personal experience is, that tracking the vocalists separately and then merging the tracks in the box is counter-productive. I always got better results quicker by tracking them on a single mic as a group. Perhaps my mixing skills are simply not good enough (yet :p )? Maybe... But I assume people doing this for the first time will run into similar problems like I had and will likely come to the same conclusions... I'm really curious on other people's experience - please, contribute!
     
  8. Jormyn

    Jormyn Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2009
    Messages:
    391
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    18
    If you're tracking them all together, why not throw up a couple of mics so you've got them in stereo, or three if you want? You could even do a few takes like this and then stereo-flip some, so each singer isn't always on the same side.
     
  9. Lodge

    Lodge Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Messages:
    153
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Blind Guardian is my favorite band, so I have to chime in here! First, best to see it straight from the source, watch this:

    https://youtu.be/7MY7dG7No84?t=1m20s



    Guardian has always had around 5 guys singing underneath Hansi, varying depending on what era of the band. The earlier albums (pre Nightfall) to my ear feature more of the backup singers with Hansi, while the later albums have lots of Hansi with the other singers. To me, the earlier choirs were more like gang vocals on crack, but then around Nightfall they went to a more realistic choir sound. Fun fact, they've had a lot of great singers in their backing vocal crew, including Kai Hansen, the dude from Vanden Plas and some of the dudes from Van Canto. Check out Heavatar if you like that Guardian sound, they use the same choir singers and they have that same feel, but with 7 string guitars and whatnot. Post results when you're done!
     
  10. Virgil.

    Virgil. ¯\(°_o)/¯

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2005
    Messages:
    3,202
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    This.

     
    #10 Virgil., May 31, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2015
  11. Virgil.

    Virgil. ¯\(°_o)/¯

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2005
    Messages:
    3,202
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
     
    #11 Virgil., May 31, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2015
  12. Nebulous

    Nebulous Daniel

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2003
    Messages:
    7,291
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Brookfield, VIC, Australia
    The only thing I could add is that if you're recording each/ any person one layer at a time, play with the distance they are from the mic.
    I tried this with one vocalist doing all the layers, but he stood the same distance to the mic for the layers as he did for the main track. It didn't turn out well in the mix, as all the layers were too present and clashed with the main vocal. Try getting them to step back another foot or so.
     
  13. Matt Smith

    Matt Smith THEOCRACY

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Messages:
    1,170
    Likes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Athens, GA
    Sorry I missed this until just now. Happy to answer anything, or if you're already done, I hope it came out well. :)
     

Share This Page