Harmonizing on rap vocals
Old 22nd March 2013
  #1
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Harmonizing on rap vocals

I have been listening to Tech N9ne and The Jokerr lately and I've been wondering how they achieved that harmony-like layering in their vocals...

Here's a clip of what I'm talking about (starts at 2:42)
The JokerrĀ® - "Ever Before" (As Part Of The Jokerr's Legacy) HQ Official - YouTube

Here's my theory, and please correct me if I'm wrong.
- For the main vocals, I would really like to think that his lead vocal is just a single layer that's overly compressed/slammed. But I also get the feeling that he layered it twice (I'm not talking about the adlibs or those layers in certain phrases).
- For the harmonization parts, I believe they're 2 layers (could be more) and one is panned possibly 70% left and the other at the right, in an octave higher in pitch than the main vocal. And possibly another layer on center, an octave below, but in a really low level.

Are my guesses correct? I would really love to learn how to do this. Anybody have any insights on these? Thanks.
Old 22nd March 2013
  #2
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I'm interested in this too, but I don't think it's raised or lowered an octave. Just because that's quite a difference in pitch, even though it doesn't sound like it would be.
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Old 22nd March 2013
  #3
MBR
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It sounds like there's definitely more than 2 layers here...

If I were trying to re-create this, I'd have my vocalist record three passes of the main vocal, and then two passes of a higher pitched vocal and pan them out to taste.

It sounds like the higher vocal is buried in the vocal mix which is causing it to sound more like an effect than anything.
Old 22nd March 2013
  #4
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Is that dude for real? Holy hell, that was awful.
Old 22nd March 2013
  #5
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Originally Posted by MBR View Post
It sounds like there's definitely more than 2 layers here...

If I were trying to re-create this, I'd have my vocalist record three passes of the main vocal, and then two passes of a higher pitched vocal and pan them out to taste.

It sounds like the higher vocal is buried in the vocal mix which is causing it to sound more like an effect than anything.
But the "pitching" isn't created in during the mix, is it? Or do you think it has to be tracked rapping in a higher pitch?
Old 22nd March 2013
  #6
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Originally Posted by Kruxify View Post
But the "pitching" isn't created in during the mix, is it? Or do you think it has to be tracked rapping in a higher pitch?
Nobody could possibly do that! Ever! It's unheard of.
Old 22nd March 2013
  #7
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Originally Posted by isawsasquatch View Post


Is that dude for real? Holy hell, that was awful.
+1 my dude, wtf was that? lol.
Old 22nd March 2013
  #8
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Originally Posted by ncoak View Post
+1 my dude, wtf was that? lol.
Well, not saying I'm a fan of the song either, just how the vocal effects were made.

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Originally Posted by Miiika View Post
Nobody could possibly do that! Ever! It's unheard of.
In some sense you can, maybe it'll have some sort of melodic tune to it if you rap in a "higher" pitch (perhaps I'm not using the right terms correctly, but I hope you can understand what I meant).
Old 22nd March 2013
  #9
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Originally Posted by Kruxify View Post
Well, not saying I'm a fan of the song either, just how the vocal effects were made.



In some sense you can, maybe it'll have some sort of melodic tune to it if you rap in a "higher" pitch (perhaps I'm not using the right terms correctly, but I hope you can understand what I meant).
I get the impression that you never actually recorded anything.
It's the weekend, maybe you find the time to set up a mic and try it.
F, you could even try your "theory" and see what that gets you.
Report back on monday with the results.
Old 23rd March 2013
  #10
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Nothing is over compressed in audio eng. we try to avoid that. As engineers tools get better thier able to use less. Rapper may stack a vocal 5 times. When the engineer gets it it turns into 3 or 2 or even 1 in alot of cases. Stacking a vocal for loudness is happening less cause of better software comp. Harmonizing a vocal for an *effect* is a diff thing. Harmonizing can be achieved in a lot of creative ways 3 stacks slightly shifted a couple cents. Bussed with an chorus type effect to bring out harmonizing effect. Tech9 does a lot of both stacking and harmonizing.
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Old 23rd March 2013
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Originally Posted by Jaynm26 View Post
Nothing is over compressed in audio eng.
lolwut?

Quote:
we try to avoid that.
Do we?

Quote:
As engineers tools get better thier able to use less.
I'd say pretty definitively that the opposite is true.
Old 23rd March 2013
  #12
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Originally Posted by Miiika View Post
I get the impression that you never actually recorded anything.
It's the weekend, maybe you find the time to set up a mic and try it.
F, you could even try your "theory" and see what that gets you.
Report back on monday with the results.
I have recorded 2 mixtapes (and on progress on finishing my last one before a studio album)... I really think, you're misunderstanding what I am trying to say here. Maybe I just can't express what I am trying to say properly, and I apologize if I fail to, but my point is that there is always some dominant note, or key in a "rap vocal", all I'm saying is maybe if you sang (i.e., "rapped") it (i.e., the whole vocal track, or what ever part you'd like to stack) at a higher note, or key, to "harmonize", maybe that is one of the ways on how you can achieve that effect.

Now of course I'm not saying that's the only way, during post you can use effects like digitally pitching it higher/lower, perhaps even use melodyne or something to create it robustly, etc.

My point is, yes you can rap at a higher vocal pitch, I sing my hooks and layer it about 6-8 times depending on the song with higher, lower, and the original pitch. Though I have never achieved it properly when rapping (perhaps that is because of many factors, maybe the song/rapping is too slow, or maybe I need to apply some basic music theory to legitimately harmonize, I don't know). I'm just asking if he possibly might have done what my theory was, or if it's possible to achieve it that way, and maybe it's just because I am doing it wrong/I'm missing something as to why I can't do it.

And yes I am open to all methods of achieving it, I'm just simply asking for some guidance and clarification -- you don't have to shut me down and doubt me with my abilities just because of that.
Old 23rd March 2013
  #13
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Originally Posted by Jaynm26 View Post
Nothing is over compressed in audio eng. we try to avoid that. As engineers tools get better thier able to use less. Rapper may stack a vocal 5 times. When the engineer gets it it turns into 3 or 2 or even 1 in alot of cases. Stacking a vocal for loudness is happening less cause of better software comp. Harmonizing a vocal for an *effect* is a diff thing. Harmonizing can be achieved in a lot of creative ways 3 stacks slightly shifted a couple cents. Bussed with an chorus type effect to bring out harmonizing effect. Tech9 does a lot of both stacking and harmonizing.
I heard that Tech doesn't punch in that often either, though somehow he's able to get the vocals extremely tight -- I mean, that's insane! I've read about VocAlign, but I think who ever mixes his tracks just manually nudge the stacks in sync, no? It flows really well on however it is done... and I don't know about the over compression thing, I've heard mixed things about this, especially when "it depends on a certain situation", may you elaborate on why that is?
Old 23rd March 2013
  #14
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The Joker track there is harmonized in 3rds not octaves, it's diatonic so you can't just pitch it up a third. Thirds are the most common vocal harmony and rap (like all speach) is pitched (except for maybe whispers of some sorts)...some more in tune with the track than others.

When a record is done nobody cares if you used vocalign or elastic/flex/bend/nudge. Use the best tool for the situation.
Old 24th March 2013
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isawsasquatch View Post
lolwut?



Do we?



I'd say pretty definitively that the opposite is true.
Wait so we, OVER comp thats what were taught to do? You know sas..were gonna just ignore this statement. every one knows over compression squash the transients and we try to avoid this at all cause you can get a great sound with setting the comp correctly with out over compression?
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Old 24th March 2013
  #16
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isawsassquatch ummm...are you an engineer or producer have you ever seen the process from recording to mixing engineer they take away alot of what they dont need most recording sessions come with 100 stacked vocals the engineer takes alot of these out. Most engineers with 1 track lead or 1 track & a double

Proof Dave Pensado engineering Snoops Vocals Im pretty sure when dave got it he had stacks, but as you see Dave has 1 track as a lead he is not OVER compressing the vocal odiously dave has good tools cause he dosent need 100 stacks to get a good sound and he balance his mix correctly.

so sasquash your wrong on both accounts
1.) Engineers do try avoid over compression
2.) Tools are better so more stacking is avoided
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Old 24th March 2013
  #17
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LOL these threads got me cracking all the time ^^
Old 24th March 2013
  #18
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Priceless.

Jay. Relax. Your breathlessly manic posts make any sort of reasonable reply impossible, so I'll have to go ahead and just tell you this: I've been making records probably longer than you've been alive. There's a LOT you don't know, which you seem all too happy to repeatedly demonstrate here on this forum, time after time after time. Suffice to say, you've got a lot to learn.
Old 24th March 2013
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isawsasquatch View Post


Priceless.

Jay. Relax. Your breathlessly manic posts make any sort of reasonable reply impossible, so I'll have to go ahead and just tell you this: I've been making records probably longer than you've been alive. There's a LOT you don't know, which you seem all too happy to repeatedly demonstrate here on this forum, time after time after time. Suffice to say, you've got a lot to learn.
Thank you.
Old 24th March 2013
  #20
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You can always tell when someone is in they feelings when they tell you to "Relax" please point to a statement where I wasnt? People quickly get in a defensive mindset when you rebut with facts and a clear and decisive statement to where they have to lash out and say real idiotic things like..
Quote:
Originally Posted by isawsasquatch View Post
so I'll have to go ahead and just tell you this: I've been making records probably longer than you've been alive. There's a LOT you don't know, which you seem all too happy to repeatedly demonstrate here on this forum, time after time after time. Suffice to say, you've got a lot to learn.
1st where does exp come into this argument you have a fact to state or a rebuttal state it. I need know knowledge of your senior citizenship. And YES there is alot I dont know and yes I will demonstrate it whenever I see fit. Uggh when is learning and asking for help a bad thing? Humility goes along way sas, and with it you to can grow.

The fact you had no response regarding the argument just a lot of gossip show's me your true answer on the topic which is none, so you chose this pathetic display of self righteousness to safe face. Sad sas, real sad your a smart guy know you can do better.

and Mindbender you chose to co-sign? Really? not statement just a co-sign? sad, I actually think your pretty good from alot of your comments, ugh its 2013
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Old 24th March 2013
  #21
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Originally Posted by Jaynm26 View Post
Here we go with the people talkin on what they dont know. You see you made no statement to the argument, useless statements is the only way for you to respond...People get real defensive when there wrong show's true character, you can always tell when they make statements like "Relax" lol...sad sas real sad please tell me your better than this?
Tell ya what, Jay. If you can take the time to form a coherent reply to my initial point, and address precisely what you take issue with in a clear, concise, and grammatically-correct manner, I'll be happy to take the time to respond. As it stands now, I'm unprepared to spend the time deciphering what the hell it is you're talking about simply to prove you wrong on a point that's clear to anyone with any experience beyond watching a few episodes of Pensado's Place.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this: over-compression can be a bad thing. But many engineers use it as an effect, and have since Geoff Emerick got his hands on a 660. Whether it's a serial effect, like smashing Ringo's drum mics on a Beatles tune or keying a 2-buss compressor from the kick to get a deep "pump" on a dubstep track, or a parallel effect, like a Michael Brauer submix routine, over-compression has its place, and is plenty common.

Also, compression does not necessarily "squash the transients". Next time you're dialing up your favorite compressor plugin, look for the knob labelled "attack". Fiddle with that a little bit, and you'll see what I mean.

As for the particulars of my occupation, and whether I've ever seen a record from recording to mix: I am a producer, engineer, and studio owner. I have my hand in more records each year than you'll make in your lifetime. Funny that you bring Dave into this. He and I have made several records together. Not only have I watched him work in person (as opposed to watching some YouTube video), I've seen him work the tracks that I've produced and recorded; tracks I'm more intimately familiar with than anyone else on the planet. Believe me when I tell you, Dave (and every professional engineer I've ever known) does whatever it takes to realize the sound in his head. If that means "over"-compression, well, then it is what it is.

I'd love to discuss this concept of "stacking" that you're rambling about. Again, if you can string some coherent thoughts together on the matter, I'm happy to oblige. Otherwise, I'm quite sure I haven't the slightest idea what the hell it is you're talking about (though I'm also fairly certain that you don't either).
Old 24th March 2013
  #22
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Originally Posted by Jaynm26 View Post
People get in a defensive mindset so they have to lash out and say real idiotic things


Agreed.
Old 24th March 2013
  #23
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My argument about stacking not harmonizing but stacking...You DO NOT have to stack vocals to make something loud. Im not talking about the effect of the stack some like that thick, blurry sound (in my opinion its un professional). Achieving loudness can be done with one single compressor (with gain staging and balance in effect). When trying to achieve loudness one compressor can beat 10 stacks heck even 20.

There are plenty of professional engineers with credentials that do not use a bunch of stacks. Maybe a lead and a double or sometimes just a lead.

This is my argument.
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Old 24th March 2013
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miiika View Post
Nobody could possibly do that! Ever! It's unheard of.
Huh?? You don't think it's possible for a rapper to rap in a higher, harmonizing pitch? It sounds to me like that's exactly how that song was tracked and I have a client who does that all the time.
Old 24th March 2013
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaynm26 View Post
1.) Engineers do try avoid over compression
2.) Tools are better so more stacking is avoided
Hey relax, jay, this is just a forum.

In my HO:

1. Engineers avoid mindless, unadequate compression
2. Tools are better so stacking is easier to do
Old 25th March 2013
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaynm26 View Post
My argument about stacking not harmonizing but stacking...You DO NOT have to stack vocals to make something loud. Im not talking about the effect of the stack some like that thick, blurry sound (in my opinion its un professional). Achieving loudness can be done with one single compressor (with gain staging and balance in effect). When trying to achieve loudness one compressor can beat 10 stacks heck even 20.

There are plenty of professional engineers with credentials that do not use a bunch of stacks. Maybe a lead and a double or sometimes just a lead.

This is my argument.
Nobody stacks parts to increase loudness. Doubles are about texture, not volume.
Old 25th March 2013
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isawsasquatch View Post
Nobody stacks parts to increase loudness. Doubles are about texture, not volume.
Agreed

Stacking for loudness? Different takes? 100 tracks? Nooooo
Old 25th March 2013
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Originally Posted by Mr. Lau View Post
Hey relax, jay
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Old 25th March 2013
  #29
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Originally Posted by isawsasquatch View Post
Nobody stacks parts to increase loudness. Doubles are about texture, not volume.
Agreed, triples, quadruples aren't needed? ...Clearly we were both on the wrong page, you were correcting me and had no clear idea on what I as mentioning.
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Old 25th March 2013
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaynm26 View Post
...and Mindbender you chose to co-sign? Really? not statement just a co-sign?...
Co-signing his statement was my statement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaynm26 View Post
...I actually think your pretty good from alot of your comments...
I appreciate the compliment, but I'm just being honest here. Some people need to concentrate more on the quality of their posts rather than the quantity. Not trying to be a d-bag, but posting things in an adamant or matter of fact way doesn't necessarily make them factual or correct. Using this thread for an example, there are several things you said in a very "matter of fact" way, when in reality it's just your opinion, or the way YOU perceive or choose to do things. But stating things the way you do can be very misleading. This is how misconceptions are born.

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