Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Highest And Lowest Recorded Notes

This isn't an isolated vocal of a hit tune like I've been posting all week, but it is about vocals and is incredibly cool. The following comes by way of joetheflow, and it's a couple of actual videos of people singing both the highest and the lowest musical notes ever recorded. Check this out.

"The piano has 88 keys, the highest note playable is a high C, often referred to as C8. For a long time, Maria Carey was credited with the highest note – a G7 during a 2003 rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner." However, in 2008, a guy named Adam Lopez took the record by hitting a C8 – off the keyboard – in front of a live audience. You've got to wait until 2:35 before he actually sings.



At the other end of the scale, the lowest note hit by a human, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is a gutter-scraping .393 Hz. This was achieved by Gospel singer Roger Menees in 2010. But there is some controversy about that number, as the human ear can’t hear below 18 Hz. Currently, a recording company is on the hunt for someone to record the lowest SINGABLE note – a low E in the work, De Profundis, by Paul Mealor."



I love the end of this last one where the poor Roland speakers were topping out as they tried to reproduce it. Of course, it would have been a good idea to use a set of speakers that were capable of reproducing those frequencies, but we'll let that one up to Guinness. Whether Roger Menees is credited with the record or not is immaterial. He has a truly unique voice that's quite capable of being a loudspeaker test!

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" Isolated Vocals

Today during this post of "Isolated Vocal Week" we'll listen to the vocals on the song that started the grunge trend in music. It's Nirvana's 1991 release "Smells Like Teen Spirit", the opening track from their mega-selling Nevermind album, which has gone on to sell more than 30 million units worldwide. Here are some things to listen for. Take note that the vocal doesn't enter until 38 seconds in.

1) It sure sounds like there are a lot of punches on this vocal track, so much so that I'm not sure that they're all punches at all. The ones that are obvious are on the "Hello" part in the song's B sections. These were obviously just one section that was flown in as needed, with the initial breath being cut off.

2) As with most of the songs that we've listened to this week, there's a nice long reverb on the vocal. In this case it's definitely delayed and the top and bottom end is filtered a bit so it fits nicely into the track without sticking out.

3) Another thing that we've seen before that's also used on "Teen Spirit" is the arrangement technique of using a single lead vocal in the verse, then doubling it in the B sections and choruses.



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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Any Way You Want It" Isolated Vocal

Here's part 3 in our "Isolated Vocal Week" feature. Today we'll look at the vocals from a Journey hit from their 1980 Departure album called "Any Way You Want It." The song only hit #23 on the charts, but has since found great favor among advertisers, being used on commercials by Heinz, McDonalds, Ford, State Farm and Samsung. Here are a couple of things to listen for:

1) The vocals have a very long verb that sounds like it has a slight (20ms) predelay on it. The verb is a little on the bright side but still fits the track well.

2) There's a timed delay also on the lead vocal in addition to the reverb. Listen to how band-limited it is. Hard to tell if this was the result of a tape delay with a worn out tape or one of the then-new digital delays that were intentionally filtered, but either way, there's not= high end at all on it.

3) The harmonies are very tight - maybe too tight, in that it sounds like they got one perfect then just flew the rest of them in on all the other spots in the song as needed. That's no big deal today since you can easily cut and paste in your DAW of choice, but don't forget, this song was recorded way back in 1980 in the days of magnetic tape. You had to do this kind of thing manually, which was a process we called "flying it in" back then.

4) Steve Perry's voice is wonderfully glorious, soaring to the heavens as always. That's why it so unusual to hear a flat note that was left in at around 1:20. Obviously it didn't hurt the popularity of the song any. I can't say I ever heard it before listening to the isolated vocal track.



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Monday, February 27, 2012

"How Will I Know" Isolated Vocals

This week we're looking at isolated vocals, and todays feature is a 1985 hit by the late Whitney Houston called "How Will I Know," which was a huge MTV hit that helped push her to superstardom. Eventually Whitney went on to sell an incredible 170 million albums during her lifetime, far more than most people realize. Here are a couple of things to think about as you listen to this vocal track.

1) You can hear the compressor work a fair amount. There are a few parts where her breaths are exaggerated where you can hear the compressor pushing up the level. You can't hear it in the track with the music though.

2) The reverb is pretty long and there's really a lot of it on the vocals. It's a good sounding verb that's filtered so it doesn't have a lot of highs or lows so it fits the track well.

3) Whitney doubles herself in the choruses, sometimes very closely, sometimes not so much. It's a popular technique that many producers and vocalists use frequently.

4) You can't hear many of the actual punches, but some of the vocals are pretty are pretty much on top of one another, which happend a lot back in the days of limited tracks due to the limits of magnetic or digital tape.

5) Note the long delay on the vocals in the bridge, which sounds like it's about a full quarter note and timed to the track.




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Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Gimme Shelter" Isolated Vocals

This week we'll feature isolated vocals on some big hits by some major artists.

Here's a track that I featured a couple of years ago that was taken down by the record label shortly after it posted. Here's another version of the isolated vocal from The Rolling Stone's great "Gimme Shelter" that's a mindblower. On it we hear Mick Jagger, Mary Clayton and an uncredited third voice singing the song like you've probably never heard it before.

Here are a few things I noticed.

1) What jumps out is how thick and long the reverb on the vocal track is. The verb is delayed so it stays out of way of the lead vocal a bit, but there's a lot more of it than I ever remember hearing on the record.

2) The other thing that jumps out is the third harmony vocal on the choruses in between Mick's lead vocal and Mary's high part. Never heard that before, but I like it.

3) It's interesting to hear how distorted everything is, especially on Mary Clayton's parts when she begins to belt it out.

4) Mary Clayton's part in the bridge is still great, no matter how many times I've heard it before. What a performance. Gives me chills!

Catch this video before it gets taken down again.




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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.


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