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First attempt to record voices of Tearing Up My Heart

Started by lcdadragon, October 29, 2021, 08:19:08 PM

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Hello everyone, im new here :)

As a hobby I like to listen to the layered vocal work that goes into BackstreetBoys or Nsync style songs and try to unravel every harmonic in them.
I try to listen to them from live and original songs and after I figure out the notes (or at least try to) I tell my girlfriend how to sing them. Then I edit them and try to make it sound something like the original. Although I never get anywhere close. It's probably a mix of bad music editor, bad ear and bad production. But it entertains me quite a bit and it's the closest I'm getting to getting a multitrack of these songs at the moment. Since I'm embarrassed to show it to my friends I'm going to share it with you. Try not to be too harsh. Any advice is always welcome. Best regards!
(We are from Spain so the pronunciation may not be the best either. ^^")

I got the instrumental part here from backgammonfiend, so I would like to thank you for sharing it.



Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQcOpRAfal0 Danthemanbardo did a lot of harmony analysis of Cheiron songs. His videos are chaotic but in all the Max Martin songs I have time stamped each part in the comment section. Analysing those gave me a better understanding of how harmonies work in music. If you ever heard of counterpoint, it is in fact the foundation of those harmonies albeit more comprehensive than you need to know for pop music.

Decide what is your lead melody and which audio files are harmonies (background vocals). Pan the BGV hard (anything above 50% at least, but try and listen what is best. Perhaps 100%, prhaps 75 or perhaps 50%, or perhaps a combination of all of them) and keep the lead in the center. The BGV are too buried in the mix in your current mix, I barely hear them.

What voice type is your vocalist (mezzo-soprano, alto, soprano)?
Hi, I'm Luke and I'm sitting on my throne! Oh, and have you noticed that Denniz PoP songs are extremely hooky?


Thank you for taking the time to listen to it.
My girlfriend's voice is a Contralto/Mesosoprano and we record everything from home trying not to disturb the neighbors, so we are thinking of renting something more serious to do the recordings. And yes we have seen a lot of videos of ThemCoversMB and DanTheManBardo for other songs I have made about backstreetboys.

The levels and equalizations are something that I don't master at all well, I don't have any kind of reference on how to do it better. I have changed the vocals to lower the presence of my voice in the accompaniments and I have separated 100% for panning.

If anyone wants to try I have no problem to send the files.

Here is the last mix where I have tried to follow your advice. It's quite complicated because there are many layers of voices and the more I change them the worse they sound XD. Thanks again, we are very pleased with your critics. I guess the trick is to practice.


Ok. I listened to the acapalla closely this time. A few things:

-Pay attention to consonants (S, T, K etc.) and use volume automation to 'smoothen' them. I heard a few T's that are too hard and I heard the S as well somewhere going to hard. You can even cut out these 'hard' sounding consonants from the BGV. If the consonant is in the lead(s) then it is often enough. Sometimes production choose to turn a T into a D, to smoothen it (ariana grande - into you for example), so that's another thing to learn
*now you could use a de-esser for the job, but I recommend trying to solve it with volume automation at first and not merely rely on a de-esser because it quickly tends to do more harm than good for those not experienced.
-Timing: Currently the timing isn't tight enough as getawaydriver already mentioned. Make sure that at least the BGV have the same timing. You could use software like revoice pro (also known by the name of its younger brother: vocalign) or you could pay very close attention to your vocalist being right on the timing during the recording session. Since this one is already recorded, use revoice pro to fix the timing. Use the lead vocal as the reference input for the program and align the rest of the vocals to the timing of the lead vocal. The lead vocal itself can also be aligned manually, that means chopping audio, using volume crossfades to get the timing as pleased.
-Panning: I gave you a tip on panning last time. It is important that when you pan for example the lowest voice to the left, that you have a double of that lower voice on the right. Same audio file or another one? Try and see what works.
-Delay: your delay sometimes pops up in the middle of a vocal line. After all, this will disturb a mix. Control your delay manually or use a ducker or a sidechain which ensures that the delay is only heard when silence reaches. At any cost, those delays heard sometimes in the middle of a line need to go out. You could also print the delay manually and then later cut it out. There are different methods. Another method is automating the send input in case your delay is on a send. It should be on a send though in most cases!
-Some plugin tips: If you are not an experienced mixer, make use of an assistant! The bad news is where to find one is a shit task but the good news is that AI, as found in Izotope Neutron (mixing) and Izotope Nectar (mixing vocals specifically) have an AI mixer which sets up certain stuff for you which you can tweak afterwards if you don't agree with its suggestion.
-Can you tell me a little about the mic chain? In what room is the recording, what mic, where is the cable of the mic going into, what hardware is doing work and what plugins are on the chain?
-Harmonies: If I'm not mistaken all the melodies of your harmonies are exact repetition of the lead but on a different pitch. This is a mistake. When you study danthemanbardo videos, you will see - particularly in the advanced harmonies which the BSB made - that they aren't always exact. 12tone has a video about harmonies as well where he discusses several types of harmonies. The melodies of the harmonies often are different than the lead melodies itself and that's where the real magic happens, that's where u get goosebumps hearing the melodies. Creating harmonies of groups requires very intelligent execution and my best advice is just to check out those danthemanbardo videos for hours and hours and find patterns, that will give u the best insight in what decisions are logic and what decisions are not. After all, as Aristotle concluded, 'excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives - choice, not chance, determines your destiny'. Also in the art of creating harmonies excellence requires to make the right decisions among many alternatives.

Good luck
Hi, I'm Luke and I'm sitting on my throne! Oh, and have you noticed that Denniz PoP songs are extremely hooky?


I take note of everything you have said.

The mix will probably have to be improved because it is preventing you from hearing correctly that my harmonies are different from the main one except in the case of the bass harmony which is exactly the same.

I control the reverb and delay with separate tracks to be able to accentuate some words. But I guess I should improve it.

Thanks for all the tips and program names, I'll check them out right now :)


Ok, you have only three voices. I think NSYNC has 4-5 voices. So normally that's lead, one voice minor or major 3th above and one an octave higher. Also down m/M3th down and octave down. I think if you get into that ballpark it will sound better. Second, have equal volume on every harmony, including the lead! They should all be as loud. Third, when the main melody goes really high, tend to go down on those same notes on the higher harmonies, while a main melody going really low should tend to go up in pitch on the lower harmonies, sometimes they can even cross each other in pitch (meaning that the higher harmony has a lower note than the lead harmony).


I forgot to say also to use Melodyne on each vocal to have the pitch precisely on pitch.

I heard a few clicks on some solo recordings. Use crossfades to avoid these clicks, this are volume fade in and fade outs at the beginning and end of a chop.
Hi, I'm Luke and I'm sitting on my throne! Oh, and have you noticed that Denniz PoP songs are extremely hooky?


Neither in the live performances nor in the original song by isolating frequencies can I hear more of those voices. I could include more but that would be making them up without any reference. :(

In this particular song the first chorus sounds only in double voice, the second chorus sounds with the same accompaniment but with the high and low harmonic very subtle, the third chorus has the harmonic more present but still very low in volume (poor Chris) and the last chorus is the same as the second one.
Regarding the other chorus (tearing up my heart and soul...) the first one has a subtle high harmonic and then they practically interchange in presence in its second repetition. The third one is the same as the first one.

I spent several days listening to live performances and the original song to imitate it as much as I could.



I got a song from BSB on multitrack (Straight Through My Heart) and they only have three voice harmony (melody/high/low) and then all togther on top of that singing the melody. So it is possible that it could work too from this way  i dont know.


Well thank you all for the help, it has helped me a lot. I have tried to equalize and control the volumes so that the harmonies sound the same as the original. I have included in some choruses a harmonic three tones higher very disguised. You are right in that there are more than three voices, I would even dare to say that there are more than five at intervals of three tones. I have already invested too much time so I will publish it as is. I'm sorry if I haven't improved with everything you have suggested. I'm sure I'll do better in the next one. :)



Ok nice job! But what is your recording chain (mic, preamp, other hardware)?
Hi, I'm Luke and I'm sitting on my throne! Oh, and have you noticed that Denniz PoP songs are extremely hooky?


The SM7B is a good tip indeed and an industry standard for pop producers. At times the mic is preferred before the ELAM251 or the C800 on a final mix.

Yes, don't be disappointed. I'm sure you have learned some things from this song, and that usb mic takes away some of the power your song could have. Your vocalist also did a good job.

Try to watch mix with the masters Kuk Harrell episode. It's the best template for recording and processing vocals on the market imo
Hi, I'm Luke and I'm sitting on my throne! Oh, and have you noticed that Denniz PoP songs are extremely hooky?


Here is what I learned from a quite famous (and quite old) UK producer about building attractive pop harmonies. Change only main vocal melody tones while harmonies have to keep the same tone until you change a whole chord. Strum harmonies on the piano or a guitar, whatever sounds good it will sound even better with vocal harmonies. Every harmony tone record three times, every time having different distance from the mic, natural chorus. Compress back harmonies to death, add a bit of a good chorus with a slow rate. Finally have a good present mic like Neumann TLM-103. It's really not that hard actually.  With a bit of taste and practice you may go far :)


Thanks Dagge for your contribution. The approach of the guy is different from how boy bands go about it in their choruses mainly. He suggests the harmonies are mainly chord tone harmonyies or or pedal harmonies, while BSB for example rarely uses such oblique harmonies but rather uses tight harmonies and octave harmonies. Compare the danthemanbardo harmony tracks. I think the important message is to learn what different types of harmonies exist so that you can identify and qualify each harmony as one of the different categories. See 12tone vocal harmonies video (or download the attached pdf file) to learn about it.

Different mic positions are not necessary when you use different vocalist but could solve problems that occur because a voice sounds too much the same as the main melody.
Hi, I'm Luke and I'm sitting on my throne! Oh, and have you noticed that Denniz PoP songs are extremely hooky?