What do you do when you don’t have anyone else to sing harmony with? You sing harmony with yourself!
Okay, what the heck is Ken talking about this time? Well, I was watching Glee a while back, and one of the songs in the show was the Queen song, Fat Bottomed Girls, which opens with a killer a capella harmony. I couldn’t get the song out of my head, so I decided to sing it (the intro anyway)…all 9 parts…myself…at the same time.
Normally one person can’t sing harmony with themselves, which is something I have wished for since high school. I think there ought to be a surgery that allows it:). Anyway, with a computer and a mic, you can be every person in a Glee Club! Listen to what it sounds like when one person sings 9 vocal tracks (each of 3 harmony parts sung 3 times) by clicking on the audio player below for the intro (just the intro, so don’t get all disappointed when the rest of the song doesn’t follow;)) to Fat Bottomed Girls as sung once again by me, myself and me 2.
Here’s how I did it.
1. I Opened Reaper Software
Reaper is my favorite tracking and mixing software (You can read more about it in this article I wrote about it – Why Reaper Rocks as a DAW). I started a new track, and then saved the project as “Fat Bottomed Girls.”
2. I Sang The Melody Part
Unlike the “Carry on Wayward Son” demo I did, which only needed 6 voices, this song needed 9. It was still only 3 parts (the melody and two harmonies), but each one needed at least 3 voices on it. So I sang the melody once on the first track. Then I opened another track and sang it again while listening to the first one. Ditto for the 3rd pass.
Here is the audio for the melody:
3. I Sang The Middle Harmony Part
I repeated the above steps for the middle harmony part, requiring me to open up 3 more tracks in turn, singing the second harmony part on each one. I now had 6 tracks playing two harmony parts.
Here is the audio for the middle part:
4. I Sang The Low Harmony Part
And I just repeated the same steps for the last 3 tracks, singing the 3rd harmony part onto each track. I now had 9 tracks.
Here is the audio for the low part:
5. Mixing Down & Editing
The final steps were to tweak each track to make sure the timing and pitch of all parts were correct. Next, I panned the tracks across the stereo spectrum (like spreading 6 playing cards out in a fan). Then I made sure the volumes were all even and rendered/”mixed down” all the tracks to one stereo file.
Finally, I opened the stereo file in Adobe Audition, my favorite audio editing software. I added a few effects like EQ and compression to the file, normalized it for good powerful volume, and Saved it as an mp3. Done.
I don’t know how many folks there are out there who dig vocal harmony as much as I do, but I know there are at least some. I don’t think The TV show, Glee would be as popular as it is otherwise. Who knows? I just think it’s cool to be able to sing harmony with yourself and turn yourself into your own glee club if you want to. You couldn’t do that when I was in high school.
If you’d like to learn more about how to record pro audio from your computer, visit Home Brew Audio frequently for our many articles and audio recording how-to tutorials.