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Harmony on a song from the 60's
Old 07-21-2014, 01:59 PM   #1
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Harmony on a song from the 60's

Is it me, or is the harmony off just a little on this song. The "harmony" occurs several times on the song, first from the times 0:11 to 0:24 (when they both sing "Yours...."). The high harmony just seems off to me.

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Old 07-21-2014, 03:30 PM   #2
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I'm not an expert on such things nor do I have perfect pitch. I think I hear what you suggest as a the harmony being "off." It could be as simple as the way records used to be produced. As now, most harmonies were (are) actually sung at different times and then "layered" together. In those days, the technology for recording and then combining sounds and layers was not as good as it is now - nor were the budgets as generous. IIRC, recording went from mono wire recording to dual track for stereo then 4 track, 8 track and now 32 track (maybe more??) Now each track is "adjustable" so that an error can actually be tweaked a bit to get the harmonies perfect. Also IIRC, the earliest layering was done without multi-track recording (see the movie "The Buddy Holly Story"). Some of the earliest layering also led to some of the effects (such as "phasing") we came to expect on psychedelic records of the 60's. I believe the following may be the first record released with phasing error left in.



Used intentionally, phasing was critical in such hits as



I'm just guessing that "perfection" in those days was reserved for classical music recordings while "Rock 'n' Roll" was a bit less precise. I still recall hearing recording errors in groups as famous/popular as The Beatles and The Mommas and The Poppas.

Finally, unless you know the source for the upload to Youtube, it's difficult to say where the problem was created (if it indeed exists - see my original caveats.)

But, now for an amazing harmony - Start about 1:40 and hold onto your heart strings.



Hey, you're the one who asked the time - I just told you how to make the watch.
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Old 07-21-2014, 03:53 PM   #3
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I don't want to divert the thread, but in the OP isn't that a black and white version of Austin Powers?
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Old 07-21-2014, 04:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David1961 View Post
Is it me, or is the harmony off just a little on this song. The "harmony" occurs several times on the song, first from the times 0:11 to 0:24 (when they both sing "Yours...."). The high harmony just seems off to me.
Uh, yeah, it's hideous and should have a warning preceding it!

This one is better:

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Old 07-21-2014, 09:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koolau View Post
I'm not an expert on such things nor do I have perfect pitch. I think I hear what you suggest as a the harmony being "off."
Well, I don't even have good relative pitch (the ability to identify intervals between two pitches, which can generally be learned and improved, while 'perfect pitch' is the ability to identify the absolute pitch w/o any reference, and is apparently something you have or do not have) - but I'd agree that it sounds 'off'. But that is assuming intent. It kinda sounds to me to be one whole step lower than we might expect for a 'pure harmony'. It could be what they were going for, but I'm going to guess 'sloppy'.


Quote:
... IIRC, recording went from mono wire recording to dual track for stereo then 4 track, 8 track and now 32 track (maybe more??) ....
Hah, with digital, I don't think they even count anymore. The only limit is computer memory, stack as many as you want.

Quote:
Now each track is "adjustable" so that an error can actually be tweaked a bit to get the harmonies perfect. Also IIRC, the earliest layering was done without multi-track recording (see the movie "The Buddy Holly Story").
Les Paul was doing it with multiple disc cutters, before Bing Crosby connected him with the people at Ampex, and Les started playing with their tape heads and created 'simul-sync' (using the other track's record heads temporarily as playback heads, so the record/playback sound was in sync - normally they used separate playback heads a few inches away so they could optimize each for the task). If you look at an old high quality tape recorder, you can see the separate record and playback heads.

And then of course, use the delay between the heads for echo effects!

Or create 'reverse echo', where the echo comes before the sound (!) - Led Zeppelin created this effect by recording the vocals, and then playing the tape backwards and recording the echo onto another track of the tape. The sound engineer told them it wouldn't work! But when it is all played forward again, you get ... (way way way down down down inside inside inside....)

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Used intentionally, phasing was critical in such hits as

Absolutely loved the phasing in that tune (and still do!).

And when they came out with effects pedals that made a controlled phasing sound, some of them were called 'Flangers' - because the intentional way of creating the phased sound in a recording studio was to sync two tape recorders, and then manually drag your fingers on the flanges of the tape spools to force the tape to slightly slow down and become out-of-phase. Good times!

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