October 31st, 2009 | By Kal
Hey, I just thought I’d fill you in on something fairly relevant to the recordings we just put up on the website and fill you in on what guide vocals are.
What are they? Well, as you will hear on the songs we uploaded here, they are vocals that are recorded to a track very early on in the process before a lot of the other instruments are on. They may not be perfect, but they are close enough so that they hold the place of the final vocals, which are added last.
Why use them? I don’t know about you, but in general, the most important thing for me in a song is the lead singer. If it wasn’t there would be a lot of bands that play without any vocals at all – there are tons of bands that play in most other combinations. And it is for this reason that we use guide vocals. When you are trying to record an instrumental part, particularly one that doesn’t play all the time, like a guitar part or a synth, it is a lot easier to perform well with the vocals there. Maybe it’s just familiarity, but I think it’s more than that. The vocals allow you to feel how you should play your part, which will ultimately give you a song that feels right.
If you need vocals early, why not just make the guide vocals your final vocals? Why are vocals always added last? Listen to I Wanna Know, one of the 7 songs we have uploaded so far. It starts off really mellow, and the vocals in the verse carry this on. But then when you here Rob start singing “I wanna know if she knows…”, he’s singing at the top of his voice. You might think, that’s a bit odd – that doesn’t fit with the rest of the song, or the piano at all. And you’d be right, at the moment it doesn’t. But we’re planning to add instruments and totally change the feel of the song. Because Rob knows that and knows what he thinks the song is going to feel like, he’s singing out, and really going for it. But how can he know for sure? He can’t, and that’s why you always add the vocals last.
Overall, it just so happens that luckily for us, the guide vocal, traditionally used to help the artist in the recording process, also allows you to hear something a lot closer to what the song will sound like in the end. What a strike of luck!
I’ll leave you with Rob, laying down some guide vocals for I Wanna Know, who’s the intelligent commentator with the nice voice?