Author Topic: Beelzebub's Bells (revisited)  (Read 256 times)

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Online brianlarsen

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Beelzebub's Bells (revisited)
« on: April 29, 2019, 05:31:56 pm »
I’ve never posted in this section before, so shall make use of it now  :)
A couple of months after taking up the guitar, I entered the June competition with Beelzebub’s Bells,  https://youtu.be/YKJwBX_zRh8 , with self-penned lyrics to the basic tune of Tim Barry’s Church of Level Track.

At the time I was on quarter note down strums, with the occasional up-strum thrown in.
I remember Max mentioning it might sound nice with finger picking. Although that’s still beyond me, I thought it would be interesting to revisit  the piece, almost a year later.

I used a mixed strumming pattern, different for verse and chorus.
The bit of music theory I learnt gave me the confidence to have a go at adding in some harmonies.
I recorded the guitar part on my phone (using metronome in headphones) in one take and then recorded two separate vocal tracks, putting them together on Audacity (vocal tracks panned L & R and volume increased)

After learning (I think) what a bridge was, I incorporated one after the 2nd chorus (using an F-barre, no less!), which necessitated a further chorus.

And as we set sail across the Styx,
Wearing hobnail boots to kick the pricks
Eternity wouldn’t seem so long,
If we can ring a bell and sing our song

And I pull- handstroke, backstroke; Lucifer’s leading
Swollen fingers;  my blisters bleeding
Dogdy dodging in Grandsire Doubles
Dead men stuck in Stedman troubles

The rest of the lyrics, some background and explanation of the bell-ringing terminology are on the original YouTube posting if anyone is interested.

It has been a fun and useful exercise revisiting, but rather than encouragement, I would appreciate more critical feedback on this one, esp. concrete suggestions as to how I might improve it, or aspects that don’t work.

I am aware that better recording gear and more effort in the mixing department will improve sound, but that’s not where I’m at (YET). Also, no need to mention the ‘crack’ in the bridge and the ‘message received’ buzzing towards the end- I know how to re-record without  ;) 
It could also do with a bit of guitar intro before kicking off.

Go on- I’m wearing my thick skin!  :P

https://soundcloud.com/user-562765097/beelzebubs-bells






Offline Majik

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Re: Beelzebub's Bells (revisited)
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2019, 07:18:00 pm »
Well, I'm about 45 minutes away from heading to our local bell-tower where, the TC had forewarned us, we will be attempting Plain hunting for the first time (albeit on 3 and 4 bells), so some input from me is probably appropriate.

First thought: it could do with an intro, even if that's just 4 bars of strumming.

I like the harmonised, layered vocals, but I'm not sure I like how they are panned. I would aim to blend them a bit more. In general I think lead vocals are best centre panned. "Backing" vocals can be panned a bit more creatively, but here I think they would be better closer together and closer to the centre for the verses at least.

For the chorus I would be tempted to record a 2nd backing track and pan those both left/right whilst keeping the main vocal centred.

Also I would drop the level of the backing vocal a bit, as it's a bit intrusive on the main vocal at times.

As far as the guitar goes, I like the strumming, but it could do with some more variation to keep it interesting. You might want, for instance, to have a different strumming pattern during the verse compared to the chorus.

But these are really picky points. Others may have a different view.

Cheers,

Keith
« Last Edit: April 29, 2019, 11:43:24 pm by Majik »
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Online brianlarsen

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Re: Beelzebub's Bells (revisited)
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2019, 11:31:15 pm »
Cheers for the listen and feedback, Keith.
Just the kind of stuff I was hoping for.
First thought: it could do with an intro, even if that's just 4 bars of strumming.
I agree (and mentioned above).
That was a bit of laziness on my part.
I recorded the guitar part first as a guide for the vocals. I thought I would be re-recording when I saw how it would all fit together, making the appropriate changes. I was happier with the result than I thought I would be, so posted here to look for any other advice first.
Glad I did.

I like the harmonised, layered vocals, but I'm not sure I like how they are panned. I would aim to blend them a bit more. In general I think lead vocals are best centre panned. "Backing" vocals can be panned a bit more creatively, but here I think they would be better closer together and closer to the centre for the verses at least.
I'm a little out of my depth here. I have not looked up anything about 'panning'. I am using audacity and just presumed it meant sliding the cursor to have it come more from the L or R side  (given in %).
I presumed if I was singing 2 vocal tracks it would make it more interesting to have to distinct voices coming from each side, so settled on 50% for each, leaving the guitar coming equally from both to keep it centred.
Having lead vocals centred, however does make good sense to me and I shall play around a bit more with that.
For the chorus I would be tempted to record a 2nd backing track and pan those both left/right whilst keeping the main vocal centred.
Do you mean record the same again (so it is similar but not identical) to the 1st backing track? Would it have a similar effect just to copy the 1st backing track and add it, panned to the other side, maybe with a very slight delay? or is that just lazy and would sound rubbish?

Also I would drop the level of the backing vocal a bit, as it's a bit intrusive on the main vocal at times.
You are right. I don't think I was (am) clear in my head whether I wanted them to be backing vocals or a second set of lead vocals. (Some of my favourite songs are duets singing different melodies/lyrics)
For the past couple of weeks I've been working on the sound of silence. I much prefer Paul Simon's vocals and had decided to give them at least equal treatment as opposed to backing status. I was probably trying to emulate similar here (Hey, you have to aim high!)

You might want, for instance, to have a different strumming pattern during the verse compared to the chorus.
Yup, there are in fact different strumming pattern between the two (although, I messed it up in the 1st chorus). I used back-to-back old faithful for the chorus and the strumming pattern Justin teaches for 'What's Up?' in the verses, and then a made-up bit for the bridge.
To be honest, I think the differences are very hard to notice and agree it sounds quite the same (maybe revert to my original 4/4 strumming for a wee bit? ;) )
But these are really picky points.
No, this is what I was looking for and is sometimes less forthcoming in AVOYP (for good reasons)
You've definitely given me food for thought and things to look out for in the future.

Hope you had a good ring  :)

Cheers, Brian

Offline Majik

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Re: Beelzebub's Bells (revisited)
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2019, 11:57:23 pm »
Quote from: brianlarsen
I'm a little out of my depth here. I have not looked up anything about 'panning'. I am using audacity and just presumed it meant sliding the cursor to have it come more from the L or R side  (given in %).

Yes, "panning" is the act of moving the stereo position of a track.

Quote
I presumed if I was singing 2 vocal tracks it would make it more interesting to have to distinct voices coming from each side, so settled on 50% for each, leaving the guitar coming equally from both to keep it centred.
Having lead vocals centred, however does make good sense to me and I shall play around a bit more with that.

It certainly adds interest, but it's not usual to have lead vocals panned quite so dramatically, so it sounds a bit odd (at least, to me). I once heard a quote from a well-known recording studio Engineer that went something like "the primary function of stereo in recording is to make more space for the vocals in the centre".

Quote
Do you mean record the same again (so it is similar but not identical) to the 1st backing track? Would it have a similar effect just to copy the 1st backing track and add it, panned to the other side, maybe with a very slight delay? or is that just lazy and would sound rubbish?

That's exactly what I meant, but copying the track isn't lazy if it works too. You will have to tweak it in some way as an identical copy will just blend and end up moving the backing I to the centre.

Some DAWs have "spatialiser" tools that will create a stereo image of a track by creating a copy of the track and panning left and right with different effects.


The thing to do is try stuff out.


Quote
Hope you had a good ring  :)

Yes it was good thanks, although I did not do well at plain hunting, even on just three bells. That one is going to take a fair bit of work!

Cheers,

Keith



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« Last Edit: April 30, 2019, 11:27:51 am by Majik »
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Offline DavidP

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Re: Beelzebub's Bells (revisited)
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2019, 03:10:50 pm »
Brian,

Well done on another step forward ... your first exploration into multi-track recording.

I prettty concur with what Keith is saying.

I think the most important thing is to keep experimenting and playing around in the DAW. 

For example absolutely nothing wrong with duplicating your guitar and panning one 100% left and the other 100% right.  But if each track is identical then you will hear the guitar as being dead centre, just louder.  Adding a delay of something like 30-50ms on the one is a good strategy.  You want enough delay to introduce some separation, stereo spacing but not so much that it sounds like an echo.  This is called the Haas Effect.

Then you could apply some different reverb and delay effects to each guitar.  Not necessarily to the degree that the guitar sounds heavily treated (unless that is what you want) but just enough to enhance the sense of separation.  Of course you could also add other effects to create a very different sound.

For the lead vocal where you have sung the part essentially the same, I would pull them in closer to be more of a blend.  And then perhaps play around with the chorus with more to provide a different effect.  And again you could duplicate the chorus vocals and mess around with effects.

Perhaps beyond where you want to explore, would be to use volume automation, assuming that Audacity has that feature.  That is where you adjust the level of the track at different parts of the song.  So you could repeat chorus lines and vary the volume on eitehr left or right side to create interesting effects.  You could also automate panning so the vocal moves from left to right. 

Pretty much anything goes.  If you like it then that is fine.  Of course, whether other people also like it becomes another matter and may or may not be important, depending on what you are looking to achieve.

Online brianlarsen

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Re: Beelzebub's Bells (revisited)
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2019, 05:06:37 pm »
Keith and David,

Thank you both for the careful listen and helpful critique-
Exactly what I was looking for  :)

I have taken on board what you have said and remixing.
It's another steep learning curve and I am wary of descending the recording rabbit-hole that will suck up time that might be better spent practising at my stage, but sometimes we have little choice  ;)

I have re-centred the main vocals, reduced the volume of the backing track, added a bar guitar intro and experimented (a little) with panning back and forth about 3.20.
I'll slap on some visuals too, to share with my bell-ringing colleagues  :)

It's by no means finished, but I'm much happier with the result and have learnt something new.
I'll post the results in the AVOYP section
Thanks again

Offline DavidP

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Re: Beelzebub's Bells (revisited)
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2019, 05:44:54 pm »
Always a pleasure, Brian.

Have to say personally, I find as much fascination and enjoyment in the recording, mixing and producing as I do in the learning to play.

Now I can be a jack of more trades, still master of none :)

Offline Majik

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Re: Beelzebub's Bells (revisited)
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2019, 07:00:42 pm »
As David said, a total pleasure.

Maybe one of these years we'll meet in a bell tower (when I'm considerably better).

Cheers,

Keith

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Guitars: PRS Singlecut S2, Fender Tele Lite Ash, G&L Legacy Tribute, Freshman Apollo 2 OCBX
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