Bobby Continues To Sing Rufus
It's a lot like arranging a string quartet but the attention that needs to be paid to phrasing is even tighter. Every breath, every rubato, every quaver needs to be matched as closely to perfect as possible.
The holy grail of every four- or five- part pop chorale is of course The Beach Boy's live 1966 performance of "And Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring". This is completely Music Of Th' Polesmokin' Spheres right here, and while it can never be attained by mere mortals, the lessons exposed in this utterly seamless vocal ballet are harmelodically on par with any Bach cantata. One is also well-advised to acknowledge th' Hi-Lo's and those other guys for their role in pioneering the harmonically dense, jazz-soaked modern four-part a cappella.
I rarely allow myself the luxury of biting into an a cappella piece because while it is a sweet, sweet ride indeed it can be a devourer of time and that is certainly of th' essence. But a musician has to keep their chops up so you can really just sort of look at it as a form of stretching.
I did this version of Rufus' "In A Graveyard" because I haven't been able to take this cd out since I did the version of "Poses" and I started getting all sorts of interesting voice leadings and suspensions when I listened to "Graveyard". As recorded it's a take on that whole stately Whitman/Frost American thing, done solo with piano. The triadic, gospel piano part suggested a series of moving harmonies with cool added tones. I was thinking about the various things Aaron Copeland does with interesting added tones that can sound so martial and then so voluptuous.
I recorded the song by doing a piano/vocal take like the original and started building harmonies around the lead vocal. All the harmonies are improv-based; I didn't do a score. I set up four tracks and designated them falsetto, alto, tenor and bass and zipped through getting the parts I wanted. I returned to it for a couple of nights and a day, punching in all over the place, refining and tuning it, and when I had the arrangement I returned to each part and rerecorded it with a minimum of punching with all inflections, breaths, rubatos, crescendos and trills in place.
I buttressed three short sections with a doubled fifth harmony. When you record any single tone in multipart harmony overtones will begin to emerge; one can hear a "fifth voice" and sometimes the part is so otherworldly that you just have to sing the part along with it on an overdub.
Then I took the piano out of the mix, set up a beautiful, plate-reverb drenched monitor and resang the final lead vocal. I did it this way because by now in the process I'd be so completely, intimately in touch with the phrasing that it would be second-nature and I'd be able to focus on the performance.
No pitch correcting or pitch shifting. What you do is, you sing all good and in tune and stuff like they used to do.
Labels: Release Th' Starsss