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Thomas Dolby vocal effect

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Thomas Dolby vocal effect

Postby BJG145 » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:32 pm

What's going on with this vocal effect on Thomas Dolby's arrangement of I Scare Myself...?

It's on the outro at 4:50, but you should really listen to the whole track, because it's such a great track.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yc2rPDMnN7w

The time and pitch seem kind of constant, so I guess this is something to do with formants...? Never really dived into those. I suppose nowadays you might be reaching for Antares Throat or Izotope Vocalsynth, though I don't know what Dolby was doing.
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Re: Thomas Dolby vocal effect

Postby James Perrett » Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:03 pm

I reckon that's just changing the speed of the tape while singing along in time and in pitch with the varispeeded track. No clever effects - just a bit of singing skill although I'd guess that each line was recorded separately.
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Re: Thomas Dolby vocal effect

Postby desmond » Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:21 pm

Eventide harmoniser..? Although plenty of boxes will do real time pitch changes, keeping the time/tempo constant....
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Re: Thomas Dolby vocal effect

Postby BJG145 » Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:55 pm

What baffled me is that it sounds like variable tape speed affecting the vocal tone, but with constant pitch and tempo. I like the idea of singing along to a tape at different speeds and then matching them up though...ingenious...
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Re: Thomas Dolby vocal effect

Postby Dave B » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:19 am

It is every so slightly slowing down as the pitch drops. I always assumed he sampled the 'it's me I'm scared of' into the Fairlight and then played it very subtly using the pitch bend
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Re: Thomas Dolby vocal effect

Postby MonkeySpank » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:05 pm

BJG145 wrote:I like the idea of singing along to a tape at different speeds and then matching them up though...ingenious...
That was a common trick back in the day, especially used by those of us who had no backing singers for our demos. :thumbup:
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Re: Thomas Dolby vocal effect

Postby redlester » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:39 pm

Dave B wrote:It is every so slightly slowing down as the pitch drops. I always assumed he sampled the 'it's me I'm scared of' into the Fairlight and then played it very subtly using the pitch bend

I think he was a big Fairlight user at the time, if I recall correctly. Always loved that album and thought of it as one of the best examples of sampling technology being put to superb use in the 80's. Of course there are strong contenders like Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel. If pushed I would probably say Gabriel's fourth album ("Security" as it's now known) would have to be the winner for me, the one I think of immediately and fondly when "Fairlight" is mentioned.
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