Melodyne: Tuning Vocals… and Tuning Guitars, Keyboards and Other Things During the Mix


This post will most likely find a much smaller interested audience than my last post, which topped half a million readers (craziness!). This time I’m talking to that unique demographic of people who spend countless hours in the engineer’s chair at a recording studio. So, for the 12 people who will read this, I’ve discovered a wonderful program called Melodyne.

For years, I’ve been involved in vocal production for studio projects. I am always striving to get the best sound, as any engineer would do. Some musical styles call for that slightly out of tune floating-around-the-pitch sound. I am not involved in much of that. My stable of projects either have a full band with a lead vocal and background vocals that need tuning, or a complete a capella song where everything needs tuning.

For years, I’ve used a program called Autotune. Most people have heard of this, since it was popularized by its overuse, resulting in robotic voicing. I believe Cher was one of the first to do this back in the 90’s. It’s so popular it has resulted in a slew of iOS apps that achieve the same result for the fun of it. Too much.

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Acappella Memories: Robert Guy at Acafest 2012

Robert C. GuyRobert joined Acappella about 5 years after I jumped into the group. He replaced Wayburn Dean and sang as bass for the combination of himself, me, Duane and George for several years. He brought a new dimension to the group and it was wonderful to have him as part of the gang. You can hear Robert stand out in his first couple of albums with the group, Beyond a Doubt and Hymns for all the World. He went on to sing with various combinations of Acappella over the years and now sings often with ACAPPELLA CLASSIC, the collection of former Acappella members who sing here and there from time to time.

In the following audio clip from Acafest 2012, Robert shares his views of life on the road with families as a single guy. He handled it with style and grace, I can tell you that much. Thanks Robert…

Acappella Memories: Duane Adams at Acafest 2012 Pt. 2

Duane Adams 2012Here is another snippet of the recording from our roundtable discussion at Acafest 2012. Duane Adams shares a particular memory from an evening in Dallas, TX at the late, great Footloose. We were blessed to be able to sing many different, powerful songs. The most powerful, I believe, were some of the songs that came direct from scripture. His Righteousness, from the Sweet Fellowship album,  was one of those. This is the story of one song on one night.

Acappella Memories: Entertaining Angels Unaware

Acappella 1989

Duane Adams, Gary Moyers & George Pendergrass

I debated with myself quite a while about posting this story. I’ve told it to very few people. I figure it’s time I shared it. Some of you will think I’ve lost it. That’s okay. I’m past being concerned about that. It’s an occurrence that Danice Sweet and I will never forget.

Before the story can be told, a little background is necessary. Early on in my Acappella career (circa early ‘89), we had a concert in northern Alabama. I think it was Florence, but it might have been Huntsville. Wayburn, George and I were still pretty new to the whole Acappella experience. Rodney was the old pro and we were learning fast.

Our concert that evening had been a great success. The house was packed and the crowd was very responsive. We finished our last song and left stage. The crowd was having none of that and called us back for an encore, which we didn’t expect in the least. What artist does? Sorry, I digress.

Just as the four of us reached stage and started setting up our mic stands for the last song, we heard Rodney over on the far left of the stage saying something like, “Please, don’t do this…” As we looked over, we saw a man, about our age, forcing his way to the microphone. It turned out that this was an old acquaintance of Rodney and he had a bone to pick with us.

He spent the next 5 minutes berating us in front of the packed crowd for our unscriptural approach to gospel music. I won’t go into the theology of it all at this point. Suffice it to say, he was greatly convicted and felt compelled to show us the error of our ways in front of everyone.

Looking back, it was pretty humorous. As soon as he started talking, our sound engineer promptly reached up and turned off the mains, leaving the monitors on. This fellow could hear himself very well (as could we), but the crowd had trouble making out what he said. Good move.

Anyway, it was like a bucket of cold water had been poured over everyone’s head. Talk about quenching the Spirit, this guy had grabbed him by the collar and slapped hard several times.

When he had said his piece and left stage, Rodney called him by name and quoted Matthew 18:15 – “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” He countered this guy’s near-rage with the Word of God. The crowd became re-energized, we sang Well on My Way and the evening ended on a somewhat somber up-note. We spent the next 90 minutes speaking with audience members and encouraging one another.

And thus the story begins. Since we we’re in northern Alabama and only a few hours from our home in Tennessee, we opted to drive home after the concert. That was unusual in itself. Our norm was to spend the night and move on the next day.

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Acappella Memories: Lost in Holland

Dutch_windmillsBefore I begin this story, I admit that my memory is a bit sketchy on the facts. Certain parts of the story stand out vividly, and parts are very fuzzy. I will try to connect the facts as best I can and you guys can fill in the rest.

We were invited to a festival in Holland, which was very exciting for us. It may have been our first International foray, but I’m not entirely sure. This would have been around 1990. The concept of Acappella Missions, our new outreach organization, was new and this was one of the first times (if not THE first) that we had a chance to do something for it.

We knew we were flying over, expenses paid, for the big event in Holland. Since our flights were taken care of, we decided to extend our time in Europe and go on a mission-based tour, singing in cities connected with local missionaries. This was the trip that we had our East German experience, which is another story entirely.

Anyway, our plans were to meet Tom and Margaret Kincannon, the directors of Acappella Missions, in Holland at the conclusion of the festival. But first, we had to make it through the festival itself.

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Acappella Memories: Grounded in Texas

Big RedI have lost count of the people who’ve told me I should write a book about my experiences on the road. I spent a total of 11 years on the road with Acappella. By my best reckoning, I performed somewhere north of 1400 concerts. That’s a lot of stories to tell.

Too bad I can’t remember most of it. And NO, that doesn’t mean I was doing things I shouldn’t have been doing that blotted out my memory. It means I’m getting old too fast. The book may never happen, but I can at least share some memories here in my blog.

Therefore, I will endeavor to share some of these memories, little by little, over the next few months. I’m sure I will get some details wrong, but that’s what the comment section is for. Those of you who know the details better, please correct me.

I-30 Blues

The first memory that comes to mind probably happened in 1990 or so. It was before I married my lovely wife, Sherri. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, we spent a good deal of time in Texas. Interstate 30 runs through DFW and on to the east through the town of Sulphur Springs.

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Water from the Well

In 1989, we (Acappella) released the album Growing Up in the Lord. It was originally intended to be a children’s album, but as the production continued it became clear to us that it would be much more. Consequently, it ended up somewhat of a hybrid (in my opinion). Not to say that it was a poor album… far from it. It remains a favorite of many people, even though I believe it is out of print.

One of the lasting favorite songs from the album is the song Water from the Well. It featured a solo by Keith’s daughter, Kimberly. She did a great job on it, especially at the tender age of 5 (I think). As the tour began (actually, it never ended… but that’s another story) we started adding songs from the album to the concert set. Water from the Well seemed a natural addition.

The trouble was, how do we handle the kid’s solo part? Wayburn’s oldest son, Brent, could handle it and he toured with us, as did all the families. We decided to take it just a little bigger. If you saw our concert during this time period, you know what I’m talking about. 30 minutes into the 1st set, we just paused everything and invited all the kids ages 3 through the 3rd grade up to the stage to sing this song with us.

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