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Re: OT: final mixing and mastering of film score....hints?

I never got to comment on the last task, the about making music to an
acapella voice recording. I've been doing that a lot in the past, for
choir music remix, for album and DVD productioins with spoken word as
well as plain pop tunes. I also made a living for a couple of years by
"reverse-engineering" covers; production like reproducing all
instruments in a Sprinigsteen song for a singer to add vocals on top.
Those years were very educational (but most fun in the beginning). The
speaker I was working with is a world class speaker and the singer is
an African guy with outstanding sense of rhythm and tempo. Knowing
this I didn't think much about "Logic" but trusted in the old truth
that there is music everywhere if you just listen closely enough and
used the following simple method:

Listen over and over to the single recording you about to set music
to. Listen until your imagination starts hearing music around the
voice. That happens pretty soon. The next step is a lot of hard work;
figuring out what chords, melodies and tempi the music you are hearing
in your imagination has. For me this stage works out best if I sit
down with the vocal track in Logic and an acoustic guitar in my lap.
Then I simply jam along until I get a feeling for a useful

Now you may have reached an idea of a full music production you want
to record around the voice. Don't start yet! Take an extra hour to
align Logic's grid to the tempo of the vocal recording. It will speed
up your work later on if you are going to have instant access to any
tempo dependent effects. I don't have an absolute metric sense so I
use this method:

1. Move the left corner of the audio region to make audio start
exactly on a downbeat (the singer's downbeat, forget abut Logic's
tempo grid for now).
2. Drag the audio region so this (singer's) downbeat falls on the
first downbeat of Logics first bar.
3. Activate a click and hit Play.
4. Fiddle with Logic's tempo until the click and the singer are
beginning in sync (just working on the beginning here, as the singer
will drift off beat sooner or later).
5. Listen until the singer's tempo goes out of sync with Logic's (yet)
stable tempo.

Fine, now you know the start tempo for the production. Continue with:

6. Drag the audio region with the vocal recording to the right and
drop it a fair bit into Logic's grid. Remember to leave enough space
before it for an instrumental introduction.
7. Drag back the left corner of the audio region so the upbeat in the
vocal recording won't be cut off.
8. Open Logic's Tempo List. ("Options > Tempo > Open Tempo List>).
9. The tempo list now displays the initial tempo at bar position 1 1 1
1. Select it and hit "cmd c" (copy).
10. Play the stuff until the moment where the singer goes out of sync
with the click. Paus by hitting Space Bar.
11. Back approximately a quarter note, click in the tempo list to
activate it and hit "cmd v" (paste).
12. The pasted in tempo at this position is still the same as the
initial tempo. Tweak the new tempo until you find the new tempo the
singer has drifted into.

Here's a good place to stop for discussion. Two factors are at work
here, the new tempo setting and the timing where the new tempo starts.
When I started doing this I first assumed that a gradual tempo change,
like a ritardando curve, would work best. But I changed after a lot of
trial and error. Now I always put in a few sudden changes rather than
a curve because I think that is the way a singer's mind and tempo
perception works; you sing your performance and suddenly your brain
CLICKS into a new tempo that better fits your emotion (when composing
from scratch I do like using long curves of gradual tempo
increase/decrease though) but this case is still more "doctoring" than
"composing". Ok, my point here is that you need to pay a lot of
attention to find the right PLACE and the right TEMPO, because an
incorrect tempo can work in a half-assed way if covered up for by
another time placement for that change. So you really have to listen
to the singer. Now, good singers sometimes sing off tempo and you need
to have listened enough to the acapella to follow that and identify
different strategies for how to place the grid.

13. Now copy this last tempo and keep listening for the next spot
where the singer drifts. Paste it in and change like explained above.
Repeat until you reach the end of the vocal recording.

Final discussion:
There are technical methods in Logic, and other DAWs, to automate this
but my finding is that the method I described here gives a more
accurate result. It might take longer time but you will get it right.
If you want you can use some programmed music mock-up instead of the
click (quantized virtual instruments, no audio).

Also keep in mind that a singer that sings acapella will always go too
fast through the song. This means you will probably want to cut the
audio region to create instrumental parts in between vocal phrases.
Doing that AFTER you have created the tempo map is a true pain in the
arse. The solution is to keep this in mind all the time while
analyzing the tempo dynamics and do the cutting and vocals arranging
in parallel with working out the tempo list.

An hour ago someone on the STick forum posted this YT clip where Hal
Galper talks about this from the view of a jazz piano player:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_7DgCrziI8 I think it is related as
two sides of the same phenomenon.

Greetings from Sweden

Per Boysen