Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Discussions about anything related to samplers and sampling techniques.

Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby part12studios » Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:31 am

well there you have it. All played live and performed. That's pretty amazing. That's watermark. I'm still wondering about that one "ah" in Caribbean Blue i link above, which is from Shepard Moons. Clearly though they were on to something with watermark so I'm sure they didn't opt to start sequencing things or get lazy with production so maybe it's still performed, but if that's the case, they did a good job making it sound like it was a sampler ;)
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby desmond » Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:56 am

That vocal stack thing *is* her sound. It may be painstaking to do, but that is her process, and I don't think they are thinking they would be getting much value out of a privately-sampled Enya Kontakt instrument... ;)
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby Mooger5 » Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:58 pm

That was a good read.´Watermark´and particularly 'Orinoco Flow' indeed were refreshing at the time. No doubt it must have sold quite well. So the part about the A&R advising on the songs structure was interesting. They knew they were onto something and fabricated a hit. While definitely non-mainstream it was unashamedly a commercial effort. But by not using sampled voices and sequencing and quantizing they ran a few risks. 'Tapeless studios' were the buzzword by then IIRC but they went for the real-time playing and singing to keep the feel. I mean, they were there to make money but were still a class act. Very nice.
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby madtheory » Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:50 pm

Talk Talk also recorded at Wessex, using the Mitsubishi digital 32 track in a similar way. Lots of offsetting to allow repeating/ looping parts when copying over to the master analogue multi. Like a giant sampler, in a way! It's possible they used that technique with Enya, for example repeating the same vocals in each chorus and verse. Which would partially explain the sampler-like vibe. Notwithstanding, of course, the time effort and skill in layering up those stacks of vocals.
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby Mooger5 » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:54 pm

I think you nailed it. Listening closer to Storms In Africa, the recurring "nanana, nana" parts seem identical throughout the song. Copying and pasteing repeating vocal parts would save precious studio time.
How was it done with two tape recorders? With MIDI parts it was simple, we´d reserve one track to record SMPTE code and convert it to MIDI clock during playback, so the tape machine was the master clock and despite any variations in the motor speed, the sequencers and drum machines would always follow along. Then there were also the left and right locators with which you could set the recorder to, say, fast forward to a given location and from there run at normal speed. Offsetting the locators, it was possible to trick one machine into playing a section back again while the other was running the normal course, but there might have been some trial and error if the machines weren´t synchronized. 'Rubato' playing as mentioned in the article could have helped masquerading repeating vocals apeearing slightly offbeat. Adding a click-track could have helped too, IDK.
Still, a manually triggered sampler could have been more efficient, no? Didn´t the S1000 come out by that time?
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby Mooger5 » Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:21 pm

I think I got it and it´s a bit more simple and effective: when recording, they split the signals to both tape machines at the same time. ALL the vocal and also all the instrument tracks in the repeating parts were then replayed from the digital and pasted to the analog tape. I presumed just the vocals were pasted because they had the more layers. This solves the off-beat problem. Now a closer listen to every instrument in the repeating parts should confirm it.
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby madtheory » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:25 am

They didn't do it to "save precious studio time" no. It was done because that was the sound they were after- perfect stacked vocals.

No MIDI either all SMPTE, and no "tricking the machine", it was a feature. The Sony and Mitsubishi machines had offsets as a feature, as did most of the SMPTE sync boxes used with analogue machines as well.

The S1000 wasn't around, and it was only stereo with limited memory. On Enya and Talk Talk it's done with multiple tracks simultaneously so stereo/ two track would not be enough. Although some people like Peter Gabriel used the mono MDB window recorder to fly in parts, this box had SMPTE sync as well AFAIK.

These days, we'd just use a DAW.
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby Mooger5 » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:05 pm

madtheory wrote:They didn't do it to "save precious studio time" no. It was done because that was the sound they were after- perfect stacked vocals.

IMO copying and pasting tracks probably made the vocal stacks too perfect for what they were after. I got the idea they went for a more "arty", less "plasticky" sounding approach with all the instruments played by hand and no sampling of the vocals for a more human feel. But singing each and every part was never an easy feat due to time constraints, mic placing, desk settings, throat issues and warmup, singing in tune, getting the most out of every take, erasing all the coughs and spits etc etc...
Enya must have been and probably still is a very gited singer but those problems happen to the most demanding professionals. I still think that technique must have been employed as a conveniance. For efficiency, not by choice...

OR, are you trying to say they thought of creating all those vocal layers just because the machines that made it possible were there in the first place? Like, if they hadn´t the logistics to do it, they wouldn´t have even tried?
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby madtheory » Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:15 am

I've worked with professional singers and voice actors. It just gets done. There's no "erasing all the coughs and spits etc..." because there aren't any. With a pro, what you hear on the record is what they sound like in real life. Mic placement and desk settings are written down if you need to redo them but normally you get it all done in one sitting. Warm ups are part of the job. These are professional performers, it's what they do. That's what professional means- do the job, do it well, and do it on time and in budget.

There's evidence in the article- they ended up with leftover studio time, even though they'd already done an album this way and knew the process and the time it takes. Clearly, they worked efficiently and professionally.

I'm not sure what you mean by "too perfect". They got the sound they wanted. The Sound on Sound article refers to the producer's exacting standards, redoing an entire song because a single track of "ahs" was out of tune.

They did the layering because they wanted that sound, and because multitrack. The low noise of the digital machine allowed them to do more layers with more clarity than an analogue machine.

The computer and the DAW, I think, tends to give people a false impression of what music recording is.

With all of the great stuff that stands the test of time, what you hear on the record is pretty much what they sound like in real life. Maybe with a different vibe sometimes. But it hits you when you see them live. For example I remember seeing Colin Hay of Men at Work about 10 years ago. A crappy PA in a pub, just him and a guitar. His voice sounded like the record!
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby Mooger5 » Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:16 am

madtheory wrote:I've worked with professional singers and voice actors.


Well, me too.
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby Mooger5 » Thu Jun 28, 2018 11:15 am

You contradict yourself a lot. Your arguments are seemingly tough to beat because they are MY arguments. Read them again. Except the part about the coughs and spits. I will even add the talkback chatting that sometimes goes unnoticed.
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby madtheory » Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:42 am

You've lost me there bud. Have a nice day :thumbsup: .
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby Mooger5 » Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:22 pm

U2 my friend. I´ll return to this later :)
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby Mooger5 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:55 am

madtheory wrote:I've worked with professional singers and voice actors. It just gets done. There's no "erasing all the coughs and spits etc..." because there aren't any. With a pro, what you hear on the record is what they sound like in real life. Mic placement and desk settings are written down if you need to redo them but normally you get it all done in one sitting. Warm ups are part of the job. These are professional performers, it's what they do. That's what professional means- do the job, do it well, and do it on time and in budget.

Don´t you think if that was true that she would sing every part without having to rely on the digital multitrack machine ?? I say it again: they chose the machine because of efficiency. Get the best vacal take and copy whenever necessary to avoid longer, unproductive sessions.

But then you say one thing and then the opposite.
madtheory wrote:They didn't do it to "save precious studio time" no.

madtheory wrote:There's evidence in the article- they ended up with leftover studio time, even though they'd already done an album this way and knew the process and the time it takes. Clearly, they worked efficiently and professionally.

It doesn´t matter if those quotes are in different posts. Blanket statements are unconditional and never taken out of context.

madtheory wrote:I'm not sure what you mean by "too perfect". They got the sound they wanted. The Sound on Sound article refers to the producer's exacting standards, redoing an entire song because a single track of "ahs" was out of tune.

By "too perfect" I mean it would sound invariably the same over and over, like in a loop. With all the emphasis on the "rubato" playing of the piano parts to add more human feel, and to differentiate themselves from the plastic sounding Chart Music of the era, one would think the vocals would follow the same path, with every part being sung in real-time. But what I´m saying is due to time constraints they opted to digitally copy and paste the best takes to repeat them whenever necessary in the songs structure. This was meant for time and costs saving but had that "sampling feel" that is the central point of the discussion.

madtheory wrote:They did the layering because they wanted that sound, and because multitrack. The low noise of the digital machine allowed them to do more layers with more clarity than an analogue machine.
Again they "wanted" that sound for conveniance, not by artistic choice.

madtheory wrote:The computer and the DAW, I think, tends to give people a false impression of what music recording is.
Sure.

madtheory wrote:With all of the great stuff that stands the test of time, what you hear on the record is pretty much what they sound like in real life. Maybe with a different vibe sometimes. But it hits you when you see them live. For example I remember seeing Colin Hay of Men at Work about 10 years ago. A crappy PA in a pub, just him and a guitar. His voice sounded like the record!

Live music in a pub. Sounding like the record. Dude that´s just beer doing its thing :mrgreen:
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