Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

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Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby part12studios » Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:12 pm

Hi everyone, I recently came to a realization that I've always kinda thought enya would sample her voice for some of the choir type sounds. They really do have a very ADSR feel to them. I realize she could probably do it live but for songwriting i could see it being so much more expedient to sample and just use that.

I know she had expressed an openness to others sampler her work, but i'm talking about strictly her sampling herself for her own songs.

So that got me wondering what sampler(s) she may have used in the early days.. like watermark and shepard moons. All i see is people talking about her using a Juno-60 for synth stuff and yes i know she had synths and that's cool, but yea I just wondered about vocal choir sampling and if anyone knew if:

1. clear statement that she uses samplers

2. what samplers were used if any.


Thanks,
Caleb
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby Z » Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:25 pm

I'm only familiar with here first few albums and as far as I know, she did not use samplers. Just Juno 60, DX7 & D-50.

She multi-tracked her voice for the giant sound she is known for.
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby part12studios » Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:35 pm

yea i guess that would help the sound be richer. having each voice be performed vs sampled, but i still can't help but feel like some sampling was employed. maybe just small parts here and there..

like this:
https://youtu.be/GnIo73NXo_A?t=18

at the end (0:25) of that part you can hear this "ah..." and i mean it just seems like maybe they layered some stuff.. her live voice and maybe some sampler samples here and there.. sure that "ah..." could have been done live too.. but doesn't it sound very sampler-ish?
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby Z » Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:49 am

Since multi-tracking her vocals is pretty much her signature sound, I seriously doubt she'd sample herself which would make the end product more "sterile" and less "organic" than actually singing.

Go back even further and listen to the multi-tracked vocals of Fleetwood Mac personnel.

Having been on this forum for over 11 years, it's interesting to see people ask questions about what synths or other electronic gear was used on recordings when actually, it was not synthetic or programmed, but real talent - something that is seriously missing in today's music.
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby part12studios » Tue Jun 05, 2018 2:58 am

yea i agree it probably wasn't but i don't know it just makes sense from a songwriting perspective.. even if it were just demo ideas and such.. how much faster it would be to make harmonies.. especially when it's one person's voice doing ALL the voices.

multitracking / playback / layering to me would seem somewhat time consuming when a sampler could construct some ideas quicker.

I't's not like Enya was shy from using technology. Especially in those days samplers were also still pretty avante garde.

As for a sterile sound, I don't know if I fully buy a sampler would sound sterile. They could have still sampled numerous voices. High quality samplers existed by 1991.. when Shepard Moons was released..

however my theories aside there doesn't seem to be an evidence that Enya did any sampling.

I know there are articles talking about other people sampling her work. also on that note, I really liked her take on sampling. Seems there her and her crew Nicky Ryan and others are open to it and giving their blessing assuming they approve of how it's used. https://www.forbes.com/sites/passionoft ... e9abe86bcf

I just thought that was pretty nice. Not sure if royalties or anything get brought up or how all that stuff works.. but i just have to say openness is just nice to see. Especially from Enya and her team who I have so much respect for.
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby Mooger5 » Thu Jun 07, 2018 7:06 pm

I think it´s a legitimate question. I bought the "Watermark" album when it came out and I too thought Enya had sampled her own voice for all the 'hmmmms' and the 'ahhhhhs'. It would seem natural from her, with all the hitech she employed. But at the time I knew very little about sampling. All good she sang every part in real-time.

On a side-note there´s the OST for "The Last Emperor". The A side composed by R. Sakamoto that to my ears had always sounded like a real orchestra but turns out was all done on the Fairlight CMI Series III. Unless I´m severely mistaken. It puts to shame the terabyte libraries of today.
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby madtheory » Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:59 am

Mooger5 wrote:On a side-note there´s the OST for "The Last Emperor". The A side composed by R. Sakamoto that to my ears had always sounded like a real orchestra but turns out was all done on the Fairlight CMI Series III. Unless I´m severely mistaken. It puts to shame the terabyte libraries of today.


He may have composed with the Fairlight sequencer (like Thomas Dolby did for his wonderful OST Gothic), and possibly used the notation printing. But what you're hearing is a real orchestra NOT a Fairlight. I'm quite familiar with the CMI IIx and Series 3 libraries, Factory and commercial (Sound Genesis Strings, Prosonus Orchestral). They're nice sounds, but don't have all of those expressive pitch slides and dynamics. And there are no Chinese instruments in the Fairlight library. Originally the series 3 had 14MB max, later 32MB. There's simply not enough space to do all of that even in mono, certainly not in stereo. There are a few Fairlight type choir sounds in there alright, like on Theme Variation 1 sounds like his own choir but has that characteristic keyboardness.

Incidentally the same Prosonus library is available for Kontakt etc, it's still lovely even alongside "the terabyte libraries of today".
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby Mooger5 » Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:38 am

Sorry for the inaccuracies. By 'all done on the Fairlight' I was referring to the western instruments found in the 'real orchestra'. All in context. The classical chinese instruments we hear are obviously REAL acoustic instruments, played by real people.
Yeah maybe I'm wrong but I remember reading the sleeve notes and thinking "Wait a minute! Where are the credits for the orchestra? Who was the conductor? There's 'Fairlight programming by Hans Zimmer'. So is that all?"
Then if I remember well there are not many changes in the sounds, like the subtleties in the performance of real acoustic instruments.
You can't even listen to the usual parasitic noises of coughs, breaths, chairs, score pages being turned and all that. Heh
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby Mooger5 » Fri Jun 08, 2018 5:36 pm

You´re absolutely right, madtheory. That choir sound example is perfect. Thanks. My too high expectations about the legendary Series III led me into some dumb wishful thinking. BTW there´s another sweet example of the Fairlight (hopefully) in the sustained bells or glass harp or whatever it is, here:

Watch on youtube.com


Something apparently inharmonic turning into harmony. Damn wish I could compose like that. The Wavestation is full of spectral sounds. Imagine the wavesequences evolving into beautiful sonicscapes.
Well that´s it. Sorry for the off topic :geek:
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby ppg_wavecomputer » Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:21 pm

From what I remember, she used a Kurzweil 250 (theoretically a sampler, with Mac and software added) and an Emulator 2 when recording "Watermark".

There also was a lot of multitracking involved, stacking and layering vocal parts.

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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby part12studios » Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:53 pm

found this thread too digging deeper with the Kurzweil 250 tip..

http://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthread ... 24119/Enya

Enya's synthesizers include the Roland D-50 (she likes the "heavy feel," optimum for playing sampled tympani and strings), the Fairlight III, the Yamaha TX (the rack version of the DX), an older Oberheim rack version, and the Roland Juno 60 ("We wouldn't part with it for anything in the world"). "We also used this really old keyboard called the Wave, which has got wonderful sounds, like the little sound on the beginning of 'Evening Falls,' and the quiet 'turn it up' part of 'Orinoco Flow.'" Enya plays a piano of unknown provenance, given to Roma by her auntie. They'd like to use the new MIDI-able Yamaha acoustic piano. Enya and Ryan use the Akai S-900 for sampling.

S-900.. interesting.. but yea it's not really saying anything about sampling her voice.. samplers of course can be used for lots of things.. maybe they used a sampler for the lighting crack in storms in africa part 2.. so yea still interesting to hear some gear lore.
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby Z » Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:40 am

Wiki articles aren't always accurate, but here's what it has to say about Watermark:
Enya played a variety of keyboards and synthesisers, including the Yamaha KX88 Master, Yamaha DX7, Emulator III, Oberheim Matrix, Akai S900, Roland D-50 and Juno-60.


EIII and S900 are obviously samplers and I would bet money they were only used for strings and replacements for traditional acoustic instruments and not for her own voice. Even with the EIII being 16 bit, it wouldn'd sound as natural as just multitracking her voice. Listen to any sampled vocals from the 80s and you'll hear digital artifacts.

The Wiki article goes on about being influences by The Beach Boys and Phil Spector's "wall of sound" and up to 200 tracks of vocals were recorded. Not sure if that's one song or several, but the article does say 2 32 track machines were used. There was probably a lot of track bouncing going on - similar fashion to how Queen got their vocal "wall of sound" - there's cool documentary on YouTube of Brian May going through the original multitrack tape of "Bohemian Rhapsody"
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby part12studios » Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:41 am

yea i'm still sticking to my guns though that they could have used vocal samples lightly.. that "ah" in Caribbean blue..

listen.. i cued it up..

https://youtu.be/GnIo73NXo_A?list=RDGnIo73NXo_A&t=24

i'm sure that 99% of the stuff is live / layered vocals. However, snippets like that sound so synthetic.. and sampling at that time was still very avant garde.. not like it had a negative stigma like autotune.

I have no facts to back it, just a hunch, but if that's the only spot where a sampler got used, i'd be ok with that.. i'm rusty in listening to every track for a deep analysis, but yea that one spot.. if only that one spot.. is hard to argue isn't a sampler.
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Re: Did Enya ever use samplers for her voice?

Postby ppg_wavecomputer » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:39 pm

Listening to "Watermark" now, I can't help thinking they used a lot of samples for the choral washes and voice effects as they sound a tad too close to perfection for multi-tracked vocal chords. It would have made working on the recordings a lot more economic and convenient as well. The lyrics were certainly multi-tracked.

Her "The Celts" album lists DX-7, Juno-60, Emulator 2, and Kurzweil 250 as "instruments used", and those scratchy K250 marcato strings can be heard all over the place, as well as the acoustic grand piano which has a very characteristic "pff" taper to one note (which can also be heard on Vangelis' "1492" album when listening closely). There is also plenty of stuff that is obviously DX-7 factory patches.

What was the reverb used on "Watermark"? My guess would be Lexicon 224 or 480 but maybe it was something a lot less spectacular?

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