Sheer Heart Attack (song) question...

Discussion in 'Music' started by David Hobbes, Nov 9, 2005.

  1. David Hobbes

    David Hobbes Stunt Coordinator

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    what is the instrument (?) being played during the instrumental passage in the song..the high pitched one that gets my dogs excited? is that May on guitar??

    anyone?
     
  2. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    It always sounded like a synthesizer effect to me. It's a great song but that part of it ruins it somewhat because of how irritating the noise is.
     
  3. Tim L

    Tim L Second Unit

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    I remember reading a long time ago about this- i think they did it (don't remember the instrument/s) by manipulating the recording tapes somehow in the studio. good tune-for sure
    Tim
     
  4. Michael Allred

    Michael Allred Screenwriter

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    WillG, Queen didn't start using synths until 1979/80 for "The Game" album.
     
  5. andrew markworthy

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    As Michael has said, it ain't a synthesiser. Indeed, the early Queen vinyl album covers were famous for having 'No Synthesisers' printed somewhere on them. To answer the original question - it's a tape effect.
     
  6. David Hobbes

    David Hobbes Stunt Coordinator

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    thanks guys [​IMG]
     
  7. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    Right, I remember those slogans. Were the effects for "Get Down, Make Love" done in a similar manner?
     
  8. andrew markworthy

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    Yep.

    I think the most interesting effect on the early albums is one of the apparently simpler ones - the speeded up vocals at the start of Brighton Rock. In the days before computer effects they must have been the very devil to work out.
     
  9. Tim Hoover

    Tim Hoover Screenwriter

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    I always thought that was merely Freddie singing in a pseudo-falsetto tone. It's been ages since I've listened to that tune, however, so I could be mistaken.

    If it was infact a sped-up vocal, such a beast is actually pretty easy to record. You simply slow down the multitrack tape itself and let the singer rip. He'll hear the rest of the song played slowly, and will be recording his vocal at regular pitch - but most likely taking pains to slow down sibilant sounds and plosives. When the vocal is recorded, you simply speed the multitrack back up to normal speed, and presto! the vocal is pitched higher.
     
  10. andrew markworthy

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    Tim, agreed, but it's the slowing down of the high pitched voice into the normal Freddie vocal that intrigues me, it is so seamless. Actually, I suspect it's Brian May's voice that is speeded up.

    Perhaps it's just me that's easily impressed - I can play the piano well enough, but I'm hopeless on musical theory and working out speeding up/slowing down to attain a different pitch is the sort of thing that melts my mind.
     
  11. Tim Hoover

    Tim Hoover Screenwriter

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    Perhaps that's crossfading [​IMG]

    I see where you're coming from. The smooth shift back into lower pitch is what leads me to believe it's just falsetto.
     
  12. andrew markworthy

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    Except that when they did the song live (it's on the Live Killers album) it didn't sound like that. Ah well, probably not worth losing any sleep over.
     
  13. PaulT

    PaulT Supporting Actor

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    A friend of mine was a roadie for one of their Canadian Tours in the late 1970's (around the Jazz release)- they used 3 Revox Tape decks and a click track in their monitors for the stage cues. The 'band' could continue playing while they left the stage for costume changes, etc. Makes sense with the orchestral type intro to Bohemian Rhapsody, etc.

    As far as pitch changes go, a halving or doubling of the speed would be a 1 octave change. It is fairly easy to calculate what key the singer would have to switch to if they were wanting third or fifth changes for backing harmony's - the singers key also would depend on what speeds were available with their decks.

    10cc was another band known for it's studio tape effect work, even more so than Queen.

    Now I'll have to drag out the old LP's [​IMG]
     
  14. Tim Hoover

    Tim Hoover Screenwriter

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    That's another good point. However, I've noticed on all of Queen's live releases that Freddie's vocals stay pretty much firmly planted in his lower registers. Perhaps the rigors of touring aren't conducive to his full range. I dunno...
     
  15. andrew markworthy

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    Agreed. I love Original Soundtrack. I think it's rather sad that 10CC have been so overlooked in recent years. Hard to believe, but they were the critics' darlings at their peak (in the UK at least) and they wrote a very solid bunch of hit singles.
     
  16. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    As I recall, one of their roadies would perform the guitar assists early on, till they hired Spike Edney after recording The Works. He did get to show off onstage during certain songs, most notably "Hammer to Fall". Check the "Live in Budapest" video (not on DVD yet, but it's still out there on VHS), and you'll see Spike join the band on stage while Brian May goes into the extended solo. Towards the end of the song, he shares a mic with John Deacon as they sing the chorus (only Spike is singing though, as John only mimed during concerts). Spike's still touring with Queen to this day.

    I think Queen (at least in the Freddie era, since they now do use backing singers) were just really commited to doing it all themselves, even if it meant rearranging their works for live play. I don't think anyone would have been mad if they'd gone on stage with a full backing chorale to accurately reproduce their layered harmonies, but I think they just saw live performance as a different medium with different sensibilities. Just as they used to proclaim "no synths!" on their 70s albums, I think they has a "the band and nothing but the band" attitude about live performances.
     
  17. EricSchulz

    EricSchulz Producer

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    I seem to recall an inteview with one of the band members (probably in the Fan Club magazine) that stated this exactly. It was quite a shock for me to hear them live the first time since they didn't attempt to recreate the studio sound onstage...and some songs I actually started to enjoy MORE in the live versions than the studio recordings.
     

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