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Recording Metal with Eyal Levi: A Bootcamp

Lesson 52 of 74

Writing Harmonies


Recording Metal with Eyal Levi: A Bootcamp

Lesson 52 of 74

Writing Harmonies


Lesson Info

Writing Harmonies

Welcome to day 10 of my creative live metal recording boot camp. I'm recording the band, Monuments, and today Chris Barretto and I are gonna do some harmony vocals. Let's talk about how you construct harmonies. Awesome, I'd love to. Because-- Harmonies are fun. You do five part harmonies, four part harmonies, pretty regularly. I try. And I've dealt with a lot of vocalists who try to do that and there's lots of notes to fix. I find that lots of guys try to do harmonies because they hear great sounding harmonies and they want to do that, but constantly pick wrong notes. You never pick wrong notes. (laughs) So let's talk about that. Okay. Well I'm a huge fan of stacks in harmonies. My biggest influences vocally in these latter years have been Michael Jackson hardcore and Freddie Mercury. Those two guys, I feel like, are some of the best examples, if not, the best, to talk about vocal harmonies. And essentially, if you have, here's your note. (plays piano note G) G, you know ...

most people, let's say we're in the key of C. Okay, so let's say my note is G. (plays note G) And here the easiest thing to throw in any one of these harmonies is you'll either go to your major third or whatever, or fourth. Let's just say for the sake of this we're in the key of C, so we'll throw an E because that's your major third. Makes life easy, you know? That's pretty standard harmony. (plays tune) You know? But then the fun stuff is like when you have things kind of close together. So, what if I threw the next set in? So, let's say I threw in the sixth in that. In the key of C, the sixth would be an A. So it gives it a little bit more of this tense feel but it's got this nice little rub against it. (plays notes) See? It almost has this little bit of magic to it. You know what I mean? Just cause of that major second there. And you get all the fun sounds in the extensive notes. And what that means is outside of your normal chord. A normal chord normally entails your root, your third, your fifth and your seventh. Sometimes. Sometimes, sometimes. But let's say for this argument, we say yeah. This is the case. So it can be your C major. Maybe major seven. Minor seven doesn't matter. But all the fun stuff happens when you come in with your nines or the 11ths or the 13ths. Which is called the upper extensions of the chords. That's when you can do a lot of fun stuff so again, let's go back. Let's say G is our melody note, you know? So we can put an E underneath, that's a nice little harmony. But then you put an A on top, it's got this nice little thing rubbing together. And then maybe put another top voice all the way in the soprano voice and that's your D. So then you got the nine, you got the six, but in the context of the chord it translates to a 13. And so then all of a sudden you've got this really lovely kind of sounding chord. It's got this glow thing, it's got this light reflecting sort of quality to it. Which is a little bit hipper than a (plays chord) you know what I mean? So, it's just taking those upper extensions and finding ways to utilize them in the context of the chord and then the thing is that when you're moving the harmonies, a little bit of voice movement and voice leading comes into play because you have to be able to move these harmonies in such a way that they logically flow into each other. The old school way would have been that each independent line has to also be a strong lead line back in what's it called? Voice leading? (muffled talking) Yeah, so when you have your soprano, your alto, your tenor, and your baritone voice. Each independent line was meant to be it's own strong lead vocal line, but then in the context of the harmony, all the harmony flowed together appropriately according to the rules and also worked that way. In our day and age, you have a little more room to play around with. Obviously you can do things that sound a little bit cooler and doesn't have to be so strict in terms of the rules. But generally, if you can move your harmonies from one to another in a way that they moved stepwise or logically into the next one without crazy jumps like crazy fifths or sevenths. You know? It doesn't have to be all the time. Again it's not like strict rule of thumb but it'll generally make the movement sound more pleasant and a little bit more logical because it flows accordingly that way. And do you think about tension release a lot or resolution when you're working? Absolutely! Absolutely! To me, it actually, I feel like if you were to sum up good writing into one phrase, it's tension release. I would agree. I feel like you could boil it all down to that. And I noticed that you do that a lot with your really cool harmonies so maybe explain that. Because I think that that's the most important thing that a lot of people miss is that properly resolve something that's tense or how to just get that release. It's so important. Well what I would say about that is it's where you want to resolve to. So if you're at a point, there's one point in this tune that I like in the verse, there's a harmony on the lyric, 'concealing the doors' and it's got this really tense sort of thing against what Browne is playing cause ... ♫ Concealing the doors So it's weird. So I do this thing where I do this fourth harmony and if I'm not mistaken, Browne is still playing in C so we have this sort of, it's not like a diminished sort of tense or anything but (plays chord) there's this fourth sort of unresolved tension because there's no third, there's no anchoring of where the key center is so it leaves this ambiguous sort of state of where we are harmonically. And that gives the mind the impression of tension because there is no anchor note there which is your third always. Your third and your 7ths define the chord. But then (plays chord) when you do this kind of a thing in there in the key of C, you know there is no anchor note there so then it leaves you in this place of where are we going? You know? And when we get to the chorus we're still in C. (plays note C) But then it comes in really hard and anchors down like that and the entirety of the key center, C minor is implied. And your ear gravitates towards that so it naturally resolves itself so even if I'm not singing it, I'm leading it towards the resolution. You know exactly where it's headed. Exactly. Back to having good vision. Yeah, exactly. And the skilled writers or vocalists or whatever, just anyone that's using your ear and if you can hear that stuff, you'll know that that is where you need to go and you'll get that out of the information that you have at hand. Everything is right there in front of you. You know what I mean? The music will tell you exactly what's there. Well, you just gotta learn to hear it. Right? Exactly. Use your ears.

Class Description

Recording Metal with Eyal Levi: A Bootcamp will give you access to one of metal’s most in-demand producers and educators. You’ll also get to watch the talented and seasoned performers of Monuments show you how to record flawless takes and how to prepare to enter the studio.

Recording Metal with Eyal Levi: A Bootcamp is the definitive guide to recording and producing metal. From soup to nuts, start to finish, A to Z, you will learn everything you need to know about recording and producing a metal song.

Eyal Levi will take you inside the studio with Monuments as they record a song from scratch at Clear Lake Recording in Los Angeles. In this bootcamp, you will learn how to:

  • Prepare for a session in preproduction by choosing tempos and organizing the session
  • Record flawless drums from selection and reheading/tuning to mic choice and placement to editing
  • Record rhythm guitars
  • Record clean and lead guitars
  • Record bass guitar
  • Record, edit and tune lead vocals, harmonies, and screams
  • Mix and master from session setup to final bounce


  1. Intro to Bootcamp
  2. Purpose of Pre-Production
  3. Technical Side of Preproduction
  4. Pre-Production: Setting Up the Tempo Map
  5. Pre-Production: Importing Stems
  6. Pre-Production: Click Track
  7. Creating Tracking Templates
  8. Intro and the Tone Pie
  9. Drums - Lay of the Land
  10. Bearing Edges
  11. Wood Types
  12. Depths and Sizes
  13. Hoops
  14. Sticks and Beaters
  15. Drum Heads
  16. Drum Tuning
  17. Drum Mic Placement Intro
  18. Basic Drum Mic Setup
  19. Cymbal Mic Setup
  20. Touch Up Tuning
  21. Microphone Choice and Placement
  22. Drum Tracking Intro
  23. Getting Tones and Final Placement
  24. Primary Tracking
  25. Punching In and Comping Takes
  26. Guitar Setup and Rhythm Tone Tracking
  27. Amplifiers - Lay of the Land
  28. Amplifiers & Cab Shoot Out
  29. Guitar Cab Mic Choice and Placement
  30. Guitar Tracking and Signal Chain
  31. Finalizing Amplifier Tone
  32. Guitar Mic Shootout Round Robin
  33. Intro to Rhythm Tracking
  34. Setting Up Guitars
  35. Working with a Guitarist
  36. Final Guitar Tone and Recap
  37. Guitar Tracking with John
  38. Guitar Tracking with Ollie
  39. Final Tracking
  40. Tracking Quads
  41. Intro to Bass Tone
  42. Bass Tone Setup
  43. Bass Tone Mic Placement
  44. Bass Tracking
  45. Intro to Clean and Lead Tones
  46. Clean Guitar Tones
  47. Lead Tones
  48. Vocal Setup for Tracking
  49. Vocal Mic Selection and Setup
  50. Vocal Mic Shootout
  51. Lead Vocal Tracking
  52. Writing Harmonies
  53. Harmony Vocal Tracking
  54. Vocal Warm Ups
  55. Scream Vocal Tracking
  56. Vocal Tuning and Editing Introduction
  57. Vocal Tuning and Editing
  58. Routing and Bussing
  59. Color Coding, Labeling and Arranging Channels
  60. Setting Up Parallel Compression
  61. Setting Up Drum Triggers
  62. Gain Staging and Trim
  63. Drum Mixing - Subtractive EQ
  64. Drum Mixing - Snare
  65. Drum Mixing - Kick
  66. Drum Mixing - Toms
  67. Drum Mixing - Cymbals and Rooms
  68. Drum Mixing Recap
  69. Mixing Bass Guitar
  70. Mixing Rhythm Guitars
  71. Basic Vocal Mix
  72. Mixing Clean and Lead Guitars
  73. Mixing - Automation
  74. Mastering - Interview with Joel Wanasek



I'm on lesson 19! Already worth every dollar!!! Priceless insight! I have already incorporated some of the ideas (preproduction common sense stuff that I never thought of, but damn). VERY HAPPY with this course! ALWAYS LEARNING and looking forward to the next 50 (or whatever) lessons!!! Excellent course! GREAT PRODUCER/ENGINEER, GREAT DRUM TECH, and GREAT BAND!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!


I'm just part way though and I'm blown away by the quality approach Eyal takes to getting the best out of the sessions. I love how well everything is explained and Eyals calm manner is just awesome it really makes you want to listen to the gems of wisdom he offers.


Amazing knowledge is being presented here. If you want to start out recording, this should be your first step, it'll save you lots of time and get you awesome results. Highly recommended class.