#1
Hi all, hope someone can help me with my question! I've been writing songs for a while now, recording rhythm guitar, vocals and drums and feel my songs are pretty catchy but I also feel like they could have more sparkle... I've tried playing some lead parts over my tracks and what I come up with sounds great but then ruins my vocal melody, making it not stand out as much as the lead guitar part. Am I doing something wrong? because when I've listened to some bands when singing a melody the lead plays something else but still sounds good! Not sure if am getting confused with a riff and a lead part...? And if so I still cant seem to get a riff to go with my vocals melody

All help and suggestion's will be appreciated! I just don't want to stick with rhythm guitar all the way through my songs.
#2
When trying to have solo-like melodic lead parts and vocals in the same section it's generally easier to have the lead guitar playing little fills during the pauses in the singing / longer sung notes and then holding sustained notes / playing very minimally / playing nothing during the main singing parts. This way it like words/minimal lead, more lead/minimal vocals, words/minimal lead, etc.

Alternatively you can try to sorta follow the vocals. Not necessarily the same notes, but following the general up and downs of the vocals melody while playing different chord tones so that you're kinda harmonizing with the vocals and throwing in a few extra notes at the same time. The lead guitar can also just play higher voicings of the same chords the rhythm guitar is playing.

You can also play something more contrapuntal where the vocal melody and lead guitar melodies are very different but still complement each other, but this is much harder to pull off and can sound very busy and even chaotic depending on how you do it.

A riff is basically a rhythm guitar part that's not just strumming chords, though it can include some chords and can be built off of parts of chords or be all power chords, they could also be single notes.

The main rhythm guitar parts in Led Zeppelin's The Ocean, Misty Mountain Hop, Immigrant Song and lots more are riffs, whereas Going to California has no riffs.
Most Black Sabbath songs are all riffs, though some like Planet Caravan don't have any riffs.
Most metal songs use riffs as the main rhythm sections.

I don't know what type of music you like to help me recommend something, but check out Dire Straits' Sultans of Swing as a good demonstration of lead guitar and vocals. It's mostly the lead and vocals taking turns. Jimi Hendrix also does a lot of this on his music.
Last edited by The4thHorsemen at Dec 20, 2014,
#3
Don't play solos over vocal parts. That sounds horrible.

You don't need to have a "lead guitar part" and a "rhythm guitar part". You can just have two different guitar parts. The other guitar could play some different voicings. It could also play arpeggios or something, or it could be a melody. But be careful with it. I mean, if you are thinking in terms of "lead guitar" and "rhythm guitar", you may easily write too "lead guitaristic" parts (read: guitar solos). Use your ears. Don't just noodle around. What do you hear? It may not even need anything special. Just add another guitar, maybe another instrument like keyboards, and play different chord voicings to make it sound more full. Or maybe play long chords with one guitar and more rhythmically on the other guitar.

IMO this is a good example of what I think you are after:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8MO7fkZc5o


Oh, and of course lead fills are cool. But make sure not to play them over the vocal melody. And it also starts to sound pretty cheesy very easily (if you overdo them). If you want to do lead fills, start playing them in the second or third chorus, but not the first one. That gives the song more dynamics and variety.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Dec 21, 2014,
#4
Generally speaking, you always want to have only one instrument with the melodic focus of the piece. This is especially true with common music. So, what you usually hear, in those cases is a real simple or quiet lead while the signer is singing, and then the guitar plays up in the pauses.

It's possible to play a solo line over another melodic line though, one way is to shadow the melody of course, but you can also focus on the melody and complement it. For that, you need to know exactly what the melody will be. If two melodic lines are freestyling, they will step on each others' toes. It's very easy to do.

That's why if I record a track, I start with the main instrument draft, to get the rhythm, build a beat for it that serves as a metronome, record the progression, and then the first thing I do is record a vocals draft before arranging any other instruments, because it is so easy to clash with the vocal melody.

Sometimes jazz or fusion does this, and I hate that, but sometimes they are also good at knowing what they can get away with. Carter beauford is an amazing drummer for this. He plays such complex beats very often, but never steps over others' toes.

If you want to do this, you will want to have a very good grasp of soloing, and you will want to focus your listening on the melody, so you can complement it appropriately.

You can also study counterpoint if you want, but I'm not much for calculated theoretical approaches like that myself.
#6
Do you EQ and pan your instruments? You can try and separate things to make them fit better also.
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#7
Quote by heaven086
Hi guys really appreciate all this advice, this is a demo of mine that I've tried too put some lead to, I am defiantly no awesome guitar player but I feel the lead doesn't step on the vocal melody too much here... or does it? Its so hard to critique my self :/

https://soundcloud.com/temptedyouth/fires-of-hell


That's ok, you kept it real simple so it fits well.

But your vocals will be a thousand times better, if you send your vocals to a reverb buss that's 100% wet, roll the bottom off, and then put your vocals compressed and up front on their own track. I like to put another early reflection reverb on the "dry" vocal also, personally.

Big reverb like that I find works for this song, but there is not enough dry vocals on it. Rolling off the bottom, will get rid of a whole lot of useless noise, which will let your vocals and everything else come in clean and crisp, while still keeping that big hall reverb feel.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Dec 21, 2014,
#8
Quote by fingrpikingood
That's ok, you kept it real simple so it fits well.

But your vocals will be a thousand times better, if you send your vocals to a reverb buss that's 100% wet, roll the bottom off, and then put your vocals compressed and up front on their own track. I like to put another early reflection reverb on the "dry" vocal also, personally.

Big reverb like that I find works for this song, but there is not enough dry vocals on it. Rolling off the bottom, will get rid of a whole lot of useless noise, which will let your vocals and everything else come in clean and crisp, while still keeping that big hall reverb feel.


Thanks for this, will give that a try, my vocals are on individual track as you say, still learning about mixing things together ill have a go see what I can do and hopefully they'll come out more
#9
Quote by heaven086
Hi guys really appreciate all this advice, this is a demo of mine that I've tried too put some lead to, I am defiantly no awesome guitar player but I feel the lead doesn't step on the vocal melody too much here... or does it? Its so hard to critique my self :/

https://soundcloud.com/temptedyouth/fires-of-hell

It's not bad. Since the guitar line is following the vocals fairly closely they're not fighting and fit together. I do feel like the vocals need a little less reverb. I can see how some reverb on the vocals contributes to the feel of the song, but there's so much that it's pushing the guitar melody out in front and hiding behind it. It also makes it a little difficult to hear the words in some places. Of course, it's a stylistic decision and really depends what you want, but imo if you dialed the reverb back a little bit it would help.

Of course, that's not what you asked lol, sorry. But I guess it does sorta effect the way they sound together.

edit: scratch that, fingerpiking's advice is better.
#11
Quote by heaven086
Thank you all again for advice I appreciate it I've taken some reverb away from the vocals now to try and get them to stand out more and think it sounds much better!

https://soundcloud.com/temptedyouth/fires-of-hell-demo-mix-2


I had no problem with the lead guitar. I think and the voice work well together.

I do think you need to work on your singing. You don't sound like you have much confidence in your singing. I think you have the potential to be a much better singer.

Also, there are sections where the drum is so far behind the beat that it sounds out of time.
#12
Thanks! To be honest I don't see my self as a vocalist, I enjoy writing the songs as a whole and will hopefully be able to find a vocalist for my music that suits it and yeah about the drums falling behind a bit, I noted that but am just keeping these for demos atm as when I can afford it ill take my music in to a professional studio

I appreciate your comment, thank you
#13
Quote by heaven086
Thank you all again for advice I appreciate it I've taken some reverb away from the vocals now to try and get them to stand out more and think it sounds much better!

https://soundcloud.com/temptedyouth/fires-of-hell-demo-mix-2


The problem is not so much the quantity of reverb, that's ok. The problem is, you have the reverb on your vocals track. So, it's creating reverb of your voice at the frequencies of your voice, and flooding it on top. There is not much room in bass frequencies.

Your DAW can send to another track. Do that, then put the reverb on that. Then stick an EQ after it, and remove all the bass frequencies. Do this for your voice as well until it changes the way your voice sounds, then stop. There's a bunch of garbage there that we don't really hear, and it just makes it sound worse.

You can also do the reverse for the bass. Cut out all of the highs. It's really a quick and simple thing that makes a big difference. It doesn't seem like it will, because you're not really adding or taking away anything that you consciously hear really, but it will immediately make it sound more awesome.

If you want your vocals to have a nice long reverb tail, that's fine. Put as much as you want. But if you do it by slapping it on your vocals track 100% wet, it won't sound very awesome.

It will sound a bit odd probably do have a straight dry vocal, so you probably want another small reverb that's not a hall, but a small room, just a bit so it doesn't sound so dry.