Free Lance


Five-part vocals, recorded one at a time w/ Rode NT1-A microphone in closet mini sound booth, run through Mackie mixer. Recorded and mixed with Cubase SX3.

Effects: Compression/Gate, Reverb (Roomworks).  No EQ.

Full song is around 1 minute in length.  Recording session was approximately 90 minutes.

Rode NT1-AI went into the session knowing the melody, and I’d spent some time at a piano comping out the chord progression.  Then I recorded five piano tracks, each representing one of the vocal lines.  I began with the melody track, then gradually worked up / down for each harmony track, trying to avoid duplicate voicing (unless unison was called for in a phrase).  This enabled me to record one track at a time, soloing the piano track for each harmony line in my headphones… although after a couple of the tracks were down, I only used the piano tracks for rehearsal, but turned them off when recording so I could focus on vocal blend.  In fact, by track four, I turned off the click track entirely (even though there are tempo changes) because I’d sang it enough times in a row to have the “feel” of its rhythm.

I kept the click track very low in my headphones, even at the start, because this noise has a tendency to bleed through from the headphones into the mic, and it’s impossible to get rid of later.  I’d learned this the hard way years ago in Trevecca’s studio when doing these kind of multitracks.

There are three additional tracks – two passes of finger snaps, one of some light claps and taps that come in during the last stanza.

Influences here are Take 6, and a bit of Bohemian Rhapsody era Queen – the latter being particularly evident in a section of the full song you can’t hear in this clip.

Interestingly, the song came to me at the very beginning of the project, before any script writing had taken place – but wasn’t recorded until very late in post production because I wanted the freedom to be brutal with the film edit before the music came into play at all.  The methodology worked; this is easily the tightest edit I’ve ever done.  And yet somehow, the music still fell right into place in all the spots it needed to.  But then, music and I have always had that kind of relationship, one I cannot explain but cherish.

With this completed, and the last bit of spot foley recorded immediately thereafter, I was able to complete what I believe will be the final audio mix for the whole project.  Tonight, I’ll be back in Sony Vegas to start on finishing polish over there.


  • Sean Heimbuch

    Sounds really good, and looking forward to a new movie from you! You said that you recorded the vocals in a closet mini sound booth. I've been pondering doing the same since I am working on recording my own music. Would you be willing to share with me how you set up your booth (sound treatments, etc.) The vocals sound very clean and I'd like to be able to capture the same without all the problems that come with reflections.

  • Phil Rice

    Sure thing, Sean. I'll plan on posting on that in the near future, with either pics or video to illustrate.

  • Sean Heimbuch

    Excellent. Thanks!

  • Ryan Roye

    Cool to see you back in action. I'm looking forward to what you have in store!

  • Phil Rice

    Thanks, Ryan! It's good to be back!

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