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Digitech Vocal Harmony Processors (part 3)

Whereas the Studio 5000 is one of a number of multi-effects units on the market, albeit a rather good one, the Studio Vocalist is as far as I know unique...


Studio Vocalist

Now, this is a completely different kettle of ball games, to coin a phrase. Whereas the Studio 5000 is one of a number of multi-effects units on the market, albeit a rather good one, the Studio Vocalist is as far as I know unique. The Studio 5000 is aimed at instruments but the Studio Vocalist is, of course, dedicated to vocals. As you know, good singers are a very rare and valuable commodity. Good backing singers, perhaps even more so since how many good singers want to remain in the background? Perhaps you sing yourself, and record vocal harmonies yourself too. If so, then the Studio Vocalist is the machine for you since whatever raw ability you have it will multiply tenfold. Whether you want harmonies that follow the melody line exactly, and exactly in tune with respect to the key it is in, or whether you want an ensemble of male and female voices to accompany you. You can do it all by yourself with the Studio Vocalist. Really! To explain all of this I need to go through some important features of the unit step by step:

The Studio Vocalist understands five basic types of harmony:

  • Chordal harmonies stick to a particular root note and a particular chord type. For instance you could select an A major 7th chord and the Studio Vocalist would provide appropriate notes from that chord to accompany whatever melody you were singing. It will of course sound best if you are singing in the correct key and reasonably consistently in tune.
  • Scalic harmonies follow a key and a scale. 'Scale' refers to whether you are using major or minor modes. Studio Vocalist will harmonise your melody with what it considers to be appropriate chords. Of course, there is always more than one possible set of chords to suit any particular tune so don't expect miracles all the time.
  • Chromatic harmony is where Studio Vocalist is used as a 'dumb' pitch shifter where harmony notes are always fixed intervals from the input note. Chromatic harmony is most useful at octave or fifth doublings. With other intervals it can sound as though the harmony is wrong.
  • Vocoder mode is quite different from the other modes of Studio Vocalist. Like Chromatic mode it doesn't use any of the machine's 'intelligent' harmony finding functions, but now you can play notes on a MIDI keyboard and Studio Vocalist's harmonies will follow what you play. Potentially there is a lot of flexibility here, at the expense of only a little time and trouble.
  • Pitch Correct isn't a harmony mode. Until a MIDI note or front panel key is played then the input is directed straight to the output. When a note is played, then the pitch is corrected to that note.
By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004

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