As soon as I got the beautiful TC Helicon Voicelive2 I had an idea of doing the Bohemian Rhapsody, it has always been one of my favourite tunes so it simply had to be done!
I started by transcribing the piece and transposing it a 5th above the original key as I am a female and my belting notes or over-breath notes or any other colours appropriate for the song are exactly a 4th or a 5th above the male voice range (depending on the song).
The next step was to roughly learn the piano part so that I could start programming the presets for the harmonies.
My goodness!! It is INDEED quite a masterpiece that Freddie wrote and still not quite the best for using a harmoniser even in 2015!!
There are a few ways of doing your harmonies with Voicelive2; either simply play them in by hand using a MIDI keyboard or choose the chord structure and let the harmoniser smartly follow the harmony being played by the instrument. Well.. I don't like using the second one as I always choose mad voicing for piano playing and the first option was not possible as I don't have three hands.. which sometimes is a real shame, lol. So I chose to do it another way. I programmed the key and structure for each chord that needed it which did end up with quite a lot of presets and an actual practice for preset changing with my foot. But I found this the most comfortable as I needed to use my hands for piano playing and my left foot for sustain pedal usage.
Most of the chords in the song have totally different structures and always changing the key, so I had to keep on programming for quite a while. (Took me 2 days to finish it) I ended up with 69 presets! My average pop song has 2 to 6 presets. Already after going through the first page (intro) of the song I ended up with around 30. It shook my courage as I had set myself a goal to learn this piece (transcribe, programme, learn, film it) in only 2 weeks! And, believe me, for a single mum with a bit of a teaching and interpreting job it is quite a challenge! After the 30 presets were done and programmed, I got to the lyrical 'Mama..' section. And that did not need any crazy harmonies. (relief)
So I entered the always melodically beautiful B.May solo. Shall I scat? Shall I play it instrumentally? My decision was to go for quite an overdrive giving it a bit of a guitary tone. I did scat it very close to the original. For the basic preset I used the ready made preset 'Rock 5ths', but added an octave higher and octave lower instead of a 5th harmony. This preset has a well created overdrive which I can not imagine using for anything else in life but Bohemian Rhapsody guitar solo. I topped it up with a 100% Hard-tune as in my eyes this effect made the solo sound more instrumental.
For the 'Gallileo! Gallileo!' section I could have used one note of the Harmoniser sounding 2 octaves higher and then 2 octaves lower (without the lead voice being heard) to create the much higher and much lower voice of the section. But I chose not to as sometimes the real sounding voice even if it sounds too high to sing makes the tone more interesting. You don't have to always go totally TC Helicon pedal-crazy!
I followed this section by playing with the brilliant Chopper option Voicelive2 has. It is amazing indeed as you can have quite a lot of options to play with: different rhythmical patterns and note lengths. What a pleasure.
It seemed appropriate to use some Sampler for the 'Magnifico' to create kind of an echo effect as well as I added some Hardtune to the section as Sampler and Hardtune seems coming right out of the recording studio of 2000s.
I still believe that Bohemian Rhapsody is a bit of a Progressive Rock piece, possibly the only one that has ever become so famous. So I wanted a little psychedelic progressive moment for a few seconds. So, for the 'Let me go, o, o, o, o!' section I turned up the Delay to 100%: all you sing now loops there till you die.. I did not use it for that long, but just for a few seconds to create the effect of building a little harmony.
And if we are speaking about the loops then of course there had to be at least one Looper used for the heavy rock section to work as a drum part. Which unfortunately I did not record LIVE as I was recording my Bohemian Rhapsody with Voicelive2 plugged into the LogicPro9 by a MIDI cable. This was not the best for a LIVE player like me as I had to cut the beatbox loop I sang and place it where it would have been in the live performance. But it did give me an option of cutting out a few sounds not needed for a decent recording, for example the loud midi keyboard banging at the background. So, quite useful.
I find this Queen track very good for experimenting and playing with different sounds and effects. The other rhapsody I've done in my life is F.Liszt's 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody for the piano and it's another wonderful piece to play with! Maybe it's that magic of it being a rhapsody..
Watch the LIVE performance (filmed and recorded LIVE) here:
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