Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Bo Rhap 180 voices

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Sheer Brass Neck user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 14 Apr 18, 15:09 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

This has been beaten to death but I know that it is a point of contention to some, like Sebastian :)

Bob Segarini was a Toronto based rocker with some success in the 70s. Unbeknownst to me, he did work on Ian Hunter's All american Alien boy album, which is the album that Freddie, Roger and Brian did BV's on for You Nearly Did Me In. Here is Segarini's telling of the session, apart from using John instead of Roger, he was there and is a musician so O'd tend to say he knows his stuff:

"One night the lounge door flew open and in walked Freddie, Brian, and John. After the hugging and hellos, Ian introduced as all to one another and we headed into the studio. Ian played the track (You Nearly Did Me In) he wanted Queen to sing backups on. They listened once, twice, a third time, and then Freddie sat down at the piano and picked out some notes. “This will be the first part” he said to John and Brian, and the three of them sang the notes…in unison (three voices singing the same notes together).

"They stepped to the single mic and sang the part. Then they doubled, then tripled it. I was witnessing the secret to Queen’s amazing vocal sound. They learned the next harmony part, and again stepped before the single mic and tripled the part in unison. There were now 18 voices on the tape. A third go-round with another harmony part and the background vocals consisted of 27 voices…and Queen, their signature sound in full bloom, were guesting on Ian’s album."

To me the math makes total sense. Three singers singing the same line 3 times equals 9 voices. 9 voices times 3 harmony lines equals 27 voices. Given the magnitude of vocals on BR, it could be 180 voices or 280. Or 140. Maybe we're getting hung up on voices instead of lines? I can see 180 voices on BR easily by volume of parts and how they record. Seb, any thoughts?

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Posted: 14 Apr 18, 19:45 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It's like religious fanatics saying, 'yeah... well, maybe the flood did not actually happen, but look at the moral of the story!'

'Bo Rhap' had a few tetrachords here and there and perhaps a pentachord once in a while. For most (but not all) of the lines, they'd have Frederick, Brian and Roger singing unison three times, so you'd have 27 voices - but the top line would usually be just Roger if it went beyond f", and the bottom part would often be just Frederick, as the multi-tracks confirm. So, it'd be 29 voices, which is perfectly doable.

Not 180, not 140, not 160, not 200 - just 29.


John hated Hot Space. Frederick's favourite singer was not Paul Rodgers. Rog didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Wales is not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 vox.
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Posted: 14 Apr 18, 21:15 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The same voice x a thousand isn't the same as a thousand voices.

"using John instead of Roger"

Tells you all you need to know about his recollection of the day.. and still trying to dine out on it. My hamster knows more about the session.

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Posted: 14 Apr 18, 22:28 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

^^^

Sometimes, you have great thoughts. Others you seem like a miserable bastard filled with hate. A mistake on names happens. His description is accurate. Your hamster and you know a fraction of what this guy said. AS I MENTIONED, perhaps vocal tracks is a better term than voices. 180 vocal tracks given the volume of lines seems possible.

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Posted: 15 Apr 18, 00:40 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

They recorded 'Bo Rhap' on 24-track tape.


John hated Hot Space. Frederick's favourite singer was not Paul Rodgers. Rog didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Wales is not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 vox.
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Posted: 15 Apr 18, 12:55 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Yes they recorded onto 24 track, but recording groups of vocals and carefully bouncing the tacks down to two tracks (for stereo spread) opened up an almost limitless number of tracks.

My understanding was always that they often recorded a line in unison, all signing the same note to give the eventual harmony that thick texture. Then repeated the process for each line of the harmony, using Roger's voice for the top end as needed. Thus for one note (as an example) you would have have 9 voices bounced to one track and continue the process. The end result would be one three part harmony line would have up to 27 voices on it bounced down to one or two tracks.

In Brian's explanation of the vocal recording on one of the Bo Rhap studio interviews he does say that they each sang a line then went back and sang the next. That could be taken that they sang one part of a three part each or that they each sang each part.

It could be taken either way, and the masters that have been played on documentaries only have each of the finished parts on one or two tracks which which when brought up do sound huge.

Sebastian user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 15 Apr 18, 15:06 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sure, 27 - not 180!


John hated Hot Space. Frederick's favourite singer was not Paul Rodgers. Rog didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Wales is not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 vox.
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Posted: 16 Apr 18, 13:58 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

^^^ agreed, but if ( and I am saying if, not this is definite) if those 27 voices were their go to sound for harmony work, couldn't that sound be replicated on four individual tracks giving 108 voices, either by repeating the recording process or just by direct copying onto three more tracks. It would account for the huge vocal sound and stereo spread on Bo Rhap

I think working on the basis that , Queen, their record company and management always liked to talk up numbers, ie biggest audience, biggest lighting rig, biggest album budget etc, Bo Rhap has a huge number of voices on it so the infamous 180 is probably hype but 108 is possible.

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Posted: 18 Apr 18, 02:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I mean, yeah, sure, they could've also added 104 trombones and then merely muted them, but none of us can prove they didn't... or 104 harps, 104 oboes, etc.


John hated Hot Space. Frederick's favourite singer was not Paul Rodgers. Rog didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Wales is not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 vox.