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I'm struggling with creating a vocal-less cover version of a song that does have a vocal line in my digital audio workstation.

I know exactly what's going on in terms of notes/chord progressions in that song. I know what's going on in terms of the drum beat as well. I know the BPM of the original song is 158. I record the whole thing into my DAW and the whole thing lacks speed, dynamics, that certain "whoomph". Now, I realize that vocals are responsible for a part of a song's overall dynamics; I can also tell that the drums are responsible for another part, because I hear the difference when I mute the drum track... but my version of the vocal parts of the song (as opposed to the guitar riffs, whose dynamics I can recreate quite well) just seem slow and I can't figure out with.

I can post both a link to the original song and my version of it if that helps.

Thank you in advance.

Edit: here's the original:

And here's a sample of my version:

  • Without hearing the original version and your version for comparison, we could only guess at what issues you might be having and offer only general advice. – ScottM Jul 7 '18 at 14:24
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    You're right. I have edited my post. For what it's worth, playing around with the note pitch seems to have helped a bit. – killahpl Jul 7 '18 at 15:07
  • To me, the vocal line in the original is not what drives it at all. The song is driven by straight sixteenths on the kick drum and on the rhythm guitar. It's that lower register that gives the song the speed and power, and the double-time snare provides the momentum. The vocals are actually quite flowing and would sound pleasant as a more traditional instrumental piece (orchestral, solo harp, etc.) The point is, I think you're focusing on the wrong thing here. Get the backing part finalized first, and then put the lead on top of it. Then we can talk about that aspect. – ScottM Jul 7 '18 at 18:52
  • Thank you for taking the time to reply, Scott. I greatly appreciate it. A follow-up question, if I may: are you saying that the kick and the rhythm guitar are doing straight sixteenths throughout the whole piece? That can't be accurate, an it? To the best of my ability to hear, I think the drum pattern slows down and speeds up regularly (sometimes within one part of the song). It is thus safe to assume that when the kick slows down, the rhythm guitar slows down as well? Thank you. – killahpl Jul 8 '18 at 10:02
  • There are several sections to the song, some without the straight sixteenths and whatnot. I'm afraid I don't have time for a full analysis of the song (nor is this really the place for it). My point is only that the premise of the original question is faulty: the vocal line is not what drives the song, so no matter how good or poor the adaptation of the vocal line, it's not going to drag the song down. I think you should listen closely to the rhythm parts and focus on recreating them more faithfully; see if that doesn't solve much of your problem. – ScottM Jul 8 '18 at 13:56
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A few reasons why your cover doesn't sound like the original: (I'm considering just the parts before the vocals)

  • The first background crazy sound is very different (but I don't think this is critical)
  • In the intro there are 2 violins, you version has only one. If my ear isn't tricking me, the higher one (that you correctly reproduced) goes F# G# A, A G# A....; and the lower one would be around C# C# D, E E F#. (please check this and transpose accordingly!). Then when it goes super high I think there are 3 violins.
  • The drums are a lot different. As said in the comments, the original has straight sixteenths on the kick drum, and quarter notes on the snare. You version has alternating kick drum and snare, and sudden changes in rhythm that I didn't quite understand.
  • You lead guitar has way too much reverb. The notes sound correct though.
  • There is no rhythm guitar in your version. The original does straight sixteenths too, and plays the root of the chords, that are F#m | F#m | D | E... (one chord per bar, each bar has 32 notes).
  • Your version has no bass too. It is not very noticeable in the original, probably because it just follows the rhythm guitar.
  • The piano is incomplete. You got the top notes, but it actually does arpeggios in sixteenths, starting on top and going down probably doing the same chords I said above.

As you can see, the problem is not converting the vocal line into guitar. Anyway, this was just to give you some guidance, but since specific transcriptions are off topic, here comes the real answer.

Before trying to transcribe the whole song, focus on one part at a time. As @ggcg stated in the comments, each further part will become easier. So, listen to the violins, try to figure out that second violin I talked about, check what's different and why. Is there another violin missing? Is one of the voices wrong?

Then move to the first bar of the metal part. Listen to it over and over, try to hear every aspect and every instrument. Work on it until it sound just the same. Is is too slow? Are there missing notes? Why does it sound incomplete? All the work you do here will be reused in further bars.

Things that can help you have also been cited in the comments, for example looking for sheets or tabs. Of course you must check because they are often wrong, but they will give you guidance and help you filter the different instruments and voices.

The more you try to do this, the more natural and easier it becomes.

  • thanks for the in depth feedback! I'll just address your points - if you don't feel like spending more time on this, that's ok, you already helped a lot. 1. The thunderstrike? Yeah, that's nothing. 2. So the 2nd violin follows the 1st note for note, just starts at around C#? 3. Hm, weird. In the original when the vocals kick in at 1:00, I could've sworn those weren't straight 16th's but that 16th's kicked in at ~1:06... but now I'm not so sure. 1:06 seems faster. Also, would you say there's reverb on the drums? They really dominate the mix. I fully agree with the other points. – killahpl Jul 10 '18 at 9:26
  • 2. Not exactly note for note. I wrote the notes in order, so when the 1st goes to G#, the 2nd remains at C#, for example. 3. Yes, you are right about this part, but I was talking about before. It's straight sixteens all the time before the vocals. As for reverb I don't think so. – coconochao Jul 10 '18 at 12:50

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