The doubling of vocal or instrumental tracks in a multitrack recording process is referred to as Double Tracking. It is one of the most used vocal effects in popular music and has been used since the early 1960s. For example, Rap artist Eminem double-tracks almost every of his vocal tracks.
Double Tracking is no longer a spectacular sound, but has become a matter of course within a production process. For sound engineers and producers, double tracking effects are a standard tool to give voices a sense of space, depth and presence.
In the beginning, Double Tracking (DT) was done manually by recording the same vocal track twice. To circumvent the process of manual copying for temporal or performative reasons, automatic or artificial double tracking (ADT) was developed by Ken Townsend in 1966 at Abbey Road Studios. Townsend responded to John Lennon's desire to find a sound that made his voice fuller. To achieve this effect, a track was branched off to a second tape machine in front of the recording head and returned to the first machine with a controllable delay. This procedure made a double singing unnecessary.
The Beatles used both DT and ADT in several songs, including Tomorrow Never Knows (1966) (DT), Blue Jay Way (ADT) "Dr. Robert" (1966) (ADT & DT), Taxman (1966) (DT), Eleanor Rigby (1966) (DT), Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite (1967) (ADT), particularly intense on her album Revolver (1966).
With advent of digital audio workstations (DAWs) in the 2000s, ADT could be done digitally. In the digital ADT method, a track is copied and delayed in time and / or slightly detuned in pitch. Tools like Antares Duo even offer the possibility to create a replica of a non-exact studio environment (e. g. Abbey Road).
In vocal recording, Double Tracking (DT) requires a certain training of the vocalist in order to interact rhythmically with the original track. Too much rhythmic divergence between two vocal tracks can be equalized either manually or with software plug-ins like Vocalign. Sound engineers see DT primarily as a way to support lead vocals (in the chorus).
Innovative and creative forms of DT consist in the application of reverb delay (echo), panning (stereo panorama), EQ (equalization) or distortion to the doubled signal. Double Tracking has evolved from an initial experimental effect to the timeless standard effect found in almost every genre in popular music.
|1963||Andy Williams||I Can't Get Used To Losing You|
|1966||The Beatles||Tomorrow Never Knows|
|1966||The Beatles||Dr. Robert|
|1966||The Beatles||Eleanor Rigby|
|1967||The Beatles||Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite|
|1982||Alan Parsons||Eye In The Sky|
|1984||Night Ranger||Sister Christian|
|1981||Hall & Oates||I Can't Go For That|
|1979||Earth, Wind & Fire||After The Love Has Gone|
DOUBLE TRACKING IN BOHEMIAN RAPSODY
"A method to fatten up vocals"
– Luk Zimmermann
"... like a shadow"