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Thread: List of songs with Vocoder?

  1. #1
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    List of songs with Vocoder?

    I can’t help it - I love the sound of vocoder! This is why Haitian Divorce is my favorite Steely Dan song. Is there a list or site like that Mellotron site but for vocoder?

    Or, just list your favorites. We all know Frampton Comes Alive of course!
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    Member rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Frampton used a Talk Box, not a vocoder. Sounds like Steely Dan did too.

    Wendy Carlos - Beethoveniana
    Kraftwerk - Computer World
    Roger Gleeson - The Planets


    There's also all kinds of autotune stuff that sounds kinda like vocoder.


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    The Raven - Allan Parsons Project
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    Studmuffin Scott Bails's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    I can’t help it - I love the sound of vocoder! This is why Haitian Divorce is my favorite Steely Dan song. Is there a list or site like that Mellotron site but for vocoder?

    Or, just list your favorites. We all know Frampton Comes Alive of course!
    Geoff Downes is fond of using the Vocoder, in The Buggles, Yes, and Asia.
    Music isn't about chops, or even about talent - it's about sound and the way that sound communicates to people. Mike Keneally

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    Mr. Blue Sky - ELO (other songs of theirs as well)
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    Or, just list your favorites. We all know Frampton Comes Alive of course!
    What's Frampton Comes Alive got to do with it?

    Off the top of my head

    Asia: Open Your Eyes
    Yes: I Am A Camera (or Into The Lens, or whatever the frell Yes called it)
    ELO: Standing In The Rain, Mr. Blue Skies, The Diary Of Horace Wimp and Prologue
    Wendy Carlos: Timesteps and the Ode To Joy
    Pink Floyd: A New Machine, also there's a bit in Dogs where the dog sounds are processed through the vocoder, and of course, there's spoken word thing in Sheep.
    Midnight Star: Operator
    Frank Zappa: late 70's/early 80's live versions of Strictly Genteel (at the very least the Halloween 81 version) and...what's the song with the "Poodle bits/Poodle chews it", I know there's a live version somewhere where you hear that refrain with the vocoder on it.


    I know Kraftwerk and Herbie Hancock have used vocoders also, but I don't know on what songs. I read once that on the studio version of Blues For Allah, they routed Jerry Garcia's voice through a vocoder, and combined with the cricket sounds, so that you had the crickets singing the chorus at one point. Either it's a very subtle sound and therefore got buried in the mix, or they ended up not using it. And of course, there's the Cylons on the original (and best) Battlestar Gallactica. Oh yeah, and a vocoder was used for the voice of FVB (before FVB is revealed to actually be Aerosmith) in the Sgt Pepper movie.

  7. #7
    Laurie Anderson used the vocoder a lot, notably on "O Superman." Herbie Hancock used one extensively on the Sunlight and Feets Don't Fail Me Now albums. And apparently Bob Moog himself gave an experimental prototype vocoder to Annette Peacock, which she used all over Revenge and I'm the One (the title track of the latter album goes hog wild on the thing).

    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Frampton used a Talk Box, not a vocoder. Sounds like Steely Dan did too.
    The solo on "Haitian Divorce" was definitely Skunk Baxter on talk-box guitar. And you need not use them on a guitar, Roger Powell used one on his synth on "Dragons & Griffins" from the Air Pocket album, and Roger Troutman is known for making his synths talk using one on practically every recording he ever did (Remember his version of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine"? That's Talk Box!). The talk-box is a classic beginner's electronics project, they're really not that complicated, you're just using a bit of plastic tubing to filter sound coming from a small speaker using your mouth (I imagine keeping them clean is a nightmare, though).

    Before that, there was the Sonovox, which went back to the 1940s; a weird system involving placing contact mics on someone's throat. There's a video of a pre-I Love Lucy Lucille Ball demonstrating one. The kids' records Sparky's Magic Piano and Rusty in Orchestraville used the Sonovox extensively.

    There's also Klaatu's extremely creepy "Little Neutrino," on which they used an artificial larynx to get the effect.
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    Member Ten Thumbs's Avatar
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    Neil Young's Trans album is laced with vocoder.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    Laurie Anderson used the vocoder a lot, notably on "O Superman."
    This was the first title that came into my mind as well. It's one of those tunes that most folks recognize but can't fully place in pop history, which speaks to its timeless impact and conception. Back on release it was considered near revolutionary for rendering a hit song out of what was initially an audio-installation to go with visuals, video, various means of choreography and detailed direction of light-settings. And unlike, say, "Autobahn", it was never intended for mass audience exposure. From what I understand, the release of her Big Science debut album came about as a result of the single's success.

    Anderson herself was surprised at its commercial potential in the UK when John Peel started spinning it constantly in late '81 (long version at first!), having it featured both on his main shows and those under his influence. Apparently Peel had been tipped off by some as-of-yet unnamed British biggie who'd seen a complete performance of it in New York City that very spring before its recording. Rumour hints at Eno or Bowie, or more likely Trevor Horn or Lol Creme (whose short endeavours with Art of Noise were inspired partly by the luck of "O Superman"), but as with many mysterious stories surrounding Peel, that official autobio (Margrave of the Marshes) never really specifies.

    When I saw Anderson do the song at Georgernes Verft in Bergen some 21 years ago, she's left it off her repertoire for more than a decade previously. I remember thinking it could have gone on indefinitely, although its arrangement deviated bits from the original. She played there as solo act exclusively, with backing tracks simulating the Casio and Farfisa but the wind replaced by her own violin work. Sheer magic, it was.
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    The solo on "Haitian Divorce" was definitely Skunk Baxter on talk-box guitar.
    Not Skunk Baxter, he was out of the group by then. I think it was a collaboration between Walter Becker and one of the studio guys.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    Frank Zappa: late 70's/early 80's live versions of Strictly Genteel (at the very least the Halloween 81 version) and...what's the song with the "Poodle bits/Poodle chews it", I know there's a live version somewhere where you hear that refrain with the vocoder on it.
    This was when Tommy Mars was in Zappa's band. He used it often.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    I know Kraftwerk and Herbie Hancock have used vocoders also, but I don't know on what songs.
    Hancock sang through it on an album called Sunlight in the late 70's. Sort of an early version of the Autotune robot sound that would become big more recently.

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    Member StarThrower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pb2015 View Post
    Not Skunk Baxter, he was out of the group by then. I think it was a collaboration between Walter Becker and one of the studio guys.
    Dean Parks played the solo. Effects added by Walter Becker.

  14. #14
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ten Thumbs View Post
    Neil Young's Trans album is laced with vocoder.
    And I LOVE that album! Good one, I didn't think of it.

    I did know there was some difference between a Vocoder and a Talk Box, but I can't remember what it is, I don't care, and I knew at least one or two people would correct me about this.
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Ten Thumbs View Post
    Neil Young's Trans album is laced with vocoder.
    Godvertdamter! I forgot about that one. Sample And Hold was just about the first Neil Young song I ever heard, via MTV.

    BUt yeah, there's quite a few songs on that record that have vocoder vocal sound, which a lot of his fans, critics and David Geffen did NOT dig (Geffen infamously sued Young, for "making music not representative of what the artist is associated with" or some dren like that...possibly the one time an artist tried to modernize their sound and the record company didn't dig it). I remember reading the vocoder thing came from Neil doing therapy with his son Ben, who has cerebral palsy. I guess Neil got intrigued by the sound of the voice synthesis system they were using to communicate with Ben, and Neil felt like "Hey, I could write a bunch of songs around that sound".

  16. #16
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Joe Zawinul used it


  17. #17
    Anderson's use of the vocoder on "O Superman" is interesting, as she does something people don't usually do, i.e.: fades between a mix of natural voice and Vocoder to various degrees within the song. It never fails to blow my mind that a weird, nearly ten-minute slab of avant-garde performance art rose as high as #2 on the British pop chart. Then again, it was a wackier time on the British pop charts in those pre-Spice Girls days, when some really weird stuff could chart. Sure, it was perceived as something of a novelty, but it's fair to say there's a wide gulf between this and the likes of "There's No One Quite Like Grandma" or "Shaddap You Face."
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    Member wideopenears's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    Joe Zawinul used it

    Beat me to it, I see.
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    Member Digital_Man's Avatar
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    It looks like no one mentioned "the voice" by Alan Parsons Project.

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    Member jake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    The talk-box is a classic beginner's electronics project, they're really not that complicated, you're just using a bit of plastic tubing to filter sound coming from a small speaker using your mouth
    Apparently the real issue with them was that habitual use led to the loosening of your teeth from all the vibrations.

    Didn’t Bill Nelson use vocoder on Art, Empire, Industry from the excellent Red Noise Sound on Sound album?

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Man View Post
    It looks like no one mentioned "the voice" by Alan Parsons Project.
    Also “The Raven.”
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  23. #23
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Wasn't it used by Brand X on a track on Product or Masques ?

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    Joe Zawinul used it
    He did a few times in the later Weather Report albums too.

  25. #25
    Parrots ripped my flesh Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    Wasn't it used by Brand X on a track on Product or Masques ?
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