How I Made My New Cover Using Just Vocals, Guitar and an African Maraca

Hello everyone! If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll know that I’m a little bit in love with Troye Sivan. After far too long, he’s put out some new music, and it was in my head so much that I just had to cover it with my 12-string guitar. As I was recording it, I decided to make a simple ‘drum’ pattern using sounds from my guitar and some awesome African maracas, so I thought I’d tell you about my process.

First, I put the song on and jammed out to it to find the right rhythm for me, and tracked the guitar line pretty much straight away. Next, I put down a scratch vocal, so I knew roughly where the melody would sit. Then, I started to think about how I could build some rhythm around this. I started with a simple kick drum on each beat of the bar, to drive it forwards, by tapping gently just above the bridge of my guitar. Next, I wanted a bit of a higher pitched sound to mimic hi hats, so I muted my strings pretty high up the neck with my left hand, and found a strumming pattern that worked against the existing rhythms in the track. I actually just used my thumb to achieve this, as it gave me more control over dynamics and allowed me to accent the upwards stroke in my strumming pattern. Needing a break from my 12-string at this point, my eyes fell on my new African maracas, straight outta Cape Town. So, I picked one up and recorded a double-time rhythm to sit with the chorus and give it a bit of a lift.

The only problem was, now it didn’t really develop all that much during the last chorus, and that’s where it should be more diverse to get that uplifting ending I wanted. The rhythm already felt pretty Latin to me, so I embraced my roots, ran with it and tracked a pattern emulating a snare drum. I tapped a little harder across the sound hole, whilst muting my strings at the end of my fret board and sliding my left hand down towards the head stock slowly as the song built, giving it a lift in tone.

The last thing I recorded was actually the product of a total accident. I had flipped my guitar over on my lap so I could reach my laptop easier while I was adjusting the EQ, and while listening I started tapping out a rhythm. It started to sound a little like high pitched bongos, so I went with it and tapped out a typical Latin American rhythm using different pressures on different areas of the back of my guitar to achieve different pitches and tones, taking advantage of the natural resonance of the 12 strings while I was doing it. Then, with a bit of editing, and re-recording the vocal, we were good to go!

You can find the finished product right here:

Let me know if you enjoyed reading this through my twitter - I’d love some feedback!

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