Pentatonix (l-r): Avi Kaplan, Kirstin Maldonado, Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, and Kevin Olusola
Photo: Cliff Lipson
How Pentatonix arranged tight harmonies on 'Daft Punk'
(The Making Of GRAMMY-Winning Recordings … series presents firsthand accounts of the creative process behind some of music's biggest recordings. The series' current installments present insight and details about recordings that won 57th GRAMMY Awards.)
We knew this wasn't going to be a particularly breezy task. We first chose some of our favorite — and the most notable — Daft Punk songs from their more popular discography. We then created an order in which we thought the songs would flow the best into and out of each other. This was our loose structure, which we stitched together slowly as we began to arrange each voice part.
Once we had the order of the songs, we chose keys for each soloist, and then arranged accordingly to transition seamlessly from one song to the next. We've found that tight three-part harmonies make the track seem a lot fuller. Amping up the low end of the bass and capturing all the discrepancies of the percussive elements really helped, too. Toward the end of the process, we filled in holes and tweaked otherwise ineffective musical moments and nuances. The only difficulty we had with [arranging the songs] was making them less simplistic and more complex. Dance music is notoriously hard, in my opinion, to cover with just voices.
It was [a] very collaborative [process], with Scott [Hoying] and I spearheading the project. I am very familiar with [Daft Punk's] work because I've been a huge fan since high school, and Scott is intuitive about what our audience likes to hear. I think it took about a week [to finish the song], maybe a little more, from start to finish. We definitely didn't think it would be as successful as it turned out to be, and certainly never imagined it would be GRAMMY-worthy!
[Daft Punk's] manager reached out and let us know that they were really pleased with our work. That was pretty surreal. They're so legendary!
(At the 57th GRAMMY Awards, Pentatonix — Mitch Grassi, Scott Hoying, Avi Kaplan, Kirstin Maldonado, and Kevin "K.O." Olusola — won their first career GRAMMY for Best Arrangement, Instrumental Or A Cappella for "Daft Punk," which comprises a medley of the Daft Punk songs "Technologic," "One More Time," "Get Lucky," "Digital Love," "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," "Television Rules The Nation," and "Around The World." Pentatonix are currently in the midst of a world tour, with dates scheduled through September.)