The Importance of Backing Vocals
If you’re like most songwriters out there, you may be finding that your backing vocals are just not coming together quite right. If you’re having problems with the consistency, tone or rhythm of your backing tracks, then you may be violating some harmony rules. Backing vocals are an integral part of most songs. If you’re finding that your backing vocals don’t sound quite right, or if you want to improve your backing vocals singing abilities, there are a few backing vocals tips that may help you sort things out.
Backing Vocals Tips
One of the most common backing vocals tips is to work on the first chorus before moving on to the second verse. If you’re stuck on a certain phrase or key signature, try playing through it as many times as possible until the voice sounds coherent and follows the beat of the music. Working on the first chorus first will also allow you to experiment with different phrasing, pitch variations and dynamics.
One common mistake among singers and songwriters is overdoing the counterpoint in their backing vocals. Overdubbing in the use of the counterpoint is a no-no. The counterpoint is where the singer expresses themselves musically. While using the counterpoint in the backing vocals is fine as long as it doesn’t become overbearing, a sudden rush of it in the middle of a song can sound unnatural. If you feel that the backing vocals are sounding too smooth and synthetic, try stopping the pattern a bit and hitting the notes lower.
Another no-no when working on the backing vocals is overusing the harmonious melody. In most cases, working on the melody after the beat is the best way to achieve a sense of harmonic balance. As an artist, your goal is to create songs that the audience can emotionally connect with. If you’re writing about someone’s love for his or her children, the melody can remain melodic while the chorus starts to pick up. However, if the main melody has lost its emotional power, the backing vocals can be a better choice.
There are also times when a lyricist would want to incorporate the backing vocals but forget about the melody. For example, during a sad song, lyrics and vocals may be the same but the tempo and pitch are slightly off-kilter and the song doesn’t have the right feel. When this happens, a lyricist can simply sing the lyrics and let the backing vocals do the rest. This technique allows the lyricist to get more melodic with their arrangement and song structure. Plus, the vocalist doesn’t have to worry about matching the melody exactly.
While working on a song that utilizes the backing vocals, you mustn’t try to overdo them. The background vocals should still be subtle but noticeable enough that they enhance the song without becoming the focus. The trick is to make sure that they fit well into the song without overwhelming it. The backing vocals can become part of the song if done tastefully.
No Backing Vocals?
Some artists prefer not to use the backing vocals at all and instead focus on the lead vocal and the melody. They may even try to hide the backing vocals behind the lead vocal to maintain a unique sound. However, hiding the backing vocals is a bad idea as they will always seem to distract listeners from the lead vocal. If your goal is to write a catchy pop song, the melody should rule and the backing vocals should only add to the melody.
Backing vocals can take many forms, and while some like to use them, others are against using them. Many musicians feel that background vocals distract from the lead vocal. They do indeed take away space, especially if the backing vocals are recorded with a lower pitch than the lead vocal. However, they also allow for a greater amount of variation in music as a whole, especially when it comes to harmonies. The most important thing is not to underestimate the importance of backing vocals; they add life and dimension to the music. They’re just as important as the main melody.