Here’s a weird thing; I’m one of those singers that would prefer to be in the background. Singing with a few backup singers? That’s my happy place. Singing in a background choir? Even more of a happy place for me.
I love the harmonies and fullness that background and group singing can bring to a song, often more than the lead part or solo. Here are the three types of backing vocals I use when it comes to recording background vocals.
Harmonizing is when you layer a note above or below the lead part with a different pitch that will perfectly fit the chord progression of the song. My absolute favorite part of background singing is when I get to harmonize.
Listen, harmonizing is probably my favorite part of music, period! I get a really nerdy smile any day I’m in the studio laying down some beautifully layered harmonies. The more complex, the better.
Ever since I was raised in the church, I have always had a knack for harmonizing and holding down my harmony part.
If I was in a choir and I heard that one of the parts was not coming out loud enough or not coming out at all, I was soon switching my part to the harmony that needed me.
As you can see from this example below, where I think I did my best arrangement of anything ever, harmonies are my thing.
Related Post: Here are some of the best songs to harmonize along with!
I always get excited in my session singing day job when I get to the part where the verses are laid, the hook vocals are all in, the bridge is complete with climactic harmonies and everything, and then I get to adlib.
I always save my adlibs for last, since I adlib based on every other part that was previously recorded.
You may ask, what is an ad-lib? Why are you spelling it as all one word? Well, adlibbing is also known as improvising.
It’s the beautiful part that you hear a good singer freestyling right in the background of the repeated hooks. Sometimes the intro and outro can be considered ad-lib if you’re literally just winging it!
Dubbing your vocals is the process of doubling the lead part of a song. Whether you are adding dubbed vocals to key phrases in a verse or highlighting a whole section like the hook, dubbed phrases are a must, especially in mainstream genres like pop and R&B.
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In my early stages of songwriting and recording dubbed vocals, I missed out on so many opportunities to make certain parts of my song really pop.
I would only dub a hook, or only certain sections of a hook, instead of really adding fullness to parts of the verses and bridge that could have really used it to shine and sounded a little duller without it.
It’s important to note that dubbing doesn’t necessarily work with styles of songs. Simplistic singer-songwriter songs, for example, won’t need the extra layers, and it may even take away from the vibes.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her recent collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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