#1
I'm in a band and I'm gonna try to sing some backups. I play lead guitar. Does anyone have any general advice on singing harmonys? I've never really tried before
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#3
Quote by Les Paul Ell
1. Become black
2. Become a woman

.....okay not like that. I don't want to sway with the music and snap my fingers and eat cornbread and fried chicken. Just provide a little depth to the singing
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#4
Quote by QuantumMechanix
.....okay not like that. I don't want to sway with the music and snap my fingers and eat cornbread and fried chicken. Just provide a little depth to the singing


You're not ignorant or anything.
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#5
Quote by Kevy Absolution
You're not ignorant or anything.

It was a joke....he started it.

Informative post count: 0
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#6
Backup singing is a lot harder than most people think. What I do, is write a harmony(usually a third above the main line) and then learn it. That means playing the chords and singing the harmony line, and doing this a lot. Once you're comfortable with the melody and you've memorised it, try singing along with the original track. It might help you if you play your first vocal note on guitar for a reference point. Then sing it over the original track, and sing it with your vocalist and so on until you can do it no problem on the spot at a show or whatever.

To write a harmony, one way of doing it is to have your vocalist sing the melody really slowly(like holding each note for 10 seconds). You find your first note on the guitar(usually a third above sounds good) and sing every note really slowly until every harmony sounds perfect. Go up when he goes up, down when he goes down, etc. There'll be exceptions but you should usually end up staying in thirds.

Sorry if a lot of that was useless but it works for me.
#7
Quote by Declan87
Backup singing is a lot harder than most people think. What I do, is write a harmony(usually a third above the main line) and then learn it. That means playing the chords and singing the harmony line, and doing this a lot. Once you're comfortable with the melody and you've memorised it, try singing along with the original track. It might help you if you play your first vocal note on guitar for a reference point. Then sing it over the original track, and sing it with your vocalist and so on until you can do it no problem on the spot at a show or whatever.

To write a harmony, one way of doing it is to have your vocalist sing the melody really slowly(like holding each note for 10 seconds). You find your first note on the guitar(usually a third above sounds good) and sing every note really slowly until every harmony sounds perfect. Go up when he goes up, down when he goes down, etc. There'll be exceptions but you should usually end up staying in thirds.

Sorry if a lot of that was useless but it works for me.

No that makes perfect sense. I'll definately work on that with the singer. Thanks alot
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#8
With singing harmonies, you'll have to practice with the singer alone. To get nice effective harmonies you'll need the length of the words the same so there's no "bleeding" over eachother. So get the rhythm down.

Otherwise it's the same as singing lead, do similar warm ups and practice.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#9
note that if you're singing harmony, that it's safe to use falsetto and sound good. In a lot of songs your going to have to (I'm assuming your male) because you won't be able to reach the note using your chest.
#10
look, if you have a good ear for harmony, you'll be fine. if not, you're kinda ****ed unless you REALLY wanna spend a lot of time on it
#11
Harmony vocals are a real art. John Frusciante reckons they're one of his biggest contributions to RHCP, and he is very good at them.

Think about what the main vocal is doing, both in theoretical terms and more general terms. So if it moves from a fifth above the guitar line, to the seventh, then drops back to the root, you need to harmonise not only with the vocal, but with the guitar. However, you don't need to follow the main line - lots of the best backing vocals change differently to the lead part, so holding a fifth above the vocal line for the first half of the line while it goes from root to third, then switching up to the octave when the main line hits the fifth itself...

Think of it like a harmony guitar part which also has the complexity of being sung.
#12
Quote by Samzawadi
Harmony vocals are a real art. John Frusciante reckons they're one of his biggest contributions to RHCP, and he is very good at them.


It's also worth noting that - along with the very good advice about not necessarily following the lead line interval-for-interval - that sometimes backing vocals don't actually 'follow' the lead vocal at all.

John Frusciante is a good example of this as well, although any song with a 2-3 female backing singers will probably have it somewhere; the backing singer(s) holding a note for an extended length of time (generally a bar and/or until the next chord change), almost like a backing string section/synth.

Actually, a third way of doing backing vocals (apart from harmonising with the lead and providing a 'backdrop' note) would be to sing a seperate melody line, although when I've seen this used (again, John Frusciante's a fairly good example - verses of Can't Stop, for example) this second line is almost inevitably more simple than the main line so as to add to it as opposed to distracting from it.
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#13

John Frusciante is a good example of this as well, although any song with a 2-3 female backing singers will probably have it somewhere; the backing singer(s) holding a note for an extended length of time (generally a bar and/or until the next chord change), almost like a backing string section/synth.


Definitely, I gave up on mentioning this in my post because I couldn't adequately explain it.

Remember that backing singers don't necessarily need to only sing when the lead singer is - think of the 'Where do we go now?' bits in Sweet Child O'Mine. It can add real emphasis to the lead part if they're singing over a rhythm of backing vocals.
#14
Quote by Samzawadi
It can add real emphasis to the lead part if they're singing over a rhythm of backing vocals.


Leonard Cohen is great to check out for this - on a lot of his songs he's singing really off-tempo, generally pretty lazily behind the beat. He can do it because he has a group of female backing singers singing on the beat, further back in the mix but still very audible. Like he said, you can play with timing a lot more if you have someone else singing 'on' time.

Also, it might be work checking out Jefferson Airplane/any decent rap song with more than 1 rapper on it for examples of how backing singers will come in and sing the odd word or line in unison/harmony with the lead singer, which really adds punch to the bits you want.

Jefferson Airplane are probably worth checking out anyway as far as backing vocals go - they had 3 people capable of singing lead and they often switched backing/lead roles (and altered how they used backing vocals - from harmony to emphasis to exchanging leads etc.) within the same song.
Quote by Ed O'Brien
“It’s not genius. It’s just that if you want something good to come out of something, you have to put in a lot of effort. That involves a lot of hard work, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears sometimes.”

http://urbanscarecrow.bandcamp.com/
#15
backing can be great to set a subtle mood within the song, through 'ahs' and 'oohs' etc, when done well. Don't try to overdo it, and just keep it simple, remember, the one the audience will be paying most attention to is your singer (vocal wise of course), so don't try and swing their attention.