#1
I am trying to do background vocals which I don't know much about, Do you have to whisper or something .. Are there any requirements or anything like that?
#2
Surely it's just a case of recording them and putting them quietly in the mix?


Quote by MightyAl
How do you physically download an album? Like run your computer off a dynamo on an exercise bike?
#3
you can whisper if you wanted whispered backing vocals...

the requirement is that you have a voice and (optionally) can sing.

I'm not sure what exactly you're having trouble with. Can you give a little more info?
#4
In what context?

Are you recording them? Doing them live? Perhaps both?

Come to think of it, it's irrelevant.

No, you wont need to whisper. Typically background vocals will be a harmony of the lead vocal (5ths or Octaves usually).

The only real difference between Lead vocals and Background vocals, is the level and pan position in the mix, whether live or on a recording, and they're commonly saturated with reverb to give them a little more... air.

Hopefully this gets you started .
This water's dark and coldGod's not where you hopedThis moment come and goneIt's time we all moved on
#5
if you're doing your own background (you sang lead too) i'd recommend singing them just like you'd sing anything else, but then eq them/effect them a little bit so they're not quite as full as the lead vocal track. that way they wont get in the way of the lead. dont make drastic changes (unless you want) but take some of the fullness out so they sit better. i personally find it very annoying when background vocals sound the exact same as the lead, and i never hear that on professional recordings...
#6
Am having some trouble with doing that LIVE!! And the techniques used to make the background vocal sound cool with the lead vocals
#8
Quote by Declan87
stand a little away from the mic and sing a harmony.


Can't I just lower the mic volume or something.
#9
Quote by MaddMann274
Can't I just lower the mic volume or something.


Yes, you can do that as well, although standing slightly further back won't give you the same sound as turning the mic down, even at the same volume.

Standing further back will give you a roomier sound because there's physically more air between your mouth and the mic. Standing further back will also mean that your voice will come out less bassy (if you're singing into a dynamic mic) because of the proximity effect*.

Rolling off a bit of bass is, as far as I know, what engineers tend to do to a chorus of backing vocalists, as multiple voices will tend to sound bassier together - I don't know what the standard/best method is for live backing vocals, but I would've thought that the more air/less bass would've held up live.


*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microphone#Dynamic_microphone
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/
#10
Isn't there a mic made just for background vocals? Cause I seen some background vocalists have a circular kind of mic.. Just curious
#11
Quote by MaddMann274
Isn't there a mic made just for background vocals? Cause I seen some background vocalists have a circular kind of mic.. Just curious


I'm guessing it's a microphone with a more omni-directional pattern (that is, it picks sound up from all/more than just one side fairly evenly) so several singers can sing at it from different directions and still all be picked up without having their voices changed too much.

If you had three people singing into the standard kind of SM58*, the person right in front of it will be significantly louder than the two off to the sides, because it has a cardiod (heart-shaped) pattern of picking up sound - so it picks up most strongly to the front, much more weakly to the sides and virtually not at all the to back.

That sort of mic is obviously not going to be a good mic for a chorus of voices to try and sing into, because it's so directional that people singing off-axis won't be picked up as much.


Anyway, yes, I'd imagine it's just some kind of omni-directional mic you've seen singers clustered around - as far as I'm aware, you very rarely have mics 'made' for picking up certain kinds of sound, they tend just to have such-and-such a pattern of soundpickup and such-and-such a frequency response (i.e., which frequencies they pick up strongly or weakly - obviously you generally want one with a good low frequency response on bass instruments, for example) which obviously makes certain types of mics generally more desirable for picking up/recording certain types of sound, but really all you're doing with a mic is deciding how you want to colour the sound, so virtually any kind of mic could be used on any kind of sound source provided it picked up that sound source in the way you wanted.


*The sort of vocal mic you see the majority of people singing into live:
http://images.google.co.uk/images?hl=en&source=hp&q=SM58&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi
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/
Last edited by Damascus at Nov 27, 2009,
#13
Quote by MaddMann274
So basically any mic is good?


Until you define what you want the mic to be doing, yes


The fundamental point to remember is that a microphone is not a human ear. No microphone humans have ever built is as good at percieving sound as a human ear.

Some microphones (like the SM58's that generally get used for live vocals) will only pick up sound properly from the front - others will pick up from front & back, or from both sides, or from all around. Microphones will amplify different parts of the audible frequency spectrum (to use the SM58's as an example again, I think they tend to boost sound at around 4kHz, which is usually handy for vocals, as a lot of their power is in that area), some won't even be able to pick up sounds that're at the extreme end of the human hearing range.

So, essentially, hearing a sound (say, vocals) with your ear directly will be different than hearing it played back from a CD when the vocal has been recorded with a microphone, or over a PA (which might also slightly colour the sound) after being picked up from a microphone - once you've decided what kind of sound you want, you can choose the microphone appropiate for that sound.

Now, I realise that's almost completely useless as advice unless you know the different characteristics of microphones, but if live backing vocals is what you're after, in terms of microphones I don't think you need to worry about mic choice/placement/techniques very much - I'd imagine you'll be the only singer singing into your mic (eliminating the problem of getting multiple voices picked up accurately by a cardioid pattern mic) and that it'll be an SM58 (which gives a pretty accurate reproduction of a human voice, especially in live situations when you're not going to be able to get it perfect anyway).

The only two things I'd recommend are to remember that mics like the SM58 have the proximity effect, so the closer your mouth is to the mic, the bassier your voice will sound in the speakers (as well as obviously sounding louder and less 'roomy') and to make sure that the speaker reproducing your voice isn't pointing at the front of the microphone - I can't see this happening in a live situation, though, as it'd require you to be standing facing the speaker as you sing
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
That looks like a studio picture to me - there's a pop shield and a 'backgroundless' background. With it being in a studio and from the look the of the mic, I think that's almost certainly some kind of condenser microphone - dynamics (like the SM58) and condensers (like that one) are the two most common types of microphone for music (as far as I know, 99.999% of microphones you'll encounter will be one of those two types).

Dynamics are sturdy and fairly difficult to break, which is why dynamic mics like the SM58 tend to get used for live music, where they might get knocked around, dropped etc.

Condenser microphones are more fragile than dynamics, but you'd find them used in studios for things like vocals because they can pick up sounds up closer to the top of human hearing (20,000Hz) much better than dynamics tend to - and they also tend to have a flatter frequency response (that is, they don't boost/cut the sound they recieve at certain frequencies) than dynamics might.


So that 'circular' mic in the picture is being used for that guy's backing vocals because it's a better mic for picking up more of the high overtones that his voice is generating (as it picks up higher frequencies) and it'll probably give a more accurate picture of his voice (as it has a flatter frequency response) - if he was singing backing vocals live, I doubt he'd use that mic - it could easily cost £1,000/$2,000 or more and may well break if dropped just once.
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/