A pop performer on stage rarely performs alone. Next to him is usually a group of two or three vocalists. Effective and beautifully moving, they undoubtedly adorn the performance. But their task is completely different …
Backing vocals are the singing in the background that accompanies the main part. Splitting a melody into voices turns the song into a polyphonic piece of music. The voices, gathering in a chord, make the composition rich.
The perfect musical accompaniment by the voice is organically woven into the song, giving the main part a flavor. At the same time, the voice of the soloist sounds more expressive and bright. Backing vocals can support the main melody or contrast with it.
One should not think that backing vocals began to be used relatively recently, in pop and club compositions. Russia has deep centuries-old roots of folk choral polyphony. They also exist in other countries. Polyphonic singing is both drill songs and church chants …
In the studio or live
Backing vocals can be performed live on stage, or can be recorded in the studio. Modern multichannel recording equipment and computer programs enable the performer to sing all the parts himself.
However, many stars and producers prefer to invite other singers to perform or record backing vocals. It is only when different voices are merged that rare timbre combinations are obtained.
Backing vocalist is …
The performance of backing vocals has its own characteristics, this must be learned specially. This is how a new profession appeared in musical performance - a backing vocalist.
The main thing that a backing vocalist should be able to do is to purely intonate. This requires a harmonious ear: when a musician hears a note in a chord. Therefore, instrumentalists from the star's group often work as backing vocalists on stage - for example, a keyboard player or a bass player.
The soloist has been working on the song for a long time, trying to give the voice special timbre shades. The backing vocalist has a completely different task. The sound of his part should emphasize the beauty and emotionality of the star's voice, as the frame is the luxury of a diamond. If a singer has an unusual or rare timbre of voice, he most likely will not be able to work as a backing vocalist.
A good musical memory and quick reactions are also important for a backing vocalist. He must grasp everything on the fly. Imagine a star on stage entered a half step lower, and the backing vocals are like a rehearsal. Not only the song was damaged, but also the reputation. And pop singers, like all creative people, are emotional people.
Many backing vocalists eventually become pop performers themselves. The harsh school of backing vocals helps them a lot in this.