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Backing vocal vs Lead Vocal Functions


Backing vocal vs Lead Vocal Functions

Backing vocal vs Lead Vocal Functions

A backing vocalist or backup singer is a singer who provides vocal harmony with the lead vocalist or other backing vocalists. A backing vocalist may also sing alone as a lead-in to the main vocalist’s entry or to sing a counter-melody. Wikipedia

Novice vocalists, and just music lovers, are familiar with such an expression as backing vocals. What is it and why is it needed at all? Back vocals, as well as front vocals, are, if you look at it verbatim, some kind of singing behind your back. And if you translate this into a simple and understandable language, then backing vocals are an additional vocal part, the so-called “singing along” for the main vocal part. Of course, the term back vocals and this phenomenon itself is used most often in modern music, in pop, jazz and in many other areas.

 In opera, for example, there is no concept of back vocals, because all vocal opera parts are a single inseparable musical canvas. In modern music, however, the back vocal part, as it were, creates additional decoration and variety, but is not very significant, and if it is completely removed from the song, the music will not fundamentally change. In opera, such a phenomenon, of course, cannot be. Each character and each part is written by the composer, and has a semantic load.

As mentioned above, backing vocals in modern music serve to enrich the music, so we can say that backing vocals are like another instrument of an ensemble or orchestra. Who does the backing vocals? Like any other instrument or vocal performer, the backing vocalist or vocalists are professional musicians with excellent command of their voices. This is a very responsible role, since along with the rest of the instruments, backing vocals have a separate and important place. Backing vocals can be performed by one or a group of vocalists. It can be male, female voices separately, or a group of male and female voices.

Consider the main tasks of backing vocals:

  • very often, backing vocals perform the function of the so-called “echo”, that is, they echo the words and melody of the leading voice, exactly repeating the melody or performing it by the vocal group in the interval
  • sometimes backing vocals are used to enhance the dramatic effect, most often in the choruses of songs, where both unison and polyphonic music can also sound
  • Backing vocals can be a contrasting element in music such as modern styles such as hard rock, where the lead vocalist is a growl and backing vocals can sound like academic singing. This enhances the intensity of the composer’s dramatic idea or can create a contrasting effect.

Backing vocals are a very responsible part in the overall ensemble, despite the fact that the main role of vocals is separated from “backs”, one should never forget that each instrument, including backing vocals, adds its own uniqueness to the music. sound!

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