Since I’m working on a new song, I thought it would be nice to talk a bit about how I create them. As I am very focused on the vocals in my songs, I usually have more than just a simple melody. Today I have listed my favourite ways to add some nice backing vocals!
1 – Double in thirds or sixths
Doubling the melody in thirds or sixth is super easy and will instantly add some body to the part. I usually do this in the second and third chorus. You can keep this going for quite some phrases without getting boring.
Fun thing in my current project is that I actually double the bass part in the backing vocals… In fifths, which creates quite a rich sound. Something to remember!
2 – Counterpoint
Sometimes doubling a melody just doesn’t work. It sound dull, second-hand or old-fashioned. Falling back on some good ole’ counterpoint (how ironic) could really step up your backing vocal game. You basically have two separate, equally interesting melodies. You can even mix them equally instead of using it as a backing vocal.
3 – Pedal tone
My favourite for verses. By using a pedal tone as a backing vocal, you keep things mysterious and add a lot of suspension. Most of the time I wil use the tonic, but sometimes the dominant can be appropriate too.
4 – Full harmonization
Yes, yes! Full four part harmonizations in the choruses please! I love to add a lot of vocals in the third (and, if applicable, fourth) chorus. I love the rich sound it gives. On the other side, four part a capella works very nice as a bridge when the rest of your song is fully orchestrated. Remember to use counterpoint to totally nail it.
5 – Canon
I’m doing this at some point in my upcoming song as we speak and it works magic. The effect of the same part being started over and over again is very… *mesmerizing*. This is totally not a hint at the lyrics.
Not every melody can be used for this though. Sometimes you’re lucky that it happens by chance (I didn’t intend for it but the phrase just *asked* for it), but you could also be a very calculating songwriter and think it through.