My 5 favourite ways of writing backing vocals

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My 5 favourite ways of writing backing vocals •

Hey guys,

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.

What are your favourite ways to spice up your vocal parts?

Voice care: 8 ways to take care of your throat when you’re a singer

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Voice care: 8 ways to take care of your voice when you're a singer •

Man, it’s flu time again! I sort of half escaped it this year (just got a sore throat and a runny nose for 3 days), but my S.O. really had a bad time quite recently!

If there’s one thing you absolutely don’t want as a singer than it’s illnesses related to your throat and lungs. Voice care is very important. You may only feel bad for a few days, but it can have effect on your voice for a very long time.

I know some people who can sing “through” it: my vocal teacher has this great story about her final exams, and I once did a major audition whil suffering from a nasty case of pneumonia. But best to avoid such things altogether!

Today, I give you 9 ways to care for your voice.

1 – Tea with honey

Even if you’re not a singer, drinking is important anyway. It is the best way to help your body clean itself on the inside. Also, you don’t want to get dehydrated (duh). Drinking tea is my favourite way to stay hydrated: there’s tons of options! I prefer grean tea and rooibos with a sponnful of honey.

Honey is the best stuff ever! All honey is said to be anti-microbial, but there are some studies that actually prove it for Manuka honey (= tea tree). And because I’m a total tea and honey snob, of course I have to buy the Manuka honey nowadays in stead of the cheapest brand available 😉

2 – Ginger-honey-lemon-drink

The holy trinity of sore throat remedies: ginger, lemon and honey. I usually put 2-3 slices of lemon, twice as much ginger and a generous blob of honey in a tea pot and pour hot water on it. Enough for 3-4 cups.

3 – Liquorice

In the Netherlands liquorice is kind of a thing. You can’t walt past the sweets department in a Dutch supermarket without noticing the shelves and shelves full of different brands and varieties of liquorice. I totally love that stuff. Just sucking on a piece and letting it melt slowly in your mouth will create a protective layer of sugar and saliva in your throat.

Be aware to grab the sweet liquorice variety and not the salty! There’s even special honey liquorice. Win win.

4 – Stepsils / Strepfen

My favourite throat medicine. Strepsils are a well-known brand here in the Netherlands for fighting sore throats. They also have a more heavy-duty pastille: Strepfen. This is basically Strepsils combined with ibuprofen painkillers. Best invention ever. Make sure you don’t overdose though.

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5 – Fisherman’s Friends

Not just Fisheerman’s Friends, they’re also singer’s friends! Very minty menthol sweets. These are my favourites when my nose and sinuses are all clogged up. The freshness opens it up and makes it possible to breathe at least properly.

6 – Fireman / brandy

This on is a little tricky, especially when talking voice care. Alcohol is not really healthy, especially when you’re ill. It lowers your immune system a little extra. Not the best idea. However, when you feel a sore throat coming up, a shot of Fireman or brandy can really make you feel better.

Fireman is basically Fisherman’s Friends in fluid form. It helps to open up your sinuses. And alcohol kills bacteria (hand sanitizer, hospital soap, you get the idea). Just remember to keep it to a minimum.

7 – Steaming

Pour some hot water in a bowl, add some chamomile tea and breathe in the steam. It helps to unclog your sinuses and also feels great when your throat feels raw from coughing.

8 – A hot eucalyptus shower

Basically steaming, too, but a bit easier. When using eucalyptus shower gel, it’s a lot easier to breathe and you feel very refreshed afterwards.

What is your favourite way to care for your voice when sick? Share your experience in the comment section below!