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The real purpose of backing vocals...

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by pklima, May 5, 2010.


  1. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    ...is not to provide harmony, but to keep the lead vocalist from spontaneously changing the lyrics and structure of the song.

    A conclusion I have come to after one of my bands went from having three vocalists to one.
     
  2. AGREED. Our singer is so bad about mixing up verses....:scowl:
     
  3. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    No one will notice if your singer switches up words/verses unless youre doing well known cover songs.
     
  4. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    I'll notice.

    "She's singing the third verse... the verse before was the first, right? Does that mean the second verse is next? Or the bridge that normally comes after the third verse? Hmm... should I play F or D here?"

    Heh.
     
  5. Thunderthumbs73

    Thunderthumbs73

    May 5, 2008
    To keep the saxophonist or guitarist singing so won't play a "solo" to fill the musical space? A saxophonist can't play a solo and sing at the same time. Most guitarists won't, even if they could, due to the duality of singing and the singular focus required of a (good) solo.

    :bag:
     
  6. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Haha, yeah, considering 90% of the bands here looking for sax players also want vocals I'd say that's gotta be true.
     
  7. No, no one would notice. It just throws me on the transitions sometimes. Also he'll mix up sentences to where they don't make sense.
     
  8. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Sure, you'll notice because youre in the band. But, if she's only transposing lyrics, and not melody, it shouldnt create a problem, unless your band uses lyrics as cues. I used to have a problem remembering my lyrics, and would often swap one line for another. It never threw our drummer off, as he never had any idea what the lyrics were anyways.

    Yeah, I see how it can be a problem in that way. My gf's band often uses lyrics/vocals as cues, in one song, so that they know when to wrap up the bridge. However, it doesnt matter if the band members arent listening. I once witnessed her do the same vocal part 5 times before the band realized they had to wrap it up.
     
  9. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Heh, the problem is once she goes off track it's hard to predict what she'll do next - could be a verse, could be a bridge... I could overlook memory problems, but I have a low tolerance for artistic spontaneity. Having backing vocals curbed a lot of that.
     
  10. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    I could understand that. I certainly don't feel the same way, being in an Improv Rock band where pretty much ALL of the music we make is made up on the spot :).
     
  11. really? sometimes I change my lyrics to something stupid and my guitarist just plays along
     
  12. RDY2RMBL

    RDY2RMBL

    Feb 8, 2007
    VA
    Sometimes I like what I sing on stage better than the lyrics that I had originally written, haha.

    (Skip to about the 3 minute mark for ridiculousness)

    This is what happens when lead singers go insane and the rest of the band has to sit there and hold onto the groove/jam until they come back to real life haha.
     
  13. Ray34

    Ray34

    Apr 30, 2010
    My band has adopted the philosophy that the singer is never wrong, even when s/he is. If one of them is off in la-la land, we have to follow.

    But then again, do they (the audience) really listen? We used to do this combination of "Frat rock" tunes (Louie Louie, Gloria, Wild Thing) that the crowds love but I HATED. I was given the task of singing Louie Louie, so I'd try to make stuff up. My favorite had the song turn into a dark tale of a scorned lover, including the phrase "hacked in small pieces in a shallow grave."

    We did that mess for at least 25 gigs, and I think only two people ever noticed.
     
  14. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Heh. I used to work with a Spanish singer, and one time he made up some extra verses for "Guantanamera". My Spanish is limited to the names of foods, so I picked up the word "carne" and a few weeks later asked him if the song is about eating meat. He had no idea what I was talking about and it took him a while to remember that he made up those lyrics.
    Yup! Which is why it's just plain easier if you know where the singer's going next. Improvising an entire song, I can handle. Changing the structure of an existing song on the fly, though, that brings out my inner reactionary monarchist.

    Our backup singers must have felt the same way the day the lead singer changed a song about a girl throwing wreaths into a river into a song about crappy Communist cars on the fly at a gig.
     

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