We’ve all been there before. Listening back to a mix with stacks of BGVs and thinking “this just doesn’t sound very tight.”
Even though we often leave the BGVs until the very end of the production process, they’re a critical part of the recording in many styles of music.
Tight background vocals can often be the glue that your mix needs to take it to the next level.
But how do you get a glossy background vocal stack that sounds as good as the pros? With these three easy steps:
The first step is to match the background vocalist/s with the lead vocal. And what better match for a background vocalist than the lead vocalist?! If at all possible, the person who sang the lead vocals should sing the background vocals if you’re going for a tight, seamless production.
If you’re going for a more natural production, similar to the Zac Brown Band, you’re probably going to want different vocalists that sound good together. Mic selection and processing is also important here in blending the background vocals with the lead vocals.
The next step is to pitch correct or tune your background vocals. Even if you didn’t heavily tune your lead vocal, it’s important to tune your background vocals to be in tune with you lead vocals. This makes a huge difference in the overall feel of your background vocals. When done well, it can create a “wall” of background vocals rather than a shaky facade.
The final step is to “time correct” or pocket your background vocals. This is the step that nearly every amateur misses. It’s crucial, however, to get a tight performance. Your background vocals should not seem disconnected to your lead vocals, rather, they should sound air-tight. Line up your transients and vowels so that they sound perfectly matched.
Once you follow these three easy steps to getting great background vocals in your recording, you’ll be surprised at the overall effect it can have on your production. You won’t be nudging them down so far as to be buried in the mix – you’ll be hearing them loud and proud!