Mayos Music
Guitar Lessons and Instrument Repair

Creating Vocal Parts

(For: Rock, Pop, Country, Blues, Folk, Reggae, etc.)

Here at MayosMusic, in addition to offering great guitar, bass, ukulele, banjo and autoharp lessons, plus complete luthier services that include guitar, string instrument and amplifier repair/restorations, we are also a great resource service. Below is a discussion on creating perfect vocal parts.

  1. Lead Vocal – This is your star attraction.  Start with a strong lead vocal.  The lead vocal must be in pitch, be delivered freely and expressively but still stay true to the melody, show emotion, and use dynamics.

  2. Double Tracking – To record a second time the lead vocals, note-for-note, one duplicating the other.  Since it is impossible to recreate an exact performance, those slight differences in time and pitch will produce a natural chorusing effect that enhances tonality, richens up the sound and often smoothes out the rough edges of a less than perfect performance.  However, this technique can reduce the intimacy and emotion of a great performance.

  3. Double Tracking Octaves – A duplicate vocal sung an octave higher or lower
  1. Higher – Adding a higher octave duplicate will add “air” to the lead vocals, and often will benefit with some reverb.
  2.  Lower – Adding a lower octave duplicate will add “weight” to the lead vocals, and is usually mixed dry.
  1. Single Harmony Lines – The simplest of harmony lines and yet a thing of beauty.  Listen to the Everly Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel, and many Beach Boys, Beatles, and CSN/CSNY tunes.  It can be effectively used in the entire song, just in the verses or chorus, or in single lines.

  2. Multi-Part Harmony – Building a vocal chord around the lead vocal and with respect to the chord structure.  Using intervals of 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, etc. above or below the lead vocal.  Crafting good multi-part harmonies can be tricky and I recommend writing or charting out the parts.

  3. Counter-Part Lines – A vocal line that is sung in between or through the melody line such as an “echoed line” or also different lyrics from the lead.  Examples such as “ohhs” and “ahhs”, a call and answer lyric with the lead vocals, or a “voice in your head,” “friend’s advice,” and “he said, she said” (though different from a duet), etc.  Listen to the Beach Boys, the Temptations, early Bob Marley, and many others.

  4. Block Vocals (aka Chorus) – Other voices singing with the lead.  Singing in unison can be very effective, and is one of the most common methods for backing vocals in a chorus section of a song.

  5. Processing & Mixing – Backing vocals will always benefit from EQ, Compression, Reverb, etc. which is determined by the producer, engineers, and artists, and dependant on the vocalist, mics, equipment, and miking technique. 

Instructor's Final Note: A good band instrumentally, but with very poor vocals will be precieved as a very, very bad band. Bad vocals are the number 1 thing to ruin an otherwise good band.

Experience since 1968
Providing Guitar, Electric Bass & Ukulele lessons and Guitar/Amp Repair in the Greater Phoenix Valley area of Arizona including Maricopa County and The Salt River Valley.

Mayos Music will continue to provide Guitar/Amp Repairs in Southern California's South Bay cities and Greater Los Angeles Area.
Originally located in Manhattan Beach and Torrance, California.

Now located in:
Gilbert, AZ 85298
Torrance, CA 90505

(310) 955 - 0246