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BLENDING THE BACK-UPS, Part Two - by Jeannie Deva
Too often a band member is assigned a part only because he or she can "hit" the note. Voice lessons can help each singer improve vocal quality and control. But nonetheless, it's important to assign parts based on appropriate tonality for the most professional blend.

Evaluate each singer's voice. Notice who has a deeper sound (more mid-range resonance) and who's is thinner (more treble resonance). Which voices are most similar? Assign parts based on the voices that are most similar and will blend best.
For a tighter, fuller sound, put the voice that has a deeper, darker quality on top parts. Assign brighter or thinner voices to the bottom and/or middle parts.

For a group that has a female vocalist but is going for an "all male" sound, put the female on a part below one or two of the male vocalists.

For an "all female" sound with some male voices, use as many male voices as possible, singing with a "falsetto" sound (high, light and breathy). Put the female vocalist on or near the top.

To open the overall sound, use a high harmony or double the melody one or two octaves higher and/or lower. Upper harmonies are usually appropriate to sing breathy rather than shoutingly shrill. The importance of this part is "coloration" and enhancement of the sound spectrum. Conversely, doubling the melody or one of the harmonies from below can open the sound further. This last assignment can be appropriate for a band member who not only has trouble singing higher, but has difficulty staying on their own part and is a chronic "drifter."

In next month's article, we'll cover methods of practicing along with other tips to help your back-ups sound their best! Have a wonderful and creative month!

Jeannie Deva, columnist, author, recording producer and session vocal coach she is the founder of The Deva MethodŽ, A Non-Classical Approach for Singers and The Jeannie DevaŽ Voice Studios with locations in Boston, Cape Cod, Worcester, Massachusetts and Los Angeles). Having coached many of the top vocalists on the East and West coasts, she has a long list of credits and endorsements to her name. Her internationally renown method of voice training is used by clients on such labels as Arista, Atlantic, Sony, CBS, Rounder and Polygram. For free lessons on line and to obtain your own free e-copy of some of Jeannie Deva's most recommended vocal warm-ups, visit

Contact information:
Jeannie Deva Voice Studios

Boston: 617-536-4553
Cape Cod: 617-413-0243
Los Angeles: 1-800-920-8220

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