BGV

Effective Worship Backing Vocals

Jake Jacobs says BGVs need to be mindful and constantly aware of the mood, phrasing, and tone presented through the worship leader.

I don’t know how many of us have witnessed multiple lead vocalists attempting to share the same vocal stage – during the same song. While there may be some true “harmony” present, there can be a perceived “limelight-hog” air about the event that can leave the participants feeling like they’ve gotten a pedicure from a cheese grater (slightly amusing, but mostly painful).

While assembling a team that includes several powerhouse singers can seem like a worship leader’s dream come true, there is an inherent danger in opening the flood gates. Supportive singers are intended to be just that… “supportive.” The goal is not about impressing the congregation with our skills, it’s about assisting in drawing the congregation into a worship-filled experience. While it is within our ability as supportive vocalists to grab the oars and plow through “Oceans” with powerful and amazing harmonies, we need to be mindful and constantly aware of the mood, phrasing, and tone presented through the worship leader.

SONG PHRASING

Many worship songs contain builds, climaxes, breakdowns, and recaps. Adjusting your abilities to support the phrasing of the song is a critical tool we need to keep foremost in our toolbox. Generally, appropriate phrasing consists of the worship leader fielding the first verse on their own. Then, as the stew is cooking, we season the next verse, bridge, or phrase with a single harmony or octave unison (as the register and complexity of the melody permits). We then build the chorus with a deeper oblique (or single tone) harmony to fill the chord. As we move to the next phrase or verse, we need not “reset” the supportive line, but may choose, instead, to back the support down to the single harmony.

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