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The lead vocalist in popular music is typically the member of a group or band whose voice is the most prominent melody in a performance where multiple voices may be heard.The lead singer sets their voice against the accompaniment parts of the ensemble as the dominant sound. In vocal group performances, notably in soul and gospel music, and early rock and roll, the lead singer takes the main vocal melody, with a chorus or harmony vocals provided by other band members as backing vocalists. Lead vocalists typically incorporate some movement or gestures into their performance, and some may participate in dance routines during the show, particularly in pop music. Some lead vocalists also play an instrument during the show, either in an accompaniment role (such as strumming a guitar part), or playing a lead instrument/instrumental solo role when they are not singing (as in the case of lead singer-guitar virtuoso Jimi Hendrix).
The lead singer also typically guides the vocal ensemble and band with visual cues to indicate changes of tempo or dynamics, stops or pauses, and the starts of new sections (unless there is also a conductor onstage, as with a big band or unless an instrumentalist bandleader is providing this role). The lead vocalist also typically speaks to the audience between songs, to give information about the songs (such as who wrote them or why it was chosen), introduce the band members, and develop a rapport with the audience. The lead vocalist may also play a leadership role in rehearsals, unless there is a bandleader who takes on this role. If the lead singer is a singer-songwriter, she or he may write some or all of the lyrics or create entire songs (including chords and melodies).
Examples of a lead vocalist in rock music are Freddie Mercury from Queen and Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones. Similarly in soul music, Smokey Robinson was the lead singer of The Miracles. There may be two or more lead vocalists in a band who rotate singing lead between songs or within songs, such as with The Beatles or Fleetwood Mac, or two or more vocalists may share lead vocals on the same lines, as was often the case with ABBA.
The lead vocalist may also be called the main vocalist, lead vocals, or lead singer. Especially in rock music, the lead singer or solo singer is often the front manor front woman, who may also play one or more instruments and is often seen as the leader or spokesman of the band by the public.
It is uncertain when the term "lead vocals" was first used, but it may have emerged in the late 1930s, when rich vocal interplay with multiple voices where one or more voices may dominate began to impact on North American popular music, which was previously dominated by solo vocals.The practice of using a lead singer in vocal groups, however, has a longer history: an early form is the "call and response" found in work songs and spirituals sung by African-American slaves. Songs of the late nineteenth century frequently used a leading solo voice (or "call"), followed by a choral response by other singers. As the style developed through early commercial recordings and performances in the early 20th century, the role of the lead vocalist became more established, although popular groups of the 1930s and 1940s such as the Ink Spots and the Mills Brothers generally used different lead singers on different songs rather than keeping the same lead singer throughout. By the 1950s, singers such as Sam Cooke (with the Soul Stirrers) and Clyde McPhatter (with the Drifters) took on more clearly defined roles as lead singers, and by the end of the decade credited group names often changed to reflect the leading roles of the main vocalists, with examples such as Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers and Dion & the Belmonts.
Academic David Horn has written:
The influence of US rhythm and blues recordings may well be a crucial one in the assimilation of the format of lead singer plus backing group into the guitar-based British 'beat' groups of the 1960s, and in US groups such as The Beach Boys. From these various points – including Motown – it went on to become a standard device in much rock and pop music. In some bands – most famously, The Beatles – the role of lead singer alternated (in this case, principally between two performers), while in others – for example, Herman's Hermits – one lead singer dominated.
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There are as many types and styles of lead singer as there are styles and genres of music. However, the lead singer of a group or band is usually the main focus of audiences' attention.The lead vocalist of band is sometimes called the "front man" or "front woman", as the most visible performer in a group. While most bands have a single lead singer, many others have dual lead singers or other members of the band that sing lead on particular songs. The lead singer often defines the group's image and personality to the general public.
In modern rock music, the lead singer is often the band's leader and spokesperson. While lead singers or spokespersons for any musical ensembles can be called a front man, the term is used very widely in rock music. Since the position commonly has an expanded role from simple lead vocalists, there have been cases in which the front man for a band is someone other than the lead vocalist. For example, while the lead vocalist for the band Fall Out Boy is guitarist Patrick Stump, the bassist and lyricist, Pete Wentz, is generally called the front man, both in the media and by the band members themselves, since he represents the band in most interviews and contributes most to the band's image in the popular media.Another example is Angus Young of AC/DC, who is the band's lead guitarist, and co-leader with his brother Malcolm Young (until the latter's death in 2017); while lead singer Brian Johnson (and before him Bon Scott) is the band's front man, Angus Young can be thought to share the front man position with Johnson, due to his on-stage antics and his role as the band's mascot, frequently featuring on album covers and promotional materials.
In many bands, such as The Who, Led Zeppelin, Living Colour, Queen, The Stone Roses and Oasis, the lead guitarist may share spokesman responsibilities with the lead singer. Usually, this is derived from that guitarist's specific role as a co-songwriter, co-founder and/or co-vocalist. Also in some cases, there are two frontmen, such as Alice in Chains, with singer Layne Staley (and later William DuVall) sharing vocal duties with guitarist Jerry Cantrell,or Underoath, with singers Spencer Chamberlain and Aaron Gillespie (drummer) sharing vocal duties. Another example is Blink-182, in which vocal duties are split between bassist Mark Hoppus and guitarist Tom DeLonge. Hoppus usually carries out most media either by himself or together with DeLonge, while the band's other member, drummer Travis Barker, usually remains quiet. Linkin Park had two vocalists as well, with Chester Bennington handling most singing and Mike Shinoda focused more on rapping lines; both were considered frontmen. Another example is the thrash metal band Metallica, in which James Hetfield (lead singer and rhythm guitarist) and Lars Ulrich (drummer) share the spokesperson duties for being both founders and the only members who have never left the band.
Some lead vocalists started out as backup vocalists. No Doubt at first had John Spence on lead vocals and Gwen Stefani on backing vocals. After Spence died by suicide, Stefani took over on lead vocals.
A musical ensemble, also known as a music group or musical group, is a group of people who perform instrumental or vocal music, with the ensemble typically known by a distinct name. Some music ensembles consist solely of instruments, such as the jazz quartet or the orchestra. Some music ensembles consist solely of singers, such as choirs and doo wop groups. In both popular music and classical music, there are ensembles in which both instrumentalists and singers perform, such as the rock band or the Baroque chamber group for basso continuo and one or more singers. In classical music, trios or quartets either blend the sounds of musical instrument families or group together instruments from the same instrument family, such as string ensembles or wind ensembles. Some ensembles blend the sounds of a variety of instrument families, such as the orchestra, which uses a string section, brass instruments, woodwinds and percussion instruments, or the concert band, which uses brass, woodwinds and percussion.
In music performances, rhythm guitar is a technique and role that performs a combination of two functions: to provide all or part of the rhythmic pulse in conjunction with other instruments from the rhythm section ; and to provide all or part of the harmony, i.e. the chords from a song's chord progression, where a chord is a group of notes played together. Therefore, the basic technique of rhythm guitar is to hold down a series of chords with the fretting hand while strumming or fingerpicking rhythmically with the other hand. More developed rhythm techniques include arpeggios, damping, riffs, chord solos, and complex strums.
Glenn Hughes is an English bassist and singer, best known for playing bass and performing vocals for funk rock band Trapeze, the Mk. III and IV line-ups of Deep Purple, as well as briefly fronting Black Sabbath in the mid-1980s. He is known by fans as "The Voice of Rock" due to his soulful and wide-ranging singing voice.
A power trio is a rock and roll band format having a lineup of electric guitar, bass guitar and drum kit, leaving out the second rhythm guitar or keyboard instrument that are used in other rock music bands that are quartets and quintets. Larger rock bands use one or more additional rhythm section to fill out the sound with chords and harmony parts.
Singing is the act of producing musical sounds with the voice. A person who sings is called a singer or vocalist. Singers perform music that can be sung with or without accompaniment by musical instruments. Singing is often done in an ensemble of musicians, such as a choir of singers or a band of instrumentalists. Singers may perform as soloists or accompanied by anything from a single instrument up to a symphony orchestra or big band. Different singing styles include art music such as opera and Chinese opera, Indian music and religious music styles such as gospel, traditional music styles, world music, jazz, blues, ghazal and popular music styles such as pop, rock and electronic dance music.
Accompaniment is the musical part which provides the rhythmic and/or harmonic support for the melody or main themes of a song or instrumental piece. There are many different styles and types of accompaniment in different genres and styles of music. In homophonic music, the main accompaniment approach used in popular music, a clear vocal melody is supported by subordinate chords. In popular music and traditional music, the accompaniment parts typically provide the "beat" for the music and outline the chord progression of the song or instrumental piece.
A rhythm section is a group of musicians within a music ensemble or band that provides the underlying rhythm, harmony and pulse of the accompaniment, providing a rhythmic and harmonic reference and "beat" for the rest of the band. The rhythm section is often contrasted with the roles of other musicians in the band, such as the lead guitarist or lead vocals whose primary job is to carry the melody.
Backing vocalists or backup singers are singers who provide vocal harmony with the lead vocalist or other backing vocalists. In some cases, a backing vocalist may sing alone as a lead-in to the main vocalist's entry or to sing a counter-melody. Backing vocalists are used in a broad range of popular music, traditional music and world music styles.
Joe Lynn Turner is an American singer, guitarist, songwriter, and producer. He is known for his work in the hard rock bands Rainbow, Yngwie J. Malmsteen and Deep Purple. During his career, Turner fronted and played guitar with pop rock band Fandango in the late 1970s; and in the early 1980s, he became a member of Rainbow, fronting the band and writing songs with guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore and bassist, and producer, Roger Glover. After Rainbow had disbanded in March 1984, he pursued a solo career, released one album, Rescue You, and then later did session work, singing background vocals for the likes of Billy Joel, Cher, and Michael Bolton. On the advice of Bolton, Turner began recording jingles for radio and television. Other songs he had composed or through collaboration with songwriters like Desmond Child and Jack Ponti were being recorded and released by international recording artists Jimmy Barnes, Lee Aaron, and Bonfire. Turner had a short-lived association with neoclassical metal guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen and then Deep Purple. From the mid-1990s, he resumed his solo career, releasing an additional nine studio and two live recordings. Turner did other session work, appearing as lead vocalist on tribute albums and working on projects involving various musical groups including progressive rock band Mother's Army; Bulgarian hard rock band Brazen Abbot; funk rock duo Hughes Turner Project; and classic rock/ progressive rock band Rated X. In 2006, Frontiers Records approached Turner to become involved with the AOR side project Sunstorm. By 2016, four albums under the Sunstorm name had been released. That same year, Turner released The Sessions via Cleopatra Records featuring a veritable who's who of classic rock royalty as guest musicians, before resuming his seemingly constant touring schedule back in Europe.
"Dammit" is a song by American rock band Blink-182, released on September 23, 1997, as the second single from the group's second studio album, Dude Ranch (1997). Written by bassist Mark Hoppus, the song concerns maturity and growing older. It was written about a fictional breakup and the difficulty of seeing a former partner with another.
"Any Way You Want It" is a song by American rock band Journey. It was released in February 1980 as the lead single from their sixth studio album Departure. Written by lead singer Steve Perry and guitarist Neal Schon, it peaked at number 23 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
"Angry Chair" is a song by the American rock band Alice in Chains. It was the third single from their album Dirt (1992). It is the eleventh song on most copies of the album and twelfth or tenth song on others. The song was included on the compilation albums Nothing Safe: Best of the Box (1999), Music Bank (1999), Greatest Hits (2001), and The Essential Alice in Chains (2006).
Paul Young was a British singer and songwriter. He achieved success in the bands Sad Café and Mike + the Mechanics.
A vocal coach, also known as a voice coach, is a music teacher, usually a piano accompanist, who helps singers prepare for a performance, often also helping them to improve their singing technique and take care of and develop their voice, but is not the same as a singing teacher. Vocal coaches may give private music lessons or group workshops or masterclasses to singers. They may also coach singers who are rehearsing on stage, or who are singing during a recording session. Vocal coaches are used in both Classical music and in popular music styles such as rock and gospel. While some vocal coaches provide a range of instruction on singing techniques, others specialize in areas such as breathing techniques or diction and pronunciation.
Live sound mixing is the blending of multiple sound sources by an audio engineer using a mixing console or software. Sounds that are mixed include those from instruments and voices which are picked up by microphones and pre-recorded material, such as songs on CD or a digital audio player. Individual sources are typically equalised to adjust the bass and treble response and routed to effect processors to ultimately be amplified and reproduced via a loudspeaker system. The live sound engineer listens and balances the various audio sources in a way that best suits the needs of the event.
Screaming is an extended vocal technique that is mostly popular in "aggressive" music genres such as heavy metal, punk rock, and noise music. In the more extreme subgenres of heavy metal, the related death growl vocal technique is also popular. Intensity, pitch and other characteristics vary between different genres and different vocalists.
Vocal harmony is a style of vocal music in which a consonant note or notes are simultaneously sung as a main melody in a predominantly homophonic texture. Vocal harmonies are used in many subgenres of European art music, including Classical choral music and opera and in the popular styles from many Western cultures ranging from folk songs and musical theater pieces to rock ballads. In the simplest style of vocal harmony, the main vocal melody is supported by a single backup vocal line, either at a pitch which is above or below the main vocal line, often in thirds or sixths which fit in with the chord progression used in the song. In more complex vocal harmony arrangements, different backup singers may sing two or even three other notes at the same time as each of the main melody notes, mostly with consonant, pleasing-sounding thirds, sixths, and fifths.
A rock band or pop band is a small musical ensemble that performs rock music, pop music, or a related genre. A four-piece band is the most common configuration in rock and pop music. In the early years, the configuration was typically two guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer. Another common formation is a vocalist who does not play an instrument, electric guitarist, bass guitarist, and a drummer. Instrumentally, these bands can be considered as trios. Sometimes, in addition to electric guitars, electric bass, and drums, also a keyboardist plays.
Offstage musicians and singers are performers who play instruments and/or sing backstage, out of sight of the audience, during a live popular music concert at which the main band is visible playing and singing onstage. The sound from the offstage musicians or singers is captured by a microphone or from the output of their instrument, and this signal is mixed in with the singing and playing of the onstage performers using an audio console and a sound reinforcement system. Offstage backup singers are also used in some Broadway musicals, as have offstage instrumentalists, in cases where an onstage actor needs to appear to play an instrument.
Cross-dressing in music and opera refers to musical performers or opera singers portraying a character of the opposite gender. It is parallel to cross-dressing in film and television and draws on a long history of cross-gender acting.