Harmony comes from the Greek verb “harmonos” that means “to join or fit together”. Harmony, in music, is the act of putting together a series of pitches and chords to create a pleasing sound. Although people confuse harmony with melody, both of them are poles apart. According to the San Francisco Symphony Kids Association, “melody is the part of the song you hum while harmony gives you the mood of the song.”
In this composition, we show you the best ways to sing harmony, even if you’re singing the song for the first time. Most of our strategies are time-tested and vouched for by many music experts across the globe. As Sue Thompson in her 2009 How to Sing Harmony research thesis states, “harmony comes naturally to a few… while the major lot of the populace has to sing the notes quite a few times and improvise as they go on to create a master score…”
Why Is Harmony Important To A Song?
When you painstakingly harmonize a song, you get music that is pleasing to the ear and lifts your soul. Experts across the world believe that harmony sets the mood for the song – it makes you feel happy and pulsating or leaves you tragic and touched with the way the notes are blended together.
If you are an aspiring musician, you must know how to sing harmony with panache. The seven-factor guide we’ve sketched below will help you do just that. Read on.
Factor #1: Thoroughly Analyze The Music Genre You Intend To Sing
The biggest musical myth is that there are only a few genres that advocate harmony. Rather, if you’re a trained listener, you’ll notice that most genres openly flaunt harmony in their scales and notes, while there are a few niches that are subtle in their approach.
If you are a harmony rookie and wondering how to sing harmony, we advise getting a few country tracks and mastering their uncomplicated harmonies. Later, as you gain confidence and experience singing different types of harmonies, you can graduate to metal and jazz songs. Each genre has their own style of harmony and the more you explore each of them, the better you’ll get at developing your own style.
Factor #2: You Have To Listen To The Other Person And Blend In
Most renowned harmony singers were acclaimed not because they had great pitch and fabulous style, but because they were trained to listen meticulously to their partner and had wonderful response timing. You have to master the art of listening before you practice harmony. The best way to do this would be to have a partner and sing with them. Singing in a group is also a wonderful exercise in harmony singing.
Factor #3: A Little Experimentation Is A Great Way To Sing Harmony
Remember one rule: do not cross the melody. Keeping this rule in mind, there’s no harm is trying out different variations of your line. You can sing above your line or below your line and see how it sounds. Most singers are known to use different pitches, scales, and vocals in various formats to see which one is best for their composition. You are advised to do so too.
Factor #4: Indulge In Ear Training Exercises
Most harmony singers are known to quickly find the right pitch and melody for their song. They have a knack for, what is called, on-the-fly-harmony. The rest of us have to grapple with the notes for hours before we find the right harmony. The difference between on-the-fly-harmonizers and the rest of us lies in the “ears”.
Having a good ear for harmony is an art. You can master this art by indulging in various ear training exercises.
Factor #5: Mix Your Harmonies Well
Once you master the basics and are able to tweak your sense of style to match the song requirements and the mood, it is important to mix your harmonies appropriately. This is another key to the question of how to sing harmony. For most musicians, a three part harmony where you have the lead voice, the highest pitch and the lowest pitch is the most common way to sing a song. Some try to bring in “inner voices” that almost go unnoticed by untrained music listeners but are instrumental for setting the mood. Make sure you mix your harmonies well. If not, your beautiful composition will seem weird and lose its charm.
Factor #6: Play A Musical Instrument When You Sing
To get better at harmony, you must be able to listen to the melody you’re singing with. When you play an instrument as you sing, say, a piano, you can hear the notes and the chords effectively and be able to sing along the same lines as the melody. This exercise can improve your sense of harmony a great deal. In fact, a number of harmony singers adopt this style to make sure they “get it right the first time”.
Factor #7: Keep Singing
Most vocalists do not get their harmony right the first time. They remain persistent and keep singing. Apart from exercising your ears, practicing the scales to perfection and creative experimentation, get yourself a teacher to supervise you and we’re sure you’ll eventually get your harmonies right. Whatever you do, don’t give up!
We believe our seven-point guide can show you exactly how to sing harmony. Most of the aspects we delved in here, are industry insiders’ secrets and they’ll help you get your harmonies right. Meanwhile, if you wish to know of anything more, let us know and we’d be happy to help you.