Solo performance in singing may be a difficult thing to do, so, if you want to be a member of group singers, you should learn how to sing in harmony. However, you might think that it’s a lot easier to sing with a group and learn the basics in singing with proper blending and harmony. You may be surprised to know that this type of singing may even be more challenging than performing solo.
Table of Contents
- Understanding the Meanings & Theory of Harmony Singing
- Step-By-Step Tutorial on Learning Harmony Singing
- Techniques And Exercises To Improve Your Skills In Singing Harmony
- Advice For Beginners
- Good Songs To Sing In Harmony
Understanding the Meanings & Theory of Harmony Singing
Singing in harmony refers to singing with others, so, you should train yourself in singing with a group of singers. If you want to learn how to sing in harmony, then, don’t attempt to enhance your singing skills alone. Singing in a group will be more fun and exciting that could hone your skills in singing with others correctly. When you try to learn parts, you should not only master your part; try to explore all the parts.
In doing so, you will know in what way you can connect with others as a group. In the group practice, take turns in performing your part while others sing their part. In learning all the parts of group singing, you have to set some time to learn every part of the song. Practice singing the song for 3 to 5 times to learn how to sing in harmony with your group. Remember that in group singing, you should not try to overwhelm the other members of the group with your own notes.
This is because you are engaged in singing harmony, so, your notes should blend with other members of the group. Practice this technique by creating a singing format around a circle to give you an idea on how the others sing their notes.
Step-By-Step Tutorial on Learning Harmony Singing
It’s easy to sing in harmony; all you need do is to have a constant practice to master this great skill. Learn the technique in singing melody on pitch, and practice making a harmony in piano and other musical instruments. One of the most important aspects in singing in harmony is through hearing different notes around you.
Consider the following steps that you can follow on how to sing in harmony.
Step 1) Identify Your Role
First of all, discover what type of a singer you are. The female vocals are called “Soprano and Alto.” The male vocals are called “Tenor and Bass, ” and they are the high register and low register respectively in each case. Try and sing all the scales and see which suits you best. Your music instructor will be able to help you with that.
Step 2) Listen To The Melody
First, listen to the song that you have chosen carefully. Try to listen to the melody and instruments, so you’ll be familiar with the song while singing.
Try to listen to the music with more in-depth musical senses. In short, listen to the song like a musician / professional singer. Analyzing the musical and vocal elements (Eg: Song structure, melody lines, tempo, notes, etc.) of the song will help you master the harmonic parts of the song faster.
Step 3) Find The Notes & Chords
Every song will have it’s own notes and chords that suitable to used in performing harmony singing. One note and chord doesn’t fit it all; you have to find the perfect note and chord that works best for that particular song.
A chord consists of 3 notes (root, major third and perfect fifth) that harmonically vibrate and synchronize well together. Generally, it’s known as 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of a scale. They form a harmony once 3 individual notes sound together.
Additionally, to find the right chord for your harmony. You have to identify the highest and the lowest notes that form the harmony. Sometimes, they are known as “do” note and “so” note.
Step 4) Finding The “Do” and “So” Notes
There are two most important notes that assemble a well-harmonized song. They are tonic / key note (“do“) and dominant / fifth note (“so“).
The purpose of finding these 2 notes is to use them as the anchor points that constitute that whole harmony of the song.
Try to sing the notes up and down throughout the scales to find the perfect tonic and dominant notes to be used in your harmony.
Step 5) Allocate The Notes
Select the instrument that harmonizes with the melody. Play the individual notes of everyone in the quarter on a keyboard or a piano. Identify the notes for each person and synchronize them. Each member will be responsible for his or her note. When these four notes blend together in their correct places and flow smoothly like a single voice, you have your harmony.
Step 6) Identify The Right Octave
Determine if your voice matches the instrument. Make sure that you get the right octave so don’t sing the missing notes.
If you have listened to IL Devo, then that is a good example of a Harmony. In harmony, your voice has to blend with that of the others in the group without the slightest astray note. If one single person loses track of the timing, the effect will be gone. There are some factors of Harmony singing which if you can understand, will be of use to you.
Step 7) Test The Melody & Octave
Choose the pieces of melody notes and sing them in 3rd lower or 3rd higher. In trying to find harmony, just slide three notes downward or upward to form the melody.
Step 8) Rehearsal of the Full Song
An effective way of rendering this technique is to practice with a friend.
Now, you’ve learned how to sing in harmony. You must practice the often, but avoid stressing your voice by taking a break for some time.
Techniques And Exercises To Improve Your Skills In Singing Harmony
What do you know about singing in Harmony? Have you heard the School or the Church choir? Well, they are singing Harmony. It simply means that you sing as a group, concentrating on notes assigned to you and singing together for the chorus. Is it that simple? No, it is not. In fact, Harmony singing is a very difficult discipline to master. The technique involved here is entirely different from solo singing or group singing.
1) Harmonic Ear
Your ear has to be very sharp and sensitive enough to hear and catch every single note that three parts of singers project during the performance. It’s the most fundamental skill you must mastered well in harmony singing. So, you will be able to blend your voice smoothly at the right timing and notes with the other singers.
2) Basic Musical Theory
Having some basic musical knowledge may help you in reading and figuring out the harmony line and notes easier. Harmony derived from two or more notes that sound simultaneously at the same time. Thus, you must be able to identify the notes that needed to sang in order to match the notes of other singers.
In harmony, the main function is to support the melody of the song which will be sung by the main singer. If you watch a harmony, you will see that one of the quartets will sing the melody and the other three will sing the harmony. The harmony is sung to give the song a much richer sound and a powerful effect.
3) Rhythm and Tempo
Rhythm and tempo are the guidelines in musical terms showing us the speed of the song. You will be able to know how fast you should sing in certain lines and how slow you should sing at the other lines. You can refer to the music sheet to identify the rhythm and tempo of the song while singing.
The performance of the singing group will be jeopardized if parts of the roles are out of tempo/rhythm during the performance. And it’s easily noticeable by the audience.
Advice For Beginners
1) Join a choir
I would advise you to join a choir if you are not familiar with harmony singing. At least, the skills you will learn in the choir will build up the skills to become a professional singer who can handle any song in a harmonic manner.
Try to sing in alto, bass, and soprano roles because they are the best roles in the choir to establish your harmonic ear. As you listening skill improves, you can blend your voice smoothly with other singers in the group.
2) Take Harmony Singing Program
Enroll in a singing program that focuses on teaching you how to sing in harmony might the most straightforward solution to train yourself to become a professional singer that are capable of singing in harmony at any circumstances.
In my opinion, the Brett Manning’s “Mastering Harmony” might be the most suitable program to develop and improve your skills in singing harmony at more professional level.
Good Songs To Sing In Harmony
So, what are the most suitable songs for harmony? In fact, It depends on your skill level. If you are beginners, just go for those simple and slow tempo songs. So, you can practice and establish the foundation more easily. Bee Gees and Beetles are my favorite bands.