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Old 06-17-2009, 06:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Singing in Harmonies

I can't do it! Whenever I try to sing in harmony (as a background to the vocalist in my band) my voice just automatically adjusts to the note of the lead vocal. I know all of my scales, I know that singing harmonies basically involves singing a lead, and then a 3rd above or below the lead. Even when I play the harmony note I will be singing on piano to prepare myself, whenever it gets to my part I just listen to the lead and my voice sings the lead note. I can sing an octave above or below the lead note but it's always the same actual note as the lead rather than a note a 3rd up or down from it.

Do any vocalists have any tips?

Probably nobody knows what I'm talking about but I thought I'd ask anyway.
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Old 06-17-2009, 07:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by shiseido red View Post
I can't do it! Whenever I try to sing in harmony (as a background to the vocalist in my band) my voice just automatically adjusts to the note of the lead vocal. I know all of my scales, I know that singing harmonies basically involves singing a lead, and then a 3rd above or below the lead. Even when I play the harmony note I will be singing on piano to prepare myself, whenever it gets to my part I just listen to the lead and my voice sings the lead note. I can sing an octave above or below the lead note but it's always the same actual note as the lead rather than a note a 3rd up or down from it.

Do any vocalists have any tips?

Probably nobody knows what I'm talking about but I thought I'd ask anyway.
I don't think vocal harmony relies on a specified static number of steps above or below. I'm sure there are formulas out there for what specific notes harmonize with others, but I never really got into the science of it.
You wouldn't, for instance, get good results using a vocal harmonizer that only sings at a 5th of every note being sung. It's dynamic and relies on the notes and the context of the notes as a whole, melodically.

For me, I just know what the harmony to a lead vocal is, and am able to do it out of feeling.
But that's not to say there's only one correct harmony to any given lead note. The challenge is finding which harmonies fit best in the context of the vocals.

I know how vague that sounds. I can't really explain it much more detailed than that. I'm a musician by ear, not by training. Certain things I just know based on a feeling, and not so much a formula.
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