Help Learning to Sing Harmonies

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by mrspag, Apr 14, 2016.

  1. mrspag

    mrspag Member

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    I play in a cover band that is trying to improve the quality of the songs we play. Everyone in the band sings well. There is a lead singer but we all take turns singing lead on some songs. I have been struggling with finding my place in singing harmonies and have shied away from singing harmonies on songs when I'm not the lead singer singing the melody.

    Does anyone have any good advice, or techniques, youtube videos, or anything else that you have helped you?
     
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  2. cabrato

    cabrato Member

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    Try learning the main melody on guitar, then constructing a harmony part that would make sense with it.

    That sounds quite generic, but if doing it by ear isn't working for you, taking a more clinical approach and breaking down the notes might be the way.
     
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  3. enharmonic

    enharmonic Old Growth Gold Supporting Member

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    My advice is unorthodox.

    Go get yourself the first Take 6 album, So Much To Say.

    Sing along / learn all of the parts. You'll be crushing harmonies in 3-6 months.
     
  4. ChampReverb

    ChampReverb Silver Supporting Member

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    You need to split your mind between listening to the the melody and the chords as you decide what to sing. The combination of those, coupled with a good musical sense, should steer you towards note choices that work.

    What would you play on guitar as a harmony, and why?

    Turn on the radio or a favorite cd and sing along. Make up a harmony that sounds good.

    Maybe you need to listen to other harmony singers to just get the sound of what other accompanying singers do in your head.

    -bEn r.
     
  5. vintagelove

    vintagelove Member

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    Learn sight singing.

    It's one of the most important skills a musician can learn. Not only will your singing improve, but your guitar playing will inevitably improve as well.

    Best wishes,
     
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  6. funkycam

    funkycam Member

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    I learned how to sing harmony from Crowded House's record Woodface. Tons of great harmonies on that record
     
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  7. Bossanova

    Bossanova Silver Supporting Member

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    what is that? do you have any links to good resources?
     
  8. Bossanova

    Bossanova Silver Supporting Member

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    Lead singer in my band can pick out his part, and each harmony and sing it back to each of us so we can copy it. I'd love to be able to do that, but i don't even know where to begin.
     
  9. mbezch

    mbezch Member

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    I joined a chorus, but thats pretty time consuming.

    The harmony notes are chord tones 99% of the time. Hell, so are the melody notes. Try strumming a major chord and then singing all the chord tones. If you have a mic and loop/recorder try singing a note and playing it back, then singing another chord tone over the looped one.
     
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  10. 27sauce

    27sauce Supporting Member

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    The Robert Ottman book is commonly used in schools.
     
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  11. 27sauce

    27sauce Supporting Member

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    Be familiar with your major and minor scales. Once you are familiar with the tones and his they move diatonically, it will be easy to identify the intervals. Most common are a 3rd above, 5th above...being very general here.
     
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  12. wire-n-wood

    wire-n-wood Member

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    Something I did to get into this was just sing "oooowwww" and "aaaaaahhhh" through some of the choruses. Just sing one long note for each chord (even if the melody is jumping around some other notes). Change your harmony note on the chord change. It's a very easy way to get into harmonies for a guitar player. By just stepping up for this sort of harmony in the choruses, it provides a dynamic change. Works like magic.

    To take it another step, start with a song that has a slow vocal chorus. Find the note of the melody within the guitar chord. And sing one of the other notes within the chord.

    One important point... Some guys like to say "the 3rd above or the 5th above". This is not quite right. It depends on where the melody is in the chord. If the melody is on the root note of the chord, then YES, a 3rd or 5th above. But if the melody is on the 3rd or 5th of the chord, then you want to find the other notes which are in the chord (NOT a 3rd or 5th above the melody!) That's why I recommend the method of finding other notes within the guitar or keyboard chord.
     
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  13. boo radley

    boo radley Supporting Member

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    Great post wire-n-wood, and helpful - I'm also trying to get better singing harmonized parts. It's not intuitive or necessarily easy, especially having to come in cold, for a couple of notes, only.
     
  14. B Money

    B Money Member

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    it's definitely a skill that takes time to develop. What helped me a lot what just improvising an alternate melody as a counterpoint to the main melody. After awhile I could recognize the common intervals and start to recreate them at will. Essentially I trained my ear to not be so attracted to the main melody line. Now I'm pretty good at harmonizing whenever I want and often do, just to punch up a word or phrase.
    Also, I'm lucky in that my band has 3 good singers that can all sing harmony well so it's a treat to be able to nail those big sounds. Makes the band sound so much better.
     
  15. mikebat

    mikebat Member

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    To add to this, sometimes that one long note that you sing does not have to change when you are changing chords because that note, lets say it is a "B" you are singing, well if the chords (and the melody) are Em then A.... well the "B" is the 5th on the first chord and a 2nd on the second, and often that is more interesting as a harmony the simply singing the third of the entire harmony. The added benefit is that as a musician playing he underlying chords and performing....holding that one note over 2 or more chords makes it easy to sing a melody and stay in tune throughout.

    Once you get comfortable with that, then you can mix it up and use other chord tones on other sections of the melody.

    I wonder if I made that harder to understand than it should......

    The bottom line is singing a consistent interval from the melody is traditional as a harmony, but a pedal tone can be more interesting in spots, and is a lot easier for someone who is just starting to sing harmonies.
     
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  16. DrumBob

    DrumBob Gold Supporting Member

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    I naturally fall into a second part harmony like Phil Everly used to do, but ask me to sing a third or fourth part, and I'm lost. I think it's good to find your natural space in terms of harmony. The OP could also get help from a vocal coach. Another thing I did that was helpful was to add harmony parts to vocals that have no harmony, kind of a "music minus one" approach. I also sang along with CDs and the radio in the car to find harmonies. Some people are natural singers, and some of us had to work on it.
     
  17. Lance Romance

    Lance Romance Member

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    What are some of the songs you are trying to lean the harmonies to?

    Here is a trick I use when I get stuck on a harmony line. I look up the Karaoke track on youtube. Usually the track creator leaves the harmony lines upfront an naked for you to hear. Sing along over and over....now do it again but sing the melody line. Now do it again singing the harmony line. Repeat over and over.

    This will not only teach you the melody line for that particular song but it will train your ear, your brain, and your throat the difference in the 2 vocal lines. You will get to the point where you will know where to go for your harmonies without even thinking about it. It will become part of your "muscle memory" for lack of a better term.
     
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  18. c_mac

    c_mac Member

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    My bandmate downloaded an app, I don't know the name of it. But it takes famous songs with harmony vocals and you can isolate each part. You can also just eliminate the part you are wanting to sing and then sing along with the other parts. I thought that it was totally badass.
     
  19. TheClev

    TheClev As seen on TV

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    When learning harmonies for my cover band, I just listen to karaoke versions of the song. ALL you hear is harmony, so it's easy to isolate your part.
     
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  20. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    Some songs and parts are easier to find than others. On the harder ones, I sometimes need a cue from my guitar. I'll find the note I start on and figure out a way to play it before I come in.
     
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