Harmony 1

Excerpt from The Complete Idiots Guide to Singing Written by Susan Anders ~voice instructor

Most harmonies are based on intervals of 3,4 and 6, third, fourth and sixth above the melody
Diatonic harmony – pick a note in the scale, then add a third to that, plus a 5th created diatonic chords
Block chord harmonies: instead of following the shape of the melody, the harmonizers sing notes that fit
the chord movement, creating a chord pad.
Intervals: the distance between two notes. From C to E is a major third, from C up to A is a major 6th. When
harmonizing you are staying an interval away from the melody, commonly a 3rd, 4th or 6th.
Parallel Harmony: the most common kind of harmonizing. A parallel harmony describes the same shape as
the melody while staying an interval above or below the melody. Parallel thirds harmonies are the most
common kind of parallel harmonizing. The two rules for singing a parallel harmony are 1) follow the shape of
the melody, and 2) make sure what you do works with the chord movement of the song.
In Seconds Harmonies the harmony part is an interval of a second away instead of a third or fourth.
Upper harmony (1/3 above melody)2 rules: follow the shape of the melody and fit it to the chord
being played (intelligent pitch shifting)
measuring – counting up the scale to find your harmony
1-2-3-4-5- now I’m singing up and down a scale
1-3-5-1 now I’m singing a chord
If too high – sing an octave lower, now this harmony becomes a 6TH below the melody instead of a third
The upper – upper harmony UUH – has same two rules as parallel, but you use the first harmony to begin
counting up three steps. So you take the first harmony, and count up 3 steps to complete the triad chord
Minor keys work the same
When root note is on the bottom – it is called a root position chord
Inversion is where the root note is raised an octave and the previous 3rd is now on the bottom. With
inversions, the harmony intervals will either be a 3rd or 4th
Call Response Harmony – found in gospel where the harmony echoes or responds back to the melody
instead of singing at the same time
Lower Harmonies – UUH dropped down an octave is nearest parallel lower harmony – called lower
harmony. The UH dropped an octave= lower- lower harmony. Just drop down or measure down a 3rd or
4th until it locks w the chord
Block Chord Movement
Chromatic Movement – go down in 1/2 steps (eew’s and aah’s)

Harmony should be sung lower in volume than the lead vocal and less intense (so add some breath to
reduce the intensity)
Some harmony will drop the last consonant so you don’t have multiple s’s.
To polish a harmony part were going watch intonation, cutoffs, dynamics and the blend
1.find easy songs, where you can use parallel harmony and step wise movement
For rangier sections use a 2. block cord harmony
3. Work with and practice with others
4. Use karaoke tracks or a guitar or piano for pitch reference
5. Listen to vocal groups
6. Find the upper harmony first measure up a third interval from the melody line for the upper harmony
7. And then measure up another 1/3 for the UUH
8. Record yourself
9. Use parallel harmony, call and response, non parallel , seconds, and block chord harmony


About digdynstudio

Pat Autrey is the sound engineer and producer for Digital Dynamics Recording Studio. He has been creating music since 1979. His experience with Pro Tools, Cubase, Wavelab, FL Studio and Reaper assures a great recording every time. Pat is a professional musician, and BMI singer-songwriter. His perspective as a performing artist always helps during the creative process in the studio Digital Dynamics was founded in in 2003 as a sole proprietorship, and after an amazing first year was incorporated in 2004. We have worked with many talented musicians, producers, and musical educators over the years. Our recordings have helped aspiring vocal students get accepted in prestigious music academies across the nation. We have worked with musicians from Nashville, New York, Chicago, LA and all over the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex. Let us serve you with proven outstanding results, you will be truly pleased with the finished product!

Posted on August 4, 2011, in vocals and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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