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Old 01-08-2013, 09:23 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2006
Vocal harmony guides???

So this is the one aspect of music that still eludes my comprehension. I just don't quite know how to develop an ear for them.

I have an ok grasp of theory/chords/intervals, but I'm looking to gain a more practical knowledge/ability. Typically when I try singing harmonies along with something, I can't even tell if I'm even singing a different note, or just more nasally.

Do I just have to listen to a shitton of Simon and Garfunkel until it clicks?
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:49 PM   #2
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Train your ear. Harmonic intervals are hard.Get to the point where you can recognize them when the timbre is the same (eg on a piano or a guitar) comfortably, then you'll probably be able to pick up vocal harmonies better.
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Old 01-09-2013, 03:32 AM   #3
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Honestly, dude...
I'm at the point where I can instantly sing a harmony over almost anything that isn't bat shit crazy, and it's not always a third-above harmony either, my ear will just gravitate to the best choice of not under the original line.

5 years ago, I never could have done that.

You need to learn to hear and feel how it's supposed to sound to "ring" in tune with another note. If you're at the point of not even being able to sing a different note over an already existing vocal line, then you really need to start from the beginning.

Take a song that you want to write/practice a harmony on. Learn the original vocal line, transcribe it, and then analyse the key...chords...and try writing a harmony that's simply a diatonic third above the original line.

Learn that line on a piano/guitar/whatever. Play it on the instrument over the vocal melody. Listen very closely to how it sounds. Try singing along w/ the instrument - making sure you're matching pitch. When you can comfortably do this, then remove the instrument, and just do it by yourself. IT should be 'clicking' by this point. If not...slow down and do it note by note.

If you're at that stage it will take a lot of time and practice to develop the ability to just throw a harmony over something, but like anything else, you need to constantly work on developing it. Listen to the radio in the car, and trying to sing harmonies over the top 40 songs that you know.

In terms of writing them out physically...you may want to experiment with making the simplest harmony possible. Remember, you just need to be singing a chord tone - preferably that's not in unison with the original line...so there's many times where you can sing 1-2 notes over a long phrase...as long as those notes are in the chord and mesh with the original line. Good luck dude.

record yourself. You need to HEAR from the outside. I can't stress how important this part is. Nothing is more honest than a recording.
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Last edited by chronowarp : 01-09-2013 at 03:37 AM.
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