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Tips on How to Sing Harmony



If you are a fan of Boyzone, Westlife, N’Sync and other popular boy bands, chances are you are dying to learn how to sing harmony. A successful harmony performed by two or more people at difference pitches adds a new dimension to a song, creating an exquisite sound that is very pleasant to the ears. Obviously, it takes skill to sing harmony. Those who have tried it without even background end up creating discordant melodies that are grating to one’s ears and sensibilities.

Scale Exercises

In harmony, one person usually sings the song at the original pitch and then another person sings in a pitch around the original melody.

Before you attempt to sing harmony, you should have a good knowledge of both the major and minor scales. A scale is defined as a 8 successive notes – or an octave – assigned with the letters C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C.

The note intervals in the major scale run as whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half. In contrast, the note intervals in the minor scale run as whole-half-whole-whole-half-whole-whole.

Usually, the notes that are being sung in a harmony come from the major scale.

Singing in Two Voices

Obviously, singing harmony requires two or more people. The most basic harmony is a duet. Here, they sing “second voice” around the original melody and pitch. The first person sings a note from the original melody. The second person then joins in, but he or she sings it at a higher or lower pitch. To help you in singing both voices, you play the chord on a guitar, piano or other musical instrument.

You repeat this process on specific notes in a song, with the second voice singing above or below the melody.

How to Make Harmony Work

Before you attempt to sing harmony, you need to know the song very well. This would entail learning both the original melody and the second voice.

Obviously, to make perfect harmony, you need to practice. However, there are certain individuals who are able to create a second voice very easily. Called “on-the-fly” harmony, the harmonizer simply joins in the song at a different pitch and blends in beautifully.

Individuals who are capable of “on-the-fly harmony” have the ability to locate melody and center pitch. Just listening to the melody for a few minutes will enable them to determine the secondary pitch and melody and sing along. This technique is commonly used in ear training.

Truth to tell, the many exercises for developing ear training is also being utilized to develop a person’s skills in harmony. As an example, you can start by playing a note on the piano. Instead of playing the accompanying pitch on the piano keys, determine the note for yourself and picture yourself singing it.  Play the note again, but this time, sing the different pitch. On your next try, you can sing a note that is higher than the note you have played on the piano. Then, sing a note that is lower.

There are many online singing programs that offer voice feedback and interactive pianos. You can develop the skill of matching pitches and then going up or down notes with the use of these software programs. Just make sure that you practice regularly so that you can achieve the skill of determining pitches.

The Popularity of Harmony

Practically every genre of music – whether it is pop, country, or rock – utilizes harmony. As an example, the country group the Oak Ridge Boys were noted for perfectly blending four voices with a base melody.

In truth, the principles behind singing harmony are not complicated to understand. However, you need to develop the skills to identify pitch and then going up or down notes, and this takes time, effort and a lot of practice.

Consider taking additional singing lessons to be able to sing perfect harmony.


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