Harmony, an Essential Part of Voice Lessons
The sound of two or three notes sounded simultaneous, notes that are different from each other.
Sing vocal harmony like you never thought you would
Learning Harmony as Part of your Voice Lesson
When you sign up for voice lessons at the Mississauga Fine Arts Academy, you will learn how to sing vocal harmony like you never thought you would.
Whether you like to sing along your favourite songs, or harmonize with other singers in a duo, trio, or sing in a band or a choir, you’ll find that the vocal teachers at our music school provide the best one-on-one private voice lessons in the Peel Region.
They can help you learn how to warm up and protect your voice, teach you breathing techniques, and build your confidence in singing and performing.
Rarely singers can intuitively sing harmonies with others. For the vast majority of singers out there, singing vocal harmony requires skills gained through learning music theory and vocal coaching by a qualified voice teacher.
What is vocal harmony
The simplest definition is: “The sound of two or three notes sounded simultaneous, notes that are different from each other.” Some pairings of notes are pleasant to listen to, and some might sound like they are clashing, but they are still called harmonies.
When three or more notes are sounded together, they represent a chord.
Here is a video of the band Queen’s harmonies in the song “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
What is melody
To understand what singing in harmony means, you need to know about melody.
Melody is the principal part of a song that is harmonized. It’s the leading singing line, the one you usually sing along when you hear a familiar tune.
Harmony is any other vocal line sung with the melody but is different from the melody itself. Therefore, vocal harmony happens when second and third singers layer their voices with the one singing the melody line.
Here is an example of a beautiful harmony performed by “Joseph.”
In a two-part harmony, the first person sings the melody, and the second person sings above or below that melody within the chord structure.
An example of this is a pop or rock song where the backup singer will harmonize with the lead singer. The lead singer would sing the main melody, and the backup singer would sing the harmony, often adjusting their pitch so that they are in tune at all times.
In the video below of Lady Gaga’s song “Million Reasons,” you can hear her background singer harmonizing and making the song even more beautiful.
Singing in unison vs singing harmonies
Unison comes from the Latin “one sound,” meaning the same notes are sounded. Unison singing is when notes (pitches) are all the same and are sounded simultaneously.
In harmony, the notes are not the same.
Here is a perfect demonstration of this by 4th Metric Music.
In general, the harmony lines will follow the melody line, so if the melody goes up, the harmony usually follows.
The vocal harmonies in the song “The Eye” by Brandi Carlile bring such lushness of emotions to the song:
What is descant
Sometimes the harmonies could stay on the same note while the melody goes up, or it could do something completely different from the melody. These improvisations in music are called descant.
In this video you can hear the magic of descant, adding energy and a unique sound to this well known Christmas carol:
Most choirs sing harmonies. Sometimes choirs sing in unison with instrumental backing. A choir singing without musical accompaniment is called a capella singing.
The Pentatonix a cappella singing is an excellent example of this beautiful way of blending voices into a beautiful melody with many intricate harmonies.
The choir is usually divided into different parts or according to vocal ranges. One part of the choir would sing the melody, and the other would sing harmony.
Traditional choirs have four parts. The women’s voices would be divided into sopranos and altos, while men’s into tenors and basses.
Singing harmonies in a choir
Many singers take voice lessons to learn to harmonize. Some singers join a choir to practice their harmonizing skills. It can be quite challenging at first to stick to your harmony line, but with practice and commitment to your voice lessons, you will be able to master it. Singing together in a choir creates feelings of togetherness, unity, and belonging. It brings peace.
This is what it sounds like when 1999 people pay tribute to Prince’s “When the doves cry” at the Massey Hall in Toronto: