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Singing harmonies can seem quite hard at the beginning but with some practice, you will see that it is entirely possible!
In this article we will explore how to sing harmonies when you are a beginner. The benefits go beyond just having fun! Learning to sing harmonies is really helpful to develop your aural skills, which will not only help your singing but also your musicianship a lot. Of course in a more indirect way, developing your ear will also help you to be a better listener in general, something quite valuable nowadays.
It will also be a good skill to have if you already are a singer and are looking for singing jobs, or to join or form a band.
I’ll show you step by step how to start singing vocal harmonies. It will depend on your current abilities how fast you learn them but if you follow these steps you’ll get there for sure ????
This is the first and most important step. If you already are a trained singer or a musician, you probably won’t have much trouble with this, so you can just skip to step 2.
If you do have trouble with singing in tune, then work on it before thinking about singing harmonies.
If you sing out of tune, you probably do one of the following:
1) you sing out of tune and you can hear it
2) You sing out of tune but you don’t recognize the difference.
Of course, if you sing out of tune and you can’t tell the difference, you have a little bit more work to do but you can get there. I wrote an article about how to sing in tune to help you more with that. But for now, I will just say that you can start by simply playing a note on a keyboard (if you don’t have one, there are plenty of online keyboards that you can use), and try to sing it with an “Ah”, matching the same pitch. Record yourself while doing it.
Listen to the recording, and see if you can tell if you are singing the same note or not. If you can’t tell, find a friend that knows something about music, and ask them if they can help you with that.
Practice until you can match a note at a time. Then when you feel comfortable with this, you can start playing small melodies.
There are many types of vocal arrangements that you can learn, but let’s pick one of the easier and more common ones to learn first the thirds. Your ear is probably kind of used to them, even if you’re not aware of it. If you have no idea what am I talking about:
When we talk about “thirds” in matters of vocal harmonies, we commonly refer to an interval of a third. For example, in a C major scale (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C), the first degree will be C and the third will be E.
Let’s practice an exercise. In the audio below, you can hear a note and after that, its major third. And then, the two notes played simultaneously. Your job will be to sing the major third when you hear the two notes played together.
There are lots and lots of songs that include vocal harmonies, but today we are going to focus on one of them, and when you learn it you will see that you can sing more easily all other similar arrangements.
I like to use this song with my students when they want to start singing harmonies because the melody is simple and easy to follow, and slow enough. But at the same time, it’s really nice tune too!
For now, focus only on the first verse of the song. The male singer sings the bottom melody and the female singer sings its harmonized part.
First, learn the melody that the male singer performs. If it is easier, you can learn the melody with a vowel – for example, “Ah” – instead of the lyrics.
Sing it along and try to not change to sing the female part while you do this!
Once you feel comfortable with this melody, learn the female part. This can be a little bit harder than the original melody, but in the recording it is quite clear so hopefully, it won’t be too hard.
Now you have learned both parts. Below you can find two recordings:
In the first audio, you will find the recording of the bottom melody. To avoid confusion, the audio plays the bottom melody one octave higher than the real song.
Next, you will hear the audio of the top melody
Now that you have learned both melodies, have fun singing the top melody while playing the bottom one at the same time. Then play the bottom melody and sing the top melody at the same time.
If you could achieve those tasks, well done! See, it’s not that hard when we break it down. It does require practice and concentration to not get lost with the melody that you’re not singing!
Now that you can sing the arrangement with AH, try to add the lyrics.
Recording yourself is an excellent tool for singers.
For this exercise, record the original melody with your own voice. Then play it and simultaneously sing your harmonized melody.
If you have a friend that is keen to practice with you, that would be awesome. Now that you got this little part, you can learn the whole song which keeps a similar idea regarding the vocal arrangement.
Once you can sing this song, you will probably start identifying similar arrangements in lots of songs that you hear, and it will be much easier to learn them as well if you are keen on doing it.
So there you go, not so hard when you break it down! If you are super keen on singing harmonies you can also join a local choir, which also has lots of benefits!
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