The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #93230   Message #1792108
Posted By: Artful Codger
24-Jul-06 - 07:39 PM
Thread Name: Theory of Harmony Singing
Subject: RE: Theory of Harmony Singing
A pet peeve: Too little attention is given to the horizontal flow of harmony parts, with the result that many are both dull to sing and to hear. Chordal structure is only one element of good harmony, albeit an important one. The "notes you should sing" depend on what effect you're trying to achieve, and not all harmony notes will lie in the chord of the moment, any more than the melody does.

To learn to sing harmony, there is no better teacher than doing. If you need to refer to chord tabs, you'll never get anywhere, because you need to sense instinctively what your many options are at any moment, and chord tabs seldom tell you what you don't intuitively know already. If you hit a wrong note, there's often a way to turn it into a right note. On the other hand, if, after years of exposure to music from all sides, you still can't figure out on your own what harmony lines to sing, it's probably better just to stick with melody, and spare your sanity (as well as ours.)

What you should sing also depends on how formal the setting is, how many other people/parts are involved, and whether you're singing with or without instrumental accompaniment. The most demanding type of harmony singing is two-part, because the two parts together must somehow suggest a complete three- (sometimes four-) part harmonic context; this duty most often falls to the harmonist. The harmonist is also more responsible for adding rhythmic interest. On the other hand, he enjoys greater freedom, and seldom has to worry about conflicting with the other part.