How to Sing Harmony

Ever wanted to learn how to sing harmony? Harmony singing requires two or more people to sing together but in different pitches. Singing in harmony successfully with another vocalist can be a great experience, and also adds amazing color and depth to a song.

However, if you attempt harmony singing without some training and practice it can end up making an awful sound that is especially hard to listen to.

Music Scales

Learning how to sing harmony starts with gaining some familiarity of the major and minor scales. A scale is just a group of 8 consecutive notes within one octave, labeled A,B,C,D,E,F,G, and then restart at A and so on.

The major scale pattern has note intervals of: whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half.
The minor scale pattern has note intervals of: whole-half-whole-whole-half-whole-whole.

When you do sing harmony, the notes followed generally come from a major scale. These are some great vocal exercises that will help you become the great vocal harmony singer you’ve always wanted to be.

Singing Harmony – Two Different Pitches, One Song

When you sing in harmony, you sing around the original pitch and tune. The first singer starts with a melody note. Use a piano or guitar to play the associated chord. The second singer or voice now joins in but singing at the next higher or lower pitch you are singing in.

If you have to sing some higher notes and that causes you some trouble, check out these tips to help you sing those higher notes easily. In the above example, you are singing ‘first voice’, while your partner sings ‘second voice’.

How to Make Harmony Work

First up you need to be really comfortable with the song. Most singing teachers advise that you learn both of the voice parts rather than just your own. It usually requires a fair bit of practice to get harmony singing right. However, there are some people who can sing harmony on-the-fly, even with higher notes. These people have a special ability to quickly determine the melody and hear the harmony pitch and start singing. This approach is the same as doing ear training.

Ear Training

For this reason, ear training exercises are also very helpful in developing harmony skills. If you start taking online singing lessons, some courses will have interactive ear training programs and there are actually so many good reasons for taking singing lessons! In these programs, a note will be played on a musical instrument (usually a piano).

After hearing this melody note (first voice), you visualize singing it by “hearing” the note in your head. Next, actually sing along while the note is played. Now do it again, but try singing a note higher than the original note being played (this higher note is the second voice). The next time, try singing a note lower than the original note (this would be the third voice) and so on.

Online ear training software will then give you feedback on how well you did. By using this type of software you can quickly develop a good pitch and even help you increase your vocal range and reach. Some experienced groups can do 4, 5, or even 7 part harmonies.

Not That Difficult

Harmony singing is common across a range of musical genres including rock, pop, dance, classical, jazz, country, – well the list just goes on…. The principles of harmony singing and the basics of singing exercises are not really that difficult to understand, it just takes a little practice to learn how to identify a pitch and then hear a harmony note lower or higher.

The best way to do this is to seek online singing programs that specifically teach people how to sing harmony. Bear in mind, though, that whenever you want to sing, warming up your vocal cords (like muscles) is key and should never be forgotten!