View Full Version : My band needs harmony help

10-04-2004, 01:21 PM
I've got a practice coming up this week where I am supposed to help my band learn how to sing harmonies for the covers we are doing. Any ideas how I teach non-songers how to harmonize? I mean they have pitch, but they can't find the intervals on thier own. Me, if I hear a note i can see where the harmonies go in my head, but then I'm a singer, i'm supposed to. But my bandmates don't have any prior singing experience, and while eager to learn the parts, I'm not sure the best way to start them on it. I did encourage them to practice proper breathing and some scale and projection excersises, to at least get them used to focusing on what their voices sound like. I also asked them to, for example hit a C and try to find the 3rds and fifths with their voice during home practice time.
Anyone have any ideas on this? If they can't do it I will go buy a harmonizer, but it's much more impressive when the whole band sings.

10-04-2004, 01:27 PM
you got a piano or a guitar accessible?

what you can do is play each part by itself (the melody) on the instrument for each singer. Each singer then has to remember his own part (obviously one harmonises the other)

I really think that once they get through the stage of not singing in unison then it's done, if they've got ear and can all sing by themselves it's more a question of "fear of being out of tune" rather then not capable. Much like a bad habit.

10-04-2004, 06:05 PM
Can't help except to say, we gave up. Guys tend to sing melody and the girls understand harmony. Never could get us guys to understand how to harmonize much less do it.

What we decided to do is the girls sing harmony and the rest of us just join in on the chorus or at specific "echo" times.

Good luck.

10-05-2004, 02:08 AM
what about finding a song they would be familliar with that has easy harmonies like something with doo wops, there are lots of tunes especially from the early sixties where you can do simple chord harmonies, (think poodle skirts and bobby socks), may not be your kind of music but it has been around for a while and therefore lots of people know them enough to sing along. If you could find one they would know they could listen to the harmonies and then you could isolate each line for them, maybe having prior knowledge of something easy would help them get into the swing of it and then you could try some harder stuff.

just an idea, good luck!

10-05-2004, 12:25 PM
Teach each of them their correct part as though it was the lead part. Have each of them sing it as though it were the lead part. Have them each do this individually along with the music until they can nail there own part. Then try bringing the parts together two at a time (usually the lead and one of the harmonies) and make sure everyone stays on their own note (this is the hard part!), once each possible group of two people can sing their part together add all of the parts. Then practice these harmony sections of the song repeatedly until everyone can do it in their sleep. Once this has happened then get the backup singers to back away from their mikes or lower their level to properly blend with the lead. If there are vibratos on these parts have everyone work on singing their vibratos with the same modulation level (pitch adjusted for the diatonc scale)and frequency (speed). Once you think you have it record it, this is where a nice multitrack comes in handy because you can record 4 voices simultaneously and each person can isolate his/her performance to see where the work is needed. This is usually the most time consuming part of putting an act together. Another thing that helps here is to have every one sing lead on at least one song with backups. That way they will understand the importance of having confidence in the backup singers and will try harder to be there for you when you sing lead.

Los Boleros
11-02-2004, 10:55 PM
what about finding a song they would be familliar with.......
just an idea, good luck!Some songs are easier than others to sing in harmony and some are just not in your range. Maybe you can change the Keys to find a better range or like sugerbee suggested maybe those songs are just too hard right now. I remember when I was younger, the first harmony I learned was, "Sweet dreems are made of this", by the Eurithmics. It was easy to pick out the tonic, the third and the fifth. If changing the song is out of the question, then consider singing in Unison or not having backups at all untill you are ready. That sounds alot better than bad backups.