Mudcat Café message #3153372 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #137785   Message #3153372
Posted By: GUEST,highlandman at work
13-May-11 - 11:27 AM
Thread Name: Harmony Singing
Subject: RE: Harmony Singing
Sandy, singing harmony takes some getting used to. Part of the skill is learning to hear the other parts but not being confused by them.

Your terminology is confusing me a bit. Like Steve said, think about what you do on the guitar during the bits when you aren't singing. Each string could be like a voice in a choir. Each string/voice goes up or down more or less independently of the others, to arrive at a note which is part of the chord being sounded at the moment. Independent, but coordinated by a higher purpose (yours).

Harmony is not only a vertical idea, meaning what notes are sounded together to form a particular set of intervals (= a chord), but also has a horizontal dimension, meaning where the parts came from and where they are going as the chord progression moves along. Western theory calls this "voice leading." It's not something we often consider as guitarists, but we should -- it adds clarity and sophistication to the sound. But the point is that each part is a tune of its own. Sometimes more interesting, sometimes boring, but it is a tune.

Another thing is that it is not at all necessary for chords to have the lowest or highest part on the root (fundamental). There are other arrangements of voices possible. Think of a G major chord with B bass on the guitar. This is a first inversion chord, and it's very common. Voices in harmony work exactly the same way. Any voice can occupy any note in the current chord depending on the sound the composer wants to create, the voice leading, and what other notes in the chord are accounted for by the other voices.

I don't think I'm doing a good job explaining.... trying to summarize a 400-page theory textbook in a 200-word post. Sorry.

It's a pretty complex subject, lots of people have made lifelong studies of it -- but you don't have to be Herr Mus. Doktor to benefit from dabbling with theory a bit. Have fun, listen and experiment.

(Making music collaboratively is a lot like making it solo, in that you have to do it badly first.)


BTW the effect of the music seeming to "stop" at certain points could be one of two things: either the arrangement is highlighting the dramatic chord on purpose, by stopping the accompaniment -- or your attention is captured by the interesting harmony at that point and the accompaniment is dropping below your aural "radar"... listen to the same few seconds on a recording over and over, and try to follow each part and each instrument, one at a time. It can be a challenge but it is educational at least. -G