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FDP Forum / Sing, Sing, Sing! - Vocalist's Forum / harmony required?

Tony F

Downtown USA

When you come to fork in road take it
May 28th, 2014 03:30 PM   Edit   Profile  

As a geezer in my day if you couldn't do vocal harmony you weren't considered a singer today I know of plenty of people fronting bands that don't have the ear for harmony. Would like to hear from others on this.

edited to add video


(This message was last edited by Tony F at 05:45 PM, May 28th, 2014)

Contributing Member

Ocala, Fla

Let's stick to drinking songs in unison
May 28th, 2014 03:58 PM   Edit   Profile  

That was a gripe of mine from way back. I worked with more vocalists who couldn't harmonize than did. I remember endless rehearsals where I'd show them note for note. Have them repeat it. By the time we got to the part in the song they were singing like Lucy Ricardo an octave up from the lead vocal. Then I joined a band that did a lot of Motown and Stax, and everyone sang harmony. It was glorious.

It doesn't compute to me that harmonies are absent from a singer's ear. Yeah, some come more naturally depending on the melody, but it just seems bizarre when one can't find an interval, understand it and feel it. I loved being able to just say, "ok, I'll do the 3rd" and everyone knew what that meant.

Contributing Member


England's Sloppiest Guitarist
May 28th, 2014 04:52 PM   Edit   Profile  

I'm no lead vocalist, but I've always been able to harmonise. I even "hear" harmonies in songs where there aren't any. ;-)

Comes in handy when we do Eagles/ Poco/ CSNY/ Byrds covers.


Omaha, USA

Jul 7th, 2014 01:06 PM   Edit   Profile  

Or, when your drummer "thinks" he's singing harmony, but just doubling your lead.
Growing up in Lutheran churches and grade schools you had no choice but to learn harmony parts! My wife and daughter can hear harmony, but can't sing them, just melody. (sigh)

Contributing Member

Upstate NY, USA

Musical accident waiting to happen
Oct 7th, 2014 09:17 PM   Edit   Profile  

It can cause strife in a band where there are two lead vocalists and one has no ear for harmony. Make that WWIII, if they're both female. No, honey, I didn't sign up to be your backup all the time.

I've been in that band.

Blessed with a good harmo ear myself, if a thin and inconsistent voice. I think if you have it, it's incomprehensible that somebody who can heard a lead can't hear a harmony.

Our lead singer told me, "It's all those years you spent playing third trumpet." Probably something to that, although I wouldn't rule out innate ability being involved.


Willoughby, OH , USA

I'm arrogant and a moron
Oct 8th, 2014 03:16 PM   Edit   Profile  

My Mom and Aunt ( her sister ) used to sing harmony around the house when I was a child, so I was exposed to it at an early age. Never really sink in until I hit my teens. It's still easy for another part to drag me off pitch, so I do have a problem. One of my other problems is that I "hear" harmonies that aren't there, i.e. I sometime s find myself trying to stack a Major 7 on top of a root and 3rd.

Contributing Member


Hoarder of instruments
Oct 8th, 2014 03:28 PM   Edit   Profile  

I was backup/harmony on 80% and lead vocalist on 20% of my old band's songs back in the day. I was lucky to work with an excellent vocalist. And he was willing to do backup vocals for me.

The backup stuff was more fun than the harmonies--bass/baritone on one song, tenor harmony on the next, then a falsetto part.

Steve Dallman
Contributing Member

Merrill, Wisconsin

Age is just a number...mine is big
Apr 10th, 2015 01:54 PM   Edit   Profile  

In jr high and high school in the mid 60's we were taught to sing harmony.

In my first band, all 5 of us sang, and we worked out harmonies and got very good at it. We weren't the best players, but we could sing and harmonize.

I just kept it up over the years. Most bands I've been in at least one person could find a harmony, and I would just listen to what they sang, and grab another harmony. It was always easy, but only because I had years of practice.

Contributing Member

St. Louis

"Thumbpicks don't slide into soundholes"
Sep 13th, 2018 06:28 PM   Edit   Profile  

I went out with a girl once upon a time that loved to sing. Sounded horrible, it became a joke.Dont' let &^%* sing. She's
She was pretty upset about it and one night she was with me and I talked to her about it. she was crying her eyes out cause she loved it and couldn't sing.
I picked up a guitar and tried to accompany her while she sang. Trainwreck every second. But I heard something.
I said let me sing the melody and you come in with me. I started and then she came in with the strongest harmony I ever heard. Turned out she went home and practiced singing to recorded music.
But she had a natural talent for harmony so her ear just tuned into it.

Contributing Member

Headed to Waycross

in a turnip truck
Sep 13th, 2018 08:27 PM   Edit   Profile  

It's easy when you grasp chord harmony. Think in terms of common notes across chord changes, and 1s, 3s, and 5s, and sometimes 7ths.

And practice practice practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Amy has a *great* approach to this stuff.

FDP Forum / Sing, Sing, Sing! - Vocalist's Forum / harmony required?

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