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Country Vocals Lessons: Singing Harmony

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We're getting into a couple of lessons
here where we're gonna be talking with,
and working with and
singing some of my favorite music, and
that is music that involves harmony.
Vocal parts that involve
singing in harmony,
whether it's singing
the melody alongside someone
else's harmony and
maintaining your part and your melody,
or someone else singing the melody and
you providing the harmony.
I think singing harmony is
one of the most fun and
rewarding and fulfilling
activities that a singer can do.
It's just fun.
So, we're gonna learn how to do it.
Some people do it naturally,
just like some people are born to run.
Some people are born natural runners,
their muscles,
their musculature throughout
their whole body.
Their proportions,
the proportions of their skeleton,
they're just good at running naturally.
And then they train to
maximize their natural gifts
in order to be competitive runners,
but they're just born great runners.
I think some people
are born harmony singers.
Some people have that connection in
their brain where they hear a melody,
and they just In their minds, they hear
the harmony part that goes with it.
I happen to have a daughter who at two
years old, before she could even talk,
she would be riding around
in the backseat of the car.
And we'd be listening to The Beatles and
she would be singing along.
And my husband and I noticed one day
that she wasn't singing the melody,
she was singing the harmony.
The third above what John Lennon was
singing to Paul McCartney's melody.
And we looked at each other and like,
are you hearing, is she singing this?
When she got old enough to talk,
I asked her one time,
how do you know what note to sing?
And she looked very surprised and she just
said, I don't know, Mom, I just hear it.
She was practicing before
she even knew how.
She was practicing what we call audiation,
that's the imagining of sound.
So people who are really naturally
gifted at harmony are able to
hear the part microseconds before
it comes out of their mouth.
They are so familiar with the musical
context when they hear music,
they immediately,
intuitively understand the key center
of the notes that are contained
in that family of the key.
And so know what notes harmonize or
perfectly match the melody
without really thinking about it.
That's kind of the naturally
gifted harmony singer.
But most of us learn how to sing harmony,
and a little of it comes naturally.
And a lot of it is something that we
analyze, that we practice, that we learn.
And a lot of the building blocks that
you've all ready gotten underhand,
as far as being familiar with
the family of notes that
live in a key are, or
has there defined by a scale.
Like we talked about [SOUND] C,
D, E, F, G, E, A, B, C.
That's the family of notes
that lives in the key of C.
we are familiar with the familiar
chords that we hear,
like the axis of awesome chords,
the four or
five chords that we most commonly hear
in the context of the [SOUND] key of C.
And there's like a group of notes
that always go in those songs.
No matter what the melody might be,
it utilizes the tones or
the pitches that live within that scale
family, that C Major scale family.
So we're kind of already
familiar with the pool of
possibilities of pitches that
might accompany a melody.
And the next step in applying
what exact note goes with
a melody would be to set and
analyze that melody.
And find exactly the right pitch
that lives with the melody
inside that key center, and
among the notes of that scale.
So we're going to look at that,
we're gonna do a little bit of
analysis of a couple of melodies.
And we're gonna listen to some
great harmony singers, so
I'm gonna assign you a little bit
of listening here for this lesson.
One of my favorite duos,
harmony duos, the blend,
the phrasing, the tone matching,
all so perfect,
is Simon & Garfunkel,
two of our greatest harmony singers.
Also, The Everly Brothers, so you get
not only the beautiful harmony, but
you get that beautiful tone matching
that happens between family members.
There is something to the physical,
the physiology of similar instruments or
like DNA-related instruments.
It's one of the reasons that family
harmony is so pleasing, I think.
Because we can intuitively hear
the similarities in the instruments.
And the blend is particularly interesting
when family members harmonize
with one another.
Another one of my favorite
harmony duos is the Indigo Girls.
And there's a new young band,
two girls named Maddie and Tae,
who are really doing very
well in Country music.
I think you should check them out.
There's also another band
called The Band Perry
that are having a lot of success
in Country music right now.
Great harmony, so
that's your listening list.
And your assignment is to track down
some of these great harmony duos.
Simon & Garfunkel,
The Everly Brothers, the Indigo Girls,
Maddie and Tae, The Band Perry.
I'm assigning you duos specifically so
that you can really hear clearly
the relationship between the melody and
a single harmony line that goes with it.
So right now,
I just want you to do some listening.
I want you to think about
concepts like pitch,
which we've talked a lot about already.
Identifying the pitch that
the harmony singer is singing.
How the phrasing is matching.
Listen for how they breathe together.
Great harmony singers
breathe at the same time so
that the phrasing is very locked together,
that it sounds like one phrase
with two notes as the expression.
But the phrasing sounds identically tight.
That's a nice, locked harmony part.
And then how the tone
complements each other.
How the tone of each singer's
voice complements each other.
Whether it's a family relationship and
you can really hear almost like the shape
of the instruments are very similar.
Or, in the case of Simon & Garfunkel,
where there's a slightly different tone
and texture between Art Garfunkel's
voice and Paul Simon's voice, but
they complement each
other really beautifully.
So those are the things that
I want you to listen for.
I highly encourage you to sing along.
Another great thing about listening
to duos performing harmony
is that there's usually space for
the third harmony part.
And so you can go ahead and
start throwing that third harmony part in.
I was the third member of
the Simon & Garfunkel band for
many years because any time
I listen to their music,
I was always singing the other
harmony part that wasn't there.
So enjoy listening,
enjoy thinking about pitch,
phrasing, and diction, and tone,
as you're listening to these
great harmony singers.
So how did you like listening
to all these great harmony duos?
I love harmony.
And I'm very excited about getting
to sing some harmony with you.
We've got a wonderful backing track
that at the end of this lesson.
It's gonna be your assignment
to sing to the backing track,
the melody in one version while a harmony
part is singing with you, and then,
to sing the harmony while
the melody is singing with you.
So you're gonna get an opportunity to sing
the lead and have to maintain your melody
while the harmony is accompanying you,
and to jump over on the other side,
and have the melody recorded
while you sing the harmony part.
We're gonna do that to that wonderful
song, Dream, All I Have To Do Is Dream.
It's written by Felice and
Boudleaux Bryant for the Everly Brothers.
And you're gonna get to be both the Everly
Brothers for this video submission.
First, we're gonna demonstrate a couple
of ways that we can analyze harmony.
Before we jump in to Dream,
I wanna revisit that old
faithful Mary Had a Little Lamb.
You're familiar with this melody
in a dozen different ways now.
You've seen it played on the keyboard,
you've seen it transposed.
You've come very familiar with it.
We're gonna play it in C.
[SOUND] Here's the melody to
Mary Had A Little Lamb in the key of C.
So that's
the melody.
And you can see very clearly each note,
every note is in the key of C.
Every note that's in the melody
is contained in that scale,
the C major scale.
We can create a harmony part to that.
Now if I just sing it,
it'll sound very familiar to you because
you are already familiar with the scale,
all the chords to that song.
I'm gonna sing the harmony now
to Mary Had a Little Lamb.
And play the melody with the piano.
So what I have
done in creating
the harmony part to
go with that melody,
I've chosen the next
higher note that's
in the chord.
[SOUND] That the melody is part of.
So you can see that.
Is all happening, that part of the melody
is all happening in the C major triad,
in that chord.
And I'm taking that information, knowing
that this phrase, this first phrase.
Is all happening
inside the major C triad.
I'm gonna build the harmony.
I did it just then by ear.
But now I'm gonna actually analyze it and
look at it on the keyboard.
And what you'll see is that I'm
creating a parallel melody.
That's really what harmony is most often,
is a melody that is either parallel or
counterpoint to the existing melody,
at a different point in the scale or
built on a different note of the chord
that the melody is happening during.
So we're in C major triad.
Here's the melody and
the harmony together.
Now we're having a change of chord.
And the chord goes to G.
[SOUND] Well,
this note is already in the chord G.
The melody is here on the D.
And the harmony stayed here because
that note is in the triad G,
which is the next chord in
Mary Had a Little Lamb.
[SOUND] Then it goes back to the C triad.
And you can see how the melody and
the harmony both move up to the next
notes that are in the C major triad.
And again it changes.
So you're looking for, when you're
creating a harmony part to sing
with a melody, you're looking for
a nearby note that at least most
of the time parallels the melody,
on a note that's in the same chord as
the chord that the melody is happening in.
So that's an example with
Mary Had a Little Lamb.
So we're gonna demonstrate the melody in
All I Have To Do Is Dream in the key of A.
on the verse it starts on the D.
the first
part of the
Let's look at what the other Everly
Brother is singing as that harmony part.
He's singing the next note up, that's in.
The A chord.
It's beautiful,
It's a nice, parallel, harmony part.
But each of these notes
is also in the chord.
With each change of chord,
the harmony is always
in the chord,
the same cord that the melody is in.
So, it starts again.
Here's just the harmony by itself.
that gets us
through most
of the verse
of All I Have
To Do Is Dream.
I want you to practice now yourself,
finding each part on a keyboard if you've
got access to one, find the melody.
And then find the harmony part and
play that as if it were
its own independent part.
Now you've got backing tracks
that you can give it a shot yourself.
So you'll be able to listen to
a recording with both parts.
You'll be able to listen
to each part separately.
And then your assignment is to submit your
version of All I Have To Do Is Dream,
singing in one version the melody along
with the harmony that's recorded,
and then another version where the melody
is recorded and you provide the harmony.