How to sing on stage and sing a part by ear!
Wouldn’t be fantastic to turn up to an audition and for the director or audition panellist give you the opportunity to sing a part with someone else? This would be a true testament to how impressed they were with your initial talent. Now wouldn’t it be even better if you could hear the music and sing a part by ear so the two of you were making sweet music together? The ultimate goal of a performer should be to expand their skills so that nothing even harmony is a problem to be performed on the spot!
So read on and get into the groove of harmony. Let your mind and your skill level take you to the next place in your singing career.
So how clever are you? Singing on stage and Singing a part by ear.
Once you get familiar with the different chord progressions, hearing melodies and their harmonies within the chords will eventually become like second nature. Singing a harmony part is as easy as choosing any note within the correct chord, but there are a few tips you can follow in order to make your harmony sound like a true professional. To understand them, though, you need to be able to follow the explanation of triads, perfect 5ths, and chord progressions.
The easiest harmony part to sing is to stick to the roots of the chords, since the root is in every chord and may even be repeated within the chord for emphasis. This task will often be taken up by the lowest singers in the group, the basses, as a way to “ground” the vocals. Bass singers can lead the chord progression in this way, which is important because it strengthens each cadence. However, this can get boring for the singer, especially when the same two or three chords are repeated continuously throughout a song.
If you want to make your harmony part a little more interesting, try to sing notes which are a third away from the melody line. This may be a third below or above, depending on which note the melody is within the chord. So, if a soprano sings “Do Re Mi,” a tenor could harmonize by singing “Mi Fa So”, in the octave below the soprano. Make sure that you are still singing a note which is within the chord, however!
Let us give you an example. If the chord is I (Do, Mi and So) and the melody is on Do, you don’t want to be singing a third below the melody, because La is not in the I chord. Try this out during a rehearsal, just so you can hear what it sounds like and understand why it doesn’t work as harmony.
This technique of singing harmony is not too hard to master after enough practice, but it, too, can get repetitive after a while. If you want a challenge and are confident enough, you may want to try something that is called contrary motion. You have likely heard this technique used before, most commonly in duets, where neither part is dominant. Contrary motion can be hard to pick out by ear but can easily be done by visualizing the chord progressions in your head.
Think of the sheet music as divided in half by a mirror, with the melody on one side reflecting into the mirror to get the harmony. When the melody moves in one direction, the harmony is reflected and moves in the contrary direction. So instead of following the pattern of the melody line, the harmony may travel either much lower or much higher. This technique can be useful for chord progressions in a song, as a way to emphasize the cadences.
Listen to the example of contrary motion in SATB on the following page. Try to pick your part and sing along. While you are doing this, pay attention to the movement of the other parts which are above or below you.
Last of all, there are a few rules that you have to stick to when you sing harmony. In each chord, there must always be one part singing the root, because it is important to ground each chord throughout a piece of music. If there are notes within the chord that are not going to be sung, it is best to leave out the 5th of the chord.
There are a couple of reasons for this. If the root is left out, the chord is not grounded; if the 3rd is left out, you are unable to tell whether the chord is major or minor. However, if there are only two parts singing, then it is OK to let this rule slide every now and then.
Another piece of advice is to avoid singing any note which is not also being played by an accompanying instrument or sung by another part. Sometimes a note within a chord is intentionally left out of a phrase by the composer, for a desired effect.
However, if your part is singing eighth notes while the other parts just have half notes, you will end up singing some notes which may not belong in the chord, but which end up resolving to a note in the chord. This way there will be no clashing between parts. You can see this in the example below.
Listen to this short piece written in three part harmony.
In the next lesson, you will find out how to not only sound great but look every bit like the professional you want to be. We look at working with Microphones and the things to do and not to do. This is great for anyone who wants to sing on stage, in a recording studio, and with a band. So keep your eye out for it!
Piano-Vocal teacher 3 Amesbury Drive Aberdeen Park-Edinburgh Chaguanas Trinidad and Tobago West Indies
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