Creating a good harmony part for your vocals can be a challange for some music producers. Here are some tips from my personal harmony arsonal, plus some other great articles on creating harmonies.
My Process for finding the correct harmony for your song..
Lets say we are writing a song in the key of C.
The most common chord progression in the key of C contain the following chords:
- C Major: Contains the notes C, E and G.
- F Major: Contains the notes F, A and C.
- G Major: Contains the notes G, B and D. Also may contain an F or F# for a G seven chord.
- a minor: Contains the notes A, C and E.
- e minor: Contains the notes E, G and B.
If you are trying to find harmony for the note “C” a very good place to start would be by trying an E and G. to make it fit the C chord.
If that does not sound good, the second thing you would try is an A and F to make it fit with the F chord.
If you don’t like the sound of that try the A and the E to make it work with the a minor chord.
I usually use a minimum of two harmony parts. Sometimes I stack it with the melody on the top, and sometimes I stack it with the melody in the middle.
If you have a keyboard or Piano at hand harmonizing can be easier…
Here is a simple trick to find harmony using a keyboard:
- Play the melody note on the keyboard. (for example lets say that it is a “C”)
- Use every other note going up or down the keyboard as a potential harmony note… for example, going up you would play “E. G, B, D, F etc” If you don’t like the sound of the white key, try the black key on either side.
The reason this works is that chords follow that pattern. Play a note, skip a note, play a note, skip a note. So you play every other note.
I know you probably write in other keys besides C…
I use C as my example key because C uses more white keys, and when you are starting out, and it is easier to explain harmony using white keys.
Tips for other keys:
- Most songs use these chords I, IV, V, iii, and vi. An I chord is the name of your key. If you are in the key of C, a C is your I chord. If you are in the key of F, an F is your I chord. Then you count up four notes from the I chord to get the IV chord. Count up five notes from the I chord to get the V chord etc… If I wrote an upper case Roman number (I, IV, and V) that means it is a Major chord (a major chord sounds “happy”). If I wrote a lower case Roman number (iii, vi) it is a minor chord. (sounds darker and possibly sad).
FYI: a C Major chord contains these notes : C, E, and G. a C minor chord contains these notes: C E flat and G. Try to play them both and you will see the difference.
I highly HIGHLY suggest that if you have never had any music lessons and don’t understand any of the above information that you check out some of the resources I have listed below.
1) Here is a GREAT site I found. www.thedawstudio.com. This site has A LOT of information on home studio recording. I have only begun to wade through it, so you will probably find me using them as a reference often from now on. They have a page on “Chord theory” with some diagrams of chords, and some additional information on chords. Here is a link to their chord theory article:
2) Here is a webpage with chord charts on a piano. It has flash players so you can also hear the chords. This will be helpful when you are trying to find what notes are in a particular chord. Check it
3) Here is a site I found that has some FREE online Piano lessons. I suggest that you devote some time to learning basic piano skills. With some basic piano knowledge your music production will go to a new level.
Feel free to post any questions you might have about harmony. I’ll be happy to answer them. Good luck!