Recently Fifth Harmony performed a Destiny’s Child medley on ABC’s new show Greatest Hits. You can see a teaser video of the performance using the link at the end of this blog post. Whether or not you like the music of Fifth Harmony as much as they like to sing Destiny’s Child songs, you probably would agree that they are a talented vocal group. In this excerpt from Jeannie Deva’s eBook Singer’s Guide to Powerful Performances, she highlights the elements of good sounding vocal harmonies.
“When you blend vocal harmonies you are not only bringing together the pitch of each voice but also its tone, pronunciation, phrasing, volume and rhythm. Tone refers to the timbre or characteristic sound of your voice. For the best blend, work on matching your tone to one another. That means matching qualities such as brightness or deepness of sound, nasality and vibrato.
Phrasing choices should sound natural and make emotional sense while working rhythmically with the instrumental parts and lead vocalist. Ragged phrasing is the commonest reason that back-up harmonies may sound amateur. For the optimum back-up blend, each singer’s rhythmic phrasing should be identical. Listen for and decide on mutual rhythms for each word and syllable so that they synchronize.
A good vocal blend includes matching the way you pronounce your words. Even small differences in pronunciation may result in clashing intonation and sloppy rhythms. As a rule, sustained words should be held on the vowel sound, not the ending consonant. Be sure all singers end their words at the same time. Many singers close off on the consonant too soon. If this occurs at the same time as trying to sustain the pitch, you may sound strained and/or go off pitch. “
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