Have you ever struggled with trying to find a different note other than the melody?
Do you get a sense that you’re being pulled over into the other persons note and you can’t hold onto yours?
Can you only hear the melody and all other note escapes you?
You are not alone….
Just like everything else developing a skill for singing harmony takes time for the harmony to begin to be instinctual and natural. Most people are drawn to the melody and not the harmony part. Over many years of working with singers I became very curious as to how to really help people to change this habit of being pulled to singing only in unison.
For some it comes to down to learning harmony simply on a musical level and doing the slow, laborious work of training the ear to different intervals and harmonies.
For some it’s more about undoing something deeper inside of them that has more to do with finding their own voice, their own note. Standing and holding their own note as someone holds a different note is a powerful experience in singing harmony as well as in life.
There can be a certain stigma of those who can, and, those who can’t and the training in Harmony and Relationship that I offer in my Voice Connections classes is to set out to help those who feel they can’t.
A harmony is created when two notes come together at once – this can be with two people, or harmonizing with yourself on a recording, however it occurs this coming together creates a relationship that evokes a feeling within you of either harmony or disharmony.
This approach of thinking of harmony as a relationship lends itself not only to music, singing and harmony parts, but also to relationships in general and what harmony can teach us about how to be in harmony with someone in an authentic way.
Whether that relationship is a friend, a family member or an intimate partner there is always music that happens between people, in the sound, rhythm and pitch of the music of communication and connection.
This music or the always present possibility for harmony can end up creating harmony or dis-harmony in people, another way of saying it is that it can unite or separate people.
Disagreeable or disharmonious notes still create a relationship that appears not only in the space between the notes, but between people, cities, communities, governments. Whatever appears is an opportunity to become conscious and to wake up inside of this relationship.
Over the years of teaching harmony I have become fascinated as to why some people can do harmony, and why some people can not. I want to know why some are drawn to singing in unison and some are pulled to wanting to sing in harmony only. And there’s also a whole other set of people that gravitate to chaos and dis-harmony that is really interesting.
I began to develop an understanding of harmony not only on the level of harmony singing, but also on a energetic, emotional level as well.
I discovered not only the musical harmonic connection between the notes but the profound relationship that appeared in-between the singers, in the space between them as it were. As though the notes lit up something that was not apparent before the singing occurred.
This musical connection or disconnection and disharmony in people was showing itself in the space between the notes. It seemed as though a persons longings were appearing in spite of them trying to hide them. One persons longing to be in unison and union with another, while another persons need to be separate and different from another but in relationship. When it comes to singing harmony it seems we just can’t help the longings from appearing in the space between us!
‘At first we separate and then we unite.’ Goethe
What harmony teaches us is to learn to be with each other in relationship and not only on the journey of self realization, but to know that the reason that we are doing this journey is to bring more of ourselves to a relationship to expand the heart beyond the self. This cannot be done alone, it needs relationship. ‘Whenever two or more are gathered together, there I am in the middle.’
Any cell in a body doesn’t work on itself and then wander off to become something separate, it wants to heal and then join together with the community and be in togetherness. If it does decide to wander off then a state of disease shows itself in the body.
To be in harmony is to be in an agreement, a state of accord.
There can be a great deal of shame and embarrassment in singers when they can not sing a harmony part. It just doesn’t feel natural to them. This block in people I believe can be looked at and lovingly opened through a conscious approach to the study of harmony and the relationships that exist between the notes as well as the people singing together.
Learning harmony takes training the ear to listen more effectively as well as developing a body sense of how these relationships feel inside of the body spaces. It takes time and patience to change the experience of harmony singing from one that feels difficult and somewhat impossible, to harmony singing that feels normal and instinctual.
In terms of how harmony impacts actual relationships between people in their lives I’m hopeful this could be another level of healing that is revolutionary! Music is indeed a healer.
For the love of sound,