How To Harmonize On Guitar: Tips And Tricks

There is nothing like a good harmony and as a guitar player, you want to not only understand the importance of one but master it. Harmonies add layers to your playing and provide an overall richer sound. Do you want to know how to harmonize? it is a lot simpler than you think. Understanding basic rules about music theory and exploring the various musical scales and modes is all you need to produce beautiful harmonies. We are about to equip you with knowledge about a skill that will soon become precious to your arsenal.

Knowing how to harmonize will open a world to you that will soon have you exploring music in a way you never have before. Each note you pair will elicit emotions from you and your listeners, ring out in beautiful unison, and expand your ever-growing knowledge of both your instrument and of music. Patience and determination are key elements to learning how to harmonize and it is important that you pay attention to how and why it all works the way it does.

What Is Harmonizing?

man holding a guitar

Think of harmonizing as layering as that is all that harmony is. A lead melody is played and notes are added to it in order to create a harmony. The harmonic effect fills out the song, adds depth, provides various sounds to enjoy, and draws from listeners a particular mood. Harmonizing, therefore, is essential to music. Imagine for a moment you are listening to Keith Richard's opening riff in "Gimme Shelter" without the accompaniment of Merry Clayton's haunting harmonies behind. The opening would lack its chilling and powerful feel. How did she do it? The answer is only two notes up.

Subtle Magic

Harmonizing gives your music subtle magic, a type of mixture of sounds that dance in the ears of your listeners and suggest a variety of emotions. Harmony is part of what makes music so great to listen to. The blues are a fantastic style to listen to when it comes to harmonies, the simplicity of the lead melodies can sometimes allow for some of the most complex layers of harmony. If you have ever seen a blues band, a jazz ensemble, or even a church choir you know well what we are talking about. There is something about how all sounds play with one another that creates that world of music we know.

How to Harmonize on Guitar

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Knowing how to harmonize on the guitar is all about understanding how chords work. When you play the three notes of a C major chord, for instance, you are already harmonizing. Amazing, no? The notes C, E, and G create a harmonic sound we know to be a C major chord. Creating harmonies is all about finding notes that create a similar harmonic effect and in order to this, you need to have knowledge of musical scales and chord progressions. It all sounds complicated but trust us it is not. Learning harmonies is a fun exercise that will propel you to a new level of skill and knowledge.

Thirds and Fifths

Modes

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Tips and Tricks to Harmonizing on Guitar

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Everything is a theory until it is put into practice and that is when you will truly understand the concept of harmony and how thirds and fifths make it happen. We want to offer you five tips that are sure to help you understand harmonies. Each tip will help you explore the different aspects of harmony and will challenge you in new ways. Once you know how to harmonize on guitar, there is no looking back except to look at songs where you can add harmony.

1. Harmonize over Solos

You can be your very own backup guitarist. By looping your solos using a looping pedal, you can create some wonderful practice situations for yourself. Let's say you played a lead melody in the key of A and wanted to harmonize in thirds, you need to look at the notes you are playing and as they loop add notes that are two degrees above. The same can be done with fifths and the beauty of it all is that you will hear how your song is slowly layered into a grand harmony.

2. Vocalize the Notes

Some of the most wonderful harmonizing is done vocally, and it is a beauty to witness. Vocalize the notes you are playing and even harmonize them. Pluck away at you open A and vocalize an E one fifth above, listen to the sweet sound that your voice and that note produce, then try it with a third above the root. Vocalizing will help you better remember the notes you play and the sound they create. Remember that much of music learning is listening to what compliments every sound.

3. Spread It Around

What makes harmony so fantastic is that you can spread it all over your song and it will sound fantastic. You can layer your solos or your rhythm parts. You can add harmony at any point during the song for an added layer of sound. The possibilities are endless. Do not be afraid to explore and experiment as this is how you can develop your very own sound. Keep in mind that the greatest musicians of yesterday and today have spent years listening to the various sounds that their instruments can create. You are in control of where the meat of your song is by knowing how to harmonize.

4. Understand Intervals

There is more to harmony than thirds and fifths. There are several intervals you can use to create harmony and it's up to you to explore them. Minor thirds, perfect fourths, and octaves are all available to you. As long as you have a solid foundation of keys and intervals you will be good to mix it up and discover new and exciting harmonies. You can use harmonies to create sharp contrasts or unisons that mimic one another for added volume. The more you experiment the more knowledge you gain and the more you become certain of what fits your style.

5. Patience and Practice

We want to remind you that any guitar exercise is an exercise in patience. No great discovery arrives at your feet. You must work for it. Practice your chords, your scales, create lead melodies that captivate you, and then harmonize. Your foundation is key. If all the basics are well covered you find that harmonies are the icing on the cake that makes everything you do oh so very sweet.

Conclusion

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We hope you now have a better idea of how to harmonize and how to find those subtle intervals that completely change the sound of a song. Remember to pay close attention to the sounds. The most satisfying part of harmony is not playing it but listening to it. The world of music is vast and you will have plenty of hours to explore, so enjoy it. Now go on and explore the beautiful sounds your guitar can produce. Your next great harmony may just be two notes above.

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