October 20th, 2011 | by VoiceCouncil

Vocal Harmonies that Work


Creating powerful vocally blended moments is worth the effort –says Shlomo

I’ve been working with my vocal ensemble “The Lip Factory” to create some cool blended vocal moments.

After all, nothing can beat the sound of the human voice – and the power of different voices harmonizing together.

That’s why I think that if you’re a singer with a band, it’s worth the effort to have band members back you vocally, adding vocal power in choice places.

This can transform a performance.

All of this work, however, comes at a cost.

Just Plain Hard

Let’s face it: its just plain hard to get voices to sound good together – harder, I think, than getting instruments to blend.

Why? Well, for one thing, many vocalists haven’t learned how to blend; they may not have sung in a choir or done much backing vocal work.

What is a strength in some situations – being willing to be up front and center with nothing between your voice and the audience – can be a weakness in the quest to create vocally blended moments.

And if you’re performing your vocal punctuations in a cappella sections, the challenge of blending is even more difficult since you don’t have that space filled with your instrumentation.

So how can you pull it off?

Saving Valuable Rehearsal Time

I’ve found that the key is preparation.

I spend a lot of time in advance of my Lip Factory rehearsals thinking through the strengths of my team’s voices and writing arrangements of harmonies I think will work.

Entering the rehearsal with a clear plan is just essential. It doesn’t mean an end to spontaneity – but it does mean you can save a lot of time!

If you’re a singer working with instrumentalists, consider adding the instrumentalists’ voices to your show.

Actually, most musicians are more confident at singing than they may let on.

When you say, “Let’s try this – sing this harmony”, you may find that they are right there with you and ready to go.

Get yourself prepared for this musical transformation by thinking through the ranges and qualities of your band mates’ voices.

Why not try adding some harmonies to just one song this week?

-Shlo

My Reactions To This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Alfy – “Someone Like You” (Cover)

Alfy, -really great energy to this video, well done. I would have liked to see the two voices interact a little more in the final section – perhaps with some more orchestrated harmonies. You could try one voice singing the line a major third above the other for example.

Tom Camp – “The One” (Original)

Tom, it’s great to see you smiling and enjoying the performance so much – it makes it instantly engaging for the audience. It’s fantastic that you’ve got members of the band harmonizing with you too, that adds a real feeling of group solidarity to the video – makes us wish we were there with you. You have a really natural feel for the music which is a blessing you can explore further. I would love to see you making more of the dynamics – towards the end there was a lovely breakdown and build into the guitar solo. What would happen if you took these dynamics even further – so that you come right down at the beginning of the verse and build more into each chorus? That way you will have the audience on the edge of their seat, anticipating that moment when your voice comes soaring over the catchy hook.

-Shlomo

Check out Shlomo’s exclusive VoiceCouncil Interview – he discusses his most embarrassing, challenging and productive moments…

Shlomo gave up astrophysics to perform his amazing vocal pyrotechnics. It was a good move. Since then he has won global acclaim and worked with some of the biggest names in music. He’s the 2011 winner of the World Loopstation Championships in LA and is now knee deep in a dizzying festival season including Glastonbury and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His next project is a brand new vocal project called “Shlomo and the Lip Factory” which launches with a new EP and mini tour in October. You can check out his latest news, tunes, videos and competitions at http://facebook.com/shlomizzle or

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