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How To Write A Song! 10

by Jayme Gutierrez

I love doing harmonies!

I usually do them in 3 groups of 5 part harmonies; 5 panned left, 5 in the center and 5 panned right.
I often treat them as if they were like people commenting on the lyrics that are being sung.
Depending on the song, I think that 3 sets of 5 part harmonies can be a bit too confusing, especially when there is lots going on. I think that the average listener listens to a song as a whole and doesn’t always home in on any specific instrument, or harmony, other that the main vocal line. So I don’t think that they get to appreciate a complicated harmony part when the rest of the music is quite busy. It’s also down to my mixing not being good enough to get them heard properly! But hey, I’m still learning.. (that’s why I did a bonus version of “cats and rats” that was just the voices!)

So, for this song I have decided to do 2 groups of 3 part harmonies, panned left and right. That way they should be easier to pick out!
When writing the harmonies, I like to sit in front of my computer with the microphone and a keyboard and record them in as I write them. I don’t bother with doing lots of takes because they’re more in the background than the main vocal, so they don’t have to be as perfect. Also, there are so many parts that it would take me ages to process it all!
So, I listen to the track and think of where to put the harmonies and what they should be saying. Then I press record and see if I like the way it sounds, then check to see if it’s correct and goes with the chords of the song and that it doesn’t change the flavour too much. Finally I check to see if the take needs re-singing or is ok enough.
I always try to avoid singing too many different words on top or the main vocal, because it can be too confusing. Also I try to make sure that the vowel sounds are the same. So that I don’t get one voice in a harmony par standing out above the rest, simply because it’s singing an “aaaa” when it should be singing an “ahhh”. ..and yes, it happens.
That’s how I write and record harmonies!
I’d best get to it…

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