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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Melody, or harmony?

August 19, 2011 at 8:12 PM

Are you more of a melody person, or more of a harmony person?

Of course it takes both to make good music, but I'd say that when it comes to playing a part, some people prefer to ride the melody wave while others prefer the harmony.

For me, this started when I was a child; I was always interested in finding someone who could carry a melody so I could sing harmony along with them. This proved rather difficult, as many people get flustered when someone departs from the melody. Ever try to break into harmony while singing "Happy Birthday" with musical Muggle friends? Perfect way to de-rail the entire proceedings!

So I have always loved playing harmony to someone else's melody. I also love pieces like the Bach Double, for which their are motives but not exactly melody. Not that I don't love playing melodies, I do. But when I'm humming in the car, it's usually the harmony.

How about you, to which part do you gravitate?

From Eloise Garland
Posted on August 20, 2011 at 6:24 PM

 Interesting discussion! When I was younger I was very much a melody person, but then I discovered my love for baroque music when I was told to play second violin in a chamber orchestra and I fell head over heels in love with playing the harmony. The way the layers all cross over each other was so pleasing for me to hear! I was then asked to sing the alto part in some choir pieces (even though it is rather low for me, sometimes out of my range) and I loved that too. I am proud to now be someone who can adapt to both of them and love them both equally! 

From Matthew Dakoutros
Posted on August 22, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Kind of both but I think I prefer harmony better. Very good question!

From Laurie Trlak
Posted on August 22, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Although I prefer to sing melody on "Happy Birthday," I often prefer to sing harmony on other songs (probably because I sing alto in my church choir). I, too, have noticed, however, that many people have a hard time singing the melody against someone singing harmony - my husband included!

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on August 22, 2011 at 5:50 PM

 Sadly, I'm one of those people who has trouble singing melody if someone else breaks into harmony, and who just has trouble singing harmony altogether.  I can't hold my own on a harmony part while singing--I have one of those voices that "just blends."  It's almost like I have to blend.

I like playing harmony on the violin and viola, though.  

From Charlie Gibbs
Posted on August 23, 2011 at 7:55 PM

I think the reason it's so hard to sing harmony with some people is that they don't realize what you're doing.  They think you're still singing the melody and they chase after you, unconsciously transposing until their note matches yours again.  The best you can hope for in such cases is to slip in the odd harmony note - most of the time you have to sing melody in unison with them.

But I love harmonizing with someone who can carry a stable melody.  It adds so much.  If necessary (e.g. no sheet music) I'll improvise a harmony, whether with voice or on the violin.  And if someone else in the group has the same talent and we nail a three-part harmony... heaven!

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