Harmony vocals in "country" music
Does anyone know a good source of information about harmony singing in \"country\" music?
I\'m speaking not of commercial country music, but of older arrangements in which the lead voice is an alto and the harmony voice, traditionally called the tenor, but sometimes technically a soprano, enters for the chorus\\burden to sing thirds or fifths above the lead line: the harmonies of the Carter family, Everly brothers, CSNY, Flying Burrito Brothers, and now Freakwater. (Has anyone heard this Chicago band? The album \"Feels Like the Third Time\" has some amazing music on it--for example, \"I Try to Remember\" and \"My Old Drunk Friend.\" Their song \"When I Stop Dreaming,\" is also amazing, but hard to find. If anyone has a place to post mpgs, I upload a thirty second portion of this song to illustrate the harmonies I\'m trying to describe.)
I must admit to some trepidation in posting this question: I fear musicians accustomed to hearing clean, soaring John Williams scores may not appreciate the subtleties of occasional sour notes and four chord songs.
But I digress.
Obviously, much of this type of arranging derives from European choral and more recent protestant choir arrangements. But the harmony, even when the song is reduced to two singers, is more complex than it may seem, and I\'d like to learn much more about it:
1. It doesn\'t follow the often followed guideline of having the emphasized melody note as the top note. (The harmony is in the higher register, but not so lightly sung as to fall away and thus give the emphasis to the lower note. Both vocals have the same volume and emphasis, but the lead is still clearly the lead.)
2. As in many hymns, \"folk\" songs, and pop songs, the melody note at the start and end of phrases is often the third. Sometimes I seem to hear the tonic being sung in the higher, harmony voice. (Is this just a matter of the harmony voice briefly \"taking over\" the lead role at strong moments, or is this just not as unusual as I think?)
3. What I\'m describing is basically triad harmony. But not quite, or it would sound like barbershop singing with a voice or two removed. So I try to form some principles for this type of harmony, and find myself struggling with guidelines such as:
The harmony voice always sings a
third above the melody line except
(sometimes) on sustained notes at the end of
lines or legato lines, where it may leap to
the fifth of the chord or sing the
tonic if the melody ends on the third.
But when I try to sing behind albums (which is something you do not want to hear),I can\'t predict with much regularity where the harmony (tenor) voice will move. Yes, this means I am expecting predictablity but listening to music. Which leads me back to my original question: Does
anyone know of a good source of information about this tradition of harmony singing?
(If some of this post sound familiar, it\'s because I posted a similar request for information on the ProRec site several months ago. Thanks to those of you who responded.)