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JJ and Rapudo from the Brazilian skatepunk band Wacky Kids sing together

Vocal harmony is a form of singing where the main vocal melody is accompanied by consonant notes sung by one or more so-called backup singers. While this technique is used in many genres of popular and art music, it is heavily used in skatepunk and even became a trademark for bands such as Bad Religion.

Technique and useEdit

The simplest style of vocal harmony uses one additional backup singer. To enhance the main vocal melody in special parts like the chorus the backup singer sings consonant notes, like thirds, fourth, fifth or sixth either below or above the main vocal line, although dissonant tones can be used as passing notes or to create stress or excitement. Although theoretically dissonant, major seconds and minor sevenths are also often used in Skatepunk's vocal harmony. Also, the backup vocals have to fit into the chord progression of the song.

In Skatepunk it is common to use three- or four-part vocal harmony (with either two or three backup singers), so that triads or even chords with more different notes may sound. Some bands like Bad Religion even use five-part vocals in some of their songs.

Rhythmically, the backup singers usually follow the rhythm of the main vocal melody or sing long notes over every chord. In Skatepunk it is also very common to let backup vocals commence canonically or as an arpeggio, to slowly form a backup chord to the vocal melody. Even though vocal harmony is heavily used by almost every skatepunk band, there are few songs, where the main vocal melody is accompanied by harmonies at all time, since vocal harmony is often used to highlight special parts or to contrast different ones.
Krenek's chord classification from Studies in Counterpoint

Different types of triadic harmony that can be used for vocal harmony, too.


[Something of how early punk bands started to use vocal harmony has to be added here]

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