How to Harmonize Using 6ths

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The extra space notes in 6ths creates creates an evocative, even spiritual feeling –says Lisa Popeil

In the ongoing quest to understand how to harmonize with our voices, it’s time to talk about the intervals called 6ths.

There are 3 main characteristics of 6ths:

1) They’re the inverse of 3rds. So, for example, instead of singing an F with an A above, just put the F on top of the A, and you’ll have a 6th. Same notes, different sound.

Here’s how 3rds and 6ths relate in written form:

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2) 6ths, like 3rds, sound good in many situations – but the extra space between the two notes in 6ths creates creates an evocative, even spiritual feeling.

3) 6ths are commonly used in male/female duets, particularly love ballads from the 1970s and 1980s. The reason is that the high soaring female notes can be paired with the high soaring male notes on choruses, giving the choruses a ‘lift’.

Here’s what 6ths look like on the piano:

Famous Examples

One of the best examples of 6ths sung in vocal harmony Kaiken kaikkiaan varma online kasino siis. is the Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes ballad “Up Where We Belong” from the 1982 film “An Officer & A Gentleman”.

Check out 1:01-1:24 (the chorus of course) to hear a great example of 6ths.

Another great example is Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”. Check out :40-:47 to hear their use of 6ths

Compare that performance with their original recording:

Your homework is to record yourself singing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” then find a lower harmony part using 6ths. For this tune, 6ths below actually makes the best harmony choice.

Next time, we’ll move onto the topic of 3-part vocal harmonies, so check back in for that!

Lisa Popeil, MFA in Voice, is a top LA voice coach, voice scientist and researcher, contributor to the ‘Oxford Handbook of Singing’, is a voting member of NARAS (Grammys®), creator of the Voiceworks® Method, the ‘Total Singer’ DVD and a new book ‘Sing Anything-Mastering Vocal Styles’ and has taught voice professionally for over 35 years. www.popeil.com


  • lapsmith

    Thanks Lisa for the lesson and the nice live version of The Boxer. But isn’t that an example of 3rds since the the harmony is a third above the melody? (sounds like Paul is singing a C and Art is singing an E)