In my parish, the music ministry uses three Mass settings: one for Advent and Lent, one for Christmas and Easter, and one for Ordinary Time. This is only the third weekend for us to settle back in with our Ordinary Time settings.
During the “Gloria,” I heard one of the other musicians in our group singing the beginnings of a harmony line. It sounded good, and after we finished singing I whispered to him to let him know that.
“Thanks,” he replied. “I like putting harmony where there isn’t any.”
Once the congregation is secure in singing the melody for a new song, we musicians feel comfortable adding harmonies. If there are enough of us to carry the melody, we’ll layer in two or three harmony lines. It’s fun to do, and it adds to the beauty of the music.
But there’s more to harmony than that. When you add harmony where there isn’t any, you put your own stamp on the tune. You place your individual gift at the service of the whole. By itself, harmony doesn’t work. There needs to be melody, and that melody needs to be strong. Done right, the harmony behind that melody won’t overpower it, but will instead support it in sometimes undetectable but undeniable ways.
Inventing harmony involves listening, creativity, and courage. If you don’t know where the melody is going, you can’t harmonize. You have to hear the music, then imagine another dimension to it. Then you have to take the big step of singing what you hear.
It’s not just about music. If everyone takes the melody part in life, the music is boring.
Where can you put harmony where there isn’t any?
Copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz