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Staying In Tune

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Notsosuperhero
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I have been making progress with my voice, well I was until I got sick for a couple weeks and couldn't sing(strange winter we had here), but one constant problem I'm having is that I always seem to sing too low for the song, its not that my voice can't hit the notes, like a song that hangs around B3, I'll be hanging around A3 or G3.

So I guess my question is, will I just develop being able to sing in tune with the song as I get better? Is it just that I'm not used to hearing myself and the way my voice actually is? Just feeling a bit discouraged.

Thanks.

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I struggled (and still do, sometimes) for months to pitch correctly because I didn't know what to do to get the pitch until I began singing lessons and my teacher taught me how to do it and gave me exercises to practice.

Pitching is, I believe, like muscle memory. The more you do it, correctly, the more you'll remember it. It's like learning a song. At first, you're like eeh with the notes when you learn but you begin to memorise it, the octave leaps, 3rds, etc. and you don't need to worry about the tune just the emotion of the song.

I can only recommend what I do, which is practicing different exercises.

I go from a C4, to a B4, back to C, then down to and A, then back to C, and I repeat this for an octave.

I also arpeggios, 1st note, 3rd note, 5th note, and usually add in the 8th (C, E, G, C) to work on my jumps as well as my pitching.

You'll get a better answer from others as they're well versed in vocal training, more so than me, but search the forums for pitching issues and exercises, because you're not alone. That's what used to kill me was that I always seemed to be the worst.

Some people start a little better than others, have different musical talents. You probably better diction, rhythm, and emotion than other sings with better pitch control. So don't feel down, just find out what you need to do and do it!:)

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Do you mean while singing along to a backing track, a guitar or some such or simply singing without any reference at all?

If you are off-pitch when singing with accompaniment it's not a question of muscle memory at all, it's all about your ears. There is no quick fix to this but a long journey in which you actively listen and fine tune your ears.. It's very rewarding when you notice improvements.

If you mean singing freely without accompaniment then, well, you're just like the vast majority of singers who weren't blessed with absolute pitch ;) Here it is indeed about muscle memory and having your body "remember" the song. However, it is highly unlikely that you will ever learn how to sing a song in the correct key without any reference :P Even the best singers without absolute pitch can't do this :p

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If you mean singing freely without accompaniment then, well, you're just like the vast majority of singers who weren't blessed with absolute pitch ;) Here it is indeed about muscle memory and having your body "remember" the song. However, it is highly unlikely that you will ever learn how to sing a song in the correct key without any reference :P Even the best singers without absolute pitch can't do this :P

I've only recently started private vocal lessons. Sometimes I ask my coach questions that I don't believe we are on the same page.. either she doesn't understand what I'm asking or I don't understand her reply.

I've asked her about this.

I think I do well when I'm singing in a chorus, where I can hear others singing the same thing I should be singing, I think I'm singing on pitch, or at least in key.

However, I'd like to be able to sing where my voice will be providing the melody, like me & my guitar, or me & a piano. The guitar/piano normally wouldn't be playing the songs melody. How will I know what pitch to sing?

I've seen many lessons & exercises designed to improve my pitch but not many that addresses harmony. Is this something that should naturally occur?

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I understand. Well, when you play a chord, say a simple A minor, you have three notes; A, C and E. usually, when you sing over chords you will hit these notes that the chord consist of and it will sound great. However if you would go flat on a note you will hear that something just is not right. This comes with time and with "listening" to what you do, instead of simply doing it =)

Now, if there is singing over a counter melody played by an instrument or harmonies et cetera, this is indeed a tougher task. The instrument might play one note and you're supposed to start on another - here it is important to learn about harmonies and intervals, because if you know what you should look/listen for there will be no suprises... Generally, a counter melody and/or harmony is based off of the chords three notes (or you'll venture into Am7, 9 etc which is subsequently harder to master when it comes to harmonizing, but I digress, first things first)

A good exercise; play a note on your piano/guitar. Let it ring. Find it with your voice... Stabilize your voice on that note and play it while you just hold the note... Steady and controlled... Listen to how your voice and the instrument come together... Now, play a chord based on that note... Say you got an E, play an E minor while still holding the note with your voice. Now, move up a third to the second note in the chord, a G, you will hear when you land on it... Stay on it for a while... Next jump up to the third note, the B... Same thing here... Proceed to drop down to the E again while playing the chord... Do this for various chords in order to find the notes and get an understanding on how intervals feel on these basic chords.

Because when you've got this down you will be able to sing any song on pitch while playing an instrument as well... But it will take time, this is about working both your ear as well as your voice!

Harmonizing a vista is a lot harder and I would really advice you to wait a little bit with it as it may be counter productive right now :3

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Hi, I developed harmonizing skills in childhood because luckily I had 2 sisters who sang. We combined our skills out of a love of music and we discovered that we could create amazing sounds with harmony, so we helped each other to hone the skill.. we continued in choirs.. But a couple of years ago, out of curiosity I went to a harmony workshop led by the members of a band called Crucible from Sheffield (http://www.myspace.com/cruciblefolk). I learned in the workshop that not everyone harmonized naturally but that it's possible to learn the skill through practice. It was a very interesting class.. I'm not sure if they are still active but you might be able to email them for details. Simply listening and practicing finding harmonizing sounds.. a little every day.. before long you'll be harmonizing. We also listened to a lot of acapella harmony groups

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I have been making progress with my voice, well I was until I got sick for a couple weeks and couldn't sing(strange winter we had here), but one constant problem I'm having is that I always seem to sing too low for the song, its not that my voice can't hit the notes, like a song that hangs around B3, I'll be hanging around A3 or G3.

So I guess my question is, will I just develop being able to sing in tune with the song as I get better? Is it just that I'm not used to hearing myself and the way my voice actually is? Just feeling a bit discouraged.

Thanks.

Notsosuperhero: Singing in tune is a learned skill, a coordination of your external hearing, your 'internal pitch image' , and your voice. It responds to practice.

IMO, the very best exercises use a constant pitch reference... a drone tone that you try to match. Get yourself a digital keyboard, even a cheap one, select the 'pipe organ flute' patch, and cram a folded piece of paper between the F3 and G3 keys, so that the F3 will stay down when you press it. Voila!, drone F3.

I recommend you work your way upward from the lower middle of your voice. The exercise is to place your head fairly close to the keyboard speakers (don't use headphones), and to onset just a bit below the droned note, sirening slowly upward to it. If you are close, but not quite perfectly tuned, you will hear beats, patterns of loud/soft, that are the speed of the difference between the drone note and yours. The closer you get to the drone, the slower it will go, until they seem to disappear. If you go past, the beats re-appear, and get faster as you go sharp.

Practice about 15 mins a day, and then go on to other things.

After 5-7 days, you will find you are able to get to the 'very-slow-beats' quite rapidly after onset, and can sustain a note beat-less for several seconds. Then, stop sirening up to the note... try to onset directly to the beat-less tuning. Practice this for another week, 15 mins a day.

When that week is over, do 5 mins of F3 alone, and then let it up and do 10 mins of G3, with clean onset on the G. Repeat for a week.

Repeat on the A3 for a week, and then the B for a week. The rest of the process is repetition on all the notes in the region, until your octave C3 to C4 is accurate.

I hope this is helpful. Let us know how things are progressing.

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If you can follow a melody line and you know that you are singing 2 or 3 tones bellow it, why dont you fix it? Its simply a matter of comparing what you are doing to the melody you want to do and doing right.

Play the original back, follow the melody, stop the original, sing along your guitar or a Backing Track. Record and compare.

Now, if the problem is that you CANT follow the melody line, then you will have to work your way through intervals and scales.

The question does show a bit of confusion in it... Understand that chords alone do not have enough information for you to build the whole melody line without knowing it. Relative pitch and your musical memory on intervals will allow you to have a much easier time learning a new melody, but never guessing it out of nothing.

If you can follow a melody pattern (you said you can), you know the song well and you practice a little bit on starting the phrases on the correct note, the problem will disappear. Listenning to the song you will practice will also help, carefull listenning paying attention to the melody line of course.

When Im working on playing a song with a band, I usually do this to all instruments, or if not at least general map of key aspects. Get enough information to play the song inside your head, noticing drum patterns, what the guitars and bass are doing, details, etc...

But are you sure that you are following the line precisely when singing with the choir? Record yourself singing along a simple major scale and confirm it.

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Thanks for all the info guys, just knowing that its a common thing makes me feel better.

I'm gonna start doing what Steven said this week.

And Felipe, I'll know the vocal melody line, but when I'm singing it I'm hearing in my head that it feels correct, but I listen back and its a note or two too low, if that makes any sense.

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Steven, I have been practicing using earbuds with one in the ear and one out. Would you advise against this?

Seth: The 'beats' I was describing are an acoustic effect that happens in the air when notes are nearly in tune. The effect does not occur with ear buds.

Yes, I do recommend learning this skill without a monitor or ear bud. Add that later when you have become oriented.

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And Felipe, I'll know the vocal melody line, but when I'm singing it I'm hearing in my head that it feels correct, but I listen back and its a note or two too low, if that makes any sense.

I have this problem as well. Even when I began "training" a week ago, I'd play a note on the piano, sing it, think, "nailed it!!" then moved on. When I listened back, the notes still sound in tune, but it took me a while to realize I was singing an octave lower.

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