Jump to content

Trouble matching vocals to guitar tuning

Rate this topic


Rob O
 Share

Recommended Posts

All respects to the professionals here at TMV World! But, I'm new to TMV and I'm an amateur seeking help; sing in church choir and weekend bar band for fun. My band decided to tune all guitars down 1 whole step and stay with a D maj tuning for all songs.

My trouble is, when covering the original song that was done in a higher tuning, I have no problem. When the original was in a lower tuning, I struggle bringing it up to where we are tuned. It would seem to me if we're playing all songs with the same guitar tuning, I would be OK with all the songs we do that way.

Am I confusing guitar tuning with the acutal vocal pitch/key for the songs? I'm not a guitar player. Is it that even when a guitar is tuned any particular way, there is are multiple musical keys it can be played in that requiring matching, multiple vocal keys to accompany it?

Please help!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, like you are singing higher than you should (assuming you want to keep the melody the same), because you are used to the feeling of singing it higher when the guitars are tuned higher.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't confuse the tuning of instruments with the actual key a song is in. Your band has likely dropped tuning a whole step to achieve a darker, fatter timbre - an aesthetic decision. This by default lowers the key of the songs by a whole step (if, and only if, they play the same fingerings, chord shapes etc on the same frets as before).

They could change the key of the songs without re-tuning, and simply transpose all of the chords (finding compromises where the lower chords can't be played without re-tuning).

As the others have rightly stated, you are probably latching onto a higher melody (as Felipe suggested, a 3rd higher, or a 5th even....) and hence you are struggling. This melody may sound correct to you, as it does harmonize with the rest of the band.

Your task is a simple one. If they are playing a whole step lower, you must sing a whole step lower. If you feel aurally disorientated, find the original note you would start a given song on. Most likely the tonic (if the song was in E, then it will probably be E) but not necessarily. Check and find the original note. Now sing the first phrase or two. Now simply give yourself the starting note (have a band member play it for you) a whole step lower, and sing the phrase off of that. Every note in the phrase should be a tone lower.

I hope this helps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

What i think Rob O is referring to is the song key has been dropped (transposed) as a result of the dropped tuning.

You say all the guitars have dropped from EADGBE to DGCFAD. I assume this rather than a dropped D for Power chord situation and the guitar layers are now playing the same chord configuration. Would I be correct ?

(and ... if you have a keyboard player they too have to drop the key).

May I also assume that the guitar players are playing the same chord configs on the usual frets (and that the song has thus been dropped as a result). (i.e. a G is no longer a G - it's now an F) So in this situation, yes you are also expected to sing a tone down for all songs. As a result - that's inexperience, the ability to sing songs in dropped keys comes with practice.

(For example a recent grade 2 folk song was dropped from it's original A down to G. In that scenario singer could easily sing the song and had relevant experience to keep melody in key and could re-sing the song in either key without issues ... However - one song (original D Minor) was dropped several tones (so an contralto could sing (i.e. they couldn't hit the D5 and E5's)) - but it TOTALLY flummoxed the original singer (who could not pitch the melody correctly in this case and the soprano didn't sing it. She even had to re-listen to it in original key quite a few times for her to be able to sing it in correct key!!.)

If the guitar players are still playing a G (i.e. have re-fretted) then there should be no issue - (i.e. you're in original key), but I have a hunch the guitar players have actually transposed EVERYTHING down a tone.

What you need is experience of singing the songs dropped (sing them A cappella) and over time everything will mesh fine.

I see nick posted whilst I was typing and said this, "Your task is a simple one. If they are playing a whole step lower, you must sing a whole step lower." ... Yes - that's basically it :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All of that does help. Thank you all. I think I'm 75% there but where I'm still struggling to make it all sync for me is; a song orginally in E, that we now play in D (by tuning down a whole step) I'm vocally confortable with. But song originally in C# that we now play in D (up 1 semi-tone) is, or seems, harding and higher pitch than the others we play in D. Not sure why.

Maybe an answer to this will help me: for a 6 string guitar tuned down 2 semi-tones (1 whole step) how many difference vocal pitches could there be for that tuning? Does every tuning arrangement have 12 different possible matching vocal keys?

Is it that, regardless of guitar tuning, if a song is play in, say, the 7th or 10th fret position, THAT is what determines the vocal Key, not so much the actually tuning of the strings. The tuning sets the range of the pitches but the required vocal pitch/key varies depending on where on the fret board the song is played???

If so, I think what I need is to have the guitarists come down on the fret board (towards the head) and play it in a lower key.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ahhhhh u are making a huge confusion man...

C# IS C# no matter the instrument or how its tunned. If ur band is playing a song that is originally in C# on D they just raised it a half step. And the melody will follow of course.

The C# SHAPE done on a guitar tunned hald step down is not C#, its a C.

Got it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All of this from Stew 503, pasted below, is correct.

"You say all the guitars have dropped from EADGBE to DGCFAD. I assume this rather than a dropped D for Power chord situation and the guitar layers are now playing the same chord configuration. Would I be correct ?

(and ... if you have a keyboard player they too have to drop the key).

May I also assume that the guitar players are playing the same chord configs on the usual frets (and that the song has thus been dropped as a result). (i.e. a G is no longer a G - it's now an F"

Thats great added clarity. Thank you all very much.

I've learned!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No problem, For this one - unfortunately the guitarists have made your life a little harder, due to playing this one song in D. They have made their life easier though :mad:

You said, "a song orginally in E, that we now play in D (by tuning down a whole step) I'm vocally confortable with. But song originally in C# that we now play in D (up 1 semi-tone) is, or seems, harding and higher pitch than the others we play in D. Not sure why."

..

For 99.9% of your songs, you sing them down 1 whole step, due to the guitarists dropping their tuning down and keeping the original fretting. Vocally - you have NO problem with that.

However for this ONE song (is it say a QOTSA song), the guitarists have decided to transpose the song upward to D from C#. For them it's easy ... It's a simple refretting job (by 1 fret to cover the transpose and 2 more to cover the dropped tuning), but vocally they have created the scenario of.

Within Choir - sing original key So my QOTSA song is c# (vocally you can sing this)

Within band 99% - sing down 1 tone, so my QOTSA song SHOULD be in B (again vocally you can sing this)

However guitarists want it in D, so vocally they want you to sing 1/2 up from original. And a vocalists who is used to everything 1 down (in the band scenario), is now singing vocally 1 & 1/2 up (and rightly so - this creates issues for you), you do however need to detach yourself away from the guitar tuning mode (i.e. this statment, "Am I confusing guitar tuning with the acutal vocal pitch/key for the songs?"), because that's what is messing with the thought process.

So in Felipe's scenario, "The C# SHAPE done on a guitar tunned hald step down is not C#, its a C., yes - guitarists have dropped tuning down 1 whole step".

So ... The C# SHAPE done on a guitar tunned full step down is not C#, its a B. ... yes with hand on the original fret. To play the C#, all I do is move hand up the fretboard.

Now transpose a C# SONG upward to D WITH keeping guitar dropped tuning. All you do is keep chord fingering, just move the hand up the fretboard again to cover the transpose.

To learn this one - I would use Audacity or some other software to change the key and sing along to - however vocally you may be hitting some higher notes that are unfamiliar. Recommend sirening up to and a few beyond the higher notes.

Also detach yourself from the guitarists and their tunings - keep them seperate and ALL YOU really need to know is ... What key are we singing this one ?, are down a tone like we usually are :) ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... out of interest what's the song.

I say this due to this portion of your text, "is, or seems, harding and higher pitch than the others we play in D."

I'm also wondering if an chord octave anomaly occurs in the song, i.e. guitarists cannot hit some lower chords, so they 11th fret the chord (ask the guitarists if they do that, i.e C on 10th), so aurally the melody may be out of / feels out of whack, and you're trying to reach/sing an octave above occasionally (so you may register flip).

If the above does happen - I would recommend a good set of in ears and get the mix to how YOU want / need it. :)

However I also have had a thought on this statement again, " the others we play in D.", I think that "may" be a misnomer and rather than a "play in D", is actually the guitarists are tuned to D.

It's more likely as per above the song has been dropped a tone. So keep the though and ask, "What key are we singing this one ?, are down a tone like we usually are ?"

Loving Ron's later post... Simple Barre for all Majors and (of course) the D is easiest.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Crucify the guitarists! Crucify them! We just need some wood, a few unemployed centurions with some fish stickers ....

A note is a note, but it can be just as difficult for a singer to transpose low as some would transpose high. It's not like a guitar, just twist the tuning head up or down or fret or make a barre chord.

Guitarists should do as I have done. Learn the song in the original key. Then transpose to suit the singer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...