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how to master pitch and singing in key

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rurokenji
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hey guys,

Does anyone know any exercises and techniques i could use to master pitch and singing in key? Also does anyone know if there are any programes like singing sucess etc that helps master pitch and singing in key?

Thanks

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There's a course called Perfect Pitch, and another one called Relative Pitch by the same guy - www.perfectpitch.com

I haven't done the course myself .. started it but got bored with it after a few weeks.. I just play the guitar and use that as my reference instrument

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Relative Pitch I think is more useful for singers then absolute pitch. That being said, both are developped alot by improving your singing technique.

You'll find that your ability to stay on key will improve with your technique. Often a lack of energy, support, closure or unclear vowels can all be responsible for you falling flat on a note. You'll also start to feel in your own body the amount of energy and resistance at the cord level you feel for any given note. That's why a lot of singers can just pretty much tell what note it is by just the feeling in their bodies ;>

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Relative Pitch I think is more useful for singers then absolute pitch. That being said, both are developped alot by improving your singing technique.

You'll find that your ability to stay on key will improve with your technique. Often a lack of energy, support, closure or unclear vowels can all be responsible for you falling flat on a note. You'll also start to feel in your own body the amount of energy and resistance at the cord level you feel for any given note. That's why a lot of singers can just pretty much tell what note it is by just the feeling in their bodies ;>

Thanks guys for the advice, i have just downloaded david lucas burges relative pitch course. Hopefully, it will help. Has anyone here used it before to master pitch and singing in key before?

So Elrathion, as my pitch will improve by the course, will i be able to eventually automatically be able to sing on key?

Thanks

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ruko all that relative pitch will do, is for you to HEAR inside your head or in a SONG the right interval. You'll be like C G G C oh that's a perfect fifth! But this is useless on it's own if you don't get the correct voice training ;> When you pair them with good technique, it's an added value for sure.

But it will only help you if you can use your instrument good to begin with ;>

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The relative pitch course your downloaded will be very beneficial towards you understanding the building blocks of music i.e. intervals and the combination of them. I have it myself, and I have gotten a lot out of it. Here's the thing though: Whilst it will sharpen your ear like a razor (in time, and if you dedicate yourself to it), that does not automatically translate to singing on pitch. You will be able to pick what chords are being played in a song (relative to each other) and any melodies etc. And by virtue of that, you will be able to hear in your head, the correct pitches you ought to be singing, or allow you to harmonize in creative ways.

Good vocal technique and practice are then vital to actually being able to execute what you intend, what you hear, on pitch. Plenty of people with amazing ears, can't sing worth a damn, and it's down to their lack of practice and technique. Having said that, if you combine your ear training with solid vocal practice and technique, you will be a step ahead of many singers who don't go so far with their aural training.

As Bob said, you should also have someone in the know give you feedback. Whilst you will develop the ability to distinguish all manner of progressions and complex melodies etc, and be able to sing the most awkward intervals or harmony notes, that does not guarantee those notes will be 'in tune' (as in, very well in tune). So it will pay to have someone there to say "cool, but that note was a little flat" or "you're scooping up/down to the note and starting flat/sharp" etc.

Sorry for the epic post ! I hope that all makes sense. If you really give the ear training a solid crack, you'll benefit hugely, not only as a singer, but potentially as a more complete musician as it will expose you to the inner workings of music. I wish you the best of luck! let us know how you get along.

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Thanks guys for all the feedback! The thing is, i want to end it with my current singing teacher. I mean, i am not trying to sound like i know it all and everything but she seems to be dodging the vital parts of my voice that needs to be worked on. A few people here, have told me i need to work on pitch and being in key and i have been seeing this woman (teacher) for half a year now and she has not one day mentioned anything about pitch and being in key. Today, i asked how do i go about learning to sing in key and pitch and is there any techniques she could teach me and her only reply was "listern carefully", like how is that going to help?

I mean, she could have been a bit helpful, i think tbh. I am a student so i can't even afford to find another new teacher etc. The relative pitch software seems like a good way of helping my ears, however is there any techniques or exercises i could use at home to help me with singing on pitch and in key just untill i have enough money to get a new teacher?

Thanks guys for all the feedback! Much appreicated

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Plus with my current teacher, anytime i suggest we work on something like say for example, she chooses to work on a section of my voice that is already alright ish. If i were to suggest pitch and singing on key to her, she would choose to ignore it and work on the section of my voice we have been working for almost a year :(

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Your teacher is partially correct, regarding listening carefully. However, you need some more direct guidance than that.

There may be programs where you attempt to match pitches (singing into a mic) and the program tells you if you're sharp, flat, or on pitch. But basically..... that's essentially a tuner one would use on a guitar or other instrument.

Something I often see instrumentalists doing (I see clarinet and flute players do this often) is checking their notes by playing them into a chromatic tuner. Certain passages give rise to technical challenges, that make the tuning of notes difficult, especially when rapid or angular.

Perhaps as a start, I might suggest you do something like the following. Go to whichever instrument you have (a guitar, a piano etc) and play a note comfortably within your vocal range. Now sing it. Now play the note while singing it. If you're spot on, your sound and the sound of the instrument will meld (ignoring timbre colour differences for the sake of this experiment). If you're not on pitch, you will hear what's called "beating" between the notes. A throbbing of the sound. The closer you are on pitch, the slower the throb. Now, if you're way off, like, by a quarter tone or more, (or even singing a totally different note altogether....) you wont hear this 'beating' between notes. In this case, check yourself by singing the note in a chromatic tuner to make sure it is indeed, the same one!

Take this further by recording your efforts. It can be hard to determine pitch issues for some people when they sing, but when they hear a playback, it becomes much clearer.

Becoming sensitive to tuning takes time, practice, and experience. Think of it like learning to be a wine taster..... learning the subtle nuances.

You can apply this same approach to songs. Work out what each note is supposed to be, and then methodically check yourself by both singing the note while playing it, and really zoning into it, and experimenting going sharp and flat till you really sit in the pocket.

Record yourself singing a song, play it back, and play the vocal line on guitar/piano or whatever. In windows media player you can slow the playback down. Do that, and really anally assess each note by playing the note it's supposed to be against it.

Make some mental notes, and go work on the bits that aren't hitting the spot using the method I suggested above. This is how most instrumentalists with flexible tuning (woodwinds, brass etc) iron out tuning issues.

Now, I'm not addressing technical things here, like support etc. I'm approaching this, as though the tuning issues you are experiencing, are related to musical inexperience. I.E. you are struggling because you just aren't hearing when you're on pitch or not.

You say you downloaded the relative pitch course and referred to it as software...? I'm checking we have the same thing. It's not software, it's 40 or so CDs of audio with lessons and tests. Is this what you have?

Perhaps other people can suggest other ideas......I'm not claiming this is the ONLY way to go. But it's a solid way to get on the right foot with this stuff. The relative pitch program will also help to tune your ear, as you will be doing a lot of singing pitches, and hearing the correct pitches afterwards.

(as an appendix to the above, I'm not considering the problem of equal temperament vs. natural tuning here... that's a another can of worms for another day... )

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does anyone know any apps that could help with mastering pitch?

Thanks

rurokenji: Check out the program 'Sing and See'. It gives realtime, visual feedback of of the notes you are singing. It puts a musical staff on the screen, and then displays graphically where on the staff your current note is. If you are sharp or flat... you can see that as well.

For very fine tuning, there is no substitute for learning to hear other musical tones and matching them. For that, I use an inexpensive digital keyboard, select the pipe organ flute stop, and use a folded piece of paper jammed between keys to hold one down continually. This produces a constant drone note to which you can practice tuning. Sing right next to the speaker When you are missing the note somewhat, there will be rapid volume changes (like pulses) due to the interference between your voice and the keyboard note. As you get closer to the keyboard note, the pulses will get slower and slower until they seem to disappear. When they disappear, you are in tune with the organ note.

I know a teacher that used a guitar tuner with a sweeping needle display to help a deaf student learn how to sing in tune.... without hearing at all. It was an inexpensive Korg tuner, that would disply an LED of the note, and show the fine tuning on the dial.

As others have said, vocal technique will help with tuning overall. A voice that is free and resonant more readily reproduces the note that the singer hears in the mind.

I hope this is helpful.

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Your teacher is partially correct, regarding listening carefully. However, you need some more direct guidance than that.

There may be programs where you attempt to match pitches (singing into a mic) and the program tells you if you're sharp, flat, or on pitch. But basically..... that's essentially a tuner one would use on a guitar or other instrument.

Something I often see instrumentalists doing (I see clarinet and flute players do this often) is checking their notes by playing them into a chromatic tuner. Certain passages give rise to technical challenges, that make the tuning of notes difficult, especially when rapid or angular.

Perhaps as a start, I might suggest you do something like the following. Go to whichever instrument you have (a guitar, a piano etc) and play a note comfortably within your vocal range. Now sing it. Now play the note while singing it. If you're spot on, your sound and the sound of the instrument will meld (ignoring timbre colour differences for the sake of this experiment). If you're not on pitch, you will hear what's called "beating" between the notes. A throbbing of the sound. The closer you are on pitch, the slower the throb. Now, if you're way off, like, by a quarter tone or more, (or even singing a totally different note altogether....) you wont hear this 'beating' between notes. In this case, check yourself by singing the note in a chromatic tuner to make sure it is indeed, the same one!

Take this further by recording your efforts. It can be hard to determine pitch issues for some people when they sing, but when they hear a playback, it becomes much clearer.

Becoming sensitive to tuning takes time, practice, and experience. Think of it like learning to be a wine taster..... learning the subtle nuances.

You can apply this same approach to songs. Work out what each note is supposed to be, and then methodically check yourself by both singing the note while playing it, and really zoning into it, and experimenting going sharp and flat till you really sit in the pocket.

Record yourself singing a song, play it back, and play the vocal line on guitar/piano or whatever. In windows media player you can slow the playback down. Do that, and really anally assess each note by playing the note it's supposed to be against it.

Make some mental notes, and go work on the bits that aren't hitting the spot using the method I suggested above. This is how most instrumentalists with flexible tuning (woodwinds, brass etc) iron out tuning issues.

Now, I'm not addressing technical things here, like support etc. I'm approaching this, as though the tuning issues you are experiencing, are related to musical inexperience. I.E. you are struggling because you just aren't hearing when you're on pitch or not.

You say you downloaded the relative pitch course and referred to it as software...? I'm checking we have the same thing. It's not software, it's 40 or so CDs of audio with lessons and tests. Is this what you have?

Perhaps other people can suggest other ideas......I'm not claiming this is the ONLY way to go. But it's a solid way to get on the right foot with this stuff. The relative pitch program will also help to tune your ear, as you will be doing a lot of singing pitches, and hearing the correct pitches afterwards.

(as an appendix to the above, I'm not considering the problem of equal temperament vs. natural tuning here... that's a another can of worms for another day... )

hi, sorry i meant to say i have the relative pitch course cd's. Thanks for the advice!

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rurokenji: Check out the program 'Sing and See'. It gives realtime, visual feedback of of the notes you are singing. It puts a musical staff on the screen, and then displays graphically where on the staff your current note is. If you are sharp or flat... you can see that as well.

For very fine tuning, there is no substitute for learning to hear other musical tones and matching them. For that, I use an inexpensive digital keyboard, select the pipe organ flute stop, and use a folded piece of paper jammed between keys to hold one down continually. This produces a constant drone note to which you can practice tuning. Sing right next to the speaker When you are missing the note somewhat, there will be rapid volume changes (like pulses) due to the interference between your voice and the keyboard note. As you get closer to the keyboard note, the pulses will get slower and slower until they seem to disappear. When they disappear, you are in tune with the organ note.

I know a teacher that used a guitar tuner with a sweeping needle display to help a deaf student learn how to sing in tune.... without hearing at all. It was an inexpensive Korg tuner, that would disply an LED of the note, and show the fine tuning on the dial.

As others have said, vocal technique will help with tuning overall. A voice that is free and resonant more readily reproduces the note that the singer hears in the mind.

I hope this is helpful.

Hi, thats sounds like a great idea. I'm guessing it would take time for me to be able to become good at this exercise but i am sure it probably is the most effective and fastest way to sing on pitch

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Here is my 2 cents which comes from my own common sense as opposed to schooling. :) That doesn't make it right necessarily, but only is what has always kept me just off the common path all my life. My way.

Suppose you were an impressionist/comedian. You would be adept at copying people. You would listen to and study peoples mannerisms, vocal inflections, voice patterns and sounds. Being a funnyman myself all my life I have done just that. I'm a ball breaker and I study people so I can make fun of them later. (yea...I'm a **** sometimes :D). But I do tend to keep a room amused and a party partying.

But the point is you just do it, and there isn't a program to learn it. It just comes from constant doing. Listening and copying. Be a mimic! Most things I sing, I never learned in a program or school. (ok...I'm not claiming to be an ace singer...I'm just saying...) I learned from mimicking. Someone asked me once how I learned to sing triplets. I said " say what?" What the hell is a triplet? All I was doing was mimicking the record. What the singer did I did.

I think more than any program, what someone needs is feedback. First you mimic, then you ask a third party, "how did that sound?" No third party? Then get a tuner and match sounds....simple. Mimic, match then mimic again. Get it right, memorize and carry on. Any program to teach you to be on pitch? Well, I just don't get it. It's a matter of hearing and matching. Mimic. Yes, good technique will give you better control which will help you get and stay on pitch but first you have to recognize the sound. Many times people aren't singing with enough air/support and/ or have uncontrolled air flow and are wobbling on and off pitch through that lack of control; but that is secondary to first being able to mimic the pitch, imo.

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Thanks for the link Jonpall. I'm aware of those different ways of learning as well as the right and left brain theories. You may be right...I can't be sure if I agree or not at the moment :)

However my first thoughts are that I think those theories apply more to learning a task more so than applying the senses, which I believe (just my opinion) following pitch may be one of the senses..ie hearing. "Learning" something which may be a task or something with specific instructions is one thing (and people have different ways of learning) but no one can teach you how to hear. If you hear it you should just be able to "tune in." At least I believe so. Just keep varying (practicing) your own pitch until it matches. No?

Interesting none the less :)

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Former moderator Aaron Meyers came back home to Texas for a family event. And invited me. It was an honor and privilege to meet with him. Here's the cool thing. He had an app in his smartphone that would tell you the pitch of a note that you were singing. And this is a true and funny story. We were in the garage trading notes, rather than in the house, where we though we would disturb the rest of the family. So, anyway, we both go for D5 and it was so freaking loud that his mom came out to see if we had run over one of the dogs with a car. Ouch! I guess it's a good thing my dog is my avatar.

Anyway, look for something like that.

Also, when having pitch problems, it is usually because you are either not hearing the pitch correctly or don't have a mental image or picture of it. One homemade idea is to picture each note as a color or object. Kind of like a mnemonic memory device. Once you have that linked in your mind, you can "see" the note and your body will respond.

And, again, when you hit a note in the right place, you will feel certain sympathetic vibrations that are congruent with that note placement. Give yourself time. Elvis' music teacher said, when he was a kid, that he would never be much of a singer.

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Here is my 2 cents which comes from my own common sense as opposed to schooling. :) That doesn't make it right necessarily, but only is what has always kept me just off the common path all my life. My way.

Suppose you were an impressionist/comedian. You would be adept at copying people. You would listen to and study peoples mannerisms, vocal inflections, voice patterns and sounds. Being a funnyman myself all my life I have done just that. I'm a ball breaker and I study people so I can make fun of them later. (yea...I'm a dick sometimes :D). But I do tend to keep a room amused and a party partying.

But the point is you just do it, and there isn't a program to learn it. It just comes from constant doing. Listening and copying. Be a mimic! Most things I sing, I never learned in a program or school. (ok...I'm not claiming to be an ace singer...I'm just saying...) I learned from mimicking. Someone asked me once how I learned to sing triplets. I said " say what?" What the hell is a triplet? All I was doing was mimicking the record. What the singer did I did.

I think more than any program, what someone needs is feedback. First you mimic, then you ask a third party, "how did that sound?" No third party? Then get a tuner and match sounds....simple. Mimic, match then mimic again. Get it right, memorize and carry on. Any program to teach you to be on pitch? Well, I just don't get it. It's a matter of hearing and matching. Mimic. Yes, good technique will give you better control which will help you get and stay on pitch but first you have to recognize the sound. Many times people aren't singing with enough air/support and/ or have uncontrolled air flow and are wobbling on and off pitch through that lack of control; but that is secondary to first being able to mimic the pitch, imo.

Hi tommy, thanks for the feedback. Yeah, i guess when i try to sing songs, i am too busy trying to sing it all without (thus the reason why i mumble a lot of words or don't pronounce words) actually listerning to it properly. So you suggest, i keep singing along to the records but listerning clearly so i can manage to sing along to the record with the same pitch as the singer?

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Former moderator Aaron Meyers came back home to Texas for a family event. And invited me. It was an honor and privilege to meet with him. Here's the cool thing. He had an app in his smartphone that would tell you the pitch of a note that you were singing. And this is a true and funny story. We were in the garage trading notes, rather than in the house, where we though we would disturb the rest of the family. So, anyway, we both go for D5 and it was so freaking loud that his mom came out to see if we had run over one of the dogs with a car. Ouch! I guess it's a good thing my dog is my avatar.

Anyway, look for something like that.

Also, when having pitch problems, it is usually because you are either not hearing the pitch correctly or don't have a mental image or picture of it. One homemade idea is to picture each note as a color or object. Kind of like a mnemonic memory device. Once you have that linked in your mind, you can "see" the note and your body will respond.

And, again, when you hit a note in the right place, you will feel certain sympathetic vibrations that are congruent with that note placement. Give yourself time. Elvis' music teacher said, when he was a kid, that he would never be much of a singer.

Hi Ronws, thanks for the advice. Wow, elvis's teacher used to say that lol? Btw do you know the name of that app?

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Hi tommy, thanks for the feedback. Yeah, i guess when i try to sing songs, i am too busy trying to sing it all without (thus the reason why i mumble a lot of words or don't pronounce words) actually listerning to it properly. So you suggest, i keep singing along to the records but listerning clearly so i can manage to sing along to the record with the same pitch as the singer?

Well, that's part of it. The other thing is to get a tuner and a pitch pipe of some sort and match tones. Get an "A" on the pitch pipe or keyboard, whatever and then match the tone vocally against a tuner.

But yes, singing a song and trying to copy what the singer is doing is good exercise IMO. At least I like doing that. Others' millage may vary. Just keep the music a little lower because the two sounds (your own voice and that of the actual singer) will start to sound in tune when in actuality they are not.

Then you can record yourself singing to the record played low and note any differences etc. I sometimes try to sing the song acapella after that also and then finally a recording to a backing track. I just keep trying to match the notes. Eventually I get comfortable enough to play with it and change the phrasing to my own.

It may not be for everyone but I have learned a lot of things by watching people then copying. Shooting a basketball, improving my batting swing, throwing a punch. dribbling a basketball through my legs. Martial arts forms I wasn't supposed to know until a higher rank, specialty kicks, and the list goes on. When you are poor and can't afford lessons for things sometimes you have to peek through a hole in the fence. ;)

P.S.

I'm not saying this is "the" way or even the right way. But it is what I do (if that is even worth anything). Just an idea. There are many ways and many great singers and teachers on this forum more educated than me in all this.

But sometimes you don't need to spend money on programs if you don't have it. The brain is a wonderful tool :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

hey guys,

Does anyone know any exercises and techniques i could use to master pitch and singing in key? Also does anyone know if there are any programes like singing sucess etc that helps master pitch and singing in key?

Thanks

I'm not an expert. I've been taking voice lessons a year and a half now (and had absolutely NO musical background before that).

Singing songs never really helped me. Most songs (especially pop) are written for a specific singer.

So there's a high probability that a song you like won't necessarily go along too well with your voice.

Also, songs are for people that have already mastered all the skills needed to sing them. They were never

made to be used as training exercises.

It might sound strange, but for me it was vocal exercises that help me improve pitch

more than anything else. I do my workout everyday before singing.

If you use a vocal workout CD everyday (I use Anne Peckham's "Elements of Vocal Technique: The Contemporary Singer" 6 days a week). I do the "High Workout" Mon-Wed-Fri and the "Low" workout Tues-Thu-Sat. On Sunday, I rest. As your voice gets stronger, hitting pitches become easier. My voice improved dramatically from doing BOTH high and low workouts (I used to only do high workouts).

A year of these vocal exercises has lead to all sorts of change in my voice. Every month, new areas would open up. Now, I can literally feel the air flow from my lower stomach all the way to my throat.

I use an app called "eTuner" for iPhone/iPad. You sing and it tells you the pitch.

For better quality, get an iPhone USB Connection kit and sing into a USB microphone.

That's the only app I used for pitch training. Just that app and a keyboard is fine.

What you really need to do is to be able to listen for resonance.

When your singing note matches the pitch of an instrument, the vibrations/blending/volume suddenly increase by a lot. The moment you sing an off-pitch note, the volume/resonance/blending drops off immediately.

So to start off, I used eTuner and sang a steady note (pick any note). Plays notes on the piano above or below that note and keep going up/down until you reach the note you are singing. Alternating between playing the note your are singing and playing the note above/below the note your are singing. There is a volume spike that tells you that you're singing the correct pitch.

Also, try to listen to any radio song and when you hear a long note, try to match that pitch.

Also, close your eyes, play any key on the piano and try to sing the same pitch. If you are off,

ask yourself "Am I singing too low or too high?" and adjust your voice accordingly.

NOTE: If you need to hear how your voice sounds, I recommend a Vox Mini3 Amplifier. They sell it at Guitar Center. You can plug a guitar, mic, iPhone/iPad AND headphones at the same time. So you can play guitar, sing into a mic, while following a song on your Ipod, and listen it to all on your headphones.

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