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Singing in Key.

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richardtai
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Hey everyone!

I have a really quick question. How do you sing in key? To specify, in key with an instrument, like my guitar. I noticed that in a recording, something about my voice just doesn't match the guitar, I'm going to assume it's the key.

To my knowledge, the song I'm trying to sing is in they key of C, with the chords C, G, F, and Am.

My friend with more musical background than I, says that I am indeed, out of key with my guitar (which is in standard tuning). Simply put, how do I sing so that I am in tune with my guitar?

Thanks,

Richard T.

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Hey!

So it's all about hearing the guitar and comparing that with your voice. Take a single note from your guitar and try to sing it "in tune". All kinds of vocal exercices that includes singing scales following the piano, in example, is a great way to start to hear what you should sing with other instruments to be in tune. Scales also gets your voice familiar with the different pitches, but makes you hit the notes more accurately. It needs practice, and have to say, as I haven't had any formal training with real teachers it took several years to really get the pitches accurately. At start I already could sing "the melody", but it wasn't precise. I didn't even focus on that so much, so the development was sloooow..

The pitch in itself, as we usually refer it as "high or low note", as human ear notices it and what we are learnt to describe. That's the basic idea, and, I have to say to be truly tonedeaf needs more than not having "musicality". It needs a human who should be born and grow up without any kind of "cultural" and social connections. It kinda comes naturally, when ppl speak about high or low etc. So based on this principle, practically everyone can learn to sing in pitch.

So if the note you'r aiming at is like C, and you hit a note that's D. You should lower the pitch you're singing in. If it hits B below that C, you should raise the pitch. The "out of tune" singing can vary only a little off that certain note, but there's always only two way to go. up or down. Experiment. Take that note out of guitar, and sing it. Try to steadily lower your pitch. If you hear it goes all wrong, try to raise the pitch. The exact pitch you should be in, sounds like the guitar sound and your sung note kinda "amplifys" and sounds that they're buzzing in harmony with each other when they are at the exact same pitch. to let the pitch vary super-slight changes makes "chorus-like" effect, If you know what's that effect like.

So when you raise your pitch or lower it, as you get to the point where your voice and the guitar are at the exact pitch happens this as described above. Ok now that you try these things, you should be aware that you can "sing in harmony" with the guitar and still take another note than what you are playing with the guitar. let's say you take a C with your guitar, and then you sing D#. That's like a C minor, you're forming a chord with your singing and guitar that sounds nice. But, it's easier to hit the right notes than create harmonies "by accident". And if you can sing with your guitar, you're on the right track, keep it up!

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Alright, so I am humming the A below the staff (5th string on the guitar), and I'm kind of in a vocal fry. I feel the amplification you're talking about, but when I'm trying to sing the C, it's actually a little too low without going into vocal fry, and it feels weird to sing in vocal fry. (Lol). I'd hit for the higher C, but then I'd be straining a little bit. I have yet to develop a solid bridge between my chest and my head voice, or develop a mixed voice. I think if I was able to do both, I wouldn't be having this problem. :3

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Ye well increasing the range healthy is a great way to have ease on the higher notes, that sure helps hitting the notes in tune, as well as it just sounds better also to sing freely :)

Take a songs that are decent for your skill level atm by the means of range, so as you stay in your chestvoice you still can exercice singing on pitch without straining.

I'd like to point out that the "tone/quality", the way you sound like is not related to the actual pitch. So you can have a dark, big operatic voice and sing the same note as a little girl sings sounding like a mouse compared to you, you are at same pitch but still you'll create an image of singing "lower" than the girl.

But it's ok to seek the pitches with buzzier, added vocal fry sound. Vocal fry is healthy and actually encourages to better closure. But plz don't overdo it, it may swell the cords if oversqueezed =)

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my advice:

If you are not a good player on the guitar you should try to vocalize on a piano. The problem with the guitar is that if you don't fret the note properly you'll get a sharp or flat sound and i you try to make it with your voice, you will sound sharp or flat... There's not that kind of problems on a piano where the note you play is perfectly in pitch....

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my advice:

If you are not a good player on the guitar you should try to vocalize on a piano. The problem with the guitar is that if you don't fret the note properly you'll get a sharp or flat sound and i you try to make it with your voice, you will sound sharp or flat... There's not that kind of problems on a piano where the note you play is perfectly in pitch....

You're correct in so far as "perfectly in pitch" is defined in terms of "equal temperament". I am convinced that some people's bodies simply do NOT have equal temperament organically "installed". I find that my own personal sense of "correct pitch" equates spot-on to just intonation, so that depending on what note I'm singing in the scale, in order to match the piano I usually have to adjust a microtone upward or downward from what my ear tells me is correct.

KM

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  • 3 weeks later...

richardtai - the replies posted here are about matching pitch. There are two reasons a singer singer has intonation issues 1) do to training of ear (the mental path between adjusting the vocal mechanism for the pitch heard is new) 2) do to training of the vocal mechanism (perhaps you can match pitches perfectly in the range you are comfortable with, you can sing an octave and match all pitches in the octave; however, you are unable to sing the same pitch three octaves higher (you may require additional vocal training - bridging and connecting to match the pitch).

Singing in key, I think, means the notes sang are either the tonic (root) note (any pitch of this note) OR any of the notes in the key (tonic triad). I am thinking 1, 3, 5 or Do, Mi, Sol (note: you have to know the tonic - Do is always tonic or root or 1, is). I am not sure if this is correct, and I think the phrase, 'singing in key' may actually be slang referring to a single note.

I recommend using a keyboard or piano over a guitar BECAUSE the guitar's pitch decays more quickly. If you use a keyboard it will be easier to use a clean piano (grand piano, not a synthesizer) setting.

My voice teacher told me there are two things a singer can not be off on - pitch, rhythm. I found listening to the piano more closely (close your eyes for now if that helps you listen) helped me. Your body already knows the rest. Practice. Sally Morgan has a video on The Modern Vocalist with a pitch training exercise where you play two pitches and sing 'bow' on the first and 'wow' on the second (I think).

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I agree with markgrubb here and will get to another thing.

The main problem for singers is NOT singing on pithc on a single note, it's easy for everyone. The problem is to sing on pitch with INTERVALS. Like a musician, you have to sing scales and intervals ( 3rd, 4th etc..) very slowly, this way you will train your ears catching the space between the notes.

Hope you can understand my post, i'm not english and i've been doing 8 hours of show in two days and feel really tired lol...

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  • 5 weeks later...

Greetings; About singing in pitch: My experience working with many singers - usually those in a vocal group - is to match pitch with another singer whose voice is at least somewhat like yours. Match the pitches on the same vowel, too, as each vowel has it's own 'formant' --certain of the several emphasized frequencies making up that particular vowel sound want to be the same. Without getting too technical, recall that trying to match pitch with different vowels (or with an instrument) will sound out of tune, because all the frequencies sung in one vowel are not the same emphasized frequencies found in another. And practice singing scales with someone listening who had good pitch discrimination. Thanks for listening ----- musiker

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We agree with Joshual: "Your body already knows the rest. PRACTICE."

This is like "the inner game of singing" and its relationship to learning through forming 'muscle memory'. You'll know what to do when you can hear yourself accurately, which is only possible by using HearFones or -- if there were one -- something like them. There is so much more higher-frequency information coming out of your mouth than you could ever hear normally, and it's this information that cues you in to the pitches you're singing.

As Ray says, the vowels each sound like they're on different pitches because of their formants. To hear this, just hiss through your throat -- like the letter "H" -- while at the same time gnawing your mouth into all sorts of different shapes. It'll sound like the pitch is swirling all over the place, even though all that's happening is an un-pitched hissing sound coming out of your throat. When you close your lips into a tiny "OH" sound, the pitch will sound lower, and when you open your mouth wide, the pitch will climb upward. (This is how a mountain lion expresses itself when its hissing.)

Any struck or plucked string instrument starts out with a "rich" sound made up of harmonics, each above its basic resonant frequency (its intended pitch), but the higher the frequency of the harmonics, the faster the string is wiggling in creating them -- so these higher harmonics die down first, finally leaving only the basic fundamental still vibrating so you can hear (or feel) it.

Your voice is a rich instrument, too, but like a trumpet, it can be steadily driven for a long time, so it doesn't decay (die down). The problem is that your ears are actually nowhere near where they need to be for you to hear all this richness. If you're singing an "A-110" (at 110 Hertz), then the second harmonic is at 220, the third harmonic at 330 and the fourth at 440 Hertz -- at A above middle C. The 110 Hertz vibrations wobble up through your heavy flesh right into your inner ear, while that same heavy flesh can't be shaken as easily at 440 Hertz, so it's nowhere nearly as loud to you as it would be to a listener -- or a microphone, if you use one of those.

If your pitch moves up or down even a few Hertz (cycles per second), you won't detect it, but the fourth harmonic will move up and down four times as far, and you will surely hear that. To say nothing of the 20th harmonic at 2200 Hz -- right in the middle of your most sensitive hearing range, and yet almost entirely directed forward and away from your ears. Cup both of your hands to your ears and try it; not a precision instrument like HearFones, but at least it gives you an idea of what you're missing.

When you practice ANYTHING, you need to see (or hear) where you're hitting -- and that's harder the lower the frequency of your pitch. That's why we can help. I know this may sound like an advertisement, but when you're the only kid on the block, you just have explain these things. Sorry.

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