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I can't sing in tune to instrumentals

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etekiller
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Hey guys, a few years ago I asked a question here, now I am back with some more stuff.

 

I used to have problems while singing songs to their instrumental/karaoke versions. I couldn't sing in key unless I heard the original artist's vocal track (either just vocals or an instrument line that mimics vocals).

 

What I didn't know then is the fact, that I had a terrible singing technique. Just recently I came back to singing and managed to get a much better control of my voice (liprolls are damn amazing for proper breathing training). I tend to nail 95% of notes from my favourite songs (e.g. Metallica - Turn The Page and Mama Said), but when I launch those songs in karaoke versions then I have some problems. I nail about 60% - 90% of notes in karaoke. 

 

I have no idea how to hear roots of chords better. Is there any way to practise that? Some notes are easy for me to hit immediately, some are not, they're not obvious for my brain. I have to "search" for them going up or down with my voice (or finding them very quickly with a liproll - though still, not immediately). I am not tone deaf (and heard that it's just a myth), because I can tell when I'm off and I can tell when I am PERFECTLY on (sometimes I'm between of course, I hear that too). I can also sing some songs with 100% accuracy (easy ones).

 

I just cant "find" some notes right away, but as soon I do, I can hold them. If I make a short break then I might have to search for them again (though it's mostly when I switch between songs).

 

Could you friends please help me with that problem?

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It depends, when I'm singing and hitting the notes I feel this awesome resonance. It makes me extatic every time. It just doesn't get boring.

 

When I'm quiet I can't really "feel" them, I just have a weird sensation in my head that helps me differentiate whether the note is higher or lower than the previous one, and also tells me how much higher or lower it is.

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Would be nice off you to attach a file when u sing so we can see what is going wrong...other than that i can only advise you to sing sing sing and myabe try matching notes with piano...jumpa around octaves in your own range and go out of scale to really see if you can keep up with it

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Would be nice off you to attach a file when u sing so we can see what is going wrong...

 

Well, whatever I record I throw away because of that problem. I just can't listen to something that's not perfect. I will try to record something tomorrow for reviewing purposes though. Would you like a comparison of me singing to the original song to me singing to the karaoke version?

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     It is a normal thing in the beginning to have to search for some notes. Melodies do not always start on the Root note of a chord.

Some singers ask for one of the musicians to play the first note of the melody so the singer can get oriented.

    Just being able to hear the chord and start singing takes time. I sometimes play and sing the first verse of a song 20 times or more just getting that melody and key ingrained into my memory. If someone in the  band decides that we need to change the Key I need to re ingrain that melody to that key.

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Well, whatever I record I throw away because of that problem. I just can't listen to something that's not perfect. I will try to record something tomorrow for reviewing purposes though. Would you like a comparison of me singing to the original song to me singing to the karaoke version?

 

  That would really help.   Also remember that sometimes(a lot of times) the karaoke version may be played in a different key, or maybe slightly higher or lower than the original.

  Karaoke versions cannot be exactly like the original, that would be an infringement of copyright. So the song may even be slower or faster, Have a different Beat or feel to the song that can throw a singer off his game a little.

   So practice to the backing track or music that you will be singing to.

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Well, whatever I record I throw away because of that problem. I just can't listen to something that's not perfect. I will try to record something tomorrow for reviewing purposes though. Would you like a comparison of me singing to the original song to me singing to the karaoke version?

Okay, so, now maybe you realize that we cannot help without hearing and words just don't cut it. So, make that "bad" recording and share it.

 

Talking about singing is like dancing about buildings - paraphrased from a Frank Zappa quote "Talking about music is like dancing about buildings."

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     It is a normal thing in the beginning to have to search for some notes. Melodies do not always start on the Root note of a chord.

Some singers ask for one of the musicians to play the first note of the melody so the singer can get oriented.

    Just being able to hear the chord and start singing takes time. I sometimes play and sing the first verse of a song 20 times or more just getting that melody and key ingrained into my memory. If someone in the  band decides that we need to change the Key I need to re ingrain that melody to that key.

 

That is something that made me extremely motivated. I thought that this "recognizing of the key/tune" (perfectly feeling it) is something I should be perfect at from birth, and that I should just suck at reproducing it at first. People always told me that you either can hear it or not, and I was worried.

 

I thought they are right, because I couldn't tell any difference between for example C and F (I mean, I heard that they are different, but never heard what it means to "hit the note", I didn't hear that resonance). But I am really bad at surrendering, so it took me about 2.5 years of everyday training to finally hear that resonance and succeed in hitting my first notes. Half a year later and I was okay at it, and knew what to work on.

 

You might have noticed in that text why I am so extatic about hitting notes perfectly. It's like drugs for me, years of training giving results.

 

Can I have just one additional opinion from you guys? What do you think about the term "tone deaf"?

I will try to record those versions tomorrow, and you could tell me what you think about it. Thank you guys SO MUCH for help. I love these forums.

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    To be tone deaf is extremely rare. If you can sing or whistle just a simple melody you are not tone deaf. It just takes practice to recognize or produce different pitches at will.

    100 percent perfect pitch is also very rare. Relative pitch is much easier( determining the intervals between pitches). This also takes practice.

    A basic understanding of music theory is a must for singers. If you do not play an instrument already get yourself a cheap keyboard(electric piano) and a beginners music book. A little knowledge can go a long way.

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    To be tone deaf is extremely rare. If you can sing or whistle just a simple melody you are not tone deaf. It just takes practice to recognize or produce different pitches at will.

    100 percent perfect pitch is also very rare. Relative pitch is much easier( determining the intervals between pitches). This also takes practice.

    A basic understanding of music theory is a must for singers. If you do not play an instrument already get yourself a cheap keyboard(electric piano) and a beginners music book. A little knowledge can go a long way.

 

Thank you very much. I actually know music theory, at least at a basic to intermediate level. Scales, harmonics, patterns in music etc. are not that exotic to me. I also know a lot of sound theory, not only music theory, because I am a sound (mix, mastering and recording) engineer.

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Thank you very much. I actually know music theory, at least at a basic to intermediate level. Scales, harmonics, patterns in music etc. are not that exotic to me. I also know a lot of sound theory, not only music theory, because I am a sound (mix, mastering and recording) engineer.

   Then you cannot be tone deaf.   Take a simple song.... learn it on guitar(basic chords) or piano. Play and sing that song in different keys(with guitar just slap a capo on and move it from fret to fret playing the same chord progression).  You will get better.

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I'd play pitch matching games with yourself with another instrument.

 

1. Play scales, chords, and melodies on instrument and sing along to the exact notes. This can help you internalize notes more musically.

 

2. Guess the next note respectively that would be played on the instrument with your voice, and vice versa. This can help you leave the instrument/backing behind and use internal pitch (which can be used for improvisation).

 

3. Try to aim above and below the note compared to the instrument in the smallest increments possible for your voice, then nail it it as precisely as possible (this can help with learning to do fine tuning)

 

If you don't have an instrument you could use recording software as you said you are an engineer. Piano rolls are great because they are very visual and 'exact' grids of notes, which are probably the most intuitive way to present music on a visual basis compared to what it sounds like.

 

Basically using an instrument to tune yourself will be really helpful. Pitch can be improved by internalizing it from accurate sources into your mind, and having an efficient enough vocal technique to reproduce it. I could improve mine quite a bit more (I hear unintentional flatness and sharpness from time to time), but for the time being I simply sing for joy as I have no professional aims and relatively limited 'loud time' given my current living situation. However, if you compare my beginning accuracy to where I am now, it's night and day.

 

Oh, and make sure you train all vowels on all pitches too. And train transitioning between all different vowels. Including the less commonly thought of ones like 'er.' Lip bubbles would only take you so far into the real world of singing as there aren't changing vowels beneath the bubbles.

 

Edit:

 

Oh I forgot.... A very important part. Participate in ear training. Try to listen and 'recognize' the distances between notes. These are called intervals. This is a very monotonous and mechanical example, but it could illustrate the concept:

 

http://www.musictheory.net/exercises/ear-interval

 

The program will play you two notes with a certain distance between them, and you learn to 'hear' the distances. You can do this a lot more musically by listening to other artists or playing with other musicians, but in theory the concept is the same. You want to get a 'feel' or 'ear' for way notes move around in music so they become more a part of your 'sound vocabulary.'

 

Edit 2:

 

I found a virtual piano people can play with using a mouse or keyboard:

 

http://virtualpiano.net/

 

You can sing along to these pitches and vice a versa (play your singing).

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Thanks KillerKu. I will follow your tips!

 

I managed to do only a few seconds of recording (had no studio time today). It doesn't show the problem I described very well, but uncovers another one.

 

Here I sound like I am singing in slow motion, and like I had some sort of brain damage. I will share it anyway for a tip or two (sorry again that it's basically only few seconds long, but I will try to get some studio time tomorrow and get you a long sample).

 

I would be grateful for tips, friends.

 

https://soundcloud.com/pe-ter/ttp/s-cZD3i

 

Please remember that I am not a native English speaker, so I make mispronunciations. Sorry for that.

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I agree with MDEW. Learning some music theory requires that you be able to differentiate between one note and another, a sense of "interval." Which means you are not tone-deaf. A tone-deaf person, quite rare, would basically hear a series of tones as all quite close or similar to each other.

 

In some live environments, or even when just singing loud over accompaniment, you cannot hear yourself in relation to the music. Hence, you have to feel a sensation in your body or head that equals what that note is.

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I agree with MDEW. Learning some music theory requires that you be able to differentiate between one note and another, a sense of "interval." Which means you are not tone-deaf. A tone-deaf person, quite rare, would basically hear a series of tones as all quite close or similar to each other.

 

In some live environments, or even when just singing loud over accompaniment, you cannot hear yourself in relation to the music. Hence, you have to feel a sensation in your body or head that equals what that note is.

 

Thanks for the information, in my previous post I attached a link to a soundcloud track with a sample of my singing. Could you give me some tips based on what I described in that post?

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I don't hear any pitch problems with it. And congrats on doing the Metallica cover of that song, something of equal importance to the original, which I am more familiar with, having heard both the studio and the live version.

 

Basically, in spite of clipped and distorted mix, I don't hear a problem. Perhaps you could post something that has a problem.

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I don't hear any pitch problems with it. And congrats on doing the Metallica cover of that song, something of equal importance to the original, which I am more familiar with, having heard both the studio and the live version.

 

Basically, in spite of clipped and distorted mix, I don't hear a problem. Perhaps you could post something that has a problem.

 

Okay, I will try to get a full recording. Don't you think I sound like a dumb person while singing this? Kinda slow and not in rhythm.

 

I find it weird that it's clipping for you. I set a limiter to -0.1dB, it shouldn't do that. Maybe soundcloud "doesn't like" such high levels.

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Okay, I will try to get a full recording. Don't you think I sound like a dumb person while singing this? Kinda slow and not in rhythm.

 

I find it weird that it's clipping for you. I set a limiter to -0.1dB, it shouldn't do that. Maybe soundcloud "doesn't like" such high levels.

 

The phrasing was a little dragging, slow, which isn't bad, it's just a different artistic statement. Ahead of the beat tends to create a bit of energy, behind the beat tends to create kind of 'continual sludge thing.'

 

If you want to work on getting ahead or behind of the beat, it can be helpful to 'drum' with your hands. Keep the time signature with one hand (1,2,3,4, etc) while tapping out the rhythm of the melody with another hand and your voice for each note/syllable/vowel. You can get a cool sense of timing this way. I use my timing as a drummer when singing (triplets, quarter, eighths, sixteenths, etc), using on and off beats.

 

You can train some of that yeah, by tapping along with your singing. To define each 'part' of the vocal line with a percussive element.

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The phrasing was a little dragging, slow, which isn't bad, it's just a different artistic statement. Ahead of the beat tends to create a bit of energy, behind the beat tends to create kind of 'continual sludge thing.'

 

If you want to work on getting ahead or behind of the beat, it can be helpful to 'drum' with your hands. Keep the time signature with one hand (1,2,3,4, etc) while tapping out the rhythm of the melody with another hand and your voice for each note/syllable/vowel. You can get a cool sense of timing this way. I use my timing as a drummer when singing (triplets, quarter, eighths, sixteenths, etc), using on and off beats.

 

You can train some of that yeah, by tapping along with your singing. To define each 'part' of the vocal line with a percussive element.

 

Great! Thanks again. I might have this trouble because of the fact that I've been a rapper for about 6 years. I am used to rapping very fast and I never have problems with rhythm in rap. I can change it as I go, I can freestyle with perfect timing etc. Singing is VERY different for me, so whatever is intuitive while rapping fails in singing. It's a "different type of game". I have to get used to that.

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Great! Thanks again. I might have this trouble because of the fact that I've been a rapper for about 6 years. I am used to rapping very fast and I never have problems with rhythm in rap. I can change it as I go, I can freestyle with perfect timing etc. Singing is VERY different for me, so whatever is intuitive while rapping fails in singing. It's a "different type of game". I have to get used to that.

 

Strangely enough if you rap on sustained pitch it might get you closer and give you unique strengths as a vocalist. So I know singing is a new thing right now so it 'feels' really different, but you might ultimately merge both concepts into 'meter' in your head when singing becomes more familiar. 

 

I'm a drummer, and jazz drumming has a concept of playing almost 'melodies' on the snare drum while keeping time elsewhere  (hi hat, kick drum, ride cymbal) to hold down the rhythmic sections. I heard Elvin Jones talking about 'melodies' on his drums and was like, huh? But then you know, I played along to Elvin Jones for awhile, I started thinking, oh yeah. "You literally can drum out Turn the Page's melodic phrasing in a jazz scenario.' Thanks, Elvin Jones!

 

But yeah, if you start merging, you can probably combine them in pretty interesting ways. Bone Thugs N all that.

 

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Strangely enough if you rap on sustained pitch it might get you closer and give you unique strengths as a vocalist. So I know singing is a new thing right now so it 'feels' really different, but you might ultimately merge both concepts into 'meter' in your head when singing becomes more familiar. 

 

I'm a drummer, and jazz drumming has a concept of playing almost 'melodies' on the snare drum while keeping time elsewhere  (hi hat, kick drum, ride cymbal) to hold down the rhythmic sections. I heard Elvin Jones talking about 'melodies' on his drums and was like, huh? But then you know, I played along to Elvin Jones for awhile, I started thinking, oh yeah. "You literally can drum out Turn the Page's melodic phrasing in a jazz scenario.' Thanks, Elvin Jones!

 

But yeah, if you start merging, you can probably combine them in pretty interesting ways. Bone Thugs N all that.

 

 

Yeah, I thought that I might have some advantage compared to somebody who had no contact with using his voice. I suppose that any inconvenience caused by switching from rap to singing is worth it.

 

I have never heard about playing melodies on drums, that's a new one for me :D! It has to require a lot of coordination though, you drummers have to be amazing a multitasking! I tried ironing and cooking at the same time once. I'm glad that I'm still alive.

 

The song you gave me is nice, I suppose I can do such "pitch" rapping as a mean of training. It should increase my confidence in hitting the notes at least.

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