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Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch

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GUEST,Nick Dow 25 Mar 12 - 04:55 PM
GUEST 25 Mar 12 - 05:07 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 25 Mar 12 - 05:17 PM
Phil Edwards 25 Mar 12 - 05:19 PM
GUEST,CS 25 Mar 12 - 05:25 PM
terrier 25 Mar 12 - 05:28 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 25 Mar 12 - 05:38 PM
GUEST,CS 25 Mar 12 - 05:41 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 25 Mar 12 - 05:45 PM
Don Firth 25 Mar 12 - 05:46 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 25 Mar 12 - 05:59 PM
andrew e 25 Mar 12 - 06:01 PM
GUEST,999 25 Mar 12 - 06:03 PM
GUEST,999 25 Mar 12 - 06:10 PM
GUEST 25 Mar 12 - 06:10 PM
WalkaboutsVerse 25 Mar 12 - 06:11 PM
GUEST 25 Mar 12 - 06:53 PM
GUEST,Hookey Wole 25 Mar 12 - 07:11 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 25 Mar 12 - 07:21 PM
Crowhugger 25 Mar 12 - 07:36 PM
Ron Davies 25 Mar 12 - 07:42 PM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Mar 12 - 09:45 PM
Phil Edwards 26 Mar 12 - 04:10 AM
Keith A of Hertford 26 Mar 12 - 04:33 AM
Owen Woodson 26 Mar 12 - 05:55 AM
Newport Boy 26 Mar 12 - 06:24 AM
Marje 26 Mar 12 - 09:11 AM
GUEST,sciencegeek 26 Mar 12 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,leeneia 26 Mar 12 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,sciencegeek 26 Mar 12 - 01:39 PM
RTim 26 Mar 12 - 01:48 PM
TheSnail 26 Mar 12 - 03:41 PM
GUEST,leeneia 26 Mar 12 - 05:33 PM
Crowhugger 26 Mar 12 - 05:48 PM
GUEST 26 Mar 12 - 06:18 PM
RTim 26 Mar 12 - 06:20 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 26 Mar 12 - 09:10 PM
Marje 27 Mar 12 - 05:36 AM
GUEST 27 Mar 12 - 09:46 AM
Marje 27 Mar 12 - 04:45 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 27 Mar 12 - 08:45 PM
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Subject: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 04:55 PM

Film of Harry Cox cropped up on BBC 4 the other night. I recorded it and had a guitar handy (no change there then!) Out of curiosity I found his pitch (Bb) and tested him to see if he maintained it. By the end of the song he was still perfectly on pitch. Wonderful!
After 45 years singing, I stll slip down a tone when I sing without the Guitar. When I made 'A mark upon the earth' recording, I got Chris Pollington to play a pitch note in the headphones, to keep me bang on key. It has been a bug bear of mine for years. Even at age sixty I am still hopeful of cracking this one. Does anybody have any techniques to maintain perfect pitch.
Never too old to learn, and not too proud to ask.
Thanks
Nick


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 05:07 PM

Good question!
My issues tend to revolve around initial pitching (almost always too high!) rather than maintaining consistent pitch. But always interested in discussion surrounding unaccompanied singing technique.

CS


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 05:17 PM

A set of chromatic pitch pipes would help with the initial pitching, but ending up where you started....can be a problem (for me)


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 05:19 PM

I find the trick is letting my voice find the right pitch for a song. If I start with the right pitch I can usually stay on it; the problems start if my starting pitch is too high (usually) or low (sometimes).


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 05:25 PM

"A set of chromatic pitch pipes would help with the initial pitching, but ending up where you started....can be a problem (for me)"

Yeah I got one, nice little pitch pipe - lost it since moving though!
Otherwise I like to imagine that my consistent pitch is down to exposure to high quantities of unwavering electronic beats - you know hearing and vocalising are strongly related (apparently) ;-)


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: terrier
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 05:28 PM

If you are singing solo and unaccompanied, does it matter if you don't stay in perfect pitch. There may be a few people around who may notice but I bet they are very few. My bug is that I tend to go up a semitone every few verses and no one has ever complained (yet :)). Just look at it as artistic expression.
You know why operatic singers use so much vibrato? My music teacher told me it was 'cos they can't sing in tune.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 05:38 PM

I find it depends on the room. ..The initial pitch I mean. A big room tends to mean a louder vocal production and a slightly higher pitch. The problem with over concentrationg on pitch is that you tend to lose sight of the narrative, and that is more important. However I would still like to get that perfect pitch. Since 'testing' Harry Cox. I have found similar tonal clarity with Jumbo and Velvet Brightwell, and Cyril Poacher, even on the the long and vocally demanding Broomfield Wager. For some time I have been wondering if having a good voice is one thing, but being born to the tradition, is quite another, and there is only so much you can learn and reproduce.
Still hopeful though.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 05:41 PM

"You know why operatic singers use so much vibrato? My music teacher told me it was 'cos they can't sing in tune."

When I had singing lessons (for a few months from an early music specialist) he strongly discouraged leaning on vibrato as a technique, which considered lazy 'singing around a note'. I don't use it (much) but I know others who use naturally it to strong effect.
Some people like it some don't. I think it depends on the singer and how well they use it.
It's certainly a point worth considering on a thread about pitch though.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 05:45 PM

You are right Terrier that no one will notice, but that way you never progress. Maybe its just me-I'm barmy about the British Folk Song Tradition, and find something new every week.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 05:46 PM

Minor quibble.

"You know why operatic singers use so much vibrato? My music teacher told me it was 'cos they can't sing in tune."

Opera singers don't try for vibrato, it happens naturally, lending a voice a "live" quality (although some singers may have too much, and often a voice coach will get on their case about it).

Opera singers have a whole symphony orchestra to keep them on pitch.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 05:59 PM

MaColl was too much of an actor for me when it came to singing Folk Songs, and there is no Scots accent the way he used to sing it, however he was a belting teacher of vocal production, and in the 'Song Carrier Programmes' (Home Service 1960's!!!!) Introduced me to the use of vibrato, the shake decoration and use of portamento.
He then broke every rule in the book on his histrionic performance of the Brake of Briars on the Manchester Angel recording. That said he did address the matter of pitch, but never expanded upon it. He used the 'Gathering of the Clans' as his 'warm up song' on a gig. I just howl like a lunatic in the car in an attempt to get my voice going, and try not to write off the car and a lamp post on the way to a gig.
Martyn Wyndham Read is the best modern singer I have ever heard. He very rarely uses any decoration or much vibrato. I got a lot of advice about maintaining tone from him. His pitch is perfect lucky bugger.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: andrew e
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 06:01 PM

I direct A Cappella Choirs and maintaining pitch can be a problem.
I don't have a problem myself and some call me the "Pitch Doctor"!
I suppose that's one of the reasons I'm the choir director.

Really listening to what you're singing slowly [each note] can help. You may need a keyboard to do this. It's a question of remembering where you started from, and locking into that.
Learning to sing a semitone scale is a very good exercise. Also a whole tone scale will really make you think about where the notes are.
You could try a few singing lessons. You have to find the right teacher though.

I like the comment re opera singers and vibrato! I don't like vibrato, and ask choir singers not to use it. Very few even try to sing with it. This is in community choirs where most have not had any voice training.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 06:03 PM

It's partly a Zen thing. Something you can do to practice it is to take a note--any note--and keep it in your head for 10 seconds. Then check it against your starting note. Start with a C above middle C for example. Hear it and hum it. Do so for 15 seconds than stop for 10. Do the note again and 'see' that you are still hitting it by checking it against the piano, pitch pipe, etc. Gradually expand the time from first to second hum. Slowly, introduce short scales that resolve on your starting note or the octave. Stop. Wait a bit. Do it again and check, then again and again. Do that for a few days (as time allows). The voice needs to be on, but it has as much to do with our ears and hearing as it does vocal cords, muscles, etc.

Another thing to do is hear the notes in your world: birds, cars, bells, whatever. Hit those notes.

I expect after a month of doing these exercises you'll be locked up, crazy, staying on pitch or some combination of the aforementioned.

Voice is only a small part of keeping pitch. The applause for doing so belongs to the ears.

IMO


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 06:10 PM

Cross posted Andrew. You said it.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 06:10 PM

Andrew and 999 Thank you both. I like both of those ideas. Worth a try I think.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 06:11 PM

In practice, I both sing with just the tune, and unaccompanied save the occasional note (to check) from each line of the tune.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 06:53 PM

I am a singing teacher and endorse the remarks made by Andrew e and others some other points

1 Going down a tone - this may be a result of running out of breath, You may need to breathe more often and take more breath than you think. I would write down the lyrics and try making notes where to take the next breath You may be surprised how much you actually need A keyboard is good idea

2 Try recording yourself on a song a bit at a time and note where the downward slide in pitch occurs and see what your breathing pattern is. Its not your ears its probably the support mechanism that causes the problem. Also being a little bit over 21 and possibly slack in the stomach muscles may have weakened your support

I am sorry but the remarks about opera singers are just ignorant bollocks. Opera covers a huge range of music and singers of all vocal types sing opera some with and without vibrato, I have worked as a professional singer - if you did not sing in tune the coaches and conductor would soon tell you that you were wrong and could you leave please


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,Hookey Wole
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 07:11 PM

Maybe practicing with a mic through whatever available amp/recoring gear/PC etc
with a Chromatic Tuner plugged in line.

ie - a Tuner with a good clear visual display, constantly indicating your proximity to the intended correct pitch. ?

Seems an easy practical idea and probably what I might do in your shoes.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 07:21 PM

Yes that makes sense. Breath control could be at the bottom of it. Slack stomach muscles does not cover it! Ten stone over weight does. I have some reflux problems when I sing sat down, and breathing problems as well. Saying 'lose weight Nick' is about as good as saying change the colour of your eyes. It won't happen.
I have been blessed with a bonny natural tone to both singing and talking voice which has helped me earn a living as a singer and broadcaster,as a result I must not abuse it and I have knocked alcohol on the head on gigs and stick to iced water which helps with the coughing and dry throat problems. I'll have a go at your kind advice, and see where it gets me.
Many thanks
Nick


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: Crowhugger
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 07:36 PM

Best bet: A voice teacher or coach. Nothing beats that!

My a cappella quartet competes regularly in barbershop contests and our coaches and all the judges we've asked about it have said "don't sweat a semitone or even a tone lost over a whole song, that's close enough to perfect." (Background: Barbershop scoring is all about carrying out various interpretive, singing and presentation skills well enough that the judges don't notice imperfections, or if they do that they are distracted as little as possible from the whole experience of being transported by the song. I wholeheartedly agree with this goal for singing any song.)

Those judges' & coaches' reasoning is that to make a performance better, most people's time is better spent on breath support, developing tone colours to express better, creating believability & sincerity (which involves understanding the story the song tells and communicating the emotions behind the story), singing well shaped consistent vowels freely without tension, and having a relaxed stage presence (among other things, but I'm not putting a whole judging handbook in this post). If a hobbyist is singing reasonably in tune and has limited time to devote to improvement, chances are very high there will be far greater return on investment in improving those other factors.
_________________________________________________________

That said, if you have a good ear and if you really want to put the effort into micro-tuning, I can offer 3 things I do with pretty good success. All are designed to counteract the effect that gravity seems to have on pitch (not logical, but that's the best way I can describe what seems to happen).

1) When singing *every* interval down, I aim to land ever so slightly sharp of where I "know" the note is (make a smaller jump than I think would be needed to get it right). Singing *every* interval up, I aim to land ever so slightly sharp of where I think the note is (bigger jump than I think). It takes time to think this through, so use a slow song or slow down a fast song. Doing this calls for a physical ability to change pitch by very small increments, which is difficult for some people. Some end up on the next higher note of the scale when they try to "shim" a note up a bit (see later in this post if this is you). Use double shims where there are a lot of semi-tones and where there are accidentals.

2. I visualize doh throughout a song not as a fixed thing but as a slowly rising thing. One easy way is to see it as upward slanted moving line that is the basis of each phrase. Sort of a very long, low or oblique escalator. This is really a phrase-oriented way to apply the same principle as #1. Since when I sing I hear all notes in relation not just to each other but also to doh, when doh is constantly rising just a little bit, every note of a phrase has to rise a little as well to maintain its proper relationship to doh. So again it's about shimming, but as I said, this approach is over a whole phrase or even a whole song, big picture not note by note.

3. I record myself singing, then play it back pausing after the first note and often through the song, at which pause I will sound doh and see if I was still in tune. Recording for playback works better than just sounding doh at the end of each line, since the problem is usually starting somewhere within a line, not only at the end of it.

While using 1 & 2, if I still end up flat, which can easily happen, I play a game with myself where I aim to end the song a WHOLE tone SHARP. That goal makes me use far bigger shims far more often. Also by exaggerating the shimming, it helps my ear learn how far is too far. Put that knowledge together with what wasn't far enough and I can get a better sense of where I really need to land a note to stay in better pitch.

3. With me pitch is never lost in one fell swoop, always a fraction of a semitone at at time. There are tricky traps where this is most likely to happen, and it helps to identify where these things happen in your melody. Mark the lyrics or music everywhere there is:
a) repeated note.
b) repeated up-down jumps, small or big. Use a pitch pipe or other instrument to get good at being accurate. Might need double or triple shims.
c) Accidentals of any sort, the more so with highly chromatic passages, i.e. lots of semi-tones in a row, up and/or down.
d) starting a new phrase on the same note the last phrase ended on.

If you have trouble singing shimmed notes and find you keep jumping to the next higher semitone or scale note, the best remedy I know of is to sing more, develop stronger abs and breath control, and do daily vocal warm-ups that include a slow roller-coaster type of siren sound. Do this with a relaxed open throat and slide through most of your range (omit the very top and bottom at first). Fool around as if you were playing with a Tonka toy police car, but don't squeeze the sound to actually mimic a siren. Over weeks and months you will develop new muscles and learn to control them minutely, and there are no instant rewards here. Over time, pretend you're a kid some more and learn to sing a voluptous or rich sounding siren ever more slowly and evenly. When you can take a whole 10 seconds to slide evenly up or down a semitone, congratulate yourself and celebrate!

Then start breaking up the semitone siren, i.e. go halfway up or down (5 seconds), stop for a moment, then resume singing at exactly the same half-way point pitch where you left off, and finish sliding up or down. Record yourself doing this to play back and check accuracy, or have a pitch-whiz work with you. To increase your skill further, take more time at the interruption. Eventually break the semitone into 3, 4, 5 bits with a short silence before resuming the slow slide. Caution: This is not easy to do, and it sounds quite childish and silly while you try, so best to do it with a non-judgemental friend you enjoy laughing with.

This siren thing also can be part of a broad plan to remedy going sharp, that is if you want to remedy it (I'm NOT suggesting anyone should). It helps develop the ability to be accurate. Those who go sharp may also have issues of tension and/or not having a consistent sense of doh, or other challenges.

If you've not yet learned how to practise, (i.e. you mostly or always "practise" a song all the way through, rarely or never pull it apart or slow it down, rarely or never work only the trouble spots for a few days before putting all together again), I recommend voice lessons, since a well designed and executed daily plan is the sure way to develop the necessary muscles and awareness.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: Ron Davies
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 07:42 PM

In my choral group, our conductor is always telling us to "support the pitch"--consciously singing from the diaphragm.   

I also find it's much easier to stay on pitch standing up, for instance.   

Another of his suggestions:   on a note you hold for quite a while, think of it as a slope going up, not just a steady level note.

There also are certain jumps more dangerous for losing pitch than others:   especially a 4th or a tritone down (if you need explanation of this, I'm sure we can help you.)


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 09:45 PM

A visiting expert told our choir that the main reason people go out of tune is that that when they drop to a lower note, they drop too far.

But, ya know - if you drop only one tone during the length of an entire song and there is no accompaniment, does it matter? I think it's more important to do the singing and the sharing of music.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 04:10 AM

Learning to sing a semitone scale

What a good idea - how come I'd never thought of that? When I'm looking for the right pitch I can only ever adjust downwards by a semitone, not upwards - if I ever do want to go up half a tone I need to sing 'do, ti... ti ti ti do do... do re'. Which is a bit of a pain.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 04:33 AM

Re starting on pitch.
I find I am most likely to get it wrong if I go straight in.
I do not know why, but saying a few words helps me.
Especially, quietly sing the first 2 lines behind a hand or turned half away.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 05:55 AM

Nick,

Can you tell us what the film of Harry Cox was, and is it still on I-player


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: Newport Boy
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 06:24 AM

Many of the old singers had consistent pitch. I was interested in the change in quality of Phil Tanner's voice between 1937 (age 75) and 1948 (age 86) and a while ago I listened a few times to his two recordings of Sweet Primroses. The pitch seemed to be the same in both recordings and I switched from one to the other after the first verse. They were at identical pitch.

Re the singing of intervals, I notice that Phil often dropped too far on wide intervals, ie, he landed slightly flat. The following note was pitched correctly. In general, he sang near the top of his range, and breathed much more often than most singers - maybe his age when he recorded?

I don't usually have a problem in maintaining unaccompanied pitch, which I've usually put down to only using 2 or 3 keys on the guitar. My comfortable low note is G, and I can usually pitch that fairly accurately. I sing a lot in G, and seem to be able to hear the GBD in my head while I'm singing, which gives me a framework to keep pitch.

The main problem is when I follow someone who plays or sings in unrelated keys. I need a couple of lines hummed to myself to clear my mind of the previous key.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: Marje
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 09:11 AM

Don't get too hung up on this problem - it will very likely go unnoticed by your audience. I really wouldn't recommend using an electonic tuner for practice, because singers (usually unconsciously) don't use a tempered scale - the intervals a good singer uses are ever-so-slightly out of synch with those of a fixed-pitch instrument or tuner. That's one reason that unaccompanied singing can sound so magical.

I can usually maintain pitch pretty well, although I sometimes end up slightly sharp, possibly because I'm over-compensating against going flat, which always sounds worse. I find it helps to think of pushing the note up from underneath it and suporting its pitch from below, or (alternatively) to think of hitting the very top edge of the note.

It also helps to get your breathing sorted so that you're not running out of breath at the end of lines, and to stretch your mouth cavity into a sort of internal smile when you're going for an upward interval.

Some lesssons could help, or just practice alone doing things like semitone scales, or trying a song with big intervals and testing at stages to see whether and when you've lost pitch.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 11:03 AM

there are a lot of things that can throw you off... usually caused by breathing problems or the dreaded post nasal drip of chronic sinus issues. gakk!

since I have what I refer to as dyslexic fingers, I don't play in public.... but I do love to sing, including trilling along with symphonic pieces lol

I sing where I am comfortable and don't have to strain for notes. If I'm with intrumentalists, then I ask them to pick a key where they are comfortable and start off the song so I can pick it up when they repeat the first line. this is in informal settings - jams/sessions

for a performance, I make sure I memorize my "position" for starting the song... every note you sing has a slightly different stance, muscle position to control the air you release over the vocal chords... a form of muscle memory that you learn in addition to breath control. practice that to maintain consistency.

since I'm hearing the tune in my mind... not depending on an instrument to give me the next note... I can keep on pitch because I know how to sing each note - I hope that made sense

and I fully agree with Marje... especially about instrument temperment


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 11:45 AM

I've done some math. Nick (OP) is bothered because when he sings a song alone, his pitch drops a tone.

I found a Wikipedia page that gives the frequencies for all the notes. Since Nick sounds male, I chose notes in the bass clef. The A at the top of the bass clef is 220 cyles per second. The G below that is 195.998. I'm prepared to call that 196.

220-196 = 24 cps. That's how far it is from A down to G.

I happen to have before me a French carol, Quittez Pasteurs, which I'm going to call a typical song. I counted, and one verse has 64 notes. Say we sing 3 verses. 64 times 3 = 192.

If we sing 192 notes and slip 24 cps in the process, and if our slippage is gradual, then the amount slipped per note is 24/192, or .125 cps. That's about one-tenth of a cycle per second. Who would notice that?

More to the point, Nick, is your nervous system equipped to detect that? It might be, it might not be. Whatever you decide, I'm convinced it doesn't really matter.
=========
Nick mentioned a recording where Harry Cox stayed perfectly in tune. He could have had headphones with music on when the recording was made. Never beat yourself up because you can't do something on a recording. Recordings can be engineered and you can't.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 01:39 PM

I was just thinking of how important it is to "internalize" a song, in order to maintain the melody ( or harmony line) and not go off key when you are singing with others who may or may not sing true... lol

or worse yet, the guitar player who doesn't know the song but insists on playing along - usually in the wrong key and different melody altogether. the main reason why in sing arounds there is often the caveat that the singer can request others to accompany or NOT. lol


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: RTim
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 01:48 PM

Interesting thread.
I found recording with earphones more difficult, I can't hear enough. However, recording with just one earphone, with a tone in ones ear, is the best way to stay on pitch when recording.
Of course, singing live is altogether different.
Breathing is the best key, making sure you have enough breath to get to line ends and not letting the voice sag at the end. Then is when you can get off pitch.
I think it is also important not to sing to fast, and also leave good breaks between verses.
Slow down.........

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: TheSnail
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 03:41 PM

Nick mentioned a recording where Harry Cox stayed perfectly in tune. He could have had headphones with music on when the recording was made.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsxG06FMA-Y


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 05:33 PM

My ideas for singing better:

Join a regular choral group.

Sing in the car, sing around the house, sing in the shower. Use your singing muscles so they get strong and co-ordinated.

Try to smile when you sing. (oviously you can't do it every minute.) A pleasant face produces a better tone.

Sing along with people who sing in tune - Harry Belafonte, Johnny Mathis and Julie Collins come to mind.

Listen to yourself.

In a group, listen to the others. Everybody in the group should be listening and asking themselves "Does this sound good?" I don't think we can figure out sharp, flat, major or minor in the middle of a piece. So just ask yourself if it sounds good. (advice from the pros at workshops)

I play recorder in church along with a grand piano and a violinist. The violinist tells me that during heating season, the piano's tuning changes throughout the service. (I think she said it gets sharper. Kind of surprised me.) What to do? Well, she's the professional, so I let her adjust to the piano, and then I listen carefully to her and try to make my pitch match hers. So far nobody has threatened to throw us out.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: Crowhugger
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 05:48 PM

»»Sing along with people who sing in tune...««

Very good advice! That's how you learn what the notes are supposed to be. If you regularly sing along with those who sing flat, flat is how you'll sing. When I was pitch coaching a chorus there were a couple of women who liked singers who sang alot of notes flat. Since the music director had made a clear expectation for singing in tuen, these ladies had to choose between chorus and singing along with those CDs in the car.

Those who have a good ear and already know what the notes are really supposed to be don't actually copy wrong notes. They are more likely to treat bad notes like messy handwriting: Know what note was meant and sing that instead of the (flat) note they heard.


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 06:18 PM

Headphones - singing with I used to use one phone and keep an ear free this seems to help

Singing with a recorder is best and learning to support the breath on the diaphragm not easy but worth I am 6 or 7 years older than Mr Dow but still haver over 3 octaves of voice rising to an E flat over top C in a full throated tenor voice. I can only do that through the diaphragm and its support


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: RTim
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 06:20 PM

By the way every one - Nick Dow is a great singer and it is wonderful having him back on the scene after many years away.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 09:10 PM

Thank you all for the kind comments and help. I have genuinely found it all interesting and helpful. The Harry Cox film was one song from Peter Kennedy's film included on the Folk on the BBC broadcast on BBC 4.It includes Carthy MaColl Bob Davenport and Davy Graham.
Tim Radford has a lot to offer as well. Take a listen to his recording 'George Blakes Legacy'
Just one final remark. Martin Carthy encouraged me to sight read music-I mean sing from the page. The best thing I ever did. I found it more than difficult. Martin suggested imagining the notes on the Guitar as a help to getting started. I can do it fairly well now, and I would reccommend it to any singer who wants to unlock all those songs tucked away in books and on websites. Not that my wife is wildly pleased. She says she remembers when we went to bed as a new married couple, now days I climb into bed with a book of traditional songs and lie there whistling!
I have already started with some of the techniques above so thank you for your support
Nick


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: Marje
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 05:36 AM

Your post did make me laugh, Nick. I also do the whistling thing when I'm trying to read a tune off the page, but have not yet taken this up as a bedtime activity. My long-suffering husband does have a complaint, though - my fingers keep twiching because I'm playing out a tune that is in my head on an imaginary instrument (which, unfortunatly, happens to be his chest or arm sometimes).

Marje


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 09:46 AM

Dear Marje

Perhaps he would like you to do these exercises on other body parts - ask him if he is not too tired


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: Marje
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 04:45 PM

I dunno, Guest. I think he might be a bit disconcerted to find he was simply the instrument for a jig or a hornpipe - although come to think of it, that might be ... oh never mind.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Singing unaccompanied-Maintaining Pitch
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 08:45 PM

Marje your reminding me of my newly married days. I might have to stop whistling tonight!
The vicar of my local church, married a young couple a week or so before us, and he went a bit happy and attempted to make the local parish mag, more appealing by making it a tabloid style publication. The young couple who were married the week before we were, were involved in charity work, and were so busy they did not know if they would have time for a honeymoon.
The vicar ran the story under the wonderful headline as follows...

HONEYMOON? IF WE CAN FIT IT IN SAY COUPLE!

I never had the nerve to explain to the vicar where he had gone wrong....


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