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Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?

Joe Offer 21 Feb 15 - 06:44 PM
GUEST,Jack Campin (18 Feb 2015) 21 Feb 15 - 06:45 PM
GUEST,Leadfingers (18 Feb 2015) 21 Feb 15 - 06:45 PM
Deckman 21 Feb 15 - 07:00 PM
Joe Offer 21 Feb 15 - 10:33 PM
Deckman 21 Feb 15 - 11:23 PM
BrendanB 22 Feb 15 - 08:41 AM
Bill D 22 Feb 15 - 11:09 AM
Deckman 22 Feb 15 - 03:57 PM
GUEST,Dave the Gnome 22 Feb 15 - 04:04 PM
GUEST,leeneia 23 Feb 15 - 09:04 AM
Richard Bridge 23 Feb 15 - 09:22 AM
GUEST 23 Feb 15 - 09:23 AM
Rapparee 23 Feb 15 - 10:54 AM
ripov 23 Feb 15 - 11:10 AM
ripov 24 Feb 15 - 11:14 AM
GUEST,leslie Butler guest 24 Feb 15 - 02:00 PM
GUEST,leeneia 24 Feb 15 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,ripov 24 Feb 15 - 07:59 PM
Richard Bridge 25 Feb 15 - 01:56 AM
GUEST,ripov 25 Feb 15 - 03:43 AM
Jack Campin 25 Feb 15 - 07:21 AM
GUEST,ripov 25 Feb 15 - 01:03 PM
Jack Campin 25 Feb 15 - 02:25 PM
GUEST,dick.hamlet 25 Feb 15 - 08:30 PM
GUEST,crazy little woman 26 Feb 15 - 10:39 AM
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Subject: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Feb 15 - 06:44 PM

I was at a song circle the other night with two out-of-tune guitars and a recorder. Usually, I can ask a guitarist to play the first chord of the song, and I can start the song on key. But the two guitars were no help - I just couldn't "hear" the melody in my head when I heard that discordant chord.

But I couldn't find my place with the recorder, either; and I've noticed that I have that problem with most wind instruments - organ, too. The recorded player's guess was that maybe the harmonics of the recorder did not match the harmonics of my voice. That sounds credible.

Has anybody else experienced this? Any theory why it happens?

It was a tough song circle. Seemed I was fighting to keep the group in tune much of the time.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: GUEST,Jack Campin (18 Feb 2015)
Date: 21 Feb 15 - 06:45 PM

A recorder has very few harmonics. More likely it was just an octave or two too high for you to match pitch with.


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: GUEST,Leadfingers (18 Feb 2015)
Date: 21 Feb 15 - 06:45 PM

With the wide availability and low price of electronic tuners , being out of tune at a session is inexcusable .


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: Deckman
Date: 21 Feb 15 - 07:00 PM

Joe ... sounds like "tuning" the group was harder than tuning any instrument. Each gathering is a crap shoot. Some good, some better, some impossible. CHEERS, bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Feb 15 - 10:33 PM

I guess that to some people, tuning is an unfathomable concept. This applies especially to autoharp players, perhaps because a duffer can play an autoharp with no understanding of music whatsoever...

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: Deckman
Date: 21 Feb 15 - 11:23 PM

Yes ... BUT ... the musician who DOES understand music can make the autoharp sound like a thing of beauty ... such as Brian Bowers. bob


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: BrendanB
Date: 22 Feb 15 - 08:41 AM

I have come across a few choirs in which the musical director uses a melodica to give starting notes (particularly in Slovenia for some reason). It might be worth investing in one as they are cheap, reliable and fairly accurate, as well as being very transportable.


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Feb 15 - 11:09 AM

"I guess that to some people, tuning is an unfathomable concept. This applies especially to autoharp players, perhaps because a duffer can play an autoharp with no understanding of music whatsoever..."

Two different issues, Joe... it is possible to strum the right strings and not be in tune, or to be in perfect tune and have no idea how to find the melody.... although with an autoharp, once in tune, it is hard to sound totally bad. I'm not sure how many autoharp players you contend with regularly, but as Leadfingers notes, it is fairly easy to be in tune using modern technology.

Even though you personally don't play an instrument, having an electronic tuner that will play a tone might be handy for both you and to 'help' others. (My 20 year old Korg will play any note thru several octaves)


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: Deckman
Date: 22 Feb 15 - 03:57 PM

Bill ... Yes ... BUT ... how's his diction! bad bad bob


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: GUEST,Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Feb 15 - 04:04 PM

I must admit that in my typical juvenile fashion I saw this as why can't I sing with wind.

Sorry Joe

:D tG


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 09:04 AM

It's possible to play a recorder out of tune, Joe, because the notes are affevted by how hard the player blows, as well as by what fingering is used. I believe you were facing a triple whammy - two bad guitars and a recorder that may have been thrown off tune by them.

When I played recorder at Catholic Masses, the director wanted me to play melody (rather than descants) on the hymns because she believed that the congregation could hear the high, thin sound of the recorder well over the thick, blurry sound of the guitars and the piano accompaniment. We did this for years, and I suspect she was right. You just had bad luck the other night.

As for organ, the organ is the second-wobbliest instrument. (wavers up and down from any pitch) Saxophone is the worst. (or else the other way around). Whether it's the worst or the second-worst, it is no surprise you cannot sing in tune with an organ.

I hope you next gig goes better. Take a tuner.

I have a question for you - were those guitars really out of tune, or were they playing the wrong chords?


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 09:22 AM

Autoharps are sods to tune. Too many strings, no geared tuners, short strings so one tiny twiddle changes the string pitch a lot.

And I've lost count of the times I've asked non-guitarist to give me (say) a C major chord - only to get the note, not the chord.

And there is the Jon Loomes crack about melodeons - "Give me an A. No, no, only one".


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 09:23 AM

I always use a pitch pipe, small and inexpensive. However I always thought it was out of tune. This mystery has been resolved by my husband's new toy an expensive electric piano. Our 150 year old piano could not be tuned to concert pitch and I always took a note from that.
I cannot take a note or sing with a guitar as I hear many more harmonics than the average person. You might have the same problem. Good luck with the next gig.


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: Rapparee
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 10:54 AM

I can't sing when I play my trumpet even when my trumpet is in tune.

Some say that's a good thing.


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: ripov
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 11:10 AM

Only tub-thumping again - but (sorry Terry) why use a tuner if there's an instrument present that can't conveniently be tuned, eg melodian or whistle.
A recorder can tune, but only downwards, and that puts it out of tune with itself. So the guitars (in this case) should have tuned to the recorder.
And ears are even more widely available and cheaper (till they go wrong) than electronic tuners. Why not use your ears??????


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: ripov
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 11:14 AM

Perhaps what is needed is a tuner that, if a note is played on an instrument and the tuner is told for example "that is a Bb", will automatically adjust itself so that the pitches it checks are in tune with that input.

On a more academic note, one problem is the different temperaments instruments are tuned to. My understanding is this. Keyboards, and guitars (because the fret spacing has to apply equally to every string), are tuned in equal temperament. Equal temperament is where each interval is a bit out of tune, but this is spread equally over every key. Recorders, whistles, melodians and concertinas are tuned in one of a number of "meantone" temperaments, where some intervals are closer to what we feel as "in tune" than others, (which produces the sweeter sound of a melodian compared to an accordian). And then there are instruments that are not fixed in pitch, eg trombones, fiddles of various flavours, and voices, which produce intervals (fairly) accurately judged from a heard or remembered bass note.
Thes factors combine to produce anything from an exquisite discord and its resolution, to the sound of folk musicians playing after a few beers.

Intervals are what matters, ie the difference between two pitches. Pitch itself is irrelevant, except to instrument makers trying to achieve the ultimate sound.


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: GUEST,leslie Butler guest
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 02:00 PM

I sympathise. I think what happens is that the different timbres and harmonics of unfamilar instruments (or even voices)can confuse expectations and muscle memory. I can hold a tune and I sing classical music regularly in a choir singing, but I can get hopelessly lost when trying to pitch myself against something new.
Plus wot Ripov just said.


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 05:04 PM

Why not use our ears?

Ears work pretty well if the instrument is close to what it should be. But when a string is close, a lot of people have trouble telling if it is a tiny bit sharp or a tiny bit flat. You can waste a lot of time struggling with that.

I solve this problem by singing the note, but most people don't believe they can do that.

When strings are way off, as when putting new strings on my guitar, I need a piano to get it tuned.

One day, when I was playing with friends we counted 136 strings in the room. Without tuners, we would have been tuning all afternoon.


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: GUEST,ripov
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 07:59 PM

so, leeneia, approximately the same number of electronic tuners as there were pairs of ears - no great numerical advantage either way.
But yes problems can and do arise when a person who is a strong (read "loud") player is slightly out of tune, even if only one string is off the difference can be confusing, especially to fiddles and voices. The only way out of this is to wait for the end of the set and ask for an A (or whatever). Usually everyone will feel a bit guilty and check their tuning.
As a youngster I was shown how to press the scroll or tuning peg to my ear so I could check my tuning while the rest of the orchestra were playing, I imagine this trick could apply to all stringed instruments.

But I repeat - it essential to tune to the instrument whose pitch cannot be (easily) adjusted, rather than a (theoretically correct) pitch standard that one of your group is incapable of tuning to.


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Feb 15 - 01:56 AM

Melodeon? Sweet? Shome mishtake shurely.


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: GUEST,ripov
Date: 25 Feb 15 - 03:43 AM

perhaps they find it difficult to tune to the guitars?


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Feb 15 - 07:21 AM

why use a tuner if there's an instrument present that can't conveniently be tuned, eg melodian or whistle.
A recorder can tune, but only downwards, and that puts it out of tune with itself.


Both recorders and whistles can tune upwards by using more breath. A player who doesn't understand that isn't somebody you want to be playing with. (There are a couple of local sessions I don't go to any more because they have a regular whistle player who refuses to get it).


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: GUEST,ripov
Date: 25 Feb 15 - 01:03 PM

Jack, I realise it's possible to "pull" individual notes like that - eg for a leading note - and it's not just understanding that but HEARING when it is required that is important; but would you be able to raise pitch consistently by increasing your blowing pressure for an entire set? I thought a recorder was basically designed to play at one pitch; which coiuld be lowered, like most wind instruments, by extending the top joint, but that this changes the relative positioning of the finger holes, so that (forgive my wrong terminology, but as you have observed I'm not a recorder player) the octave all holes open/all holes closed becomes less than an octave.
And let's not fall out this time.


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Feb 15 - 02:25 PM

It's a worse problem with whistles, since they often play flat high in the second octave. If you're aware of the tuning funnies of your instrument, learning when to blow harder (or for more advanced players, when to leak-finger) becomes basic technique.

Ocarina players describe their instruments as having a "breath slope" - you need to have a graph of pressure and pitch in your head to get even the simplest music in tune.


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: GUEST,dick.hamlet
Date: 25 Feb 15 - 08:30 PM

To return to Joe's original insight -- why are some notes hard to
match singing? -- I have the same problem (and pretty much of a
tin ear; electronic tuners are a blessing), except reeds are for
me the best instruments. I tried singing to match a note from
a midi script, using the many instrument voices available, and
the organ was the easiest. The theory that the harmonics match
one's voice sounds good to me.

I also find that when I try to learn a song from a recording,
some people's voices are easier or harder to match. I've found
that Garnet Rogers sounds great, but I can't sing along and
find the tune.


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Sing With Wind Instruments?
From: GUEST,crazy little woman
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 10:39 AM

I learned last summer that my recorder playing was flat because I was pointing the recorder down too much. I aimed it higher and the problem was fixed. So simple!

and apparently, so little known.


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