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Tuners for VOICE not Instruments

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rich-joy 13 May 04 - 06:07 AM
rich-joy 13 May 04 - 06:10 AM
Roger the Skiffler 13 May 04 - 09:40 AM
ToulouseCruise 13 May 04 - 09:45 AM
Steve Parkes 13 May 04 - 09:54 AM
JohnInKansas 13 May 04 - 11:28 AM
Cluin 13 May 04 - 11:33 AM
Cluin 13 May 04 - 11:34 AM
GUEST,MMario 13 May 04 - 11:39 AM
Dave Bryant 13 May 04 - 11:44 AM
Cluin 13 May 04 - 11:46 AM
GUEST,Sarah 13 May 04 - 12:07 PM
Burke 13 May 04 - 06:45 PM
Cluin 13 May 04 - 07:08 PM
rich-joy 14 May 04 - 12:14 AM
Dave Bryant 14 May 04 - 06:05 AM
Strollin' Johnny 14 May 04 - 07:48 AM
Roger the Skiffler 14 May 04 - 09:37 AM
Mark Cohen 15 May 04 - 01:06 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 15 May 04 - 06:24 AM
Burke 18 May 04 - 06:45 PM
Dave Bryant 19 May 04 - 06:39 AM
jimmyt 19 May 04 - 09:08 AM
Blackcatter 19 May 04 - 11:26 PM
GUEST 20 May 04 - 04:37 PM
rich-joy 20 May 04 - 09:03 PM
jimmyt 20 May 04 - 09:51 PM
Burke 24 May 04 - 07:53 PM
Bob Bolton 24 May 04 - 11:27 PM
GUEST,guest 09 Aug 10 - 07:27 AM
Bernard 09 Aug 10 - 08:03 AM
stallion 09 Aug 10 - 05:49 PM
JohnInKansas 09 Aug 10 - 08:51 PM
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Subject: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: rich-joy
Date: 13 May 04 - 06:07 AM

Hi, I've just been checking through past threads on Pitch Pipes and Tuning Forks and Electronic Tuners, but, we're after an electronic tuner for VOICE work, not instrument tuning.

As a 4-part a cappella harmony group, we sometimes can't afford to slip even a semitone and so, we'd appreciate some recommendations on good quality electronic chromatic tuners that also emit an audible tone!

My partner has sourced via The Net, a "Franz imp2000 Integrated Metronome/Pitch Pipe" for about US$60.oo from the Gamble Music Company in the States (we are in Oz).

Does anyone have any comments on this one - or any other suggestions???

Thanks.

Cheers! R-J


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: rich-joy
Date: 13 May 04 - 06:10 AM

PS : should've said - we're fed up with carrying a mini keyboard around and so, are also looking for the portabilty of the electronic tuner ...

Cheers! R-J


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 13 May 04 - 09:40 AM

I asked a voice coach for advice: he recommended a garotte for mine.

RtS


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: ToulouseCruise
Date: 13 May 04 - 09:45 AM

RtS:

My bandmate has tried the same with me... usually gets the best results with a used D string from his guitar... it makes it a little easier for me to do some of the raspier songs...

Brian


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 13 May 04 - 09:54 AM

R-J: wouldn't a cheap & cheerful pitchpipe do the trick?

Roger: I feel I ought to comment, but i can't think of anything that wouldn't be hurtful!

Steve


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 13 May 04 - 11:28 AM

Virtually all of the common tuners work to equally tempered scales. Ideally, for a capella voice work, you probably would be better off tuning to a "natural" scale. There is a distinct difference in how the harmony blends, and the natural (Pythagorian) scale is what you'll be singing, whether intentional or not.

There likely are a number of tuners that can give you a harmonic scale, but the only one I know of without researching it is the Korg OT-12. This is a "top of the line" tuner, and the last time I looked it was listing at >$200 (US). I did a quick search though and found at least one place offering it for $72 now. It's not a dealer I know, so further search might be worthwhile.

The OT-12 allows you to select equal tempered, Pythagorian, or any of several other "traditional" scales. It will produce a tone at any selected "standard note" and also has the feature that you can play (sing) a note and it will sound the nearest "standard" note for you to adjust your tuning to it.

The pitch pipes I've seen "on the shelf" in my area are all, so far as I can tell, to the same equi-tempered scale as the run-of-the-mill tuners, and mostly offer only 4 to 6 notes. If you're serious about getting the "close harmony" tuning, a natural scale is the standard to work to.

Disclaimer is - I've used Korg tuners of various kinds for several years, and have been quite happy with them. I have not had a "hands-on" look at the OT-12, so I'm relying on what the web tells me.

John


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Cluin
Date: 13 May 04 - 11:33 AM

How about a cheap harmonica?


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Cluin
Date: 13 May 04 - 11:34 AM

Or a tin whistle?


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 13 May 04 - 11:39 AM

[visual imagination=ON]

tuner sounding note - singers slotting keys into each others necks and carefully retensioning vocal chords

[/visual imagination=OFF]


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 13 May 04 - 11:44 AM

There are plenty of electronic tuners that will sound a note. I must admit though that when Linda and I run harmony workshops, we tend to use a children's mini-keyboard. The main advantage is that it's possible to play notes quickly, one after another, rather than having to twiddle a knob or slide a switch. The one we use is only about 12" long and weighs ounces - it easily fits in the same bag as scores. When I checked it against the chromatic tuner which I use for the guitar, it was spot on. Anyway, when you take a note for harmony singing you only need an indication - most singers will probably make slight adjustments anyway depending on the key - after all the human voice can manage more subtle variations than a keyboard in equal temperament - rather like a violinist.


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Cluin
Date: 13 May 04 - 11:46 AM

[myth debunking =ON]

Grabbing a male singer's nutsack from behind will not aid in his reaching the high notes.

So stop doing it!....... Janet!

[myth debunking =OFF]


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: GUEST,Sarah
Date: 13 May 04 - 12:07 PM

Thought that was what people were doing when they stuck their finger in their ear!


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Burke
Date: 13 May 04 - 06:45 PM

I'm trying to imagine how a tuner might make a difference in acappella? Your beginning tonic doesn't have to be exactly anything; it's your harmonies that have to be in tune to the tonic. Once you get started it's staying in tune with each other that's important. Staying in tune is a matter of listening & figuring out where the intonation is slipping.

If it's one person going off while everyone else stays true; that person needs to learn how to hear it happening. In our church choir we've frequently found that we go flat when we start in one key, but if we go up a semi-tone to begin with we'll stay there.


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Cluin
Date: 13 May 04 - 07:08 PM

It might be useful to get the key right so certain members don't run out of range when the get to the highest or lowest notes.


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: rich-joy
Date: 14 May 04 - 12:14 AM

Yes, that's it Cluin! And depending on the song, we all sing the different ranges (i.e. not stuck in the one person per SATB format) - and our songs are not in just a few keys, but all over the place!

Plus, the mini Casio keyboard that we currently carry around, doesn't always give a clear definite start note to ALL members' ears ...

Thanks All, so far.

Cheers! R-J


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 14 May 04 - 06:05 AM

Plus, the mini Casio keyboard that we currently carry around, doesn't always give a clear definite start note to ALL members' ears

At least with a mini-keyboard you usually have a range of instrument voices to choose from, most ordinary tuners only have one. I think our one manages four note polyphony so it can play chords as well. If any of your singers do have trouble pitching to the keyboard, then let them pitch to one of the other singers - in cases where more than one part start together, it's often best to sing the opening chord.


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 14 May 04 - 07:48 AM

Use a gob-iron!


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 14 May 04 - 09:37 AM

[Note to Steve P : thanks for your restraint! The goats on Kalymnos are already stocking up with ear plugs for my visit next month]

RtS
(voice made for mime)


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 15 May 04 - 01:06 AM

I once had a pitchpipe that had all twelve tones. It was circular, with twelve holes around the circumference, each one labeled with a different pitch. Seems to me that might solve your problem...at least the portability part. (Doesn't solve my problem, though, since the pitchpipe was stolen...along with the guitar in whose case it rested.)

Aha, just tried Google: here it is! The Kratt Master Key. Available in C-C and F-F. Actually has 13 holes, including both ends of the octave.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 15 May 04 - 06:24 AM

You probably don't want to know this, but my concertina gives me the clearest tone for my ears to pick up. I've yet to try it with my a cappella group!

We've always used either a pitch pipe or a keyboard. I too have dreamed of a simple, portable electric tuner or pitch pipe but haven't wanted to spend the money when I have other means that work for me.

Best of luck- this sounds like a need for you, so I hope you're able to find a solution!

Allison


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Burke
Date: 18 May 04 - 06:45 PM

I was thrown off by the 'slip a semitone' comment. I thought you were looking for something to keep you in tune, not so much the opening pitches.

How about a couple of tin whistles in different keys? Nice clear tones & easy to play your triads.


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 19 May 04 - 06:39 AM

Whe you're singing "a cappella" a starting note or notes is all you can use.

When Linda and I sing unaccompanied, if I've got my guitar I take the note from that, otherwise we use one of the circular chromatic tuners. The latter is not the easiest to take the note from and I often have to transpose the note up or down an octave. As I've said before, if there's more than just the pair of us - we would probably use the minature keyboard and I'd play each starting note followed by the chord.


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: jimmyt
Date: 19 May 04 - 09:08 AM

This is an interesting thread inasmuch as I am also confused as to exactly what your needs are. I do a fair amount of Acapella singing, as in a recent show my four part do-wop group performed. in 6 different songs, as another member of the group would be introducing the next number, I would get a very low (volume) pitch from the electric bass player, then start the song in the manner that lots of do-wop music starts, in the bass part. Other members of the group get their pitch relative to this part and join in either a third or a fifth or an octave away depending on the song. Only on one song were we forced to spell out an arpeggio chord so the other three could "hear their note." Is the gist of this problem just finding the correct pitch to begin so that you are in the correct key for voicing and range issues?


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Blackcatter
Date: 19 May 04 - 11:26 PM

I agree jimmyt (hey that rhymes.)

It the reason you don't use a pitch pipe that some of the singers have trouble finding their starting note off the main one? That's why some groups (such as the choir in my church) use a keyboard for hitting all starting notes.

If so, this might be something that people really need to work on. The concept of relative pitch is really a learnable technique.

Good luck either way.


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: GUEST
Date: 20 May 04 - 04:37 PM

A good vocalist can usually find his/her starting note from a tonic tone.


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: rich-joy
Date: 20 May 04 - 09:03 PM

Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions.

We've had pitch pipes in the past and haven't been altogether happy with them, for various reasons (also discussed by other 'catters in the Pitch Pipes Vs Electronic Tuner thread).

Sadly, we can't play tinwhistles, or concertinas, or harmonicas - we just sing. I don't quite understand the reference to having a bass guitar on stage, coz "a cappella harmony" in this country means we sing in harmony "unaccompanied" by instruments (well, except for the odd bit of percussion assistance at times. Then again, there are those who don't regard percussion as music, aren't there!! **BG**!!!)

Our group is 3 sheilas and 1 bloke and we all do leads and we do not have "the" soprano or "the" bass - we all try to do everything!! - in a rather eclectic repertoire. So we often must be REALLY sure of our start note!

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, our currently used old mini Casio keyboard is a tad heavy and unwieldy and we always need to ensure its 5 batteries are in top condition. Some of the notes it sounds are often QUITE "different" sounding to our larger Korg keyboard at home, and as the 4 pairs of ears in our group don't all hear the same!!, we needed something we could all have confidence in.

IN THE END, (even after looking into the Korg OT-12), we've decided to go down the road of the "Franz imp2000", - I'll let you know how we go with it.

Thanks.

Cheers! R-J


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: jimmyt
Date: 20 May 04 - 09:51 PM

The reference to the Bass guitar on stage was simply in reference to a recent show we performed   We do not do ALL music acapella, nor do we do all songs entirely acapella. Some songs are started acapella and then have band join in in 8 bars for example. The point was that someone needs to get a pitch from somewhere, then other voices are always relative to this one pitch   (tonic as above) If you have any means of getting the pitch, you are all set A pennywhistle could work fine   it doesn't take a whistle player to play a single note on a whistle it is as good as any other source whatever you do that works though is the way to go.


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Burke
Date: 24 May 04 - 07:53 PM

2nd what jimmyt says about the whistle. I don't play it either. It's really easy to learn the fingering for the notes & play to get your pitch. It's just as easy as finding the notes on a keyboard even though you might not otherwise play.

They are also way cheaper than the tuners you were talking about.


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 24 May 04 - 11:27 PM

G'day R-J,

If you're used to finding your correct note on the keyboard, what about someting like a Hohner Melodica (or any of the Asian copies)? I don't know if Hohner still do the Melodica, but I still see 'ripoffs' of the instrument.

It usually has a 2-octave chromatic "keyboard" operating "free Reeds" (as in concertinas, mouth organs and accordions) so the individual notes are clear and simple ... good for picking up a specific pitch, without the confusion of harmonic effects. The better type for this use would be one with a plastic mouthpiece, rather than a length of flexible air pipe, which is used to allow playing in a seated position - looking at the keyboard).

I have seen these used by choirs and they seemed to fulfill most of the simplicity and size requirements you have ... and they don't need batteries. I keep one near my computer ... just to provided a diferent keying system from my normal "push-pull" concertinas or accordions ... to clear any mental 'log-jams' when I'm transcribing or writing a tune from the recesses of my mind.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 07:27 AM

Hi all. It's an old thread but I'll comment anyway.

I use a tuner to correct my intonation while practicing.

A "chromatic" tuner with a built in microphone shows the note, or how close you are, sharp or flat, in half tones. My method is to stop playing my instrument while holding my voice and correct my intonation. Or the interval.

Using a tuner this way has helped my singing so much.

I found this site and thread while searching for singing theory, music theory. My question is about melody rather than harmony, and I haven't found a thing.

I would like to learn more about melody lines, how they correspond to chord changes. And also about parallel keys, singing relative minor over major?
Thank you


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: Bernard
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 08:03 AM

"I would like to learn more about melody lines, how they correspond to chord changes."

Oooooh! Now there's a potentially lengthy discussion topic!!

I think it's probably been done already, but if you'd like to go into specifics, why not become a Mudcat member - it's easy, and risk free (unlike MyFace, Twitbook and the like!). Best of all, membership allows you to send and receive 'Personal Messages' in addition to posting to the forum.

Once you've joined, start a thread on the topics you wish to cover, and people will leap out of the woodwork to help you!


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: stallion
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 05:49 PM

T am a tad confused, songs don't always start on the key note, is that what is troubling you? If either Martin or I are leading we ping the keyhote and if Ron is leading we ping the starting note (on a fiddle) Although we have all but dispensed with the fiddle now and mostly get the pitch right or wing it!


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Subject: RE: Tuners for VOICE not Instruments
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 08:51 PM

My barbershopping friends have told me that a close harmony quartet should tune to only ONE note, for which a tuning fork or pitch pipe may be used just to make sure of being in the general range intended.

Other members join in, usually one at a time, and when the full four-note chord is "right on" the hair on your legs should quiver to tell you you've "hit it." (Some female members may feel the quiver elsewhere, I suppose, if their inclined to "hairless daintiness" ?)

They refer to the just right chord(s) as "hair of the legs harmony," and it's something of a "holy grail" of barbershop harmony.

A reason given for not using multiple notes from a pitch pipe is that nearly all available devices are in "equal tempered pitch" and close harmony a capella singing, for very good reason, should be "just tempered" if you really want the close harmony sound.

Some electronic tuners allow you to choose among a variety of "tempers," but the ones that do are invariably quite expensive. The last time I looked the top-line Korg had tunings for something like nine(?) different "scales," with names mostly incomprehensible to me but including equi-tempered and just.

Some barbershop groups I've seen made a practice of starting each song with a one, two, three, four part chord - with the singers joining in one at a time - to get everyone on in the same range, with either a brief pause before breaking into the song or just a "slide" from the chord into the first notes. With the pause, the "starting chord" sort of resembles the conductor's and-a-one, and-a two, and-a ... that some old-timers might remember from early TV days.

When performing with instrumental accompaniment, of course, the limitations of the instrument(s) usually force the use of equal tempered scales, so the individual singers' pitches can be a lot sloppier, and attempting to "tune" each singer individually might be less futile.

A "rule for accompanists" insisted on by a few solo vocalists I've known (mostly not the country-western ones) is that the (instrument) accompanist should never play the notes in the melody since their presence in the accompaniment would force the singer to match the equi-tempered pitch; but if they're not there in the instrument noise the singer can "warp to just resonance," or at least pitch the voice to "best sonance."

John


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