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Can people learn to sing in tune?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    I'm gonna say no. Especially if they don't know they sing out of tune unless someone is telling them; becuase then it means to me they can't even distinguies what's in and out of key. And I don't believe that's something that can be learned.

    There are a few people I've known who occassionally sing out of key, but I think that's usually because they can't hear themselves well and once they find the solution to that, all is good. If given some quiet acoustic instruments however, if someone can't nail a tune vocally, I think they ought to hang it up and move onto something else.

    I invite your arguments as the above is my experience and not any kind of scientific fact.

    And if you're one of the people who used to not sing in key, and learned how, then I want video proof because I'm going to guess you now just think you sing in key. :)
  2. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    I think its like anything else. Some people can do it and others can't. If someone can do a decent job of singing, they can be trained to sing in tune but there are some people that even with lessons will never be able to sing well.
  3. I'm a singer and I will say yes with a disclaimer. Some people are just not cut out to sing. Others couldn't sing out of pitch if they tried. The rest of us, it's muscle memory and ear training, practice, practice.

    If there is potential, there are some good ear training tools that will really help.
  4. leftiebass


    Oct 17, 2009
    I will watch this post - for hope. I would like to be able to sing in key but have not been able. It is not that I never tried. I know someone who says that I will be able to do it if I work on it. I think that first hurdle is to find the key that fits your voice. How to do that?
  5. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    You are either born with "a voice" or you aren't. If you are born with a voice you can work it and get great.
    If you aren't it simply ain't gonna happen!
    I know a band leader who spends thousands of dollars on vocal coaches and lessons. I can hardly stand to listen to him. His singing totally sucks and always will.
    Same guy also spends thousands of dollars on studio time, paying musicians to play with him, and producing crappy CD's.
    No one has the heart to tell him he sucks. Mostly because he is a cash cow.
  6. soulman969


    Oct 6, 2011
    I think you either have an ear for pitch or you don't. It's basically instinctive although I would probably accept the fact that some might learn to perfect pitch better with some training. But for those with a totally "tin ear" I believe there's no hope. Either you can sing or you can't.
  7. CnB77


    Jan 7, 2011
    The only tone deaf people are actual deaf people, and even then there may be some workarounds.
    It comes much more easily to some than others.

    There are probably people who actually cannot reproduce enough tones with their voice to sing well, but they are a tiny minority. I think people who "can't sing" just don't have the gumption to put the required work in.
  8. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    I would strongly argue this point with one simple yet right to the point example...

    'nuff said.
  9. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    Sit with a keyboard and practice one note at a time.
    You can teach your voice to hit correct pitches.
    Developing a good vocal tone is much more difficult.
    I'm still not there and I don't know if I ever will be but I keep trying.
  10. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    Yeah, I do believe that singing in tune is do-able.

    I have never had a good pitch or a good voice. My mother, who has an awful sense of pitch, pretty much destroyed my tuning system when she sang me lullabies as a child. For years, I was unable to tell if the note was ascending or descending in pitch if it was within five chromatic intervals.

    Playing music helped. I also bought a program called Singing Coach, which kind of worked like the Singer function in Rockband, but started by determining my range (done by asking me to sing as low as I could comfortably without breaking my voice, and then to sing as high as I could without my voice crackling and maintaining a pitch), and then simple to more difficult lessons after that. Unfortunately, about two weeks in, I needed a new PC, and the software wouldn't install on anything newer than Windows XP. But it did help. When I started, I struggled to hum one pitch for five seconds and hold it, but two weeks in, I could sing three pitches, played after another, pretty well.

    Before I got this program, I would sit at keyboard, play a note, and sing into a chromatic tuner. I would match the note with what I thought I heard, release the key, and look at the tuner to see where I was, 90% of the time, I was exactly six intervals off, half an octave, it was horrible. After the program and to today, when I do this, I am no farther that one chromatic semitone off. Still, I obviously need a lot of work, but I have improved, and haven't spent much time at all working on it. I keep intending to, but I struggle to get enough playing time as it is.

    If I had the opportunity to keep that program and work with it for months, I think I would be able to sing in tune now for the most part. But my voice would still suck, LOL.

    If anyone knows of another program like this, I would love to get it, so if you could please let me know, that would be awesome.

    I also believe that my inability to sing in tune from adolescence really hurt my pitch recognition, and intonation. It was very hard for me to jam with others, because I couldn't tell what they were playing. Today, from doing this work, and playing fretless most of the time, drastically improved this. I now feel that I am probably about where most people are when they start playing, I still need work, but have a decent enough ear to transcribe songs now and such. I still have lengths to go, but will be there in time.
    Tupac likes this.
  11. Practice makes a man perfect. Get a guy who practices every day for years, he can probably sound just like a guy who's naturally talented but doesn't work on it.

    - Jimmy Rage
  12. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification

    So much truth in such a small space. The voice is the most unforgiving instrument there is, and to get decent at it takes a lot of work. But it is absolutely possible, for most people.
  13. Tituscrow

    Tituscrow Banned

    Feb 14, 2011
    NW England
    I think that with enough practice, perseverance and determination, most people could learn to hold a tune in key.

    However, being able to sing in tune and having a voice that is pleasant enough for other people to want to hear are two very different things.

    Can I sing in tune? Yes. Do I have a vocal tone that makes people go 'wow, I need to hear more of THIS guy'? Absolutely not. But that is down to the physiology and structure of my own personal vocal chords and the ensuing sound waves that are emitted when I choose to speak or sing. And there isnt a damn thing i can do about that. I will NEVER sound like Layne Staley, even though I can sing any AIC song in tune.

    Good thread btw.
  14. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    I've always had a good ear, and a good understanding of pitch. However, I haven't always been a good singer. I sang in my high school choir, church choirs, small groups, etc., but I didn't really discover "my" voice until I was in my 40's. I began trying to emulate some of the old blues singers, and was encouraged by people I trust. When I joined a "bar" band a little over 5 years ago, I sang "Born to be Wild," and "Red House" for the guys, and they agreed I should at least sing those two songs. As time went by, I got to the point where I was singing lead on 1-3 songs per set, and harmonies on others. I'm still not ready to be THE lead singer in a band, but I can do some leads.

    There's a difference between talent and skill. A person with a moderate amount of talent can become very good if he or she is well trained and practices enough. Someone with a lot of talent who never develops it will not do everything they are capable of. I would definitely be a better bass player if I practiced more consistently and systematically, but I doubt that I could ever approach the level of someone like Victor Wooten.

    I've heard people sing who I think could be a lot better with some training. I've heard other people sing who I think are hopeless and should find another hobby.

    So yes, some people have the talent to learn to sing in tune. If the innate talent isn't there, however, it's not going to work.