Singing Notes/Matching Pitches

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Cougar, Oct 27, 2016.

  1. Cougar


    Feb 15, 2014
    Hey Guys,

    I find it very difficult to sing back a pitch/note after hearing in played on the bass, piano, etc. I have to sing pitches upon and down to mach it. It is as if the pitch isn't memorized/imprinted in my brain after it is played/heard. Any tips on how to learn to do this.

    Also, what is the benefit of Solfege. Is it that do, re me, etc, supposed to have an inherent pitches when sung? Can these syllables not be sung at any pitch you want?

    Interestingly when I get the pitch, I can then sing up and down the scale sequentially with good accuracy.


  2. consectaneus


    Sep 23, 2016
    Just a thought...
    You can eventually sing the pitch you hear, (even if you miss sharp and flat at first) so you DO recognize it when you get it. And you have good relative pitch, that is, once the note is found, you can sing the right intervals relative to that note. It seems to me like your issue can be improved through practice--playing a note and working on hitting it right on. I don't know if you are interested in talking with a vocal coach about this, but this is exactly the sort of thing they deal with.

    I tried and gave up on Solfege, but I'm also thinking about taking another run at it. It was tedious, but maybe I'm more ready for it now. I have a six CD ear training course taught by a Berklee professor. Being able to sing intervals, know what they are, and find them on the instrument would be a nice ability to have. A lot of jazz teachers stress this.

    Anyway, do can be sung at any pitch, but each following Solfege syllable represents a major scale degree relative to the tonic, "do". Therefore, "re" is the second degree of that major scale, mi the major 3rd, fa the fourth, and so on. Then there are also in between syllables to represent sharped and flatted notes.
  3. HandsFree


    Dec 23, 2015
    Solfege is ear training, the goal is that you know what different intervals/chords sound and can recognize them. I assume the benefits of that are obvious.
    It is NOT vocal chord training. But in an exam situation the only way to verify if someone knows how a major 6 sounds is to have him/her sing it.

    Many people find it a useful first step to sing the tones first, but that only works if you have enough control of your voice.
    It would be interesting to try if you do better matching tones you hear using your bass or other instrument. If you can do that, you can forget about the singing. If you can't, it's your ears that need more training. That's really a matter of practise.
    When you hear a tone and you play one that is different, don't just randomly try another one, but listen to how far off it is. Is it only one step away? More? Higher or lower? Then adjust.

    For intervals and chords association often works very well as a way to get started. If a song you like starts with a major third, you can probably recognize that interval, because it sounds like how that song starts. Same with chords.
    But matching those single tones is the first step.
  4. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Trivia Time: It's perhaps worth noting that what you describe is/was referred to as "movable do" and that a slightly more arcane though equally (I suppose some would argue more) valuable technique is called "fixed do". In fixed do solfege, do=C all the time, regardless of what key you're singing in. Obviously this can make things a bit harder -- imagine singing the "Do, A Deer" tune from The Sound Of Music in the key of Bb! -- but it also goes a long way towards training the musician to improving their absolute pitch recognition, whereas movable do only trains relative pitch recognition.
    consectaneus likes this.
  5. Bondobass


    Mar 14, 2014
    Are you any good at vibrato? I’m no expert but I think that’s what some singers do, they kinda search for a note when they are not exactly on pitch. And some will say well that’s the affect they are looking for and that may be true, but there are some who never vibrate and seem to hit the note straight on every time and just sound great.

    I’m a novice singer at best, and my wife (who is no musician, but I think she could be if she wanted it) says I overdo the vibrato thing when I sing, and that is because I have trouble hitting the note, or maybe I’m just unsure of my singing.
  6. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    In a solfège class you'll sing melodies, 3rd to make a chord, broken interval ( like up a minor second, then down a major 3rd, then up a prefect 5th etc ) and of course have to recognize them while played.

    When the teacher ask someone to sing the assigned melodies, the student can ask to have it in a different key and sing with the same name ... just like someone drop tuning a bass and still call the 3rd fret a G when it is now a A etc.
  7. kalanb


    Dec 17, 2012
    Not to sound flippant, but practice. Sing along with your bass. Play the first note of a scale and then sing up the scale, playing the note after you sing it to see how close you are. Sing different intervals. Sing a theme song and then play it on your bass.
  8. enricogaletta


    May 21, 2011
    Ear training is the solution to your problems, look on the net for a good book that has a step by step criteria and then you just need to use it regularly and with patience.
    Another solution could be playing each mode of the major scale, melodic minor, and relative arpeggios singing each degree. For example, play the Ionian scale first, then playing again singing at the same time each degree of the scale, then just play the root and try to sing the scale without playing the other degrees, then apply to the relative arpeggio, it will be more challenging because you have to skip some degree.
    The last solution could be learning to read music, rhythm and sight reading, especially the last one, automatically you'll sing the notes you will play :thumbsup:
    If you need more help feel free to contact me.
    Ciao. Enrico
  9. Ethan117

    Ethan117 My instrument makes people jiggle. Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2014
    My favorite way to practice pitch memory (or whatever it's called) is quite simple: think of a song you know well. Sing it through your head for a while, and then play the recording. Keep doing this until the melody you replay in your head matches the key of the recording.

    You might not be able to recall the note names til a while down the road, but you'll start recognizing them as "the note Tom Sawyer starts on" (E) or "the key trans-Siberian orchestra always uses" (C).
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