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I have always wanted to learn to sing. I have been playing the guitar for six months, and I started doing exercises to sing in tune. The problem, for example using Yousician:

I can hit the pitch (the app recognizes that the pitch is right, and I always get 90 / 95% as scoring) .. but despite that, it sounds really bad when I relisten to it. This is an example:

https://voca.ro/11oXSgrd3YRI

This is an example, and the app says the notes are right. But it sounds really crap. Why? What's the problem?

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    Interestingly, I could have written this post, and I find the tone of your voice very similar to what I hear from myself, so it seems we're both doing the same thing! I'm not going to do this seriously enough to get a teacher, but I have found Dr Dan on YouTube very helpful youtube.com/user/Catafat94 , specifically starting off with this video: youtube.com/watch?v=appIwcDDkBQ titled "Help! I Hate the Sound of My Singing Voice" :D Apr 13 at 13:58
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    Don't underestimate the effect, that we are not used to our own voice. Listen to a recording of you speaking, chances are, you'll likely not like it as well. Apr 13 at 15:42
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    One important note, as someone with production background: if you're comparing your voice to the voices you hear in songs, bear in mind that produced music uses heavy processing of vocals to make them sound better. Even ignoring pitch correction techniques (which are ubiquitous), a well-processed vocal will sound way better than a dry (raw recorded) vocal. So, certainly listen critically and aim to improve, but you also might not be nearly as bad as you think. Even just a gate, tiny delay, saturation and reverb will sound way better.
    – Dan Bryant
    Apr 13 at 15:51
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    Another note is that produced music often makes heavy use of vocal comping, which is the practice of recording multiple takes of the vocals, then picking the best parts of each to get the final product. They'll also often use vocal doubles, triples or more, layering multiple takes of the voice on top of itself to get a richer tone than is physically possible just singing once. Listen carefully to the chorus of a produced song and you can learn to hear the subtle layering of vocal tones that's going on.
    – Dan Bryant
    Apr 13 at 15:56
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    Please don't get me wrong, and I don't want to be rude, but only part of what you sang is in tune. The fraction that's not in tune is big enough to lead you to the impression that it... doesn't sound right.
    – applesoup
    Apr 14 at 21:26
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I used to sound a lot like you. I hated how I sounded but I liked writing music and had no one else to record my songs, so I had to learn. So what I'm saying is there is hope. You can get better. It's taken me many years to get to a decent point, so it's probably not going to be quick and easy. I'm not a singing coach but these are some things I learned.

  • You're not getting enough air out, you seem to be holding back. That's why your tone is not good and wavering. Learn how to take deep breaths and use your diaphragm to force enough air out to fully activate your vocal chords.
  • Learn to sing with confidence, your singing is a little timid. Many people, including myself, are embarrassed to sing in front of people. It's something you have to overcome in order to sing good. Confidence in your voice goes a long way. Start by finding a place where you can sing as loud as you want and no one can hear you until you've improved and built that confidence.
  • Read some books on vocal training and do the vocal exercises. I found some good books at the library. You can also find some good articles online. You can probably speed things up if you get singing lessons from a coach (I haven't had any so can't comment).
  • Keep recording yourself to check for improvement. Try different things with your voice to see how it sounds.
  • After you've learned the basics find your own unique sound. You will never sound like someone else because you are unique. That's when I really started to improve is when I stopped trying to sound like someone else.
  • Practice, a lot. Your voice is just like any other instrument. You wouldn't expect to pick up a guitar and just start playing it like Eddie Van Halen. It takes years of practice. Your voice is no different.

I hope you can take something from my experience and learn to sing better! If you're willing to put in the time and effort you will get better.

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  • do you have som example of your before/ after i'm curious!
    – Marià
    Apr 25 at 18:39
  • No before, but it sounded a lot like the above. I still have work to do, would like to get a vocal coach some day. But you can hear me here soundcloud.com/lonesome-satellite/tracks May 4 at 0:31
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I don't think it sounds that bad, and I also understand your concern. I think you're noticing two things:

  • Being in tune is not the same as having good tone, and your tone is not bad, but could be better.
  • When you change notes, sometimes it takes you a small amount of time to get in tune - you're not always in tune right away.

For the second point, you just have to keep practicing. Your ear and control will improve and you'll be able to be better in tune and in tune from the beginning of the note.

For the first point, there are a lot of elements that affect the tone of your voice. The best thing to address both of these concerns is to get a teacher. If you can't afford a teacher, then you can study as much as you can find about proper singing and try to incorporate what you read and see into your practice.

There are many important elements to singing:

  • How you breathe
  • The shape of your mouth and throat
  • How you move your lips and tongue as you sing
  • How strong and flexible your vocal cords are
  • Other things...

In addition to researching how to sing better, I suggest you also research how to take care of your voice and protect it. Some basics are to keep yourself hydrated and to always warm up your voice before practice, and never strain your voice.

Overall I think you've got a good start on learning to sing, and it's a good thing that you can hear that you're not where you want to be in terms of tone quality and pitch. That means your ear is sensitive to be able to develop your skills which is very important.

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  • Hi thk for your comment! the problem is that i can hear that the pitch isn't correct , but i can't hear my tone , if i sing out of tune i can hear that , but i can't recognize that my tone is off.
    – Marià
    Apr 12 at 18:39
  • in my mind i'm singing quite good but re listening it is terrible.
    – Marià
    Apr 12 at 18:43
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    @Marià Definitely - it takes time and patience and practice. You will progress much faster if you can afford lessons, so consider that carefully. Maybe not now, if you can't afford it, but some time in the future. Apr 12 at 19:51
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    @Marià “Re-listening it is terrible.”  That shows you have a good ear :-)  I took singing lessons; it took about two years before I could bear to listen to a recording of myself!  Note that several things make learning the technical aspects of singing harder than those of an instrument: everyone's vocal ‘instrument’ is different; you can't see inside it to know what you're doing; you can't really hear it directly; and everyone has habits from speaking that can be hard to break.
    – gidds
    Apr 13 at 11:55
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    @Marià As I wrote, study singing technique and work on your breath support, your mouth and throat shape and position, etc. singing is a complicated art form and there is a lot to learn. It will take a long time to learn the theory and how to put the theory to work by practicing the techniques. Working on your technique will improve both pitch and tone. Apr 14 at 6:07
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There were places when you got into the swing of it where it sounded decent. The line "leaving this town to an unknown place" was the best bit. As you work [with a teacher if you can; it really is very hard to learn voice without one], your tone will improve gradually.

One thing that can help you today: try singing with more style. What struck me the most when I listened was that you sang everything the exact same. Same volume. There was [almost] no rhythm. There were no vocal cries or whines or fryes or vibrato or anything.

The reason why I liked the line I mentioned is because you sang it in a way where the rhythm could be discerned. LEAVing this TOWN to an UNknown PLACE. It added some enjoyable musicality.

An exercise to help with this: listen to a song of an artist you like, and listen really close. Get an app on your phone so you can replay little bits again and again, and go line by line and really really really listen to what the artist does. Pronunciation. Some notes shortened, some long, some loud, some legato, etc. And try to mimic them. It should take 5-15 minutes per line.

The reason this is useful is because it gives you a sense of how much musical variation there can be, and gives you ideas on what you can try yourself. I recommend fly me to the moon by Frank Sinatra because it's just a C major scale up and down (so it's easy pitch-wise), and because Frank is particularly musical, so you'll get loads of ideas.

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  • Hi , thk for ur answer the problem is that i can hear if i'm out of pitch.. but other than that , in my head it sound prefectly fine
    – Marià
    Apr 12 at 21:03
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    Hi, but in your question you say you "sound terrible". So you ARE able to hear when it doesn't sound fine. You just have to record yourself. You're doing the right thing by recording yourself! All singers should do it. You seem to be able to hear problems with tone when it's a recording. So: practise, record, play back, practise, record, play back, practise, record, play back, practise...
    – Alan
    Apr 13 at 11:00
  • So it's the tone i need to work on ?
    – Marià
    Apr 13 at 20:45
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    Actually what I am saying is work on your musical expression. Even without improving your tone, improving your expression will make you sound way better. If your tone became excellent in the morning, and you still sang with no expression, it would not be enjoyable to listen to.
    – Alan
    Apr 14 at 17:11
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I can hear your voice slowly moving in and out of pitch. I recommend using a smooth organ sound behind your voice-- harmonic conflict is easier to hear than relative pitch when you're just starting off. Practice pitching your voice to the organ sound until you can "lock on" to the note faster. Then go a capella.

But let me commend you-- YOU ARE DOING THIS RIGHT. I promise you if you keep it up, your ear and voice control will improve very quickly.

The other issue is the QUALITY of the voice. You should watch some YouTube videos on how to support singing with your diaphragm, how to project and so on.

Short version-- focus more on singing strongly.

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    +100 this. The app is misleading you. Keep working on your pitch, and trust your ears over an app. My guess is that the app is much more forgiving with pitch issues than human ears are.
    – bob
    Apr 13 at 14:21
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I once attended a course in singing, and the teacher told us to concentrate on the text rather than on the melody of the song. I remember her telling us that you cannot sing the word "love" just the same way you sing "loneliness" or "fight". Her advice sounded strange to me, but has helped me a lot.

Why concentrate on the text? Because singing has a lot to do with emotions. Every song tells a story, and it can be a sad, a happy, a funny story.

When you concentrate on hitting the pitch, you forget about the emotions, and every song sounds the same. When you concentrate on the text, you get in touch with the emotional side of the song, and your singing gets much more expressive.

So I would advise you to put your app aside for a while. You know now that you are quite good at hitting the pitch. Look at the text of your songs, sing because you are happy or sad, sing because singing is fun. You will find out that your singing improves a lot and that you will hit the pitch anyway.

Good luck!

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Your tone is fine, the app is correct in that (although you indeed take a bit of time to correct the tone from the initial start, but that is a matter of training).

This app, however, is selling you short by only focusing on the pitch. There is more to a good tone than being in tune. From the short recording you gave, there appeared to be only a little power behind your voice. Improving your singing at this point will greatly benefit from an improved breathing technique, which will make your tone "fuller".

I am rather certain that singing "from the crotch" will improve the tone quality by a lot. It will also have the added benefit of giving you more air to use before needing another breath

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  • Hi , thks for your comment i'm not a native speaker ehat do you mean for "from the crotch" ?
    – Marià
    Apr 14 at 13:15
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    By any chance, would "from the crotch" be equivalent to the common singing advice "singing from the diaphragm"? If so, OP might have better luck using that search term .
    – user45266
    Apr 14 at 16:24
  • It might be, yes. I got tought in different terms though (i'm not native english either)
    – ThisIsMe
    Apr 15 at 8:56
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It is also important to understand the difference in pronunciation between singing and talking. Listen to any English language pop song and you will realise that singers change the way they sing individual words to make it more musical.

For example, "leaving" would be pronounced "leevin" (don't pronounce the "g") and "town" would be pronounced "tarn" (don't pronounce the "w"). I think this is done to make the works flow together more naturally.

Western pop singing is almost always sung with an American accent. Listen to Adele singing "When we were young" and she sings "...from the way you towk" instead of "...from the way you talk".

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I'd like to inject a note of pessimism!

I don't suppose I'll be popular for it but it comes from personal experience.

I'm a musician but I have never sounded good when singing. At my first school the teacher asked me not to sing along with the class. When I finally recorded my voice, I realised how bad it sounded. As an adult I went for singing lessons. After one term, the teacher asked me to stop because she couldn't do anything with me.

Why is this? It's because my tone is terrible. There is a simple physiological fact that some people have a better tone than others - they are the people who tend to become professional singers. Usually from a very early age they sound good without any effort at all.

I would compare the difference with that between a Stradivarius violin and one made by an amateur from a vegetable box. The conformation and the way the instrument is put together make all the difference.

If your anatomy is not set up for singing then, short of surgery, you are stuck with it. I say this as a professional musician who would love to be able to sing and has tried all sorts of ways to improve my voice but without success.

In summary

Try everything but be prepared that eventually nothing may help. That way you won't be too disappointed.

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  • yeah but i need to try my best :)
    – Marià
    Apr 16 at 9:05

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