I am currently learning to sing by myself and having visual feedback to tell me if I hit the right note or not would be very helpful.

I am trying out the Melodyne software and its great because it tells me exactly how many cents away I am from a particular note, but at $400, it costs too much for me.

I'm looking basically for a way to record your voice, plot the notes you just sung, and tell you how many cents away you are from the intended note.

"Your ear is your guide, not your eyes," may be best for some, but I'm much more of a visual learner, and I need to see before I can hear. That's how my mind seem to work. Thank you for your suggestions!

  • 1
    The visual learning approach won't help in this situation. It's like learning to sing a C note one day, and getting it right with the tuner, and expecting to recreate that note tomorrow/next week because you did it that one time. Even a thousand times won't perfect it. It's not like learning where a note is on an instrument - possibly a violin, but that's where it ends. Visually - sing in front of people, if they smile, you hit the note. If they grimace, practise singing (with instruments or people) a lot more.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 6:22

4 Answers 4

  1. Get a teacher.

  2. You don't really need what you are asking for. You don't need to obsess over 1/100 tone fluctuations while you are, say, screwing up your voice.

  3. Without a teacher you can't possibly make a good use of the kind of software you are asking for anyway. You need to take EE 101 before using an oscilloscope, after all. I don't care how your mind "seems to work", nor should you. You should only care about how your teacher thinks your mind is supposed to work.

  4. If you are really really bullheaded, try FMit, it's exactly what you're looking for, and it's 100% free (as in speech) software.

    Note that FMIt is an instrument tuner. You might want to use a carefully placed microphone and maybe filter out some frequencies just in case - beware especially of plosives.

FMit Screenshot 1

FMit Screenshot 2

FMit Screenshot 3


As a visual learner myself, I can see why this would seem appealing, but having tried it myself, I have to echo Some Dude's sentiment that you really don't need this. It might be neat to play with a few times, just to see what kind of fluctuation exists in your voice, but overall, its very unlikely to help you become a better singer.

The reason is that if you're concentrating on finely controlling your voice to a microtonal degree, to make a small, jumpy bar fall into the right location, you'll completely miss the wonderful sensation of hearing a unison between you and a reference pitch, which is what you should be aiming for. You'll also be using your voice in a way that's atypical for singers, and which will contribute little-or-nothing to your future pitch control, when singing without a tuner. Not to mention the fact that, in many singing styles, perfect 12-TET pitch isn't even a necessarily desired quality anyway.

Nevertheless, as Karen mentions, a free tuner app on your smart phone can show you this in (almost) real-time. As an example, on my Android phone, I use DaTuner Lite.

But typically you'll want to practice with some sort of instrument to give yourself an audible reference pitch, and learn to match it. The upshot of being a visual learner, though, is that once you get a feel for scales and matching pitches, you should be able to easily pick up sight singing, which is a far more appropriate application of visual senses to music.


A way to get real time visual feedback would be to sing at an electronic tuner with a built in microphone. There are phone apps available for that, or dedicated devices for $10-20. It wouldn't record and graph, though.


These are all good answers. There's one idea I haven't seen mentioned. I have read that when a professional pop singer os in the recording studio, the recording engineer sets him up in such a way that he can hear the accompaniment in his headphones, but he hears himself through his headphones with extra amplification. (For some reason, this apparently brings out the best in a singer.)

Therefore, I am going to suggest that you practice singing with a recording of yourself. But how do you get a recording of yourself singing nicely in tune? Here's my idea: you listen to a professional recording of your song, with earphones, while you are recording yourself with an mp3 player, a Zoom, or whatever gadget you choose.

The other thing you can do, building on what Caleb said in his last paragraph: if you play piano or some other instrument, you could play a very simple bass line as kind of a drone under you while you are singing.

  • The OP probably, as a beginner, has enough to do just attempting one aspect, playing or singing. Doing one thing at once works well.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 7:05
  • 2
    I think the basic premise (monitoring yourself via headphones helps you sing better) is false. Monitoring via headphones is a necessary evil if you want to do multitrack recording (or live recording of an electric band) anyway. Also, monitoring yourself in a studio setting via a high end microphone, pre and desk is one thing, hearing yourself with a crappy PC microphone set 2 inches from your mouth and lots of latency would probably just ruin your life. Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 16:40

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