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I've been trying for months to get the songs in my head down to piano. But whenever I try none of the notes seem to fit what I'm singing. I'm guessing this is because I'm either A: out of tune or B: singing something that would fit chords.

I've tried apps to recognise the notes I'm singing (they all come up with different answers) and I can play other music and sing along to it just fine, but when I try to identify the melody that I'm making up - I get stuck every time.

Any help would be really appreciated.

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    My guess would be you're singing a note, trying to find it on a keyboard, singing it again, etc. In which case your sung note is probably changing with each note you hear. Try recording the melody you're singing and working from the recording? – AJFaraday Sep 23 at 11:30
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Your playing needs to be in the same key you're thinking about i.e. singing in, and there are basically two different approaches to do the coordination.

  • A: playing adjusts to singing: find the key you're singing in

  • B: singing adjusts to playing: give yourself a harmonic reference before starting to sing, in order to try and force the singing to be in a key and scale.

I guess alternative A is not suitable, because you can't seem to find the notes. So, try alternative B instead: play a strong chord cadence like C - F - G7 - C. After that your mind should be calibrated for C major, and your singing pitches should hopefully guide themselves to be in C. (Assuming that the idea you were thinking about was something where a major key is appropriate - if not, try a minor key, with something like Cm - Fm - G7 - Cm)

More generally speaking, not all ideas and feelings can be expressed in terms of e.g. piano keys at all, but experienced improvisers don't try to play things they can't play. As an analogy, it's possible to think about ideas that you find difficult to express using the English language - you try to put it in words, but whatever you say doesn't seem to cut it exactly. This is due to lack of practice, lack of patterns, known ways of expression suitable for that particular idea. You get better at self-expression by improvisation, doodling, babbling, producing expressions. As you do this, you train your mind to produce its ideas in terms of reproducible/performable actions. Play songs, melodies, chords, rhythms by ear.

  • @AlbrechtHügli I added a mention about minor keys - but generally, I think the OP needs to get more familiar with playing all sorts of things by ear, and this will make the singing to be musically known things rather than musically unknown things. Who knows, maybe the idea starts with a IV chord - and then if you play a cadence and a I chord, it still feels wrong even if the key is "right"... In order to feel what's happening, and to be able to produce notes and chords that feel right, you have to know a variety of different harmonic turns. – piiperi Reinstate Monica Sep 22 at 21:48
  • It's possible that OP is singing in Blues style, where notes sung will not be able to be found or played on a piano. – Tim Sep 23 at 6:33
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    @Tim or maybe the OP is rapping. ;) Like I said, not all ideas and feelings can be expressed in terms of e.g. piano keys at all. But I still claim that the playing and the singing have to be coordinated to be in the same key and harmony, with the same bass note for a chord at least. – piiperi Reinstate Monica Sep 23 at 6:57
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I agree with Albrecht's answer that you should record yourself then transcribe what you are singing. But I will also add this. The human voice can sing a continuum of tones and most modern instruments, especially the piano, cannot! You may be singing notes that simply do not exist in 12TET tuning. This is not a bad thing as plenty of cultures, e.g. India, incorporate tones that are not in the major scale or even the chromatic scale. You have way more freedom than the piano. Even if you are singing in the major scale you may be a micro-tone, a few cents, out of tune relative to it. Listening to your recording may help you. You could try to find at least the first note on the piano and if it does not match anything shift your signing up or down to match the first note (if you can).

As for the apps not matching you should know that your voice produces harmonics and those may be triggering the app. I have an old Korg AT-12 chromatic tuner, which I love, and I can sing what I think is a single note and the tuner will register not only the octave but sometimes the octave and a 5th. This depends on the sampling rate of the device and your app may have a fast/slow setting. try playing with that and see if you can get all the apps to match.

  • Of course one could just sing and write the tones that a tuning app of an android mobile is showing ...and then play it on a piano. - another possibility! – Albrecht Hügli Sep 22 at 22:59
  • I'm not sure that is the issue the OP is talking about. They said every app is different and nothing on the piano matches. – ggcg Sep 22 at 23:04
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It may be that you're singing 'in the cracks'. It may be that you have an idea of the shape of your melody but are singing each phrase in a different key due to vocal limitations.

Or it may be something else. But without actually hearing you we're just guessing.

Maybe, if you posted a recording of you singing we could help more. But ideally arrange a session with a musician skilled in such matters. He will be able both to help you with the immediate project and to give practical demonstration and instruction how to do it yourself in the future.

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You could „record“ your song with help of a notation program (singing and converting wave to midi, and try to let it harmonize by the software and show the sheet music.

But you will be more successful learning the fundamentals of harmony and chord progression and improve your music knowledge, ear training, solfège, chords etc.

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For definite you're not singing a tune that would be considered chord like as to my knowledge, we don't sing in multiple pitches simultaneously. I think i have seen people sing maybe in two pitches simultaneously but it is a very fine skill and not an accidental one, plus it still wouldn't be a chord but an interval.

Even singing out of tune, doesn't convince me.

Here's the problem i reckon,

It is common that people sing out of tune, such as myself which is what makes me a bad singer. What i do doubt is that you're so out of tune that you're pitches away from your intended pitch. The issue i feel is that you're possibly inexperienced in translating the idea in your head to actual pitch which then obstructs you laying it on the keyboard.

The solution i reckon,

Watch videos on "pitch control" and practice it daily. I can assure you this should resolve your issue. This video below actually performs the exercise with a keyboard so it suits your needs to a t.

My suggestion,

  • practice daily or near daily with this same video (i think it'll be multi-beneficial) and within 7 days you should notice an improvement in translating your ideas.

  • Software for translating audio recordings to midi in my experience, aren't that great to be of accurate use.

  • Learn music theory and you won't have to rely on singing ideas, although what you're doing can be considered an art, so your decision.

and lastly,

  • When listening to music, sing the melodies of the instrumentals and be mindful of how you replicate them which will also make you more experienced.

Stick at it and you will do it in a short period of time if you watch that video!

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    Tried the video. For someone tone deaf, it wouldn't help at all. I had to give up, half way through, as my voice couldn't go high enough. It didn't work for me! – Tim Sep 23 at 6:41
  • @Tim lol, i could crack windows no more than half way up the octave. We ain't no Mariah's! – Seery Sep 23 at 6:46
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I have found that some pitch recognition software has trouble identifying sung notes - especially if you have a "rich/complex" voice.

I think maybe because the 2nd harmonic (or higher ones) can be in fact louder than the "actual" note sung and it gets confused? Not sure. But I have seen it happen.

A progam I like to see what note you are singing is SingAndSee, can't recall if they still have a trial version.

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