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Getting in the Right Key

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BADEAR1
(@badear1)
Eminent Member
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 18
Topic starter  

Hi All
I can sing in tune and seem to be able to sing in a number of keys as well. Which is my best key I'm not quite sure yet but i do have a problem. Though I sing in tune I seem unable to 'hit' my chosen key when asked to sing. I'm either either above or below the choosen key by a semitone, perhaps even 3 semitones either side of the chosen key and I dont know why I'm doing this. I'm booked for a little charity concert in a fortnight and feel rather nervous for I'll look a right fool if I start too high or to low. I need a solution pretty quickly and hope there's someone 'out there' who can help. Thanks for reading my post.
Joe


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

Singers don't' "have a key". Singers have a RANGE.

Let's say a song is in the key of C, and the lowest note is C, and the highest note is D. That's a range of a major ninth. If you don't have a range of a major ninth, there is NO key in which you can sing the song.

But let's say you can sing a range of about a tenth - from the A below C to the C an octave above. You can't do the song in the original key - it's too high for you. But you have the range to sing the song, as long as the highest note isn't above C, or the lowest one below A. You could sing the same tune in the key of A (from A to B), or Bb (from Bb to C). One of those keys might be better for you... or the other might; But you could do it in either key.

When a singer says "my key is A" they either mean 1) I know that tune, and the range, and this really is the best key for me, or 2) I have no idea what I'm talking about, but I hear other singers say stuff like this, so I want to sound like a pro.

Figure out your range, compare it to the song, and choose a key you can do. In the best circumstance, that will be a key that doesn't test your limits at either end.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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Hobson
(@hobson)
Noble Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 794
 

+1 on that explanation and one thing to add.

Joe, you seem to be seeing that when asked to sing with no accompaniment you don't always pick the right starting note. No surprise. Very few people have perfect pitch. That means that very few people can pick the right note out of thin air. Maybe if you've done the song enough times or done some practicing to find, say, middle C and work from there, you can do it. Otherwise, don't worry about it. If you start to sing and discover that you've started too high, just admit it and start over.

Or for official public performances, get yourself a pitch pipe or something else to give you the pitch.

Renee


   
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Nick Torres
(@nicktorres)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

I was in the studio with David Hodge a year or two ago, singing the vocals for Complete Idiot's Guide to Something or Other. There was no intro to the track, just the count off. As a lark I just started singing the song. Lo and behold I nailed the starting note and sang the track. That was weird.

But yes as explained above, I don't magically pick the key, I just listen to the notes being played and join in. Sometimes you'll need to pick the note out from something played or sung prior to your entrance. It may help you to sing the song to yourself along with whatever is playing before you come in.


   
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BADEAR1
(@badear1)
Eminent Member
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 18
Topic starter  

Hi All
I can sing in tune and seem to be able to sing in a number of keys as well. Which is my best key I'm not quite sure yet but i do have a problem. Though I sing in tune I seem unable to 'hit' my chosen key when asked to sing. I'm either either above or below the choosen key by a semitone, perhaps even 3 semitones either side of the chosen key and I dont know why I'm doing this. I'm booked for a little charity concert in a fortnight and feel rather nervous for I'll look a right fool if I start too high or to low. I need a solution pretty quickly and hope there's someone 'out there' who can help. Thanks for reading my post.
Joe
I know what you're getting at. Yes! like most people who can sing even moderately there are limits to ones 'range'. Of course I'm aware of that. There are keys/tunes or whatever you want to call them which I can sing comfortably; tunes which if sung in a different 'key' become flat or strident, depending whether I'm at the low/high end of the musical scale. And because I can sing in several 'keys'? (well I thin I can) that kind of exacerbates my problem; I just cant seem to hit the tune's chosen key at the drop of a hat, I'm either too high/too low. In other words I need a reference point from somewhere


   
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BADEAR1
(@badear1)
Eminent Member
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 18
Topic starter  

I was in the studio with David Hodge a year or two ago, singing the vocals for Complete Idiot's Guide to Something or Other. There was no intro to the track, just the count off. As a lark I just started singing the song. Lo and behold I nailed the starting note and sang the track. That was weird.

But yes as explained above, I don't magically pick the key, I just listen to the notes being played and join in. Sometimes you'll need to pick the note out from something played or sung prior to your entrance. It may help you to sing the song to yourself along with whatever is playing before you come in.
Thank you Renee that's a great relief to know it's a problem with lots of singers. It would seem I was worrying unnecessarily? Yes, I've noticed that if I do a few 'intro' strums on the guitar - before I start singing - all becomes well and I carry the song to a successful conclusion. So that's my tack for the little charity 'do'. Just hope it'll 'be alright on the night. Thanks for your input!


   
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