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Consistently singing flat

Discussion in 'Recording' started by JohnTodd, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    So I've been turning the cans down and now I'm consistently singing flat. I need the cans down to avoid lots of leakage because I multitrack my vocals, hence the leakage builds up. But now I'm singing flat.

    What can I do about this?
  2. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    I sing without headphones using a monitor and let it bleed. There are ways to use phase to get rid of bleed but I've never had an issue.

    You could sing auto tune and then sing with that. Voice in phones tends to bleed less.
  3. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    There's a bunch of reasons we might sing flat... Let's put a side it's a technic problem and let's pretend we are able to be perfectly in tune.
    I guess one of the obvious reason is your perception is beeing tricked. Too much reverb in the monitor can do that or too much bass as well.

    Then if you don't hear yourself, how can you be on the pitch, removing one ear could help you, or be worse since, you might only be in tune with your live self.

    Is it an acapella song? if there's music to be added, I doubt, you'll hear the bleeding on the final product. Also, you can use a Noise gate to remove some bleeding while not singing...
  4. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    The problem was with bleed. That's why I turned the cans down to begin with. I use gates all the time.
  5. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    First, Keep your voice out of the mix - tune acoustically - one can off - I prefer lots of bass - and tuning to overtones.
    Second, As a vocal coach/teacher I would never assume anyone can sing in tune with or without headphones. My advice based on 30 yrs of performing and teaching:

    1. Know the key of the song you're singing. Know the notes of your piece - don't just think "that note is higher" by how much?
    2. Write out the pitches of that key (know your half/ whole steps- write them in)
    3. Most problems singing flat arise from the singer making descending steps too large
    4. Really focus on descending half steps!!!
    5. Make sure you support throughout the range - fail to support= flat
    6. Watch your vowel shapes/ an incorrectly shaped vowel will not sound in tune because of the overtones (technically vowel formants)
    7. There is a reason pro singers continue to have a vocal coach. A separate set of ears (not affected by the vibrations going on in your head) is often critical to accurate/ in tune singing - consider contacting a coach. The vibrations inside your head really make it impossible to get an accurate read on what's coming out pitch wise or tone wise.

    Good Luck

  6. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    That's what I was dreading to hear...it's me.

    OK, back to the woodshed for some training.

  7. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Hey, how do I tune to overtones?

    I am using 1 can off. And setting a monitor mix that includes just the rhythm section, drums bass with one "mid range" instrument.

    When I say consistently flat, I mean the whole track is flat by about 1/4 tone. Hi notes, low notes, all of them. I could autotune them back up no problem, but I'd rather get it right to begin with. It is the consistency that puzzles me. Seems more of a technical problem or monitoring problem.
  8. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I could say buy better cans (with better isolation) but you know that for sure ;)

    1/4 tone ?? That's a bit far for a difference in sound perception... and the pitch down is constant !!! :confused:
    Are you sure there's not physical reasons, I meen faulty preamp or other hardware. Or try without any plugin on the project if you use a computer.

    -try to record your voice while recording with an iphone or other device and compare the pitch.
    -you can even try to record an acoustic instrument well tune with the tracks already there..
    -well ?? try in another room for Chr..t sake!!
  9. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Turn down the side of the headphones you have off your ear.
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    nice post Phil.

    yeah, get rid of the reverb in the cans and keep one ear to the room. try different volumes in the cans or do the Jack Clement thing we were talking about with the mono ref mix and the speakers out of "polarity" with each other placed in a triangle with the mic. Jack would never use headphones ... in fact he had a rule to never even mention headphones or cans ...

    this is an issue artists and recordists have been struggling with for years. it's the reason guys like F.S. and Nat Cole would sing with a live band instead of over dubbing.
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Yep..Phil is correct. The fact that this is, as was described, always an issue of being flat, tells me the singing needs to improve as well as the monitoring.

    If I get a singer who has a tendency to being flat, I will strip down the instrumentation to the point of just having one instrument with the beat and the bass line and that instrument will not have any effects which bring a psycho-artifact of pitch into the playback. Mute buttons on everything are there for several reasons. They are your little friends.
  12. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    pitch is a bitch.

    this is somthing we all fight all the time.

    i love singing to strong bass .. it really helps me pull in the pitch.
  13. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    One thing I failed to mention. You said you overdub. Many times if you sing a piece repeatedly you fall into a "muscle memory" approach. (This is how I sing and support this phrase that I've done 50 times.). You mentally travel down the same path. This is deadly for in tune singing. A great way to check to see if its your technique or monitoring system is to transpose the tune up by a half step. You'll shock your ear and nothing will feel right. That's the point! Singing in tune, as I tell my singers, is not like riding a bike, it's more like lifting weights. The more you repeat the tougher it gets. You never really get to relax about tuning as a singer. By recording you can learn your tendencies and fix before they occur.

    Good luck...

  14. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Cool. If I xpose it back down for the recording, will I fall back into the wrong singing? IOW, can I use this shock treatment to cure me and the go back down and do it right?

    This is asked in good faith: I will remain attentive at all times when singing.
  15. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Hmmm....I never sing flat when I'm just singing with speakers and "the band", just for fun. It's only in the cans that I have this problem. My tone suffers, too. My SO says that I don't sound like the recordings; that the recordings sound flat (as in lifeless) and I sound better singing around the living room than when I am tracking.
  16. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Here's a surprise.. Recording is hard. Singing is hard. What you can learn from transposing up is that if you get it right take that approach and go for it in the regular key. You sometimes have to inject physical energy/ action into the recording process that isn't necessary in live performance.
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I turn the headphones way down so I can hear myself more naturally. Works awesome. Especially for low freq vox.
  18. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    from an engineering pov i offer humble thoughts. your relaxed and comfortable there. your also not hearing yourself under the scrutiny of a recorder, or in the un-natural (to you) way of hearing thru the can. red light fever is a real thing. some people just get used to it, and belt out regardless. recently a performer felt much more comfortable using a 'dummy' mic, where he used a handheld mic, and moved around, like he was used to, while the record enabled mic remained in it's spot. it felt more natural, and gained an instantly better performance. any compromise in technical audio 'quality' was steam rolled by inspired performance. a quality they don't make a pluggin for yet. relax.

    i am in no way trying to contradict this, just telling a quick story.
  19. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    I don't think you're contradicting my point at all. The movement helped the singer feel more natural. The key word there. Is sometimes. Whatever works is the right thing to do to capture a quality performance. With the exception of pulling a gun.
  20. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    you know John, from what i heard on your "stairway" post i don't think you are really singing that flat. i think you might be psyching your self out. i do the same thing. people tell me they love my voice but when i hear myself on a playback its total torture. i am always trying to auto tune myself in spite of the fact that i hate auto tuning. i can't stand the way i sing. there's a lot of big stars who fell the same way too (not that i'm a big star, lol).

    maybe you need to give your self a break ... or post some more examples of your singing and let us hear if it's as bad as you think it is.

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