Why do we sing out of tune on stage?

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unfa
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Why do we sing out of tune on stage?

Post by unfa »

Hey!

I've released an album lately, and I've played a live gig to promote it.
I was singing alone to played-back instrumental tracks. It was a small place, and small show (under 40 people in the audience) and it wasn't very loud.

I had 2 front speakers (I was standing right between them) and one monitor speaker on the floor in front of me.
I made sure the monitor is loud enough for me to clearly hear what am I doing.
I don't have too much stage expirience - however I'm really familar with home recording and stuff.

I'm now listening to the recording of my voice, and I'm badly shocked.
Some parts are ok, but some are constantly out of tune. It's really hard to enjoy this.
I seem to be blessed with a pretty good musical hearing (professionals told me this) and I can hear everything that was wrong now. Seems like I couldn't do the same on the stage.
However, the audience gave me a really great feedback and the CD's distributed great too.
People did give their money for the CD after they heard the show.
So it's like we were all hearing it different from how it really sounded?
Me and the audience didn't notice how badly out of tune sometimes I was? Or they didn't care?

I've heard that volume can make us perceive pitches differently. Maybe the adrenalin can too?

Why some vocalists sound always in-tune live while others don't?

There's a whole bunch of questions and confusion about this.

Maybe I just should play much more live to learn how to stay in-tune?

StudioDave
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Re: Why do we sing out of tune on stage?

Post by StudioDave »

unfa wrote: I'm now listening to the recording of my voice, and I'm badly shocked.
Some parts are ok, but some are constantly out of tune. It's really hard to enjoy this.
I seem to be blessed with a pretty good musical hearing (professionals told me this) and I can hear everything that was wrong now. Seems like I couldn't do the same on the stage.
The studio and the stage are two utterly dissimilar environments. Both take time to get used to, and both introduce unique stresses on performance.

Your physical movement on stage affects your singing. Lifting your chin affects your voice. Standing and wearing/playing a guitar while you sing is a tremendous distraction until you're completely indifferent to its presence. *Any* distraction from your singing will affect it. The same obviously holds true for instrumentalists, but the voice is the body's instrument, and any problem in the body will quickly find its way to your voice.
However, the audience gave me a really great feedback and the CD's distributed great too.
People did give their money for the CD after they heard the show.
So it's like we were all hearing it different from how it really sounded?
Me and the audience didn't notice how badly out of tune sometimes I was? Or they didn't care?
They don't care that much. They didn't come to hear you give a pitch-perfect performance, and they probably woudn't know or care if you did. They came to have a good time, and that doesn't really depend on whether or not you sing in tune. Other factors are at work then too.
I've heard that volume can make us perceive pitches differently. Maybe the adrenalin can too?
Surely. Hearing is such a complicated process, and the study of psychoacoustics is a rich field.

Relaxation is a key component of good singing. Check yourself when you're on stage, stay relaxed, and don't worry over-much about your intonation. The more practice, the more skill, so get more bookings. :)
Why some vocalists sound always in-tune live while others don't?
For reasons you've indicated. I have a 12-year old student who has a wonderful voice, trained at a prestigious music school, experienced in choral work, but his first performance with me was a disaster. He was so nervous he started his material in the wrong keys, I had to transpose while playing the songs. However, he was excellent at the next performance, he recovered his poise and had no trouble with his intonation after that first show.
Maybe I just should play much more live to learn how to stay in-tune?
See above. It won't hurt. :)

HTH,

dp

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