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Sensory Tips for Vocalising at Different Pitches

YouTube video with captions and transcript.

Did you know, vocalising the same musical interval at different pitches might not feel like it’s the same interval apart.

Okay first some background information. Pitch is your auditory interpretation of the air vibrating at a specific speed – sometimes called frequency, which we measure in hertz (Hz). For the voice, the thing making the air vibrate is the vocal folds.

In simplified terms, slower vibrations create a lower pitch and faster vibrations create a higher pitch.

Musical pitches are a specific frequency. There are different standards for tuning pitch, but the most common standard in Western music is currently that the note A4 is 440 Hz.

An octave is the interval between one musical pitch and another with double its frequency.

We know A4 = 440 Hz, so this means that A5, the octave above, is 880 Hz, and A3, the octave below A4, is 220 Hz.

Let’s look at this on a smaller scale. The smallest pitch interval you might sing in western music is a semitone.

The note a semitone below A4 is G#4 also known as Ab4. This note is 415.30 Hz which is 24.70 Hz slower than A4.

So let’s look at one octave lower. The semitone below A3 is G#3. That is 207.65 Hz which is a difference of 12.35 Hz from the A3.

So singing an A3 to a G#3 means you have to make the vibration slower by 12.35 Hz.

Singing an A4 to a G#4 means you have to make the vibration slower by 24.70 Hz, which is double the difference, because an octave is double.

So how does this help in a practical setting?

This can apply to anyone, but particularly if you’ve only ever used like a small range of your voice, it’s very possible that when exploring outside of that, you might find it hard to match a pitch because you’re either trying to make the difference between the notes too small or too big.

I said earlier that lower pitches are slower vibrations. The difference between the notes at a lower pitch is also closer together. So if you’re struggling to place a higher pitch, it might be that you’re aiming for a smaller difference in the vibrations, and not quite reaching it.

So if I do the A3 to the G#3 (sings), and then I do the A4 to the G#4 (sing), like to me, physically, it feels bigger, but because I’m connecting to it more auditory, that’s how I’m finding it. But if you’re connecting to it more from a physical sense you might kinda land short (sings, showing not quite reaching the G#4 from the A4)

That hopefully made sense! If you have questions ask please! I’d love to talk about this a little bit more.