So you’re in your bedroom singing along to the greatest rock concert in history happening in your head. Your voice soars through, the crowd goes wild, and then; in an inspired moment of passion, you belt out the most amazing note you’ve ever sung.
You snap back to reality as you’re surprised at yourself for nailing that super high note you’ve never managed before. But wait, “How do I quantify my achievement?” you wonder. “How exactly do I brag about this next time at choir practice? What note did I just sing?”
Well, if you’ve ever found yourself in a similar oddly specific quandary, we’ve got you covered! Whether you’re testing your vocal limits or just learning how to sing in pitch, here’s a few ways to quickly find out what note you’re singing.
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#1. Use a tuner app
Modern smartphones have in-built good quality microphones,and processing power that can analyze the audio captured by these microphones in real-time. Whether you’re on Android or iOS, there’s a string of apps available that can capture the audio from the phone mic and immediately measure what musical note is being sounded.
Such apps are commonly used to tune instruments during practice or on stage, but can just as easily be used with your voice to let you know what note you’re singing, and even the amount by which you may be flat or sharp.
For most apps, this works by simply opening it and then singing into your phone’s microphone. You can even use the microphone built into your headphones or earphones. It’s a good idea to find a relatively quiet space to do this since noises or other instruments playing in the background can throw off the app’s measurements.
Some good free tuner apps available for Android and iOS are DaTuner, gStrings, Pitch and a lot more. Simply searching for ‘tuner’ in your respective app store will bring up an array of suitable apps.
#2. Use a Musical Instrument
If you’ve got a somewhat musically adept ear, you’ll likely be able to match a note played on an instrument with your voice. You can also use your ear’s ability to do this in reverse, and match the note you’re singing by playing notes on an instrument till you find the one that matches.
If you’re using an instrument like a piano, where the different notes are clearly visible, you can match the note by ear and then see which note it is on the instrument. Be wary about confusing octaves though, and don’t confuse a high C or C5 on the piano with a middle C or C4 in your voice.
This method obviously requires that your instrument is in tune itself. To avoid the possibility of errors within the instrument itself, it’s a good idea to use a digital instrument like a keyboard whose tuning is not affected by natural factors. Do check for any transposition settings on the keyboard beforehand to avoid wrong measurements.
If you don’t have an instrument handy, your phone’s got you covered here too! There’s a multitude of free apps emulating pianos, keyboards, and other instruments which you can use to check your pitch. This can also be a good method to practice ear training and intonation for vocalists.
#3. Use the tuner in your DAW
If you’re in a vocal recording session and want to quickly know what note you’re singing, maybe to see if it fits in the scale of the song or with a particular chord, you can use inbuilt tools or third party plugin within your recording software.
Most modern Digital Audio Workstation software ships with some sort of inbuilt tuner or pitch detection program that works in real-time. Assuming you’ve got your microphone connected to your computer, fire up the program and start singing into the microphone. The program will detect the audio and tell you what note you’re at. Depending on the program, it might also tell you by what amount you may be above or below the standard target note.
Since you’ll presumably be using a studio-quality mic with a capable computer in this situation, the measurements here are quite accurate and therefore useful to maintain accuracy in a professional recording environment.
#4. Ask a person with perfect pitch
Perfect pitch is an ability wherein a person can discern exactly what note is being sounded by an instrument or voice without any external frame of reference. It is a rare ability only a few people possess (and never miss an opportunity to show off). Sing your mystery note to such a person and they’ll be able to tell you exactly what note it is, much like a human tuner.
How do you know if someone has a perfect pitch?
Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.
Finding what note you’re singing might be useful for a complete beginner to singing to start understanding their voice and training their ear for music. Or for a more experienced singer, it might be useful to know what range of notes they’re most comfortable singing so that they can be assigned a range (as found in opera and theatre music). Or it can be a great tool for practice to ensure that you’re singing perfectly in tune with correct intonation across your range.
Whatever be the purpose, the tools for finding out what pitch you’re at are quickly and easily available to us today, probably in the palm of your hand or at the click of a button. Hopefully this article answers any questions you might have had about this!