Electronic ears: Using Performous to learn how to sing

SCHEDULED: 2010-07-28 Wed 08:00

I’ve been singing in the wrong key(s) all my life. Thanks to Brendon Robinson’s recommendation of Performous (a free, open source music application), I can finally work on fixing that.

Part of learning how to sing is getting used to what the notes feel like. I find it difficult to listen to piano notes and figure out if I’m singing at the right pitch. Sometimes I’m sharp, sometimes I’m flat, sometimes I’m way off. Recording is a hassle, and it takes too long between trying something and getting feedback. (I’m amazed by how my dad taught himself all sorts of photography techniques with a film camera…)

Performous provides instant feedback on the musical note and frequency it hears. I can watch the note and slide up and down the scale until I find the right pitch, and I can make up my own exercises for getting the notes right.


When I can sing scales and vocalizations without a hitch, then I can find a singing teacher to help me with volume and technique. First things first: gotta do it right before I do it loud. =)

I only wish I thought of looking for something like this a long time ago!

*Performous (http://performous.org)*: Free and open source – Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

  • rdi

    A very cool idea! I’m thinking I could use this help with my intonation on violin. I’ve been using a guitar tuner, but it’s not chromatic so I have to interpolate some notes. I also use GarageBand on the Mac to create scales to play along with, which I’ve also found helpful. (It’s only been 5 years, after all!)

    I will suggest that if you go to a teacher *now*, you’ll probably make faster progress on pitch. Visual feedback is great, but you need to hear it as well and that’s one area where a good teacher will help. One of my violin teachers is a stickler for intonation and while it’s sometime been tedious (let’s play the same 4 bars 20 times until we have it in tune!) it’s also paid off. Performous would be a good adjunct to a teacher for helping with pitch, but it won’t replace a good one. A teacher will give you the techniques you need to know whether you’re in pitch or not. Also, technique and volume go together with that. The sooner you start with a teacher the less they’ll have to un-learn you before you can start making progress :-)

  • Hah, that’s true too, and there are any number of music schools around here. =) Thanks for the recommendation!