You know the feeling of meeting someone new, and feeling almost comfortable with her, but not quite?
You can’t put your finger on it. She’s polite, friendly, even talkative. She tells entertaining stories. She offers you a drink, and makes you laugh. But something isn’t quite right. Nothing you can pick out and hold up as egotistical, subversive, manipulative. Nothing rude, obviously false, or annoying. But still, you just can’t quite settle in and feel comfortable.
Being off pitch can feel that way. You just can’t quite settle in to the song and get comfortable.
Last week, I was sick during scheduled studio time. So rather than record, we tuned a few flat notes. In some of them, I couldn’t really hear the flatness – it was just more a feeling. A feeling of not being able to settle into the phrase. A feeling of being emotionally kicked out of the song for a moment, while my brain worked to reconcile the warring harmonics.
But it wasn’t that tweaky, head-cocking sense of literally hearing a big, fat, ugly, really flat note.
Each time the engineer displayed one of these uncomfortable notes in the auto-tune window, I could see that it was indeed hovering below the correct pitch. Then the engineer redrew the pitch graph to correct it. When he finished and replayed the section, I felt a sense of physical relief. Like I could relax into my chair. Like I could let go of tension. Now I didn’t have to tax my brain to listen to the song.
As you fine-tune your sense of pitch, consider it to be almost like honing your intuition.
Sometimes, it’s obvious what’s wrong: your new acquaintance is telling impossibly tall tales, or the note is so flat that it’s a half step down. But other times, you have to listen carefully. You have to feel it in your gut. You have to listen to your body.
And when your pitch is a little off, your body will tell you.
But when it’s spot on, you’ll relax into comfortable. Just learn to listen!
(c) 2010 Adrienne Osborn