Since violinists are constantly "fighting" and practicing to sound in tune, I guess they develop a really good ear to know if something is in tune or not. So, if they start to sing a song given the first note, they will sing it pretty much in tune.
I guess when violinists sing, they will hear their voice just like the violin, and will adjust it to the "perfect" note to sing in tune.
I see 3 possible scenarios:
1. The violinist listens to his voice and adjusts it to be in perfect tune with a backing track, for example.
2. The violinist listens to his voice, knows it's not really in tune, but lacks the skills to control his voice to tune it to the backing track.
3. The violinist listens to his voice and is not aware he is really not in tune.
Notice it's a yes or no answer. I am not trying to read "most violinists sing well". I am trying to find out if "singing in tune" and "practicing the violin for thousands of hours" can be 2 completely unrelated skills in a given person. Meaning being a violinist does not necessarily make you sing in tune or even be aware of it.Tweet
EDIT: I should add: I did sing in tune without a problem before my voice changed.
In this way, violin is the same. Very few people can immediately play in tune. It's a process that is perfected over time. However, some people are much more effective with their ears, and able to adjust more precisely. There is a wide range of people from the person with perfect pitch to the person with a strong relative pitch to the person who is completely tone deaf. I think this statement applies to any person no matter what instrument they are playing.
After all, what does out of tune actually mean? Are you out of tune if you are playing all notes correctly with respect to one another, yet you failed to turn your violin correctly to A440? Therefore, if a person isn't able to produce a starting note correctly with their voice, they will sing everything after that starting point, incorrectly with respect to the intended starting point, but correctly with respect to the starting point they actually used.
So the question for the OP then becomes: is the person singing a melody that makes sense, and simply starting on the wrong note, and not recognizing that they started on the wrong note, or does the melody make no sense at all because everything is out of tune.
For example, listen to what you hear the next time you go to a birthday party where many people are singing happy birthday. Yes, you will hear some that are just completely tone deaf. However, a lot of them simply haven't been trained to hear a starting note, and then quickly reproduce it with their voice. Consequently, they start on the wrong note, and then go on singing the melody correctly for the most part.
If a good enough violinist (a player that has been playing the violin for at least 5 years daily and efficiently, and is good at it) is asked to sing a Disney karaoke song... with a backing track to establish the key... will that violinist be able to sing it in tune due to his/her vast experience playing the violin, which forces you to constantly learn to tune your notes to play correctly?
Or can a perfectly fine violinist be bad at singing and sing out of tune, without remedy?
Is "singing in tune" a forced consequence of being a decent violinist, having played thousand of hours the violin? Or those are 2 different variables that don't go together?
If I'm interpreting Paul D. and Andrew's comments correctly, they can play in tune on the violin, but struggle to sing in tune. So, I guess it does happen. I would be interested to know what their voice background is, and if they understand the relationship between their voice's range and their violin's range. Andrews edit makes me wonder : "I should add: I did sing in tune without a problem before my voice changed."
However, you just made me realize something. I stopped playing the violin when I was 21 and started the process of recovering it over three years ago. I also let my voice skills lapse as well over those years. So I guess I need to recover that skill too. Maybe I can get my violin skills up to the point of being able to play the Ernst Erlkonig, and in a recital, I'll sing the Schubert song as a baritone and follow it immediately on my violin with the Ernst version. I hesitate to guess which one will be less in tune. Ha ha!
Anyway, clear as mud.
EDIT: What I'm getting at is that I know what sounds in tune, but the mechanics of singing in-tune is a set of particular skills that mean you develop all the "equipment" you use to sing, beyond just knowing what is in tune. So no, I don't see why playing violin would develop vocal intonation, and I don't see why singing would develop violinistic intonation. Does getting good at chess mean you develop really good ping pong skills, since they are both competitive and involve the hands?
1. Singing good, well, beautifully, is not the same as singing in tune. I am asking just the in tune part of singing. Of course singing correctly has way more nuances than just hitting the notes in tune. I hope it's already clear, but this thread's point is to find out if there's a clear correlation between being a proficient violinist and being able to sing in tune.
2. Of course, violinists that have been going to singing lessons don't count. This destroys the scenario. The violinist is not supposed to know how to sing correctly or have taken singing lessons to sing in tune. The point is if being proficient at violin "forces" you to learn to sing in tune, naturally, no lessons required. You won't necessarily sing beautifully, just in tune.
3. Of course when I say "sing in tune" I always mean within your voice range. I hope I don't have to explain that I am expecting a violinist to sing as high as the E string up on the fingerboard. Just the concept "in tune". I said the perfect example: a karaoke famous Disney song. Will a proficient violinist be able to sing that given song in tune because of the years of practicing the violin, which makes you train your ear to know when something is in tune or not?
Or will the proficient violinist know he/she is not singing in tune but lacks the skills to modify or control the voice to tune it?
I feel like I am repeating myself.
However even as "good" ( lol - am I??) violinist we can fool ourself into thinking we are in tune when we are not, if we rely on relative pitch rather than perfect pitch. A few weeks ago while fighting with thirds in B major where Flesch fingers it so you aren't using the open E, I was surprised to discover myself sliding sharp and would have missed it altogether if I didn't test it against the open string.
Similarly, when you press the end of a tuning fork against the bone near your ear, the pitch seems to depend on how hard you press (in my case).
@Andrew "My voice is a low bass, bordering on "Russian bass." "
I was going to comment on this, saying that they were known as Oktavists in Russia (I had seen a TV programme on singing), but then I Googled it and realised that the expression Basso Profondo, which I knew, but didn't know the meaning of, was one of the ways of describing it.
The TV programme led me to believe (as you imply) that it was somehow exclusively Russian, but I guess it's more likely that the Russians are the last to retain an interest in it. (and it is very rare, so perhaps only large populations will reliably produce such singers)
afaik, I'm a bass-baritone, neither fish nor fowl, but maybe in reality I'm just a bass who needs to practise more.
The answer is "no".
However, a few specifics are worth mentioning here:
1) By "out of tune" I mean substantially. Even the world's best singers aren't actually nearly as in tune as we would expect on a violin, so we're adjusting for what is considered "in tune" vocally.
2) I don't mean they can all sing in tune. I just mean they would notice if they weren't.
3) We're also going to assume that they were given a reference pitch when they started. Many people, when they sing, automatically translate the key down/up depending on their comfortable range. So it's important that they're given the correct pitch of the first note before they start singing. If they're singing to a backing track, this shouldn't be necessary.
4) The last assumption is that they know the song well. Obviously, if the notes aren't in their head, then they can't match the pitches correctly, but that's also true when playing something on the violin, assuming we're learning it by ear and not by sheet music.
If anyone can give me an example of a good violinist (or even just decent) that can sing out of tune and not notice, I would be *very* surprised.
As for tuning: I notice easily if I'm singing out of tune down to around F2, but the farther I go below F2 the harder it gets for me to tell if I'm out of tune.
The pro does not appear to notice. I am a bit flabbergasted myself.
1. Yes, of course when I mean "in tune" I always mean what we all mean when someone is "in tune", hahaha. In other words, I am not testing mathematically the sound waves of your voice. No, I mean it sounds in tune, meaning intonation is not a problem for that singer.
2. As I have said several times, the test is playing a backing track of a famous Disney song, and check if a proficient violinist, familiar with that song or she/he can learn in in a few minutes, can sing it in tune with the backing track. The song must be easy to sing, we are not testing the ability of the violinist to match a very high or low note, or nothing else beside just checking if they can sing in tune.
3. The question has several scenarios as I already said. One, can a proficient violinist sing out of tune AND don't notice it?
Two, can a proficient violinist sing out of tune, be aware of it, but not being able to control his/her voice to match the notes and sing in tune?
And, no, Bruce ( almighty :) ), the violinist tested must be healthy, if an illness is making you sing out of tune... then what's the point of this thread?
My idea is that, for me at least, it is HARD to imagine a proficient violinist that can't sing in tune, as for me that's kind of a contradiction. How are you training daily your intonation, tuning your ear and brain skills to match pitches and be in tune, and yet sing out of tune?
I don't care if you sing loud, ugly, quiet... as I am just focusing on the "in tune" variable, not anything else, as we all know singing is much more than just hitting the notes.
There is another issue: intonation on the violin is a matter not just of pitch, but of timbre. That is a dynamic missing from the voice, and just about every other non-violin-family instrument.
Violinists don’t tune from pitch alone—they listen and adjust to specific timbres for EACH note.
For example, stopping E on the A string must produce a very open, resonant sound, or it will sound choked off or sour. An E-flat won’t have that degree of openness, but will have its own, different timbre based on the mix of overtones, and it will be utterly different than D, E natural, or F.
Most of can hear when students are out of tune without any context at all—just by judging the timbre.
This is heterogeneous aspect of violin intonation is a phenomenon that the voice, piano, flute, trumpet, etc all lack..
For the voice, however, (or piano etc), you could get away with singing that E a tiny bit flat, as long as everything else is lowered the same amount. Only someone with perfect pitch would be able to tell.
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Violinists who can play in tune will be aware if they sing out of tune. Their ability to control their voice to correct their pitch will vary.