Hey man,

I've been practicing singing a lot, these last couple of months, and im really enjoying it. When I watch certain open-mic, or small gig videos on youtube, it's kinda sad seeing people commenting with "You're not on pitch or in key through the entire song", and various things like that.
I think it's such a shame, because singing shouldn't be all about being perfect?
Or am I wrong?
Hitting notes is important. Hitting notes in pitch with your instruments or hand is more important.

Singing with good tone and timbre is important too.

And so is singing from your heart.

But some people like off key dissonant stuff, some people like weird tones of voice, and some people like robots.

Subtle use of auto-tune is becoming more popular so people can get a little extra help hitting the notes. Extreme auto-tune is becoming less popular.

"Hey kid. You wanna cigarette?"

"No thanks! I/m already hooked on Fonicks!"

Having perfect intonation is nothing if your vocal quality is boring as hell.

Like look at those big black ladies in the gospel choirs, amazing voices despite potential to be out of tune.
Singing is about being perfect. The highest echelon of singing is Opera, and considering that Pavarotti once got booed off stage, you can assume that nothing less than perfection is acceptable, and there they're singing notes in full voice that contemporary singers can only dream of. Now, in contemporary music, even mediocre singers are perfect because of pitch correction, and they're expected to do that live, and, to be honest, why shouldn't they be? If you want to be a professional singer, you need to be able to sing, it's not just about the image, as Rock/Metal hipsters claim as they turn their noses up at pop music. The reality of singing is that if you're in pop (meaning any genre of music that isn't Classical), then you'll generally find better singers by walking into any drama school, conservatoire or opera house, and now that people are starting to realise this, artists are starting to have to actually sing. So yes, singing is about striving for perfection, and, if you're good, achieving that perfection. If you've got an acoustic guitar, you're competing with Ed Sheeran, if you're fronting a Metal band, you're competing with Elize Ryd if you're a female, Alessandro Conti if you're a male. Harsh but true, if you want to get somewhere, you need to be good live, and you need the songs to back it up.
It depends to me. For the most part, yes, vocals need to be on key. However, when a big song change happens or at the peak of the song, it is common to go a bit off due to the emotion that usually comes into play. That is only ever really OK when it is obviously because of emotion though, not as an excuse. Singers crying because of the lyrics, just going crazy or something like that is where you normally see it because they are taking everyone for a ride and have the crowd on their side at that point.
I think "perfection" (without flaws) is sort of a false goal in music. There simply are no perfect singers or musicians. None. Break down any recording into small enough pieces and you will find flaws in both pitch and timing. It is the human condition.

"Excellence" is a much more interesting and attainable goal. We all know singers or other musicians who are excellent. Bob Dylan is the poster child for making a career in music with a pretty lousy singing voice but he was an excellent poet and songwriter. This outweighed his lousy singing voice and people loved his music anyways.

Back to the OP,

If people are telling you that you are "off "or out of tune, you have not achieved excellence in your singing. If singing is important to you as a musical expression, get some lessons and learn to control your voice or learn to be a great poet. Otherwise you will just annoy listeners everywhere.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Jan 4, 2015,
If you are out of tune all the time, it just simply does not sound good. That sounds the same as if a guitarist played wrong notes all the time. But if just some notes are slightly out of tune, it doesn't really matter, at least to me (that's the same as if a guitarist plays a couple of wrong notes - nobody's going to pay attention to them). But singing in tune is not the most important part IMO. Somebody could hit all the notes perfectly but that is pretty much comparable to a guitarist only playing the right notes. There's more to music than just right notes. Expression is a big part of music. I would rather listen to somebody a bit out of tune with lots of expression than somebody with no expression singing every note perfectly in tune - same with all instruments. It's not a performance if you just sing/play the right notes. It has a lot to do with the "how" - how you sing/play the notes.

Just singing in tune/playing the right notes is not music. Music needs more than notes. As I said, it's about the "how", not all about the "what".

But yeah, if you can't sing in tune, nobody's going to enjoy listening to you. So singing in tune is important but it's not everything.

I can sing in tune but I don't consider myself a good singer.

As I said, it's the same as if you play the guitar - you can play all the right notes but your tone may just suck. And by tone I don't necessarily mean the tone of your amp and guitar. I mean the "tone in your fingers".
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Jan 4, 2015,
this probably happens to open-micers and people in youtube clips because their originality isn't enough to make up for the mistakes.
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