Sight singing is basically the ability to vocally articulate written melodic line. Generally what many vocalists can do, it's oftentimes a bit more of a trick for us instrumentalists. Coolness emerges from a cyber text in that in all of the melodic examples, we can attempt to sing the written line, then check ourselves by hearing the playback file. Cool huh?
So why do we want to develop the ability to be able to sight sing? Well, for many good reasons. Career instrumental players will come to thank their initial efforts throughout their careers as the ability to sight sing strengthens one's ability to read and write the musical language. So, jotting down a cool musical idea can become second nature. That one begins to gain a sense of actual pitch and can better identify what keys the music they are listening to is created in. Sight singing enhances one's ability to theoretically hear musical sounds, which in academia is often called ear training. That for the for non reading player, looking to enter into the magic of reading standard musical notation, sight reading is perhaps the quickest way to become a reader, as all of the pitches, rhythms and musicality have to come from within. The biggest obstacle to learning I find in getting folks to sing their parts is in their shyness about the quality of their singing. For most of us instrumentalists, sight singing has nothing to do with how well we actually sing, it's more about getting the gist of the line into our hearts, which we will then project on our chosen instruments. Cool with this? Are you cool with reading standard musical notation?
The following melodic ideas are pretty common vocal warm-ups, usually played through each of the 12 keys, modulating by half step upwards till the cycle is complete. This allows for the voice to gradually warm up as the higher pitches are generally a bit more of an effort. They are included here as they are reasonably easy and academic in nature, thus perhaps a good place to start in getting folks to sight sing.
The idea is to see a piece of written melodic line and be able to sing what's written, without the benefit of having our instruments or a piano handy to help sound out the pitches. Advanced readers will have the same abilities with stacks of pitches or chords etc. So in the following musical examples, perhaps try to sing the line, then click the graphic to hear the line to check your pitches. All of the following ideas start in the keys of C major or A minor. Click the following graphics to get the tonic pitches, locating the pitch to start from.
|the pitch middle C / major triad|
This first idea is created with the pitches of the major triad. Example 1.
This idea is created with the pitches of the minor triad. Example 2.
This idea is created with the pitches of the 3 major triads created from the major scale. Example 3.
This idea is created with the pitches of the 3 minor triads created from the natural minor scale. Example 4.
This next idea uses the first five pitches of the major scale. Example 5.
This next idea uses the first five pitches of the natural minor scale. Example 6.
Here is the granddaddy of em all, the chromatic scale, perhaps a bit more of a sight singing challenge for the emerging artist. Example 7.
Well, how'd it go? Singing consecutive half step is tricky no doubt. It is amazing how one's overall ability to hear musical elements is dramatically enhanced one the chromatic group of pitches is firmly under our tongues. Are there any more than these 12 different pitches within equal temper? Nope, but you knew that right? Blue notes too ...? Mmmm ...
The following melodies are popular American songs. Here are the starting pitches for the next few ideas, either the tonic, 3rd or 5th as examined in example 1 above, in C major. Example 8.
|C E||G E||C||C major triad|
Recognize this holiday theme? Example 9.
A boating tune for the revival meeting. Example 10.
Perhaps among the most parodied lines of all time. Example 11.
From way, waaaaaay back. Example 12.
Got a sweet tooth? Watch out for a bit of the blues grace note in bar 4. Example 13.
Old marching classic, perhaps at the start of it all. Example 14.
The last two ideas are in the minor color, here are the principle pitches. Example 15.
|A C||E C||A||A minor triad|
Perhaps the loveliest tune ever written? Example 16.
Just another top 40 hit from the 15th century. Example 17.
Getting through this page is quite the vocal workout eh? Got a sense of what sight singing is about and the challenges it presents? Luckily for us instrumentalists, it is simply part of our training, to help improve the ability to connect our minds and our hands to better bring forth the art in our hearts.
So, how about developing the ability to sing intervals? These next few ideas simply help up us to recognize and sing the basic intervals associated with the major and natural minor scale. Sing the intervals of the major scale. Example 18.
|maj 2nd||maj 3rd||per 4th||per 5th||maj 6th||maj 7th||octave|
Sing the intervals of the natural minor scale. Example 19.
|maj 2nd||min 3rd||per 4th||per 5th||min 6th||min 7th||octave|
Any blues singers in the house? Example 20.
|min 3rd||per 4th||dim 5th||per 5th||min 7th||octave|
Seems like the modern rocker vocalists dig the "dim 5th" interval. Got that one under your tongue?
|Where to next?|
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