Lifelong learner strikes again - microtone music edition
June 14, 2022 12:40 PM   Subscribe

Vocalists who learned how to handle microtones: how did you get there?

So I'm an Older Learner, which means the mindbody does not respond very well to new physical tasks or concepts.

I "get" microtones and I have access to several easy to use tools that can generate them reliably. Problem is, I myself don't seem to be able to generate them. I can literally have the tone playing in my ear and as I try to sing it I can hear that I'm off. And trying to do an interval by myself without a keyboard present is laughworthy.

If there are any singers around who learned how to generate microtones reliably .. how did you do it?

Bonus points if you have a hard time learning new physical tasks as I do, or learned when you were over, say, 40.
posted by Sheydem-tants to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure about this from the physical perspective, but if you have access to any sort of MIDI keyboard (that's an electronic keyboard that will hook up to a computer), there are ways to set things up so that you can play microtones to practice. Basically, you'll set up a virtual instrument to use whatever microtonal scale you want to learn, then you can drill yourself with a normal keyboard.

The software part of this can probably be done for free, although probably not the hardware part. (If you wanted the bare minimum, it might be $50 USD or so.)
posted by nosila at 1:24 PM on June 14, 2022

Best answer: I only did a little bit of learning around this in college, but I remember one exercise in particular: start vocalizing on a note and take, say, ten seconds to go a half step up or down as smoothly as possible without just scooping at the beginning or end. At the end check your intonation on the target note, and then repeat the exercise.

As you get more control you can change the interval or the time it takes you to get to the next pitch. I suppose with a spectral analyzer you could watch the pitch change in real time and maybe learn a bit more control of arbitrary microtonal intervals, but the first thing is just to control the desire to snap to a pitch and learn to live in between.
posted by fedward at 1:45 PM on June 14, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: hey all, gonna mark this resolved based on the info above and on the comments to the Reddit post I made last night. I'm sharing the Reddit post here because the comments are stellar and may help another MeFite in future.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 12:55 AM on June 15, 2022

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