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The Case of the Pitchy Voice

Probe with Rachel BennettSabrina was carefree and wild on stage but was struggling with the vocal precision required in the studio.

Sabrina had been drumming and singing for a band that had just clinched a record deal with a small punk label.

She was a born performer but was struggling with studio recording due to lack of precision in her intonation.

Live and Recorded – the difference

Sabrina had been very disappointed with her work in the recording studio and couldn’t understand how she had such poor control over her intonation.

Added to her anxiety was the fact that the band and the studio producer were also placing her under time pressure; this in turn created more restriction in her ability to perform creatively.

A Lesson in Discipline

Sabrina possesses a good ear and a strong voice but had taken these aspects for granted and not maintained her vocal exercise routine.

She had been performing live with some bad habits, which included getting away with inaccurate vocal intervals, covering this up with dramatic flair.

This wouldn’t work under the discernment of the sensitive recording equipment.

The first step was to take her through all of her arpeggios and scales exercises again

Sabrina needed some basic reminders about balancing the effort between her breath and larynx muscles so that she could jump intervals without overdoing her effort levels.

Learn How to “Mark” A Song

I then demonstrated how to “mark” a song before performing it in a studio.

This technique involves removing all lyrics, time and feel from the song, then simply singing the melody on ‘ah’ – each note having equal value in time and dynamic.

This allows the singer to focus entirely on the technical requirements of the song, with specific attention to the breath and effort associated with the melodic intervals.

So Simple, Yet So Effective

Sabrina experienced an immediate improvement and was really relieved when she realised that her skill wasn’t gone – she had just neglected it!

The melody of any song is work for the larynx; top singers know the detailed work their larynx has to do to achieve the best results in performance, whether inside a studio or on stage.

As with any muscle, regular exercise and care will ensure maximum control in the most pressured of situations.


Rachel Bennett is a London-based vocal coach and singer songwriter. She is the lead singer / songwriter of RAIE and a Musical Director for theatre, television & recording studios across London. She has associations at WAC Performing Arts and Media College and Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama. You can learn more about Rachel on her Website or Facebook. You can see more of Rachel’s writing here.

  • bw

    Kept waiting for “but it could be fixed with pitch correction software” at which point, I was going to cancel my subscription. ;)