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Is there a way to use Audacity to record someone sing a song and then have a look at what musical notes a person has hit?

Here is a list of what type of singers exist: Soprano: C4 – C6 Mezzo-soprano: A3 – A5 Contralto: F3 – F5 Tenor: C3 – C5 Baritone: F2 – F4 Bass: E2 – E4

This is why I'd like to use Audacity to tell me what notes the person that I could determine what type of singer a person is, but I really don't know if there is an application that analyzes singing in terms of notes.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Audacity has a pitch view. This screenshot is a little buggy, but you should be able to see that you click on the "Audio Track" menu then the "Pitch (EAC)" option.

audacity screenshot

That's my technical answer.

However, as a musician, I would say that this is a very inefficient and probably ineffective way to determine someone's range. I can croak out a low D that software might register as on pitch. Likewise I can sing notes in an alto's range but their timber and mine will be completely different (I'm a tenor). Likewise their dynamics at different areas of their vocal ranges will be completely different.

I would highly recommend using a piano or any other musical instrument (heck you could even have the computer generate tones if you don't have access to an instrument) to check pitch (or provide pitches for the vocalist to match) and then use your own ear to make a subjective judgement about the vocalist's range.

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Thanks for the quick reply.I've just tried it. It makes the whole thing blurry and that's it. How do I interpret this? – Elysium May 22 '12 at 9:06
@Elysium The darkest blurs are probably the notes being sung. The lighter parallel blurs are harmonics of the notes being sung. Lower notes are towards the bottom higher notes towards the top. I'm not aware of if there is a way to turn on a labeled axis. You could use this in conjunction with plot spectrum from the other answer by visually identifying the lowest and highest notes and then analyizing these short sections to find the pitch. Once again though, this really is not an effective way to determine vocal range--which is determined by much more than just pitches hit. – adempewolff May 22 '12 at 9:17
For example, a baritone, tenor and alto could all sing the same song at the same pitch, and by using a pitch only method one might determine that they are all tenors--just because the song was mostly in a tenor's range. – adempewolff May 22 '12 at 9:20

I haven't tried this myself, but in theory it might work. Record the audio, and choose Analyze > Plot Spectrum ... and look at the graph to determine peaks. Mouse will snap to the peaks, so you can hover over them and see their frequencies (and corresponding notes) below the chart.

If your recordings have instrumentals, you can select only a part of the recording before analysis. If your recording is very long (many minutes), audacity will automatically select only a portion in the beginning.

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Technically this could work, but care needs to be taken to separate sung notes from their harmonics. General the sung notes should be the highest peaks, but if you choose a longer part with a wide dynamic range this could get confusing. I still think the human ear is the best solution to determining vocal range. – adempewolff May 22 '12 at 9:13
I thought so, but I didn't have any singing material at hand, only music with quite noticeable instruments and percussion (both with their own harmonics to make it even more difficult). – taneli May 22 '12 at 9:31

Although my musical education is close to zero, this is how I see it:

  1. Use one microphone and a MIDI INSTRUMENT. Caution! MIDI instrument is a different thing from a MIDI Controller!
  2. Connect both the mic and the MIDI Instrument to your audio interface, like this

    • The mic, to one channel
    • The Audio Out MIDI keyboard, to the other channel
  3. Start Audacity. Select the appropriate audio interface, and set the default recording to "Stereo". This is how you'll get two synchronous DIFFERENT tracks, one for voice, the other for (piano or whatever instrument you find suitable) notes. Start the "Record" mode.

  4. Play a sequence of chords (progression?) and record the voice following the chords, as close as possible.

  5. Analysis. There is a different approach, according to skills and equipment: Either you use your ear to compare the smoothness of the voice following the chords, OR you use the MIDI keyboard to record the performance on the internal MIDI recorder.
    For the MIDI sequence, you can find free software to print the notes of the performance. After this, you can follow the exact path as the specialist would do to determine voice range, tonic and whatever you might need for your final purpose (voice breaks, upper register, lower register)
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