What are vocal melodies
A vocal melody is just a journey up and down a ladder of notes.
For pop music the ladder is nearly always the same:
Melodies aren’t just random groups of notes, people tend to use the scale in similar ways, so you can start to see common pathways around the scale quite quickly:
The main aim of using scale numbers
The basis of the whole method is to always know which scale degree you are on as you sing. It will make you a much better musician.
You’ll always know where you are in a melody and where you need to go, how far away it is and how it is supposed to feel when you get there so you can really lock on pitch.
You’ll be able to learn complicated melodies quickly and more accurately.
You’ll be able to harmonize; eg choose to sing a 5 while the main melody sings a 1 to create a ‘fifth harmony’.
How to start - getting in tune
To start with just make sure you can match your pitch to the piano notes.
Pick a nursery rhyme from the tabs in the app, slowly play the notes of the melody on the keyboard and sing along.
The more you practice the better you’ll become at being able to hear whether you are ‘in tune’ or not.
The pop song tabs all say in what ‘key’ the original artist sang the song, but that doesn’t mean you have to sing it in that same key. You can make the whole thing higher or lower, it doesn’t matter, it is still the same music. Use the ‘transpose’ button on the app to make the song higher or lower so it fits your own voice. Just experiment until you find the sweet spot for each song, every song will have its own best key for you.
It’s also good practice just slowly singing the whole major scale up and down:
Sing ‘ooo’ or ‘ahh’ or just hum and follow the notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 +1 +1 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Again use the transpose button to sing the scale in a key that’s easy for your voice, not too low or too high.
The ‘tonic’ (Rung 1 of the ladder)
The most important thing when using a scale is being able to feel the ‘tonic’ (rung 1).
It is the ‘home’ note of the scale. All the other rungs only feel the way they do because of their distance from the tonic. eg; 6 feels like a 6 because of how far from the tonic it is. Every rung has a specific relationship with the tonic, so being able to feel the tonic is really important.
Musicians say the tonic has the feeling of ‘resolution’.
Nearly all nursery rhymes finish on a 1, so you can use those to get used to the ‘finished’ or ‘home’ feeling. Eg; at the end of twinkle twinkle you can feel that the melody is complete and we are ‘home’. (Also a good way to remember what a 5 feels like is by singing the first two words of that nursery rhyme)
Use the app to learn some sections of songs and practice pitch accuracy.
Start getting used to what the different notes in the scale feel like.
Use the ear training audio files (in the app loop player or video above) to see if you can recognise the different scale numbers. (use the keyboard to check if you were right)
Eventually follow a song tab and just use the chord buttons to accompany yourself singing.