Singing in Rock Band, or any other singing game, can seem a daunting task. Most people don’t want to even try for fear of humiliation. And it’s understandable. Very few of us know how to sing at all, let along well. From my experience playing Rock Band and Karaoke Revolution, I’ve come upon several practices that help with at first passing and then excelling at singing in games.
Sing what you know. Singing is hard enough at first without adding in unfamiliar lyrics, rhythms, and pitches. (Not that you need to know the lyrics. In Rock Band you could sing la to every word and still get Awesome each time, but knowing the words helps with proper rhythm and is funner.) While getting used to game mechanics, and your own singing range, it’s better to sing to songs you’ve been singing to for years.
Try taking it up or down an octave. For those who don’t know, in music there are 8 notes per key. A key is a group of notes which starts on a particular note and is usually is a major or minor (e.g. C Major). Every 8 notes you repeat back to the start (e.g. C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C). The distance between one note and its repeat (e.g. C and C) is called an octave. When you sing up or down an octave, but in the same key, you’ll sound perfectly harmonized, but will be higher or lower than the original. In Rock Band, when you go up or down an octave the arrow will move up or down with your voice until it hits the edge, then it will loop back to the bottom or top accordingly. Once it’s in the same spot it was originally in, but with you singing higher or lower, you’ve now gone up or down an octave.
This can be a life saver in instances where the singer’s range is far enough from your own that you are being unable to hit a lot of the notes. This often happens when men sing with women, or women sing with men, or when the singer’s range is exceptionally high or low. However, sometimes the different octave is even farther from your natural range, at which case you’ll either have to just keep practicing that song, or practice on songs closer to your range until you develop a stronger, broader range.
Try different ranges. When you are first learning to sing you probably don’t even know your own range. So try many different songs with many different ranges until you figure where you are. Not to say you shouldn’t always try to practice outside your comfort zone, but it’s no fun always failing out of songs. So find some in your range and practice singing within the games set-up. By this I mean:
Use the fact it’s a video game to your advantage. This isn’t like really singing. You don’t just have sheet music in front of you. You have the vocals behind you at all times which means you can always try to hear to the best of your skill what you should be singing. Also, even if you have a terrible musical ear, you can just play like it is: a video game. Sing however you must to put the arrow on the line. You sing a note, if it’s above the line, drop your pitch. Below? Sing high. This of course has it limitation on fast paced songs, and the higher the difficulty the less room for error you have. But this technique can really help while training your ear, and when singing a new song. It’s one you can use even on Expert once you get good at it.
These tips won’t magically make you a master of singing, but can greatly help your survival rate, and hopefully enjoyment level, while singing your favorites songs. Practice makes perfect, but having specific ideas to try always makes it easier, so keep these tips in mind next time you’re singing in Rock Band.