Pitch issues

Hi guys,
A singer I work with on stages started having some hearing issues so I’m writing you guys in order to figure out a couple of things.

In a tour we recently had she started complaining about her hearing. I’m have a mild hearing loss myself so she knew she could speak to me.

In that tour she started having pitch issues; in some of the more quiet songs she started singing slightly out of tune (she was pitch perfect until this tour). She also complained about a piano that was not tuned correctly in her opinion (we all thought it was perfectly tuned).

She went to a hearing test and found a mild loss in both hears in the higher frequency range (20-30db loss).

I never heard of a pitch issue caused by a mild loss. What do you guys think? Is that a thing?

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Any degree of outer hair cell loss will affect the pitch resolution of organ of hearing. Someone with trained pitch perception like a trained musician is more likely to notice this than your average person.

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@adirotem

Can’t really offer any advice but my friend started doing music, singing and playing instruments before she started to loose her hearing.

She is now profoundly deaf but has been able to train herself to be able to sing and play her piano and violin really well now. She thought she was going to have to give up being a professional musician but fortunately not.

She wears Phonak Naida B90 UP hearing aids. She’s tried other hearing aids and can’t get on with them with her music.

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I haven’t seen much discussion on pitch issues, but I have that problem. I’m an amateur musician, and my living doesn’t depend on my playing the French horn and singing. However, music is important to me. I perceive some octaves in my singing and playing range as being as much as a semitone narrow. Hard to tune to that.

It’s well documented that when you lose the ability to hear certain speech sounds, the brain loses the ability to hear the words that contain those sounds. Hearing aids, which amplify those sounds so that they can be heard, help keep you from losing that ability. Whether hearing aids will help me not lose more pitch discrimination, I don’t know.

If you or your associate are beginning to ask people to repeat themselves, it may be time to see an ENT and an audiologist.

Not the first to post here about this…

Not sure if it’s helpful but I’m currently working with a harpist who’s experiencing some particular resonance issues; specifically she says it sounds like the harp is being recreated via a cheap amplifier and a coke-can speaker.

Trial 1: Bernafon Alpha 9.

It’s not all notes, and sometimes the aid doesn’t mash the sound; but there’s sometimes a pitch shift, sometimes distortion and sometimes amplitude suppression. She’s gone away with a different set today (More 1), the my music program and full control via iOS.

Apparently: speech is far better using aids, but music is still an unknown (hence the options today).

Also she’s got TINY canals and a flattish slightly reverse slope loss.

The singer I work with doesn’t wear HA btw.

@adirotem the same thing happened to me. My problem turned out to be an acoustic neuroma.

I have two suggestions:

  1. Have your band mate sing and sustain a note while alternating between ear to ear plugging one ear and then the other with her finger. Especially have her do this right after a performance. Does she hear the exact same note in each ear? If not, she may have diplacusis. It might be possible to adjust for that if she gets hearing aids.
  1. If she seems to have diplacusis she should visit an audiologist AND an ENT doctor. The ENT might recommend an MRI to rule out an acoustic neuroma. The ENT might also test for Ménière’s disease (What the singer Huey Lewis has).

Most likely it’s not either of these things, but the sudden out-of-tune singing is probably worth looking into.

Ah ok,

Pitch resolution does diminish under continuous exposure to damaging noise levels.

If you’re not ‘hearing’ your voice back at the right level/pitch, it’s quite difficult to get your delivery right; even with decent PA/monitor levels coming back at you.

If anyone doubts this, try singing ‘Life on Mars’ with bad PA.