What Does Singing Flat Mean? ( How To Fix It? )

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Far too often the people who are critiquing singers do not explain what the actual problem is. Like most things related to singing it’s a matter of perspective, singing flat could mean one thing to one person and something else to another. No wonder many singers are confused by the singing terminologies, luckily for you, I am here to explain what it actually means and how you can get rid of it.

One of the prevalent challenges that singers often face is singing “flat.” Singing flat refers to producing a note that is lower in pitch than the intended note. This pitch deviation can occur due to various factors such as improper breath support, lack of vocal control, or inadequate ear training. Singing flat can significantly impact the overall quality and accuracy of a performance. Developing a strong sense of pitch, practicing proper vocal techniques, and engaging in regular ear training exercises can help singers overcome this issue and maintain consistent pitch accuracy.

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A lot of singers are told that they are singing flat, without anybody actually telling them what that means. While more advanced singers do know what singing flat means, but most beginner singers have no clue. A lot of people will overcomplicate the actual meaning of singing flat, I am going to simplify it for you. Singing flat simply means that you are not using the correct pitch for the song and usually you are somewhere right below the correct pitch.

Believe it or not, singing flat doesn’t only happen to beginner singers, there are plenty of singers who do on occasion make the mistake of singing flat without even noticing. If you have ever watched a live concert then you probably heard what singing flat actually sounds like. Generally speaking, most beginner singers do not even notice that they are singing flat and they are fairly confused when someone tells them that they are singing flat.

The problem is that most people will not even notice if you are singing flat, on the other hand, people in the music industry will definitely notice, especially if you are at an audition. Beginner singers do not have their ears well developed enough to actually pick up when they or someone else is singing flat. Luckily there are a lot of exercises that you as a singer can make to get rid of flat singing.

If you still do not imagine what singing flat sounds like then just listen to Darius Rucker, he is a great flat-singing example. There are also other singers who sing flat and some you probably never imagined singing flat like Ed Sheeran, just listen to his cover of “Swim Good” and you will know what I mean. If you have read my recent article What makes a good singer scientifically? ( Top 10 Facts ), then you already know that singing in pitch is vital for a singer, and singing flat is exactly the opposite of that.

What Does Singing Flat Mean?

Singing flat refers to the act of singing below the desired or correct pitch. When a singer is flat, they are not hitting the intended notes accurately, resulting in a sound that is lower than it should be. This can occur due to various factors, including insufficient breath support, poor vocal technique, lack of ear training, or difficulties in vocal coordination. Singing flat can affect the overall quality of a performance and may lead to a lack of clarity, intonation issues, and a sense of pitch instability.

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Not Understanding The Music

Most singers who do sing flat have a simple problem of not understanding the music, everybody has a different concept in their mind about how music should sound. The problem is that what sounds good to you, might not sound good to others and this is why a lot of singers sing flat and they think that they are doing a great job singing the song. It will be extremely difficult to argue with these people, as they simply do not know that they are singing flat.

The bigger problem here is that in order to be a good singer you will have to understand music, without it you will not be able to sing any song correctly, thus the flat singing. On some occasions, singers who do not understand music are struggling to sing in tune, combined with their flat voice tone is a recipe for disaster.

Not Listening To The Song Carefully

Some singers who sing flat actually do not listen to the song, generally what tends to happen is that they sing the tune right before the song plays it and as they do not have the song to rely upon the correct pitch they end up singing flat. This problem can be easily fixed, you just need to relax and actually listen to the song. In some cases, it is a good idea to even lower the speed of the song just a tiny bit so you can hear the song better.

You Are Tone-deaf

Believe it or not, there are plenty of tone-deaf singers out here, although some actually made a career based on how tone-deaf they actually are if you want to listen to these singers just check out my article Famous tone deaf singers ( Top 13 ). Being tone-deaf is probably one of the main reasons why some singers actually sing flat, the problem is that if you are a tone deaf singer then you do not have a lot of options as a singer.

While some singers who are tone deaf and also sing flat can make it as a professional singer, but I honestly wouldn’t get my hopes up. If you are tone-deaf try to work on it and once you get rid of it you will notice that you will stop singing flat. The problem is that being tone-deaf and singing flat is probably one of the worst combinations for a singer, so if you are one of these singers you have a long road ahead of you.

Throat Tension

Singers who sing flat and didn’t use to sing flat just a couple of days ago probably have either throat infection or tension in their throat. Luckily these pass within a couple of days and I wouldn’t honestly worry too much about it. In some cases, the tension in your throat might also mean that you have some infection that could develop a health condition. For example, singers who often use falsetto tend to have vocal cord nodules.

If you are singing fairly often falsetto and you all of a sudden find yourself singing flat then it might be a good idea to check in with a doctor, just in case. My personal recommendation is to take care of your throat with some drinks that protect the throat and the vocal cords. I won’t go into much in detail here as I have written an in-depth article on the subject, so check it out Best drink for singing voice? ( Top 13 drinks to help your voice ).

Bad Habits

Through the journey of becoming a singer, you will probably pick up a couple of bad habits. While this is fairly normal, the issue comes when you pick up bad habits that will make you sing flat such as not putting enough power into the note which also will make it sound flat. Depending on when you have picked up the bad habit which makes you sing flat will determine how much effort and work you have to put in to get rid of it, my recommendation is to get rid of your flat singing as soon as possible.

A Vocal Coach Can Help You Fix Your Flat Singing

Oftentimes singers resort to the help of a vocal coach when they hit a block. While vocal coaches can not instantly fix your flat singing, but what they can do is to identify why you are singing flat. Once you know the problem you can actively work on getting rid of your flat singing. The problem is that it will take a couple of sessions until the vocal coach can identify what actually makes you sound flat, and this will probably cost you some money.

People want nowadays everything fast, and getting in front of a vocal coach will probably take at least a couple of weeks as good vocal coaches are always booked. You might be tempted to go and hire some online vocal coach, but I do not recommend you to do it as you will need to be face to face with the vocal coach so he can observe all your movements while you singing in order to figure out why you are singing flat and an online coach simply can not do that.

Not Singing In Pitch

If you want to know how to stop singing flat when singing, then by far the easiest way to do it is to learn to sing in pitch. I know that this sounds extremely simple, but the truth is that if you want to become a successful singer one day you will have to learn to sing in pitch. As singing flat is your inability to sing in pitch, once you learn how to sing in pitch you will also get rid of your flat singing.

While most people would think that you will need to sing in perfect pitch in order to become a singer, this is far from the truth as there are plenty of singers who do not sing in perfect pitch and they are somewhat also singing flat.

Find Out If You Are Singing Flat

If you are not sure if you are singing flat or not then the easiest way to check is to record yourself. Just keep in mind that you will have to use a fairly high-quality microphone to record yourself as the pitch oftentimes is not recorded correctly with microphones for general purposes, especially if you want to use the microphone of your smartphone. After you have recorded yourself, listen first to the original song, then listen to your recording, if you are singing flat then you will definitely notice.

Not Increasing Your Pitch

Some singers do have success in getting rid of their flat singing by simply increasing their pitch. Most singers have a baseline pitch and they use that for most songs, this is also true for flat singers with the difference being that the pitch of the flat singers is often way too low. In order to be able to increase your pitch at the right time, you will need to memorize every instance where you are flat singing and then increase your pitch at those intervals.

Just be careful not to increase your pitch too high as you will start sounding pitchy. My recommendation is to practice this method several times until you get it right. In addition to this, you might also want to record yourself as this way you can compare your singing and hopefully, you will get rid of your flat singing.

Key Takeaways

  • Singing flat means that you are singing below the pitch, usually, most flat singers are just under the right pitch. The good news is that you can easily stop singing flat by focusing on the correct pitch, although it will take some time and effort on your part but it is definitely doable. Singing flat doesn’t mean that you are a bad singer, far from it, it simply means that you are a little bit off when it comes to your pitch.
  • When a singer is singing flat, it can be due to various reasons, such as insufficient breath support, improper vocal technique, lack of ear training, or vocal fatigue. It can also be a result of poor pitch perception or difficulty in matching the pitch accurately.
  • Singing flat can significantly impact the overall quality and accuracy of a vocal performance.


What makes singing flat?

Singing flat refers to singing below the intended pitch. It can be caused by factors such as poor breath support, lack of vocal technique, incorrect vowel placement, or inadequate ear training to recognize pitch accurately.

What does it mean to sing sharp or flat?

Singing sharp or flat refers to singing above or below the correct pitch, respectively. It indicates a deviation from the intended musical pitch, which can be caused by improper vocal technique, incorrect breath control, or insufficient ear training.

What is the word for singing flat?

Singing flat is commonly referred to as “off-pitch” or “out of tune.” It means that the singer is consistently singing below the correct pitch, resulting in a noticeable difference in pitch accuracy.

What is the difference between flat and sharp singing?

Flat singing refers to singing below the intended pitch, while sharp singing refers to singing above the intended pitch. Both indicate a deviation from the desired pitch, with flat being lower and sharp being higher than the target pitch.