Scientific data suggests that about 60% of people in this world are bad singers. Whenever someone sings more than a semitone above or below the correct key it is labelled as poor. The industry terms this universal phenomena as being "pitchy". Interestingly enough, the majority of people that sing off-key will do so in a lower pitch rather than a higher pitch (which would explain why so many people feel comfortable singing notes in a lower voice register).
There is no better place to engage this scientific study than in a crowd at a local rock concert.
Last night I met up with some good friends to check out Mondo Cozmo's show in Philadelphia. As MC weaved their way through a beautiful collection of alt rock, post-punk, timeless 4-4 anthems, the folks in the crowd were wont to drink it all in. In fact, there were some in the crowd who considered it their civic duty to not only sing along with the band, but to do so in such a way as to compete with the in-house sound system. For months they had been honing their craft and perfecting their skill as they belted out Mondo's lyrics during their drive home from work. They knew that this night would be their magnum opus. They sang with reckless abandon and with no concern as to their pitch. They were lost in the music and it was glorious.
As we all stood there, swaying back and forth to the rhythm of a generously driven bass line, my concentration was broken when I heard someone behind me singing off-key. I couldn't tell at first why this one voice stood out to me above all the rest. Then I realized that her voice was pitched higher than the correct key, which caused it to appear more egregious than our lower pitched errors. We were all pitchy. She was pitchy, but in a different way -which made it sound worse.
There are no (pitch) perfect ways to deal with hardship and suffering in this life.
For the last few years I have struggled to see how my off-key life related to those around me. I've found no solace in being compared to those of similar pitch. In fact, the most comfort I've had recently came in the form of a nameless, faceless, aspiring Mezzo-soprano who delivered the show of her life behind me at the club last night.