Intonation exercises

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by kakeflekk, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    The electronic tuner is useful for finding tendencies concerning certain notes and fingerings, and supplying a reference pitch for general tuning. When it gets to the point of really playing in tune, it gets harder. We have the vertical tuning within the chord, and the horizontal tuning of the melody. An example, using a B in the staff (b'). If playing the third of a G chord it should be lowered about 14/100ths of a semi-tone, however, if it leads to a C (as part of a C chord) the B should be a tad bit high for the G chord. Good intonation = compromise. Always.

    Practicing resultant tones is a great way to develop ears. One player plays a G (g') in the staff, the other an E (e') at the bottom of the staff. When the interval is in tune, sum and difference tones pop out in the player's ears--you will hear a pedal C (C) and possibly a c''--the sum tones are easier to hear on piccolo trumpets and the difference tones on flugelhorn. I've encountered in-tune sum and difference tones with a seven-piece natural trumpet ensemble, although rare enough to be freaky.

    In other words, Rowuk is right--ensemble playing is the best way to learn how to tune intervals, and I like mouthpiece buzzing for the melodic aspect. Sit at a piano, sound a c' (middle C) on the piano, match it and play a C Major scale with your mouthpiece, testing your c''.

    It takes lots of hours to improving tuning, nobody is perfect, but ear training with the instrument provides a whole bunch of low-impact physical exercise (good for endurance) and stretches our ears.

    Have fun!
  2. Haste2

    Haste2 Piano User

    Jun 16, 2010
    I play in-tune well enough with myself (my teachers rarely complain about it... actually, they sometimes say I try TOO hard to be in-tune at the expense of other areas), but I got a question.

    My issue is being in tune with other trumpet players, at least, sometimes. If the other instrument is a significantly different timbre I can tell instantly (e.g. I'm playing unison with woodwinds) I can always tell where I am in relation to them. But with other trumpets, let's say I'm out of tune with two other guys. Well, I hear three trumpet sounds and I have difficult distinguishing the sound that's mine! Because I can't hear myself so well I actually get MORE out of tune than if I was keying off of woodwinds for intonation! I If I'm a distance away from other trumpets, though, then I can tune to them much better. Also, I can whistle perfectly in tune to a song on the radio that nobody will notice I'm even whistling.

    I'm getting better at it, but it's still not consistent. Any tricks to distinguish your own trumpet sound from others? Maybe I just have insensitive ears, as far as actually distinguishing similar things. I have a hard time distinguishing articulations when I hear others play. For instance, I will hear the trombone section play, amidst all the other sounds, then my director (who has an incredible ear) will say that somebody was playing too long...and maybe I heard something slightly off, but I couldn't have guessed one person was playing too long.

    Perhaps all the basic answers (listening to pros, etc.) can help improve my listening, but if you've got anything specific, I'd appreciate it.
  3. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    I like using solfeggio to hear intervals.If you can't hear the interval in your head,you can't play it in tune on your instrument. When tuning up with another player,listen for beats in your sound.The electronic tuner is only a starting pitch,the rest is all ears.The problem I sometimes see when using an electronic tuner is that the player will have a tendency adjust with his lip,so he is out of tune when not looking at the tuner.
    The band I play in performs big band jazz concerts in parks in the summer and libraries the rest of the year.Not all of these piano's are pitched to A440, some may be a bit higher or lower.We all tune the piano not a electric tuner,we have to use our ears. Weather conditions also affects intonation.

    So where muscle memory is important ,so is ear training. If you can't hear it ,you can't play. Like others have already said,playing with others is the best way to listen to your intonation.

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