Intonation

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by J. Jericho, Sep 12, 2014.

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Maybe we should talk about intonation before thinking about hardware?

    It is not the fixed target that many would like to believe. I am convinced that intonation in an absolute sense went south when the well tempered scale was introduced. Basically there are two schools of thought on intonation of major chords: accept heterodyning or not. This phenomenon is also called resultant tones, sum&difference tones or intermodulation. Resultant tones happen whenever two different frequencies occupy the same acoustic space. In a major chord, it is possible to tune so that all of the resultant tones are in that major chord. If we tune a piano like this, exactly one key is "good", 2 or 3 more are tolerable and the rest is VERY problematic.

    The rest of the notes around the chords are subject to the direction that the melody is pointed in. There is musical gravity that makes us deal with leading tones differently than others. The E that we use in an in tune C major chord is considerably different than the E in A major or in a F#7 chord.

    Trumpets are built with resonance in mind. Some call this "slotting". For the physicist, the term slotting is painful, because exactly the opposite happens. The resonant peak is not a slot to fall into, it is a small mountain. Its strength is defined by the term "Q". Where the resonances are (Pedal C, C, G, C, E, G, Bb, C, D, E, F#(sort of),..... depend on the acoustical, not the physical length of the instrument. If the trumpet was a simple tube with no leadpipe or bell, the length would be significant. Because it does have both as well as a cylindrical section, the resonances do not fall mathematically evenly. The proportion of conical to cylindrical changes based on how many valves that we depress. This means that the intonation is not consistent throughout the valve combinations. This fact alone applies to every valved trumpet on the planet. To allow the player to compensate for the physical state, the artisan builds "inefficiencies" into the instrument that allow for various degrees of manipulation.

    This should be enough to get anyone interested started. At the top of this section of the forum, I have a thread "How a trumpet works" with far more links and detailed explanations.

    To round this up, there are techniques to build better intonation. They start with controlled duet playing with someone at least as good as you are, better partners speed up development.
     
  2. Cornyandy

    Cornyandy Fortissimo User

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    Monette gear sort of fascintates me probably becasue baring the silver 6 ( I also like my Wick 3C HT a lot and live try to live by the rule if it ain't broke don't fix it, with the occasional wobble) I'll never be able to afford anything in that range. I'm also a bit of a nerd so obviously somehting that seems so different has a fascintation, Constant Pitch Centre = Higgs Boson sort of thing. So I live it vicariously through watching the you tube clips.

    I can't think of any place that Dave claims that his trumpets are more in tune than other trumpets but that the centres of each harmonic are more in tune with each other. I have never heard him make a lot of the claims that other people seem to make about his gear either.
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    The pitch center thing is easily explainable. Basically it is not hard to spread the octaves with backbore design. The question is how much and the problem is that each mouthpiece size needs individual attention. The cup shape and volume, throat size, backbore shape and size as well as the transitions between them all are dependent on one another. Monette also does more than just spread the octaves. Dave Monette builds the mouthpieces balanced. That takes a lot of R&D and costs money. It also the reason why it is not possible to modify one of his mouthpieces without destroying the playing characteristics.

     
  4. Cornyandy

    Cornyandy Fortissimo User

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    Thanks for that one Rowuk, as I say I'm just a nerd at heart. I've never griped at Monette prices(I was just staing my finacial truth) because it is obvious that they are special and a lot of work has gone into their products and whether a Smith Watkins is as good in a different way may be a moot point. It's like saying how special is special, well it's special.

    It does frustrate me that some people claim that Dave's horns are somehow magical and make snake oil claims on behalf of the company that aren't made byt themselves. It's got to be a double edged sword, on the one hand it perhaps contributes to a sort of Myth of Monette which although the company has little to no control over it isn't bad for marketing. On the other edge of course it can lead to jelousy silly comments and perhaps uniformed opinions being fostered. I emailed someone at the company recently to ask a question about a silver 6 and was made to feel as important as if I was interested in a top line horn. The cynics will say that that was just good salesmanship but I really think the company is interested in people.
     
  5. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    ....if we can just take a rest from Monette for a second ;-)

    One intonation issue that I still puzzle over is that I vividly remember struggling with the 5th harmonic notes (C# D D# E) during my teens. Below was fine, above was fine, but I was forever fiddling about with 3rd shunt and alternate fingerings to sort out those 4 notes. I'm not sure whether it was the B&H Imperial (mid- to late '40s) or YTR-232 (early '70s) that gave me most issues, but I certainly didn't have those problems with the Getzen 300 I got round about 1975, or anything else later.

    I don't think it was (just) me as I could play a bit in those days. Any ideas?
     
  6. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

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    The thing about the fifth harmonic notes is that the "guy up there who invented nature" has a long standing disagreement with our equally tempered scale. For instance the ratio of frequencies between C and E on the naturally occurring harmonic series is 1.25 (harmonic 5 over harmonic 4), whereas using the 12th root of two, the equally tempered scale wants the ratio to be more like 1.26. The harmonic series note is lower than the equally tempered note, therefore it will sound flatter. And as Barry Tuckwell once said: "I'd rather be a little sharp than out of tune".

    My take on there being instruments that are better or worse in tune is that the clearer the feedback to the player, the faster and more instinctively they will play the notes in tune. I am not aware of any scientific proof of that - but, then again, I am not aware of any scientific explanation for my feelings for my wife!

    Good luck with this!
     
  7. Tjnaples

    Tjnaples Piano User

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    Old habits die hard and I still find myself muscling with the Prana mouthpiece when I don't need to. Ya spend 24 years playing a certain way and it's a difficult switch to flip and reprogram with those unnecessary habits.
     
  8. Tjnaples

    Tjnaples Piano User

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    Et tu Rowak? Wow lol. Does someone need to be capable? Absolutely. I thought that was a given, my bad. Excellent tool was all I was answering. These "tools" offer a path to have to compensate for less is all I'm communicating. If the tuning slide is out too far for example all bets are off of course.

    I've had discussions at length with my teacher about this, wanted to share some of that info here. Great links Rowak, physics rock!

     
  9. strad116055

    strad116055 Pianissimo User

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    what i should have said is that reynold schilke and dave monette are/were two trumpet makers that made strides toward developing a trumpet that could be played in tune by ironing out some of the idiosyncracies prevalent in the bach trumpet, and others. the truth is, no trumpet plays in tune. trumpets do not play themselves. trumpet players play in tune, or not. perhaps certain trumpets are better in tune with themselves than others. playing in tune requires knowledge, skill (listening skills and playing skills), practice, and the committment to playing as in tune as one can, which is something that never ends. you can't buy a horn that's supposedly in tune and then go about your business.
     
  10. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    Oh, did you buy one of them too?
     

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