tuning issues

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by eisprl, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. eisprl

    eisprl Mezzo Piano User

    Sep 26, 2004
    Halifax, NS CANADA
    does anyone have a good tuning exercise? One that may not require a tuner. The problem I am having is that I practice with drones (like what you would find on the tuning cd) however as much as this helps my tuning (with the drones), the various groups I play with all play in various cents (sharp or flat). I am finding it difficult to play in a group that is usually sharp and then go to a brass quintet and find that they play flatter. All the while I am in tuning lah lah land

    Are there any good exercises out there that will help train my ears (and chops) to cope with the different situations I've described?
  2. tunefultrumpet

    tunefultrumpet Pianissimo User

    Apr 9, 2008
    New Zealand
    Your tuning is always going to be relative to things like the group you are playing with, the temperature, how tired your chops are and the mouthpiece you are using. So you have to get used to moving your main tuning slide in and out on the go. I suggest you sit at a piano or keyboard, play a chord with your left hand and play different notes of the chord on your trumpet. Hear how each chord note fits with the others and how you may have to slightly lip them up or down to match the pitch. Learn to trust your ear...if you feel you are really out with your section do somethng, move your slide in or out till it sounds right. Good players appreciate playing with anyone that listens to things like tuning and balance. Apart from adjusting the main tuning slide, listen on the long notes in your trumpet parts...lip them up or down to fit with the chord your section/ensemble is playing.
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Sometimes we can start to identify our pitch with our sound. When practicing, it can be useful to move the tuning slide around--weird stuff, to be sure, but if we get locked into an A=440 (or 442) in can be difficult to change.

  4. nordlandstrompet

    nordlandstrompet Forte User

    Apr 5, 2008
    [FONT=&quot]“All valved instruments are a compromise of construction. A three valved trumpet is actually seven trumpets in one!
    These seven trumpets are the number of different valve combinations we have and correspond to the written notes C below the staff to Gb below the staff.
    A basic understanding of the overtone series will help you better understand the problems we have playing a valved instrument in tune. One good explanation of the harmonic series can be found in the Charlier Transcendental Etude book.
    If you are aware of the overtone series, and if you know what partial
    [/FONT] [FONT=&quot]you are playing, you have a better chance of playing in tune.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The construction compromise mentioned above involves finding the best combination of tube lengths for each valve combination. This ideal length, however, is different for each partial we play.
    The problem is compounded by playing with pianos that are tuned differently than the natural overtone series or playing with other players who insist on playing equal tempered intonation.
    [/FONT] [FONT=&quot]
    So, what can you do about it? The first thing is to become aware of the natural overtone series, which is the basis of trumpet intonation. Second, be aware of different tuning methods. And third,find out the intonation tendencies of your own instruments. Each manufacturer has tackled this problem differently.
    [/FONT] [FONT=&quot]The fourth, and perhaps the most important thing, is to be flexible in your playing and listen to others around you. [/FONT][FONT=&quot]

    It is better to be in tune with the orchestra, band or piano than to be right! [/FONT]

    If you are in a small chamber ensemble, trio, quartet or quintet, discuss these issues with the other musicians and come to an agreement on intonation.
    Learning what is in and out of tune seems to be one of the most difficult things to learn while playing the trumpet.
    Several reasons for this come quickly to mind. Players are so involved with the physical aspects of playing that listening to pitches is lost in the process.

    Another reason is that many players don’t know what it means to play in tune because they don’t know what in tune is.â€

    Lots of truths in here.

    Excerpt from "Perfecting Your Practice For Peak Performance" by Mick Hesse

    You can have a further look here:

    welcome to the world as seen through my eyes

  5. Bloomin Untidy Musician

    Bloomin Untidy Musician Piano User

    Jan 14, 2008
    Bloomin good question! Tuning is a massive issue. I have become paranoid about this over the years. As someone has already said it is a shared responsibility within an ensemble; so if other people are out of tune it makes it very difficult. Tuning i suppose is a constant feedback loop within an ensemble. You have to listen and adjust accordingly.
    I do think it is very worthwhile sitting down with a tuner, tuning your open C (on the stave) and find the rogue notes on your instrument. On my cornet A and Bb above the stave are always very sharp, open E can be a little flat. This is not a rule! It changes from instrument to instrument and how you play it.
    I must admit it is something i could improve on, so i will be interested to see peoples comments!
  6. claminator

    claminator New Friend

    Jun 18, 2008
    Some good comments. If I could add my thoughts. Tuning with other musicians is something you will struggle with your whole career. It sounds as if this is something you care about. I would say that is fairly unique. I've heard many people play in auditions with very poor intonation. I would keep working on it with your drones and tuners etc....
    Pitch (as said above) is always going to differ from one rehearsal to the next. If you put in your time (as it sounds like you are) have faith in that work. I'm not saying to stop being flexible, but, if everyone in the rehearsal sees you moving your slide every 10 seconds they are going to assume it's you :)
    When it comes to making adjustments within a group, don't move too much, Meaning don't quickly bend the pitch way up or way down. Move quickly to adjust, but not too far.
    The only other thing I would say is that.. YOU can't always fix it.
    There will be things out of tune. I know its frustrating!! goodluck!!!

    Schwab likes this.
  7. MJ

    MJ Administrator Staff Member

    Jan 30, 2006

  8. Bloomin Untidy Musician

    Bloomin Untidy Musician Piano User

    Jan 14, 2008
    I forgot to mention brass players in some respects Brass players could looked upon as lazy when it comes to tuning within the world of musicians. Take string players for example, they have to tune each string of their instrument every time they practise or perform. Maybe we should get into the habit of tuning each time we practise.

    Mind you, quite often it doesn't make any difference to the intonation some of the string players i know!:cool:
  9. nordlandstrompet

    nordlandstrompet Forte User

    Apr 5, 2008
    There is a saying which one of our fine english guest conductors once told us:

    To only way to tune 3 eb horns in a brass band is to shoot 2 of them....
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    the reason that most people have trouble is not the pitch, but the pitch center. If the groups do not tune precisely at the very beginning, the members are not playing on the resonant center and THAT changes the quality, volume and accuracy of each note as well as killing endurance. I have found in almost every case, if an extra effort is made to tune during the very first ensemble notes, that the absolute pitch is of little consequence. It is always easier to play when the chords just pop in!

    When you lip down, your sound gets dull and fuzzy, when you lip up it gets thin and bright. That destroys blend!

    There are also several strategies to improving ensemble intonation.

    The first one is to take away the electronic tuners and make the players tune to one instrument - preferably played by a player with a full sound. It is possible to play high or low on the pitch to make the electronic tuner happy, that sound will not blend well however!

    Another strategy is to play softly and slowly. Lipping up or down are much more obvious to the players at low and moderate volumes.

    My favorite is to practice inhaling before the first note in time with the beginning of the piece. That full, predictable, relaxed breath makes EVERYBODY feel much more at home from the very first note.

    Creating a drone environment in a wind band is easy. One group of players (saxes for instance) hold a note out and the rest of the group plays a non-related scale. You can do similar things in quintet too.

    So to get back to my point: what is disturbing is not the "pitch" rather the quality of your sound. Once you get the groups to tune well, you play on the resonant center of each note and your brain/ear/chops system is happy again!

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