What is intonation?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by rowuk, May 10, 2011.

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    I know that there is a science behind tempering, especially when applied to various tunings that range from an A=415 standard, to the A=440 current standard, all the way through A being even higher than that, depending on the ensemble.

    For my take on tempering, at least from a practical perspective when approached from playing trumpet in a wind ensemble, is to simply say that a particular note, take E for instance, is not always the same, and it depends where it is in the chord, and what chord is being played.

    This was a concept that I first came to understand when I played in a brass quintet where at times we'd break things down in rehearsal and take notes on specific chords so that I'd know whether to listen and push the note a particular direction, up or down, so that it would help the chord to ring the way it was supposed to. While technically everyone may have been "in tune" specifically on their notes, the chord wouldn't ring correctly until that intonation was tempered with certain notes being pushed slightly higher or lower.

    That's my take on it anyway, and at times I think that "intonation" is actually a combination of comparative intonation and timbre.
     
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  2. Sterling

    Sterling Mezzo Forte User

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    Last weekend I played a wedding at a local Catholic church with a pipe organ that was below A=440 and was not in tune with itself. My concept of intonation that day was to pick a pitch center that made me and the organist both sound good. Intonation changes with each setting and instrument.
     
  3. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

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    To me, intonation is the ability to play in tune with whomever you're playing with (assuming they're doing the same), whether it's a duet or full orchestra. The key and chords played make a difference, as well as the tendencies of the various instruments. It's all about listening, anticipating, and making it sound good. Those who can do it continue to get calls to play significant venues, and those who can't are relelgated to playing alone at home or in groups made up of like-minded musicians. :D
     
  4. Sterling

    Sterling Mezzo Forte User

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    Dale, that's what I was trying to say. Thank you! Ya gotta play a few times in a Civil War band to experience intonation!
     
  5. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

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    Boy, ain't that the truth! Instruments designed with no exact tuning standard that don't even play in tune with themselves. Throw a bunch of 'em together and play a few tunes. That (managing intonation) separates the men from the boys and the good bands from the others rather quickly. :play:
     
  6. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

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    @Edman .. wow... outstanding point ... 12 tone versus 1/4 tone systems... and since we rely so much on our ears to play "in tune" .. I have tried to train myself to "get" quarter tone based music but really haven't been successful ... to me it just sounds awful. Don Ellis' piece "Turkish Bath" 5 soprano saxes playing a unison passage but each one tuned a 1/4 tone apart sounds sooooo bad to my ears I laugh everytime I hear it .. litterally.
     
  7. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

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    Thanks, and for the rep point! I think about this often when trying to stay in tune with a band or orchestra, wondering if we played this music for an indiginous tribe in some forgotton part of the world, would they know we were "out of tune?"
     
  8. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

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    the rare tribe is called Junior High Band
     
  9. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

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    We were out of tune!!??:?::?::huh::huh:
     
  10. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

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    I don't remember, I was too busy shooting paperclips at the sax players
     

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