What is intonation?

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

  1. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    I'm with you Smooth, I reckon the Double Bb Tuba should tune to the trumpets. ROFL
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Like life in general, intonation is based on successful RELATIONSHIPS. With whom we are currently tuning, is a matter of experience. In many ensembles, Darwin determines who provides the reference and Freud determines for how long.

    I had an orchestra rehearsal last night. Beethoven triple concerto. I had the impression that everyone was making an effort to tune to one another - and were close all enough that I could tune to whoever without really "thinking about it. Keeping the resultant tone beats down were a big part of it however.

    There were a couple passages where the conductor worked with the woodwinds. A single, too loud clarinet / oboe / flute made certain chords sound out of tune although they probably were not. I did leave my tuner on and "checked" what was necessary to play in the orchestral context vs what the tuner wanted - absolutely useless. I don't think that the tuner was happy once.................

    So we are at a point where we agree that intonation as applied to ensemble playing needs to be learned in context.

    How can we teach better intonation? The more "inexperienced" players that we group together, the less stability in the collective result.
  3. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    I had a friend who did very well in competitions with a Jr High band he was directing. He obsessively work with the kids on intonation. He even created a book for all the band instruments and noted which pitches were inherently off and a list of alternative figurings that could be used. He even had the kids using them. He also told me he wasn't very nice to the kids ... I mean Jr Jigh is the period where they do stop acting like humans for a few years.
    Anyway, my point ... is attention really has to be drawn to it. I have had directors who always warm up the groups with hymns and chorales to get everyone listening to each other.
    There is also some humility involved in this ... I believe you must be introspective of yourself and be willing to move the pitch for the greater good.
    my take
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Here is one for you all:

    what does sound quality have to do with tuning?
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Not so much quality as quantity! Just count all the players that when tuning in an ensemble rehearsal play louder to make themselves seem the one "really" in tune!
  6. mineo50

    mineo50 Pianissimo User

    Jan 15, 2011
    Barstow, CA
    This is too true!! Especially with less experienced players. I think it takes time and some self assurance to finally realize louder does not make you right. Listening and matching the Principle or section lead is all it takes (sometimes softer is better.)
  7. richtom

    richtom Forte User

    Dec 7, 2003
    From Tim Kent's book, one of Bud Herseth's thoughts on intonation and sound.

    "When a note sounds beautiful, it is in tune" (and vice-versa).

    And one more from Mr. Herseth.

    "High C is not sharp, it's High C. No notes are naturally sharp. Just play and listen for the best sound and you will be in tune. It is very important that you think sound and not intonation. The intonation will be there if the sound is".

    Rich T.
    tobylou8 likes this.
  8. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010

    When a guitar string is perfectly in tune, it's louder .... there is a tiny (you can hear it if you listen) bump in volume when it's in tune, something about the length of the string (that is to say I have absolutely no idea why).

    Could be the same for trumpet notes?:dontknow:

  9. stevesf

    stevesf Piano User

    Jun 23, 2010
    San Francisco Bay Area
    I think sound quality does have a lot of effect on tuning.
    I've played along side many of players that either have a overly thin or overly tubby sound. I could not for the life of me play in tune with them.
    Lack of core or overtones or a dead lifeless sound always sounds out of tune to me
  10. Haste2

    Haste2 Piano User

    Jun 16, 2010
    There is not only the issue of intonation with chords, but there is also the issue of intonation when playing a musical line, as in, how in tune are your different notes with each other?

    I've heard violin players play a line in, say, a concerto.... it's quite clear they practiced a lot with a tuner, and no individual note is terribly out of tune, but.... somehow they still sound rather out of tune with themselves? Again, this is without any chords to lock into.

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