What is intonation?

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

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Now for a real inflammatory question:
    what good is a cheap tuner for MOST players now that we have heard how many things don't have anything to do with absolute frequencies?

    I'll even up the Ante: if a player doesn't "hear" that they are out of tune WITHOUT a tuner, how could a tuner help in a real playing situation.

    What I want to say is that I have NEVER had a student who learned to play in tune "by the numbers". Even my time with a Stroboconn was cool, but not necessarily fruitful.
  2. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    My #1 Son has competed successfully in numerous National Sound Quality Competitions (admittedly with his car sound sytem) - he is a professional Live Sound Production Engineer.

    The judges do not use any tuning device.

    It's all about how the sound is perceived to work in the space and how good the balance across the range turns out to be. All entrants get to use the same CD in their system although the evaluation, to my way of thinking, is a bit subjective.

    So the focus of a car's sound system, is much like that of a band - it is expected to be perceived by the listener as coming from the middle of the bonnet (hood for our US friends), or in our case, in front of the ensemble.

    The other competitions are for the "Doof Doof Brigade", and are known as a Sound Pressure Competitions - that is; how much does it hurt your ears. Most pro Soundies ignore these display of electronic bravado (not to be confused with Bravura the trumpet)
    Last edited: May 16, 2011
  3. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    My gut tells me that a student has to be able to identify playing in tune by themselves so their ear is trained to at least put them in the ball park. I would think we have all played with our share of muscians where the general vacinity would be a market improvement. So a tuner is pretty good for that. I guess it gets a student aware of what to listen for which should help in the ensemble setting.
  4. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    My high school band director tuned us with the Stroboconn. That was all there was back in the day. I think early in a players development, a cheap tuner could help with ear training, but I agree that there's no practical use for a tuner in a real life situation. After ear training, if a player can't hear if they are/aren't in tune, music probably isn't a professional career choice for them. They can play in a community band!;-)
  5. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    Okay, I've been following this thread until I just have to ask ... For those old guys like me that stopped teaching back in the late 70's, what is this about using a tuner when you are playing or having it on your stand? I understand the old stobes that you would set and let the kids go by one at a time and get themselves tuned to a single pitch. I'm just lost how you would be using one while playing (different notes).

    I just can'[t imagine needing a tuner while playing. Apparenly am not understanding something.
  6. Chuck Cox

    Chuck Cox Forte User

    Oct 3, 2008
    Cary NC
    I think you just have to listen and adjust with your lip. I love playing fills for vocalists...so no real emphasis on perfect pitch since i play when he/she stops singing for a moment. I can lip down probably between an 1/8th and a 1/4 tone. Lipping up is harder and less pronounced. I also play a lot of blues where being flat sounds bluesy.

    1 more thing. The quote from Miles when someone asked him what he did when he played a wrong note. " Wrong note ?...there are no wrong notes ".
  7. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    I know an F horn player who uses one all the time. I don't though. God gave me a good set of ears.:D
  8. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    Does anyone actually picture a kid using a tuner on his music stand during a piece? Perhaps if are holding a note for a few measures but I can't see using peripheral vision during a rehersal. I do think that there is some sort of humility needed if someone wants to improve their intonation. I use to play in a concert band with a player who was always sharp..ALWAYS ... even watching the stobotune wheel roll right didn't seem to sink in to this player that perhaps an adjusment was needed.
    On a happy note ... ending a piece on a perfectly balanced and in tone chord is a rush.
  9. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    Years ago I was playing with a community orchestra. I had a section that went to High C and the C's were held out some. I had a lot of trouble getting the C's in tune. I wasn't playing a lot. I could hear that it was out of tune but which way? I put a tuner on a stand and clipped a chord to the bell so the tuner would only pick up me. The tuner would give me an indication which way to go and help me hold the note.

    It didn't work because the tuner didn't respond fast enough. I think today, it could.

    This is why you would see a tuner on the stand. It will never replace an ear. It could however be used as a tool to teach. I have a CD that plays a drone tone and you play along with it while watching the tuner. It gives you a visual along with listening. People relate much faster to what they see and the ears can be trained.
  10. JNINWI

    JNINWI Piano User

    Apr 26, 2011
    One of the bands I play in is a Rock Symphony. 30 pieces and a full rock band in front of us. The symphony is made up of principle chairs from multiple symphony’s from Green Bay to Chicago. Every one of us uses a tuner on our stands constantly. It becomes part of the music. The small analog tuners have 3 lights on them also, one green and two red, this makes it easy the see pitch by light colour’s. This works very well and I now use the tuner in many places that make it hard to hear your pitch, it’s actually quite handy for those horn sections where one or more horn players does not think tuning is an issue. When you record, a lot of people usually put in a lot of time to make it right. All it takes to ruin a recording is one person playing out of tune, and it’s over. Tuners can easily be utilized in performances.

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