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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000433.txt from 2005/08

From: "Steve" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] "Tuning" vs. Intonation
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 08:46:14 -0400

Perhaps some of those familiar with my Tuneup System would like to comment
on this subject! Tony?!

Stephen Colley

-----Original Message-----
From: Karl Krelove []
Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2005 8:39 PM
Subject: Re: [kl] "Tuning" vs. Intonation

Margaret Thornhill wrote:

> 1. The Bait-and-Switch Tuning Note
> It's your community/student orchestra. The oboist sounds an A, looks
> dutifully at his tuner, inches it up a notch, and tunes the wind
> section at 440. Yet, once the music starts, everyone sounds wrong.
> Why? The person who gave the tuning is no longer at 440--he's sunk
> back to his original pitch center, where he plays habitually, or where
> his reed du jour wants to play. (This situation is a lost cause--last
> year it was true for every rehearsal of the youth orchestra whose
> clarinets I helped mentor.)
I'm glad to hear that you've only noticed this in a community/student
orchestra. It happens in every orchestra (paid/professional) I know or
play in (Philadelphia metropolitan area) with the single (as far as I
know) exception of the Philadelphia Orchestra. It drives me to crazy to
hear how far away from their reeds' natural pitch even good oboists
around here bend to get the needle in the middle. Also, it's equally
maddening to have to wait while they find A440. Since the note is often
so out of focus by the time it settles on the pitch, many players,
especially string players, don't take it seriously and the result is an
oboist who is invariably sharper than anyone who actually took the 440
and a string section that's all over the map. Used to be, as I remember,
before tuners got so inexpensive and tiny, the oboist's job included
coming in with a reed that actually played - wanted to play - at
whatever the agreed-on ptich standard was and great oboists would have
rather been caught dead than refer even to a fork, once they were on stage.

> 4. Usually, they adjust for you, but
> You are playing in unison with a violist. Suddenly, she has a
> sustained note on an open string.
> (not a great idea, but it happens) and surprise, her tuning has
> changed since the beginning of the concert. She can't match you. It's
> up to you to match her.
Unless it's an open C, I'd still hope she would move to a fingered note
on a lower string, then ask to re-tune between pieces/movements. But, if
she won't, the winds must adjust.

> I think that we who teach need to find more ways to help our students
> look for auditory as well as visual cues about intonation, knowing
> that it's always more of a process than a fixed entity.
And then, what do you do when it turns out that *your* Korg and the
oboist's are a couple of cents or more apart? Who wins?

One of the more unfortunate time-savers technology has provided (even
more unfortunate than programs to handle transposition for us ;-) ) is
silent tuners with needle gauges. They don't do much in a practice room
that can't be done by matching an audible pitch (whether from a fork or
a Korg with a speaker) and in a rehearsal they can cause all the
mischief you've suggested and more. I'm not saying they don't have
legitimate uses (no I don't still use oil lamps or drive a
horse-and-buggy to work) but they've had on the whole a poor effect on
students' listening habits, and I know of several otherwise excellent
teachers in my own area who actively encourage their students to rely on
the Korg god as the only standard that really counts.

Karl Krelove

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