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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000434.txt from 2005/08

From: Juan Francisco Vicente Becerro <>
Subj: Re: [kl] "Tuning" vs. Intonation
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 09:14:59 -0400

With my pupils I try to tune not with an A, but with the tonic of the
main tonality of the piece we are going to play. If clarinet with piano
then I tell the pianist to play the root chord and I choose two or three
notes (traying to play with so much fingers closed as possible, avoiding
central F, G, A and so on) and try to tune all notes equally (sometimes
if you tune one note perfectly then the other is out of tune, and
vice-versa, so I think you must find a "correct overall tune").

If I have to tune a clarinet choir I prefer to tune with a chord rather
than all of them with the same note. ┬┐Why tune with middle A if then the
first clarinet -and fourth- is never going to play it?.

Juan Francisco

Margaret Thornhill escribi├│:
> A new thread, if you like:
> Here in southern California, it's been an uncharacteristically humid
> summer, and I, my students, and my colleagues have been forced to join
> the rest of the country in struggling with our reeds, and therefore (
> surprise!),our intonation.
> I've been forced to think about this because I coach/conduct two groups
> on the weekend--one, an advanced group, my Los Angeles Clarinet Choir,
> which would describe itself as "semi-professional," the other, a high
> school group. Both come to rehearsal with their personal tuners in hand
> and the best intentions in the world. The students, in particular, with
> the competitiveness of youth, like to use the tuners as an artibtrer:
> aha! you're wrong, I'm right--see? The visual cues of the dial
> eventually help them get their tuning note perfectly together.
> Nevertheless, the rehearsal continues,often with intonation bad as
> before. The students are puzzled; so are some of the mature players,
> wondering whose scale is at fault.
> Beyond the out-of-tune scale--which is indeed a problem--it's an issue
> of adjustment and adaptability. In fact, one of the hardest points to
> get across to the conscientious student Korg user is that sometimes
> being "right" is actually "wrong." Consider these "what if"situations in
> which only the ability you have at Matching Someone Else's Pitch will
> save the day:
> 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.)
> 2. Follow the Leader
> Perhaps you are playing chamber music. The bassoonist is holding a long
> note; you come in later, doubling him at the octave. You sound out of
> tune. Your pitches don't match. You look at your Korg. He is sharp
> (sharper than you!) No matter how much you bug him about this in
> rehearsal, his pitch does not come down. BUT, you are obligated to match
> his pitch, no matter what--because he his pitch came before your
> entrance, and not to do it will make you look terrible.
> Later in the movement, when it happens again, it's especially important
> to tune to him, because this time his note is the root of the chord that
> the entire quintet is playing, and good intonation builds from the
> bottom up.
> 3. The Out-of-Tune Dissonance
> You are playing one of the outer voices of a diminished seventh. You are
> not sharp, but the interval sounds wrong: it's too small. You voice down
> (or up, depending on which note you've got) and--bingo!- the chord comes
> into tune, a healthy dissonance.
> 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.
> 5. Exaggerated Accidentals
> You are playing in unison with your cellist in the Brahms trio. It's a
> scalar passage and you find that he is sharper on the 7th degree of the
> scale than you are. Sure he could match you, but maybe you need to
> follow the natural tendency of all good musicians to play the leading
> tone a little higher than the note would be otherwise, as your cellist
> has been trained to do.
> 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.
> Margaret
> Margaret Thornhill, DMA
> Artist/Teacher of Modern and Historical Clarinet
> -------------------------------------------------------------------
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