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 new player with intonation/tuning question
Author: MikeM70 
Date:   2018-03-21 18:02

Hi all,

I'm new here, and pretty new to clarinet (been playing for about 3 months) and generally really enjoying it (I have a background in mandolin and guitar, so it's a completely different play style) but I just want to ask a question or two on intonation, or more accurately tuning.
I am currently renting a low level clarinet with a view to buying it from John Packer in the UK (for those that know the store). When I play with a tuner in front of me the clarinet seems to play flat according to the tuner (korg digital chromatic) however it doesn't sound flat to my ears. I was having lessons until a few weeks ago, had to stop for financial reasons, but will start again soon. I did ask my teacher if I was playing in tune and she said I was, and when I played along with her when she played piano or clarinet, it sounded in tune, but I keep seeing advice that I should check intonation with a tuner, so was wondering if I'm doing something wrong, mebbe with the tuner or is it something to do with the clarinet being a transposing instrument.
Hope this makes sense.

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 Re: new player with intonation/tuning question
Author: Noqu 
Date:   2018-03-21 20:20

Hi Mike,

if you play in tune and it sounds in tune, I think all is well and if there is any problem at all, it is with the tuner ;-).

When you use the tuner, does it show all notes that you play equally flat, or are some flatter than others? If they are all the same, your tuner is probably just set to a different pitch.

And no, this does not have anything to do with the clarinet being a transposing instrument (the tuner might show you being a whole note flat, i.e. show a Bb when you play a C, but I assume that is not what you mean).

Greetings - noqu

Reply To Message
 Re: new player with intonation/tuning question
Author: MikeM70 
Date:   2018-03-21 21:16

Hi Noqu,

The tuner is pretty consistently flat.
I've done a bit of playing around and making small adjustments to my embouchure and that does seem to bring the note more into tune, so I guess this just needs more work. I'll keep at it, I'm sure sooner or later I'll get told I'm out of tune :D.

Reply To Message
 Re: new player with intonation/tuning question
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-03-21 21:29

What do you tune your mandolin and guitar to? If you have something that produces a known, correct pitch (another tuner properly calibrated that produces audible tones, a tuning fork, a phone app that plays tones), play that into the mic on the Korg. Many Korgs (and other tuners) have adjustments to calibrate to a range of reference frequencies. If you're shooting for A440 and the tuner is calibrated to A442, you'll obviously show flat on the tuner.


Reply To Message
 Re: new player with intonation/tuning question
Author: MikeM70 
Date:   2018-03-21 21:56

that's not a bad idea kdk. I have tried the tuner against some pitch pipes, but they also can be off. My metronome has a 440 drone, I'll try it against that.

Reply To Message
 Re: new player with intonation/tuning question
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-03-21 22:31

Playing in tune is 'relative', that is if everyone is flat the same amount it will sound fine. Eg. the piano is flat also.
Another thing to realize is that it is impossible to design or build a clarinet that is in tune with itself, so a good player is always changing a note up or down, by embouchure or using finger tricks to be in tune with other instruments. Play all the notes you know with the tuner and mark in cents where each note is. Reply back and someone here can answer with better information. There are common mis-tunings that have good solutions.

Reply To Message
 Re: new player with intonation/tuning question
Author: nellsonic 
Date:   2018-03-21 22:33


Post Edited (2018-03-21 22:34)

Reply To Message
 Re: new player with intonation/tuning question
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2018-03-21 22:56

If your teacher says you are in tune and it is across the board, try a different tuner, but don't EVER think a tuner is for anything but tuning to A440 or whatever you use. It's your ear that matters, not what the tuner says. A drone can be very useful if you know how to listen for beats. If you don't know how to listen for beats, it's a really good thing to learn.

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