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George.
11-07-2012, 09:12 AM
Just spent some time in the bush, where I have long hot afternoons to play with the cello in the shade, and the wildlife seems not to mind when I play out of tune. My tutor is an iPhone app that shows the note you are playing. It's bloody hard to get it just right. I was wondering if anyone knew how in tune proficient musicians play (in other words, what is their average deviation from the exact note in hertz).

Couldn't find the answer on the Web, but surely the Bilge has experts in every subject. :d

BrianY
11-07-2012, 09:48 AM
The point is not to play every note perfectly in tune to an objective standard such as a digital tuner. Rather, it is to play perfectly in tune with everyone else you're playing with. If you're playing solo, then the goal is to play in tune to the notes preceeding and following the note you're currently playing. To do this, the only tool you need is your ears.

This is something that non-musicians (espcially engineer types) have a hard time comprehending. Musical pitch is ALWAYS relative and never absolute. For example, if you were to tune a piano to a digital tuner so that every note was "perfectly in tune" (i.e. each string was vibrating at the "proper" frequency) it would sound terribly "out of tune" when you played it.

Put your iPod away. Tune your cello to itself so that you have a good base to work off of and then LISTEN to what you're playing and adjust each note so that it is in tune to what came before it. You'll be much further down the road to "playing in tune" than you will be by looking at the tuner as you play.

"perfect pitch" is a curse because nothing is ever "perfectly" in tune. Perfect RELATIVE pitch is a blessing.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
11-07-2012, 12:28 PM
Lots of different answers - many different musicians - using many different scale forms with differing levels of accuracy.

Just about the only time you hope for spot-on technical accuracy is in the scales part of a music grade exam - outside of that its a constant set of compromises.

Google "the comma of pythagoras".

PhaseLockedLoop
11-07-2012, 12:58 PM
Question: In the equal tempered scale, each note is related to its surrounding notes by the 12th root of 2. I know that keyboards generally use this tuning. If one plays a chromatic scale on, say, a clarinet, will the notes correspond to the equal tempered scale?

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
11-07-2012, 01:02 PM
That depends entirely on how accurate the player is.

elf
11-07-2012, 01:20 PM
Clarinet? More so than violin. String instruments are completely flexible while properly manufactured wind and brass a lot less so.

Of course, the embrochure does affect the precise tuning, but on average it's nearly impossible to play a flute out of tune.

Look, playing in tune is tricky. Imagine being in the string section of an orchestra and having to tune every single note to every other string instrument in your section, or worse in the string section. And I mean 32nd notes and 64ths, not just quarters and eighths.

George, use your tuner to check your octaves. See how well you ear can direct your fingering hand to play scales, but don't expect any sort of good to result from attempting to force each pitch in the scale to fit to the tuner. Your overtones alone will drive you batty trying to do that. And, as some have pointed out, it's not the way music actually works.

BrianY
11-07-2012, 01:53 PM
Question: In the equal tempered scale, each note is related to its surrounding notes by the 12th root of 2. I know that keyboards generally use this tuning. If one plays a chromatic scale on, say, a clarinet, will the notes correspond to the equal tempered scale?

Don't know for sure about the clarinet but my guess (based on hearing many clarinettists play out of tune!) is that unless the player makes some adjustments the instrument will not be in perfect tune on every note of the chromatic scale. I think that that the clarinet's construction (as in all non-electronic instruments) is a likely a compromise that tries very hard to make every note inherently as close to the ideal equal tempered scale pitches as possible, but there is always some need for adjustment by the player.

I play the trumpet. There are certian notes/valve combinations that are always out of tune unless you make some adjustment (either with your lips or by manipulating the first and/or third valve slides). I know this to also be true of the french horn and tuba. The trombone doesn't have this problem...well, actually it has that problem on every note played on it because the pitches are determined by the position of the slide which the player constantly adjust (there are no fixed positions for the slide, only general positions).

An observation about tuning while playing: When playing with other people, a lot depends on what note you're playing in relation to what notes the others are playing. For example, if you're playing the third of a major chord with otherplayers playing the root and fifth, to get it to sound right, you usually need to lower the pitch slightly from where a digital tuner tells you it should be. What you're doing is essentially working in a "just intonation" system rather than a perfect equal temperment system without really being aware that you're doing so.

use your ears, not your eyes.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
11-07-2012, 02:45 PM
.....
Of course, the embrochure does affect the precise tuning, but on average it's nearly impossible to play a flute out of tune.

......

I gather you've never tried playing a flute against an electronic tuner - the degree of pitch flexibility shocked me - you can pull whole-tone bends without moving a finger.


How do you get two piccolos to play in unison?
Shoot one of them.

George.
11-08-2012, 05:02 AM
I knew I would find my answers here... :D

Quite a lesson there. So then, if I were to put the digital tuner next to Pau Casals playing Bach, he would be playing "out of tune?" By how much?

skuthorp
11-08-2012, 05:24 AM
My GF was a violinist and a fan of Sarasate, the Spanish violinist and he reckoned that you had to tune off the pitch a tad to get the right sound. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABm7nMVyNh4

Thread drift: George, there's a series coming up here on Brazil, fronted by Michael Palin of Monty Python fame.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
11-08-2012, 05:49 AM
I knew I would find my answers here... :D

Quite a lesson there. So then, if I were to put the digital tuner next to Pau Casals playing Bach, he would be playing "out of tune?" By how much?

If you actually want the answer :-
Rip the CD to .WAV
Take the .Wav into a suitable editor - Goldwave does on a PC - there are others.
Create a loop from the note which interests you.
Play the loop to the tuner.

Repeat ad nauseam.

The difference between two adjacent notes in a chromatic scale is a Semitone - this is traditionally divided into 100 "cents"

A medium picky bandmaster - with relatively skilled twelve year old musicians would be well pleased if everyone was within twenty cents.
A pro - dealing with professionals - is far more interested in the overall sound of the band and how well they gel.

Sometime soon you are going to realise that the adjectival phrase "Well Tempered" - implies the existence of others - have fun.

TomF
11-08-2012, 07:16 AM
One of the great gifts of playing something other than a keyboard instrument is that you can play with tuning, to suit your artistic purpose. And can play perfectly in tune in whatever key you happen to be using at the moment - in a way that even-tempered instruments can't. The kind of resonance you get when a string quartet plays a chord perfectly in tune in the key they're using is noticeably different from the resonance you'd get, even at the same volume, on say a piano.

You can also choose e.g. to sharpen leading tones in a phrase, or flatten a flatted 2nd or flatted 5th in a jazz bass line (arguably going more out of tune) to heighten the impact of resolving the dissonance. But you can't do that playing along with a piano or organ or etc., because you'll disagree with their fixed pitch.

But to play with pitch like that ... you have to be able to play in tune with your ears ... which is really the question you're asking. How "in tune" with that, with your intention, is "in tune"? Short answer is I dunno. :D I can tell, down to within a few hz when I focus on it ... and when people are out of tune with how the phrase oughta go by more than a few hz, it's maddening. and of course, if you use vibrato (don't, when practicing your scales btw.), you're pitch will vary a few hz flat of the named pitch half the time. And you'll vary the amount of the variation, depending on the musical effect you're after.

If you're using your tuner, try not so much to focus to restrict a certain scope of being in tune or out, but instead on learning to hear with greater and greater precision. Your fingers will follow your ears, though there will be a lag 'till your technique develops. Both will improve pretty swiftly though, in response to really focusing on listening ... and focusing on the ways of practicing which help you develop pitch stability. That is, playing slowly enough to give the pitch (and your correction of it) time to register, and with as blocky a L hand position as possible to reduce the possibilities for inaccuracy as you put your fingers down.

cheers!

BrianY
11-08-2012, 11:17 AM
So then, if I were to put the digital tuner next to Pau Casals playing Bach, he would be playing "out of tune?" By how much?


As much as necessary so that it sounds in tune.

Seriously - there's no set amount of deviation from "true" pitch and at that level of musicianship, the guy's not even aware that he's doing anything other than playing the music. It's not a calculated, pre-meditated thing where a performer says to himself "Now I need to raise this pitch here and lower that pitch there by exactly X cents". The human ear is not a digital tuner. Good musicians play and adjust so that the music sounds "right" and they really don't care about or even think about how much they're deviating from the objective standard of a tuner (unless they are deliberately trying to play pitches at certian tunings for certian specific effects).

May I ask why you are so curious about this subject?

TomF
11-08-2012, 11:23 AM
...May I ask why you are so curious about this subject?If I might, in George's absence ... a few months back, George got himself a cello. While he took some lessons initially, he mostly works in the field in the Amazon ... and his nearest teacher is in Rio. Even when he's home, Goerge lives on an island, away from any teacher. So he's largely teaching himself how to play.

Being a science and analyst dude, he's trying to sort out how to do that efficiently, considering.

PhaseLockedLoop
11-08-2012, 11:33 AM
One of the great gifts of playing something other than a keyboard instrument is that you can play with tuning, to suit your artistic purpose. And can play perfectly in tune in whatever key you happen to be using at the moment - in a way that even-tempered instruments can't. The kind of resonance you get when a string quartet plays a chord perfectly in tune in the key they're using is noticeably different from the resonance you'd get, even at the same volume, on say a piano.

Thanks--that's exactly what I wanted to be sure of.

BrianY
11-08-2012, 11:48 AM
If I might, in George's absence ... a few months back, George got himself a cello. While he took some lessons initially, he mostly works in the field in the Amazon ... and his nearest teacher is in Rio. Even when he's home, Goerge lives on an island, away from any teacher. So he's largely teaching himself how to play.

Being a science and analyst dude, he's trying to sort out how to do that efficiently, considering.

Ohhh...interesting.

If his tuner also plays the pitches audibly (as most of them do these days) he could set it to play the root of a scale while he plays the scale slowly, adjusting the notes as he plays so that they sound in tune to the root....that would be a good exercise for his ears. He could do the same thing for simple melodies - use the pitch produced by the tuner as a sort of drone to tune against. I don't know how much chord or interval excercises cellists do (trumpet players do LOTS of them) but that could also be helpful when doing those kinds of excercises

TomF
11-08-2012, 12:09 PM
Good idea. You can do double-stop exercises, playing a scale on one string while letting the adjacent string play like a drone. That would probably help quite a lot ... though doing fingered double stops (changing the notes on both strings, like playing a scale in 3rds or 6ths) is much more advanced stuff than George would be ready for. Hugely useful exercise for advanced students though.

My teacher used to have us play scales in octaves, in thumb-position. Going up was easier than going down, as my hand at least was always more consistent in contracting than expanding. Mr. Hunter used to demonstrate using a spiccato (bouncing) bow ... just sliding his hand in thumb position smoothly up and down the neck. And he'd coordinate his bouncing bow with his smoothly sliding thumb+4th finger to produce a perfectly tuned 2-octave scale ... in octaves ... whether lento or presto. The man was amazing.

Needless to say, I never got anywhere close! :D

High C
11-08-2012, 12:11 PM
Listen to Brian and Tom. They are describing the difference between an artist....and a craftsman. There are numerous occasions when a departure from "correct" intonation adds shine, or excitement to a musical line. Or to sharply define a change to a new key or mode.

Listen, listen, listen to the masters, and trust your own ears.

George.
11-08-2012, 12:41 PM
If I might, in George's absence ... a few months back, George got himself a cello. While he took some lessons initially, he mostly works in the field in the Amazon ... and his nearest teacher is in Rio. Even when he's home, Goerge lives on an island, away from any teacher. So he's largely teaching himself how to play.

Being a science and analyst dude, he's trying to sort out how to do that efficiently, considering.

That's it: a right brain/left brain thing... :D

Thanks, everyone. It is so frustrating, but I am at a phase where when I have access to your collective minds, I have no cello to try your tips, and when I have the cello there is no Internet.

Then again, it is kind of wonderful to spend time in a place with a cello and no internet...

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
11-08-2012, 01:43 PM
.....

Then again, it is kind of wonderful to spend time in a place with a cello and no internet...

Aye - but it struck me that cello + internet + skype might be a sound basis for distance learning.


Nice to HighC is still in play.

TomF
11-08-2012, 01:45 PM
Aye - but it struck me that cello + internet + skype might be a sound basis for distance learning.


Nice to HighC is still in play.I agree - on both counts. :D

ChaseKenyon
11-09-2012, 04:19 AM
Ok I guess I have to be a buttinski on this subject.

George, when I was teaching and tutoring the cello i had a few tricks for my students. It is how I went from 10th cellist and in three years challenged and moved up to inside first desk in the cello section of cellos which were a separate section from the fill in cellos next to the woodwinds. That was in U of Hartford's Hartt Colege of Music's Central CT and MA youth Orchestra. top rated HS students and college students average about 7 bass viols and 14 plus the ten fill cellos. Five French horns and four bassoons so it was a big orchestra.

The trick to it is your ability to adjust pitch of your notes played on the fly on individual strings and or play every note on multiple strings and positions.

I used to move my students up toward the front of the cello section annoyingly fast to the other cello teachers. THat ability is also imperative to your playing solo pieces either "a cappella" or accompanied. Here is how and why it works.

( this is easy to teach but hard to write and not have parts misunderstood)

The cello is tuned in fifths. A true fifth is not exactly true to a tuned by precise digital increments actual notes. Neither is a piano or a pipe organ when tuned professionally. The reason actually is very impressive with the pipe organ. (I started on the Hammond B3 at home and the mid sized Pipe organ at Hartt College o when I was five and switched to cello mid second grade) THe reason is the effects of harmonic amplification of notes in fifths cause IIRC by the movement and waves in the air column of the pipes. The increment of a perfect fifth (as to the actual air wave of the sound) causes a natural harmonic amplification bringing both notes up in actual volume and harmony and even more "largeness" in the hearing of it.

If you watch the rehearsals or the pre concert warm up of a symphony you will see the violas and most noticeably the cellos tuning a certain way. They will adjust the A string to match the oboe A. (oboes are almost always incapable of being tuned so we all adjust to them.) Then they will facing the instrument tune the rest of the pegs to fifths (sorta). Then turning the cello around to playing position they will play two adjacent strings at the same time open string notes. THey will grab the p;eg of the string they are tuning and move it clock and counter wise with more change in the note than the amount that a fine tuner can give. This crosses and recrosses the true fifth and triggers the bonus sound of a true fifth. Once each string is done they will check the bass C and tweak it for frequency (assuming they have "perfect pitch developed or natural) then starting from the C go back up tuning in fifths with left hand on pegs and knees holding the cello tight as the right hand bows two at a time. The second cellist first desk inside wil call for al to check in unison and tweak as needed to have the cello section in unison pitch. most good conductors let this go on for a while adn when done has a a "warm up" (tough short section with every body at at least semi forte volume) and then call for the oboe a second time. That is when the cellists make any minute twist of the fine tuners. All orchestra players run four fine tuners just for this reason. A soloist only needs one on the A string as all his or her tuning is done with double play of strings to fifths and and then go to three rolling form low to high and back a few times.

Now that we have the origins we can discuss how to implement this at the very beginning of a students learning of he cello.

Anything available a pitch pipe , even an electronic tuner gidget for the peg head. With the digital gizmo it is good to get one that can go down to a 432 hz A note. A at 440 was in the 1800s all teh masters string instruments Strad, Maggini all of them had to be modified from original with heavier bass bars for this and the neck angle had to be increased as well to compensate for the raise in pitch. This raise started in the Catholic and other churches to allow them to use a piano instead of the needing costly repair pipe organ for chorale adn other things. THat is why the chamber orchestra stayed so long and the harpsichord, tuned to match the violin to cello string by string stayed as well in the music rooms of the wealthy. If you have trouble getting your ear used to fifths at the 440 A Drop to A 432 for a while as the co enhancement of the two notes occurs in a wider bandwidth of pitch at 432.

So we have the A and we can get close with the tuner thingy and then go to the cello at playing position adn turn the pegs to get used to the fifths. When learning thumb positions with students that had minimal hand and finger strength I would tune them down as far as F on the A string to lighten the tension.

1 learn to twist the pegs to tune your cello in fifths while bowing it two strings at a time.

2 get used to tuning it up or down but to itself, you can use teh tuner thingy (I have a turn of the last century expensive full scale and flats and sharps pitch pipe that I inherited form my grandmother. You want to learn the sound of the the fifths at less than A 432 adn at 432 and at 440 and at 448. It is much easier to learn and develop "perfect pitch" of a self amplifying fifth than any single note. Learn the fifths for pitch not the individual notes they will come gradually.

3 play scales till you are ready to puke with an instrument tuned in the fifths.

4 Then play etudes and finger study exercises with the tuning. ( I have some oldy but goodies I can recommend and ship to you if needed)

5 play and practice some of the easier but good concertos and many sonatas available I will make you a list.

6 with two at least of the last mastered. You need to own them and add your subtle changes to the printed dynamics on the sheet music . Memorization is not required.

7 Time to go back to the scales and you should still be practicing them each day notes played on multiple strings and positions means at least four setts on the each scale minimum. But this time add a twist. Start with the D string and tune it up till the fifth goes sour. Now play the scales and skip the D and then play the scales and adjust your fingers on the fly on the D string to Compensate.. Do this for all strings. Go to the G string second an then the C. On the C, if it is sharp[ you can not fix the open string so go to a double stop of an octave up on the C (played to corrected pitch of course and the same time as playing C on the G string. the two strings together will hold the volume adn frequency of a mix in a orchestra or chamber group as to the rest of the instruments.

When that is mastered it is your first daily warm up.

8 Now add the etudes and do the same of pitch compensate on the fly with them. AS you are practicing this one you are big time arrived at the creating automatic muscle memory that does not require thought input. That makes us humans faster than a striking Cobra snake. (It is proven) You now are getting close to mastering the cello and can start to tackle much harder pieces, yes. But the big deal is any piece you play will amaze your listeners even Orchestra position challenge judges because you have mastery over the notes you are playing adn the confidence of playing the notes in the score in multiple places and on multiple strings. Even if all but one string pops on you and you are left with only that single string.

9 for the future we can start on real thumb positions. Witch means we hacve to go back and treat the notes we learn with the same methods to achieve mastery.

10 From the beginning in thumb positions master going back and forth from open to thumb strings. start with the concept isn your scales of thumbing A and G adn open D an reach across to finger the C at the thumb position while holding you thumb down on the A an G. At the same time start practicing your scales with switching to thumb but not putting it down from 1st position fourth finger on the finger board and run it up to at least T 5 you should be able to make the notes in all Thumb positions with out your thumb on the sting and finger board. So why not learn that from the beginning.

And if you go into a chamber group or orchestra practice playing your part that way. If you study this way you will have the ability if inter to site read almost as difficult a score as your best concerto.

This is the way many famous jazz and blues guitarists teach their students the whole instrument from the beginning.

Tom are you familiar with this teaching method as well as myself? If I have left some parts of the sequence out or missed the explanation please chime in.

Chase

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
11-10-2012, 01:30 PM
Chust for fun


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjOQac1vOEc

Sulic and Hauser.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
11-10-2012, 02:04 PM
Mnozil Brass! - playing in tune.....


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMQAqedLXTY

ChaseKenyon
11-10-2012, 03:50 PM
And on that note we have the long ago origins of "Heavy Metal". Edvard Greig's Peer Gynt "Hall of the Mountain King".


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGigthgbpDI

It really needs to be heard on headphones or pumped out to a good speaker and amp system.

:D:D:D

ChaseKenyon
11-12-2012, 04:28 PM
Tom? George? anyone?

Can we keep this thread for music going?

I have a total Fail at keeping the music threads I start going.

One bad day with the back and all and I forget to check on the thread adn boost it with a few more posts.

TomF
11-12-2012, 09:26 PM
Tom? George? anyone?

Can we keep this thread for music going?

I have a total Fail at keeping the music threads I start going.

One bad day with the back and all and I forget to check on the thread adn boost it with a few more posts.No trouble, Chase - just got distracted by abortion, and Miles Davis. :D :D

I've tried reading through your suggestions on my blackberry ... and it is a bit too much to take in on the tiny little screen. I agree though that playing exercises - and scales - against an open string is very useful ear training. Will be very helpful to George.

I'm trying to think of the repertoire he should best work on as a beginner, without a teacher's insight and correction. I could prolly find some early books to ship down, but much of it of course really only rewards the player optimally when playing with an accompanist. Bach's too much for him as yet, though with some time put in he could start on the G major suite. I just don't want him to get in over his head with string crossings etc. for a while yet. He'd do well with transcriptions of some of the big "tunes" from classical music - Handel's Largo etc.

leikec
11-12-2012, 09:35 PM
Listen to Brian and Tom. They are describing the difference between an artist....and a craftsman. There are numerous occasions when a departure from "correct" intonation adds shine, or excitement to a musical line. Or to sharply define a change to a new key or mode.

Listen, listen, listen to the masters, and trust your own ears.

Great advice from everyone.

George, music is pass/fail--it either sounds good or it doesn't. Trust your ear and you will be fine.

Jeff C

Chip-skiff
11-12-2012, 09:59 PM
Chase's response is wonderfully detailed and knowledgeable. I don't know the cello, but love the sound of one.

As a player of fretted instruments (guitar, banjo mandolin, etc.) and frequent performer, I found that it was best to tune my A to a standard pitch (pipe or tuner) and do a check with the other players. But from there I had to tune the guitar using fretted 4th intervals (not 5ths as on the violin family and the mandolin) and harmonics. Once I got each string in tune with respect to the adjacent strings, I would check them with the A reference.

The next step was to temper the high strings (the B and E in standard tuning) to sound right when I played common chords. On my favorite stage guitar, this meant flatting the high E string slightly to get a pure sound on a D chord in first position. The slight discord one hears when chording a precisely-tuned instrument owes to the mechanical aspects such as differential stretching of strings when fretted and the variation in the diameter of each string. It's not possible to build a guitar that will yield perfect pitches on every string in every position and chord.

So I would retune slightly according to the dominant key of the piece we were playing. The physical constraints of stringed instruments without frets are similar, but players can compensate by adjusting the fingering by ear as they go.

TomF
11-12-2012, 10:12 PM
The slight discord one hears when chording a precisely-tuned instrument owes to the mechanical aspects such as differential stretching of strings when fretted and the variation in the diameter of each string. It's not possible to build a guitar that will yield perfect pitches on every string in every position and chord. ...

...The physical constraints of stringed instruments without frets are similar, but players can compensate by adjusting the fingering by ear as they go.exactly - and one of the great pleasures of playing a fretless instrument ... if played well!

pipefitter
11-13-2012, 03:09 AM
I found these guys a year or so ago on youtube. They do some neat things with pianos and cellos.

The Piano Guys.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rR94NDIfGmA