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tuning

Postby bloke » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:43 am

There is one bass trombone player, in particular (and I am fond of all of those with whom I work), with whom I never have to accommodate - in respect to tuning - in any way. It's nearly other-worldly, in regards to ease of doing my job.

We had a brief conversation about tuning (which, frankly, was prompted by yet another of my compliments and expressions of gratitude towards them).

They told me that they were once in a room with someone who (a "tuning" authority) was doing a lecture on "tuning"...a person who went into great detail regarding the tuning of 3rds, 6ths, 5ths, etc...
Towards the end of the lecture, they (miscalculating...??) reached out to my friend for their comments. According to my always-soft-spoken friend, the response to the lecturer was, "If something is out-of-tune, fix it. Let's go to lunch."
Last edited by bloke on Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: tuning

Postby Ken Crawford » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:50 am

Tuning is innate. If you have to discuss the act of tuning with those playing around you things aren't going to be in tune. The most out of tune groups spend the most time tuning.
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Re: tuning

Postby bloke » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:52 am

Ken Crawford wrote:Tuning is innate. If you have to discuss the act of tuning with those playing around you things aren't going to be in tune. The most out of tune groups spend the most time tuning.
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Re: tuning

Postby Three Valves » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:54 am

bloke wrote:They told me that they were once in a room with someone who (a "tuning" authority) was doing a lecture on "tuning"...a person who went into great detail regarding the tuning of 3rds, 6ths, 5ths, etc...
Towards the end of the lecture, they (miscalculating...??) reached out to my friend for their comments. According to my always-soft-spoken friend, their response was, "If something is out-of-tune, fix it. Let's go to lunch."


I can tell which one has, aspires to have, or is studying for, a D.M.A. and which isn't...
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Re: tuning

Postby lost » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:28 pm

Ken Crawford wrote:Tuning is innate. If you have to discuss the act of tuning with those playing around you things aren't going to be in tune. The most out of tune groups spend the most time tuning.


Completely agree. I used to say, "the more you talk about it, the worse it gets."
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Re: tuning

Postby Ace » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:46 pm

Speaking of being in tune, I dislike vocalists with very wide vibratos-------rapidly moving back and forth above, on, and below the pitch. This means that they are bound to be in tune part of the time. Ha.

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Re: tuning

Postby bort » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:53 pm

Three Valves wrote:I can tell which one has, aspires to have, or is studying for, a D.M.A. and which isn't...


As a current PhD student (NOT in music), that was the first thought in my mind as well. Wrong audience (that one person, at least!)

Side note: I've always thought this is the hardest thing about being a musician -- you KNOW what it's supposed to sound like, it's just a matter of DOING it, and doing it CONSISTENTLY. Then again, that's what separates amateur and professional players.
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Re: tuning

Postby bloke » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:36 pm

At the risk - here - of being precisely the type being discussed, I "study" equal temperament when I practice.
(i.e. "play and glance occasionally at the tuner" - checking myself).

It's easy to play in-tune with (as referenced above) really superb musicians, but when hired to play with "pretty good" musicians, it's really handy to (having "studied" the sounds of pitches - striving to learn them) "know where things are".

I suspect that "perfect pitch" (i.e. "born with") is bunk. I tuned guitars so many thousands of times, that - even to this day - I can pull a #1 e string to with a cent-or-so (particularly if the string is a "fresh" string, and rings with nice harmonics) of ref. 440. I "learned" the sound of an e, and was not "born" knowing the sound of an e.

POST SCRIPT (EDIT)
More often than it occurs to us, we perform music along with keyboard instruments. Equal temperament (and hybrid equal temperament) skills are really important, and not just the ability to "tune intervals".
Last edited by bloke on Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: tuning

Postby doublebuzzing » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:24 pm

Ken Crawford wrote:Tuning is innate. If you have to discuss the act of tuning with those playing around you things aren't going to be in tune. The most out of tune groups spend the most time tuning.


Ahh, brings me back to HS where we would sit around tuning the brass group for 20 minutes and still be out of time 5 minutes later.
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Re: tuning

Postby windshieldbug » Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:37 am

For students, attention to Equal Temperament (most tuners) must be learned in order to determine the pitch tendencies of their horns. From there Pure Temperament must be felt. Nobody can analyze a piece on the fly to know which chord interval they have and make the “proper” adjustments. Moreover, these adjustments are so slight that one either feels it or they don’t. :shock:
Working with a bass trombone who “gets it” is a very rewarding experience, and one finds that you’ll never sound better as a result... :tuba:
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Re: tuning

Postby bloke » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:12 am

bloke-edited windshieldbug wrote:
Working with a symphony orchestra that “gets it” is a very rewarding experience, and one finds that you’ll never sound better as a result... :tuba:


There are more "tuning factors" in play than most ever realize. So-called keyboard-style "stretch tuning" (I sincerely believe) also subconsciously/unconsciously comes into play in the best large ensembles.

back to the topic:
Were there a theoretical tuba player who ~always~ played dead-on in tune in "equal temperament" and who ~never~ budged from there for ~any~ chord, others in their ensemble would view that tuba player's intonation as "magnificent"...See the asterisk * in the following sentence.
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ugly-ish truth: A commonly-found thing (throughout the $0 to $XXX,XXX annual remuneration spectrum) is "tuning issues" with tuba players, *with the low pitches and (via the nature of the instruments) not-as-focused sound as the rest of the orchestral instruments being the saving graces.
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Re: tuning

Postby timothy42b » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:13 am

Do you adjust to the bass trombone?

When playing trombone in ensemble, I tend to listen for the tuba pitch. (provided of course they are playing what sounds in tune to my ear)

The tone of both tuba and bass trombone makes a difference in how easy it is to tune with them. There's something about the focus - with some players I can match pitch easily, others leave me confused.
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Re: tuning

Postby bloke » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:28 am

Of the string sections with which I work, I get to play with one really great string section.
The string section is the "actual" orchestra, with all of the rest of us being "supporting forces".
Due to the strings being "it"...and that particular group of string players being superb...and that particular hall offering acoustics where it is really easy to hear everything on stage, I "tune" (if any adjustments are needed...) to (and take all other cues from) the strings. I also phrase "donuts" (within indicated dynamics) with the strings. I suspect, that's what happens across that particular orchestra...(??)
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Re: tuning

Postby Doc » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:38 am

windshieldbug wrote: Nobody can analyze a piece on the fly to know which chord interval they have and make the “proper” adjustments.


Tell that to a top shelf barbershop quartet. Yes, tuning is slightly different than brass playing, but they know exactly where they are, and they also have the innate ability to simply adjust when necessary (as it should be for all of us). Of course, they completely analyze the harmony of performance pieces and practice plenty.

Moreover, these adjustments are so slight that one either feels it or they don’t. :shock:


Agreed. Once a student has a basic understanding of what being in tune really means, self-adjustment should become second nature.

Working with a bass trombone who “gets it” is a very rewarding experience, and one finds that you’ll never sound better as a result... :tuba:


AMEN!

One of the bass bones I used to work with was a huge fan (as was I) of the sound of Kleinhammer and Jacobs, particularly that same octave, sounds-like-a-single-instrument, split the heavens, brass-balls-that-drag-the-ground sound. Needless to say, being on the same page conceptually sure made for some great concerts and shows. We played in tune, on time, like one instrument instead of two, and it was quite addictive. Methinks playing in tune (and just paying attention in general) was the biggest key to making that work.

bloke wrote:Were there a theoretical tuba player who ~always~ played dead-on in tune in "equal temperament" and who ~never~ budged from there for ~any~ chord, others in their ensemble would view that tuba player's intonation as "magnificent"...See the asterisk * in the following sentence.


If playing an unaccompanied/piano accompanied solo or making an audition tape (or singing the melody in barbershop), equal temperament is fine as long as you are actually in tune with yourself or the piano. For everything else, you still have to play in tune. The bottom line for all playing is: Play it in tune. Make it sound good.

bloke wrote:ugly-ish truth: A commonly-found thing (throughout the $0 to $XXX,XXX annual remuneration spectrum) is "tuning issues" with tuba players, *with the low pitches and (via the nature of the instruments) not-as-focused sound as the rest of the orchestral instruments being the saving graces.


You can still hear the problem, despite the saving graces. You'd think top-tier professionals wouldn't succumb to vagaries of tuba intonation as do the rest of us mortals, but it happens. Playing upright bass is very similar. The music I play requires a more old school round sound, not such a clear, pointed, growly, midrangey jazz sound. That rounder, less-focused sound helps cover any intonation boo-boos I may have, and I'm certainly happy for the help. :mrgreen:
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Re: tuning

Postby Three Valves » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:47 am

I have only recently noticed, that alternative fingerings for the hi-C,D and Db are required in some key signatures but not in others in order to "sound" in tune with myself.

Could my sense of pitch actually be getting better?? :shock:
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Re: tuning

Postby bloke » Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:09 am

What I was implying was that some theoretical unwavering equal temperament ~would~ be far superior to "random from-one-tuba-to-the-next intonation characteristics, combined with "going sharp when loud" and "going flat when soft"...

...i.e. "stuff I hear in performances and recordings"
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Re: tuning

Postby bigboymusic » Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:11 am

I have been very lucky with my bone sections over the years...

There was a set of concerts that I played with a bass boner that had a tuner on his stand the whole time.... That was HORRIBLE..... He 'knew' he was in tune because he watched the dial....

Kill me now...
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Re: tuning

Postby Doc » Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:52 am

bloke wrote:What I was implying was that some theoretical unwavering equal temperament ~would~ be far superior to "random from-one-tuba-to-the-next intonation characteristics, combined with "going sharp when loud" and "going flat when soft"...

...i.e. "stuff I hear in performances and recordings"


I wasn't out of tune with your statement, I was merely outside the changes a little. :tuba:
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Re: tuning

Postby bloke » Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:59 am

Doc wrote:
bloke wrote:What I was implying was that some theoretical unwavering equal temperament ~would~ be far superior to "random from-one-tuba-to-the-next intonation characteristics, combined with "going sharp when loud" and "going flat when soft"...

...i.e. "stuff I hear in performances and recordings"


I wasn't out of tune with your statement, I was merely outside the changes a little. :tuba:


That was a perfect pitch, Bill.

reminder to others:
We (individually, in small ensembles, and in large ensembles) manage to play in tune with fixed-pitch (hybrid versions of) equal temperament instruments all the time. They are known as pianos, electronic keyboards, and (some, completely depending on who set them up) pipe organs.
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Re: tuning

Postby swillafew » Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:34 pm

I had conductor in school once who was obsessed with blending each section, and pitch discrepancies were beaten out of us like a disease. The time investment was huge, and the blend and pitch were what you'd expect after all that trouble. Our tuba sectionals were devoted to playing whole note major scales until we sounded like one person.

In the same term I was a guest in another ensemble at a different school, where no time was spent on such matters. The music sounded like somebody banging on pots and pans.
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