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Tuning and Time

Postby FarahShazam » Mon May 02, 2016 9:14 pm

2 topics that remain more important than just learning the tunes or long tones are rhythm and intonation. These 2 things remain a constant staple of pro life.


Upon learning tons of rep, I never considered intonation as a daily fundamental. The first thing I do before rehearsals or performing is playing intervals over a drone with a click track in this background. Being out of tune and not playing in the pocket is worse than hearing a bad sound in your ensemble. I have not heard a bad sound come out of a player who played in tune and in rhythm.

There are cello drones on iTunes. Get that, your phone with ear buds and a metronome in the background. With each chromatic drone, play a fundamental, then a 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th (be sure to lower the 3rd and 6th in major key, raised in minor keys), ended with an octave.

15min every day.

This process turned me into a caring section mate who was always listening to match. Its incredibly easy and will improve your playing.
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby Kory101 » Sat May 07, 2016 9:31 am

This.

Drones completely changed my playing. There are so many great resources out there. The Tune-Up System by Steve Cooley is another great one.

Something that really bothers me is seeing people play with tuners running on their stands and just try to play "in the green."

Learning the subtleties of your instrument and where the note your playing needs to sit in the chord is vital to being a great ensemble (and individual) player.
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby Stryk » Sat May 07, 2016 10:27 am

I'm playing an antiphonal brass part tonight that is in Gb. I am using my big Alex for that, so I "tuned" the horn to that key since I will be standing and can't access the slides while holding it. I just get that scale as close as I can with the digital tuner and leave the rest to my internal tuner.
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby Sharp » Sat May 07, 2016 8:15 pm

Kory101 wrote:Something that really bothers me is seeing people play with tuners running on their stands and just try to play "in the green."

Learning the subtleties of your instrument and where the note your playing needs to sit in the chord is vital to being a great ensemble (and individual) player.


Exactly.

I find this is something lost on a lot of players. Playing in tune with a tuner is absolutely helpful, but practically with an ensemble it cannot always relate because of the point you mention.

Another trap is folks who stare at the tuner and move around until it goes in the green - they don't engrain the habit of centering a note, let alone centering it in tune.

Not fun to play beside these types as it is always a mystery.

FarahShazam wrote:Edited for brevity - read the original post (again!)


Excellent post.

Eat... er, play your drones!
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby cmonte » Sun May 08, 2016 2:11 am

Can anybody compare the Tune-Up System by Colley to the Intonation Repair Tool by TKBB Press?
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby MaryAnn » Fri May 20, 2016 12:00 pm

I can't compare it but I have seen the Tune-Up system in action at a horn workshop. Three college horn players who were clueless about how to play major and minor chords in tune (had probably been using their tuners as advisors) were totally fixed in about fifteen minutes once given the fundamentals. It was spectacularly good.
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby the elephant » Fri May 20, 2016 1:56 pm

Another vote for Tune-Up.
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby bloke » Sun May 22, 2016 5:36 pm

Buy a guitar.
Tune it.
Do it again.
Do it again.
See if you can tune it without a tuner.
Try it again...
...and again...

Now tune it to Eb - Ab - Db - Gb - Bb - Eb.
Do it again.
Do it again.
See if you can tune it without a tuner.
Try it again...
...and again...

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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby iiipopes » Tue May 31, 2016 5:38 pm

To address the time component, I offer a study in Vierordt's law, which essentially says that we all have an internal tempo balancing point naturally occurring at @ 92 to 94 bpm, and we all want to gravitate towards that, slowing quicker tempos and speeding up slower tempos.

Here is a link to a RadioLab podcast that (after eight minutes discussing Beethoven tempi) explains and demonstrates how a person not aware of what Vierordt's law explains can foul up tempi:

http://www.radiolab.org/story/269783-speedy-beet/" target="_blank

I believe this is essential study for anybody whose primary job in an ensemble is to keep time, including percussionists, bass guitar players, double bass players, tuba players, etc. The explanation of this phenomenon is one reason why, in our beginning music lessons, we were taught how to subdivide the beat, and why even as accomplished musicians we must still subdivide. It's not just a matter of concentration, since this is a physiological phenomenon; it requires a structured awareness and a mechanism to apply the lessons learned.

And after working at it, no player should have any excuse of jumping the third beat in the second measure of the opening riff to Glenn Miller's arrangement of "Little Brown Jug."

And it may explain why the second movement in almost every symphony is an "Andante" movement: to help the players and the audience regroup after the traditional "Allegro" (or faster) first movement.
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby DaveWright » Mon Jul 04, 2016 10:39 pm

I spent time tuning my horn in every valve combination but it's all up for grabs when I start playing with a group, then I spend the rest of the gig tuning with them.
My worst nightmare came true when I giged with a piano player using a Yamaha keyboard with a faulty pitch changing wheel. We'd start a tune in C and end up in B natural, Try that for on the job training. Respond si vous plait.
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby LCTuba89 » Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:17 am

Not a professional tubist, but I agree with all the posts above. It really bothers me when people have tuners on their stands trying to stay in the green. I find its much easier to play in tune if you just listen to everyone around you. It's better for members of the ensemble to play in tune with each other rather than individual players trying to be tuner perfect. Rhythm is extremely important as a tubist, especially when you're doing the oompah bass lines like Sleigh Ride. It's easy to lose tempo playing the same thing over and over. Can't tell ya how many times the conductor scolded us for dragging the tempo.
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby Leland » Thu Jan 05, 2017 9:31 pm

Had a conversation with Rick (RDenney; ya'll know him) this week about both of these things. SO important.

We lived (and died) by the metronome where I used to work. We used tuners to get to a baseline, then listened all the time. Lots of chord work, too.
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby Tubanomicon » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:32 am

I play page 127 (Interval Studies) in the Arban's book three times during one of my daily practice sessions. The first time I play with a legato tongue, the second time I do breath attacks, and the third time I do natural slurs. I set the drone to the pedal note and change it according to each scale.
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby MaryAnn » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:45 pm

What do you say to someone who has a music ed (or even music not ed) degree who is a tuner on the stand type?
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby iiipopes » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:36 pm

MaryAnn wrote:What do you say to someone who has a music ed (or even music not ed) degree who is a tuner on the stand type?

Something like, "So...who was your sight screaming, ear straining and piano profanity teacher?"
(as a joke on sight singing, ear training and piano proficiency)
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby Leland » Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:00 pm

MaryAnn wrote:What do you say to someone who has a music ed (or even music not ed) degree who is a tuner on the stand type?

"Is the oboe still in tune with your tuner?"

Or just sit to their right and let my horn angle a little lower as the night goes on...
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby russiantuba » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:11 am

MaryAnn wrote:What do you say to someone who has a music ed (or even music not ed) degree who is a tuner on the stand type?


They should know about chord tunings, how if you are the minor third in a chord, if your tuner shows you are in tune, then you are 16 cents flat. Also, when they are at a contest, how will they tune when their students (or themselves) can't have a tuner on their stand, and have to rely on their ears instead of their eyes.
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby Leland » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:53 pm

russiantuba wrote:They should know about chord tunings, how if you are the minor third in a chord, if your tuner shows you are in tune, then you are 16 cents flat.

I figured out a demonstration for this. It's best in a small setting, though.

Get four tuners and two reasonably good players. Each player gets two tuners -- one facing each player, and the others facing outwards so they're viewable everyone else.

Have them play an easily-heard chord, like a fifth, but have them play so their tuners are pegged at exactly "0".

Then, take away one of the player-facing tuners. Now you've got three tuners: one pair facing the audience, and only one player can see his or her own tuner. The second player can't see a tuner at all.

Have them play the same chord, and have the player who can see a tuner stay at "0" while the second player listens and adjusts so the chord sounds good. The tuner showing the second player's pitch to the audience will make it easy to see how far away from "0" they have to play to make the chord sound correct.
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby swillafew » Sun Feb 26, 2017 3:09 pm

Clark Terry was talking between songs at a concert, and said, "Yes, we really can hear the grass grow".

How does it work for "perfect pitch" people when you push the notes around as the harmony changes? (Don't worry I have no idea).
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Re: Tuning and Time

Postby bloke » Tue May 16, 2017 12:53 am

swillafew wrote:Clark Terry was talking between songs at a concert, and said, "Yes, we really can hear the grass grow".

How does it work for "perfect pitch" people when you push the notes around as the harmony changes? (Don't worry I have no idea).


Numbers below do not imply that I view myself as any sort of "authority", but only that the topic (though all topics have something to do with "tuning") has changed.

1/ The tuning of the 21st Century (that sounds "right" to the overwhelming majority of western music listeners) is piano equal-temperament-plus-stretch tuning. An overwhelming majority/plurality/whatever of classical and popular music features (and is performed and reference-tuned with) a piano. Even when studio recordings of popular music do not feature a piano in the finished product, nearly always an equal-temperament/stretch-tuned piano (whether acoustic or synthetic) is used (and subsequent tracks are tuned to it) in the original (again: even if deleted) "work track".
2/ Pushing pitches around when the harmony changes isn't always a good idea...particularly when a pitch is sustained though several chords that contain the same pitch. Pushing pitches around when the harmony changes when accompanying a piano concerto (which is the most commonly found solo instrument with symphony orchestra - both in classical and pops concerts) also isn't a particularly good idea - for even more obvious reasons.
3/ I contend that playing "in tune" in equal temperament requires far more study of and learning of frequencies (as I'm not sure that pitch memory is as much of a so-called "gift" as it is learned...see my previous post in this thread) than does "unison-matching", "octave-matching", and "beat-elimination".
4/ If performing a bass tuba solo with an (equal-temperament-plus-stretch tuned) piano, it's probably a really good idea to tune one's instrument to A=439 at "forte" or "fortissimo" (as "louder" and "sharper" are brass instrument soulmates), because the lower-and-lower the pitches below the A above middle C (which is nearly always tuned to 440 hz. on a piano), the flatter-and-flatter a piano is tuned (again, via stretch tuning).
5/ If there is an isolated and exposed section of a piece (regardless of instrumentation) which is very chordal/tonal...or is (just another example, and sure, there are plenty more circumstances) a transcription of a Renaissance era composition with basic "pure" harmonies throughout, sure - barely move the thirds and sixths to eliminate the beats.
6/ Bach himself was one who, early on, wrote a set of compositions where "perfect interval" tuning systems simply would not work. It wasn't quite "equal temperament", but was something called "well temperament". Here's a brief article about "well temperament" (an early forerunner of "equal temperament", which delegated most of the tuning compromises to the most remote keys/intervals/pitches, but was not-at-all a system of equally-spaced intervals) which also features links at the bottom of the article to articles about other (mostly, "perfect"-interval-based) tuning systems:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Well_temperament

As intervals varied in "well temperament", playing in various keys throughout the circle of fifths was much more possible than with other tuning systems, but the more remote keys definitely were of a different harmonic character. (Many use the word "color".)
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