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davidstimson

Tartini tones

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A couple of weeks ago, I started a thread in the pegbox called "undertones". When playing my new violin, I had been noticing that when I played double stops, a lower note could be heard plainly. The note changes depending on the interval between the two double-stopped notes. I also observed that the closer the interval, the lower the "undertone" would get, until it broke down into the familiar beats that occur as a result of interference patterns when two notes of slightly different frequency are played. This led me to hypothesize that the undertones that are heard as notes are also caused by interference patterns that are rapid enough to create an audible tone. I was able to verify this with one of the search engines on my computer. In the pegbox thread, Marie Brown responded and said that these undertones are called Tartini tones. I got a few other responses but my question wasn't really answered. Therefore, I will ask it here, with the hope that players who don't visit the pegbox will have an answer. My question is: Is the ability to produce strong undertones a desirable feature in a violin? It seems to me that it adds greatly to the percieved richness of tone, but I am not very experienced in such matters. While I'm at it, I'll ask another question: How many players are aware of these undertones, and their value in helping one to play in tune? I am fascinated by the subject, and hope to learn more...

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Hi there,

When I read your post I remembered an article that I had read years ago (it must be about 5 years) in Strings magazine on an Asian woman who was working with what she called "sub harmonics." (I don't remember ever hearing the term "Tartini tones.") I'm not sure if it was a Strings cover story or not, and have already searched for the article on their website without success. You might try giving them a call to see if they could help you find the back issue. (www.stringsmagazine.com) I have it, but it is in my home in the US and I am living in Europe now. The article was QUITE interesting, and she has 'perfected' a technique for singling out these low tones, if I remember correctly.

I always wanted to explore this further...those low tones are amazing, no? I'll be interested to know what you find.

Good luck,

Aria

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If you are talking about what I think you are then when I was studying violin seriously with the view to become a musician I was taught to use this phenomenon as a technique for achieving good intonation when playing double stops.

In chamber orchestra we would play Bach corals slowly for balance and intonation and you can hear this also when you get it spot on in tune playing as a group.

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I think it's safe to say that strong undertones are a good thing to have in your head. This relates to a favorite hypothesis of mine, regarding the possibly co-incidental presence of tinnitus in several acquaintances of mine who have pitch memory (aka "perfect pitch"). Has anyone done any research on this?

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In reply to:

This relates to a favorite hypothesis of mine, regarding the possibly co-incidental presence of tinnitus in several acquaintances of mine who have pitch memory (aka "perfect pitch").


I have a friend who has perfect pitch and suffers from tinnitus. Haven't done any research on it though. What's your hypothesis?

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I've used the Tartini tones (aka differentials) for work on intonation on double stops, and with another violinist. They're pretty cool. There was a very good thread on this (on the Fingerboard) several months ago if you do a search on either Tartini tones or differential. I don't know the definitive answer (if there is one!) about whether the ability to produce strong differentials is a desirable quality, but I would assume it would be desirable.

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Thanks, Fiddlefaddle, for bringing your medical expertise into this discussion. Do you know a quick pathway to whatever it is that good scientists claim as current belief about pitch memory? My experience is quite anecdotal; many of my "perfect-pitch" associates camplain of tinnitus. Of course, many of my nonperfect pitch associates also complain of tinnitus. So, in fact, would I, if I ever began to fear that I'd lost my ability to screen out the August cicadas that scream in my head year-round (not to be confused with June and July cicadas, who are altogether different, due to their undulations).

If I ever became convinced that my tinnitus is providing me with a reliable base line, an audial sort of north star, I might be inclined to try training myself to identify pitch by the "color", or spectral configuration (?), I hear when the real sound interacts with the mess in my head. That's sort of like the way I recognize pitches on the violin I've been using for the past twenty-five years. My accuracy at finding pitches in this way enabled me in the past to fool a couple of my pitch-remembering professors into thinking I might have a gift similar to their own, which I don't.

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