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joker973921

Intonation

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Hi Jeff,

Maybe by not only listening but also knowing what to hear. Some people listen but don't hear what they should hear. If you have double notes can you detect a third interfering tone? That can be trained if you know that there is more.

Intonation is also hearing the harmonics in the whole concept of the piece.

In an orchestra intonation is the main part of the musical creation. If a member only plays its/her notes than the music is dead and will not sound.

Playing music is static, making music is active, a recreation of what the composer wrote down.

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Record your playing and listen to the playback. Note the intonation errors, and play piece again, recording again. Repeat until intonation sounds ok. Do this with scales, etudes, and pieces.

You will hear intonation problems in the playback that you go used to and ignored while playing live.

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There is even a way to use a tuner that reduces its evil to a narrow envelope.

Put the tuner to the side where you can't see it unless you look at it. Then practice intervals, scales, whatever, slowly, trying to get each note exactly right and only checking the tuner when YOU have judged the note as best you can to be correct.

Yes you are 'merely' learning equal-tempered intonation this way, but by the time you can nail these notes to the tuner's satisfaction your ear and ability to pay attention will have developed enough to make other standards of intonation less problematic.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
skiingfiddler

Record your playing and listen to the playback. Note the intonation errors, and play piece again, recording again. Repeat until intonation sounds ok. Do this with scales, etudes, and pieces.

You will hear intonation problems in the playback that you go used to and ignored while playing live.

Have to agree with this method - the other thing you will probably notice is that your bowing also needs attention to truly get that smooth seemless sound you "think" you are producing until you hear yourself. It's like seeing a video recording of yourself - it can be quite a shock - our perceptions of our perfromance and the reality.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Andres Sender

There is even a way to use a tuner that reduces its evil to a narrow envelope.

Put the tuner to the side where you can't see it unless you look at it. Then practice intervals, scales, whatever, slowly, trying to get each note exactly right and only checking the tuner when YOU have judged the note as best you can to be correct.

Yes you are 'merely' learning equal-tempered intonation this way, but by the time you can nail these notes to the tuner's satisfaction your ear and ability to pay attention will have developed enough to make other standards of intonation less problematic.

Oh no, not a tuner. This is the worst you can do!

And don't tune your violin with the aid of a tuner you are destroying your intonation skills. Tuners never are correct. Start with a tuning fork of 440 HZ as a reference. If it does not matter if the A is not 440 Hz, don't use it at all! Start tuning your violin and listen till all strings are correct. This is the way you should train your hearing system and musical feeling.

And finally: sell your mechanical or electronic tuner. Throw it away before it's too late.

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DV, there is not solely one 'correct' intonation, so although in one sense it is true that a tuner is "never correct", in another sense it is a very misleading statement - a piano is 'never correct' either. Correct intonation is always a matter of context.

'Just use your ear' is ultimately an empty instruction. You can use your ear if your ear is already trained, but one doesn't learn good intonation in a vacuum. Pitches must work in a given context with reference to a given standard (harmonic, melodic, 'in tune' with another instrument, etc.). Often people use a piano for training in intonation, which as we all know is even less 'correct' than a tuner. There is no practical difference between using a tuner in the manner I described and using a piano.

Whatever intonation standard you first learn, it is actually the development of one's ability to discriminate fine differences and conform to a standard that matters, since one will always have to adjust one's intonation to suit the context in which one is playing. The method I suggested challenges and develops the ear's ability for fine discrimination of pitch quite well, and sidesteps the one real problem with tuner use, that of passive "tuning by eye"--which does indeed result in a lazy ear.

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I agree that training the ear by fine descrimination of pitch is essential. The feedback warning that what you are playing is off-target must eventually be by your ears alone unless you want objects thrown at you or glowers from a conductor!

I find that tuning the instrument and verifying intervals using the other strings and their harmonics to be a very strong method. This is aural rather than visual which is more helpful. It trains the player to check the intonation at the most regular intervals during scale and arpeggio practice and also when learning new pieces especially in more demanding position.

This can be achieved by testing a stopped note against a well tuned open string an octave lower or forming a basic chord (3rd, 4th, 5th). Training to tune the violin in 5ths is also good for ear development.

The progression is learning first to hear the dischord then the beat frequencies then the conchord then recognition of how quickly adjustment can be made by tuning or shifting the stopped position.

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Last year before my lessons started, I noticed that every violin player played the same "tune" when they first picked up their violin. Then the tune seems to be very short, but quite pleasant nonetheless. Later, I realized that actually the violin players were tuning their instruments, not playing any tune. [Well, they were all "messing" with their pegs when they played that little "tune".] Therefore, I suspected that there should be a defacto universal tuning method. Is there any such thing?

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Electronic equipment helps, such as a Korg tuner.  I would say

that the microphone is the best critic.  Another idea is to

play sometimes with piano (assuming the piano is in tune, of

course).  A lot of quartet players have relatively decent

intonation because they are constantly forced to adjust to one

another, so that gets back to the idea that intonation is not an

'absolute' thing in a 'vacuum', it's all about the context.

It's possible to start a scale in Ab and end in A and

if you are being very sneaky about it, no one will know.

 There's an anecdote I heard from Charles Castleman about

Francescatti--he was playing a recital starting with the Prelude

from the Bach 3rd Partita.  As we all know, it's in E major.

 Well, Zino accidentally started a little high, on an F.

 (!!!).  But over the course of a few bars, he gradually

tempered his pitches and brought it back down to E major again.

 Pretty cool.  He obviously had very good control over

fingerings. Ricci says, and I think rightly so, that

open string drones are a good way to check for intonation.  He

has a good book you might already have or can pick up called Left

Hand technique.  

best wishes,

Lisa

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Before you play a scale, "set up" your ear by finding each of the scale notes in descending order of what one of my students calls "shiningness": first find all of the tonics (home base, 1, Do), then the tonic-plus-dominant (1,5,1,5, Do-Sol) then the chord (1,3,5), then the pentatonic scale (1,2,3 5,6), then, finally, add the half-step "leaner" notes (leading tones). THEN when you play the full scale, your ear will be looking for those internal relationships.

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Hi all,

I am not sure you all have understood the original poster's question. "Basic intonation" or "the refined

intonation"? The "refined one" most of you are talking about may not the original poster wanted to

hear.

What is the basic one? Like the piano. Can you play your violin in tune just like a piano (basic intonation)?

Basic: Two half steps = one step.

Refined: Two half steps is more than one step.

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Yuen,

Taking the basic one: the piano. There's no possibility to refine one's intonation because all keys have their frequencies 'below' it. Nothing can be done to correct for the intonation. The frequencies are determined by its tuner. The same holds for all key-instruments: piano, organ, accordeon etc. IMO these instruments are not the best to learn to improve the intonation. Basic intonation is the basic feeling one has with music. We all are able to whisstle a known tune and most of us are able to detect false notes. It's a gift from our Creator.

That's the basic. But now the question how to improve? On a piano you said "two half steps equals one whole". But that's the eseential problem here because it creates wrong intonations in some cases.

Just by learning to listen and trying to correct where needed one can improve one's intonation. And that can't be done on a piano.

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My true feeling (or observations) is that music teachers themselves do not know the difference.

They correct students's false notes by hitting a piano key (white or black), saying

"lower" or "higher" (when stuents' playing is half step off, not the

case that their notes are not sharp enough or flat enough)

It is not to condemn them laking of intonations. They play well (in tune) because they "know" the notes.

They do hit the right notes (right spots, if fretless).

Singing (voice) does not have that problem. (but the piano lead the singer? How come?)

My guess just a rough guide. Is not it?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
yuen

.......................My true feeling (or observations) is that music teachers themselves do not know the difference.

They correct students's false notes by hitting a piano key (white or black), saying

"lower" or "higher"
(when stuents' playing is half step off, not the

case that their notes are not sharp enough or flat enough)

..........

Here you hit the nail: as long as the teacher advises to get lower or higher the student will not learn anything else than to shift his/her finger in the wanted direction. This has nothing to do with learning to intonate. When teachers don't change this way of teaching the student needs a very long time to reach the point of using the ears instead of using the shifting of fingers.

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I actually wanted to know how to improve my intonation on the violin. I remember reading something in a book about Dorthy Delay and how she empasizes listening to intervals prior to playing a scale---similar to pandora's response. I think my questions were answered. I was looking for ways to improve my ear so that I would be play more in tune. When I posed my question, I did not consider the notion of basic or refined intonation. I guess this was poor use of language on my part. So, thanks everyone for your responses. If there are any other ways of improving your ear that will help intonation, please let me know.

Jeff

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Many violinists do exactly as Dorthy Delay said in the book. That is, play the scale

of the particular key first, right before they play the piece of the music. The ears of

the violinist have just finished listening the scale. Fresh in their memory. (except those soloists who do not have the chance to play the scales in public first, they may not need it) . So good avice but it works only for practice.

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I highly recommend purchasing an ear training cd and working on relative pitch. if you spend ten minutes a day working on intervals, you'll be surprised at how quickly your intonation improves. When you start thinking of the notes on the page in terms of intervals, rather than just notes that are usually in xxx location on the fingerboard, your playing will really open up.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
nola

I highly recommend purchasing an ear training cd and working on relative pitch. if you spend ten minutes a day working on intervals, you'll be surprised at how quickly your intonation improves. When you start thinking of the notes on the page in terms of intervals, rather than just notes that are usually in xxx location on the fingerboard, your playing will really open up.

That should also be an endorsement for the use of movable do solfege, which considers notes in terms of intervals in the same manner. There are also certain qualities of resonance one can listen for, though I wouldn't be able to explain it.

Does the ear training CD work together with the violin, or something that you do separately from it? Would a "D" sound slightly different according to what scale it sits in, or is it always the same?

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It depends on what level you have reached...in the early years

playing in tune with a piano or computer or tuning device is

perfectly fine...granted playing in tune with a piano may be

musically "inadequate" in a true "violinistic" sense...nevertheless

if you can sound as good as a piano then you will be able to

perform far better than most "violinists" and the average listener

won't know the difference...as you progress the individual notes

have to be studied more acutely within the context of the scale and

the chord...and ultimately intonation has to be determined within

the context of the musical phrase as well as within the context of

the harmonic structure of the piece.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
stillnew
quote:


Originally

posted by:
nola
I highly recommend purchasing an ear

training cd and working on relative pitch. if you spend ten minutes

a day working on intervals, you'll be surprised at how quickly your

intonation improves. When you start thinking of the notes on the

page in terms of intervals, rather than just notes that are usually

in xxx location on the fingerboard, your playing will really open

up.

That should also be an endorsement for the use of movable

do solfege, which considers notes in terms of intervals in the same

manner. There are also certain qualities of resonance one can

listen for, though I wouldn't be able to explain it. Does the ear

training CD work together with the violin, or something that you do

separately from it? Would a "D" sound slightly different according

to what scale it sits in, or is it always the same?

The cd that I used (and I unfortunately can't find the darn thing

right now), it was just an easy computer program that played

intervals over and over again and let you guess them.  It

basically works like auditory flash cards.  You were able to

set the pitches to a couple of different midi instruments, but

really it should work for any instrument (assuming standard tuning

-- but if someone knows of a program for other stuff i'd love to

have it.  might help me with some of those ives quarter-tone

pieces!).  Personally, I'm not a fan of solfege.  If I

must use something like that, I'd rather number the pitches 1-12.

 Or perhaps call them by the name of their position on the

scale.  

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quote:


The cd that I used (and I unfortunately can't find the darn thing

right now), it was just an easy computer program that played

intervals over and over again and let you guess them.  It

basically works like auditory flash cards....

These are good for learning to recognize intervals. I worked through www.goodear.com (hope I remember the URL right) and I think there are a few other online programs that act like auditory flashcards. These are indeed good.

quote:


Personally, I'm not a fan of solfege.  If I

must use something like that, I'd rather number the pitches 1-12.

 Or perhaps call them by the name of their position on the

scale.  

Are we talking about the same kind of solfege? There is the kind that simply substitutes the pitch names C, D, E with "do re mi". G is always "sol" regardless of key signature, just like G is always G. So in C major, G is G, and sol is sol. In G major, G is still G, and sol is still sol. They refer to pitches. That's not the one I mean.

In "movable do" (maybe called solemnization?) "do" starts at the tonic. So in C major, the first note © is called "do". In G major, the first note (G) is called "do". It's the first way I learned to think of music, and if I want to recall what a perfect fifth sounds like, I think "do sol" automatically. It has nothing to do with pitch, and everything to do with intervals as they occur in a scale. One can think of a scale as a melody that is always the same regardless of the key it is played in. In that melody, as I understand it, some intervals tend to be closer or further apart. I seem to remember that the 7th & 8th note (ti do) tend to be a tight minor second interval, but mi-fa (3rd & 4th notes in scale, also a minor second) would not be as close together. (musicians, help out). The "melody" sings itself in your head, and that helps with playing the scale in tune.

quote:


Or perhaps call them by the name of their position on the scale.

That would be the principle of the solfege I'm talking about. I suppose it doesn't matter whether you think "do sol" (C G in C major; G D in G major etc.) or "1 5" - you have the interval within the scale.

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OK, folks, here comes my .02

First, the whole idea of Suzuki (and most everyone else who has

thought seriously about string pedagogy)  is that it's mistake

to start a beginner out on some poor excuse for good technique and

ask them to switch to the "real way" later, right? An aligned left

hand, a fluid right, these are worth going for from the beginning,

yes?

Humans have been singing since we developed vocal cords, and we've

been singing a certain set of pitches in the western world for a

long time, because those pitches satisfy a deep recognition of

certain mathematically pure relationships. (Maybe it was

imposed/implanted by the Greeks and doesn't really come natural,

but that's a different argument.) The piano came along a lot later

and acquired its own particular tuning as a way to deal with its

own time/place/genre specific issues.

Yes, we violinists in the end need to understand/use all three

types of scales: tempered, Pythagorean, and "artistic", and yes we

do need to pick one to start with, but:

I THINK ITS A MISTAKE TO START WITH THE TEMPERED ONE

We think it's a good starting place because it's "consistent" --

i.e., the "notes are always in the same place", which means we put

our fingers in the same place every time too.

Wouldn't it be better, perhaps, to go for a different type of

consistency, i.e:

PUT YOUR FINGERS WHERE THEY NEED TO GO IN ORDER TO FULFILL EACH

NOTE'S TRUE "DESTINY" or "PERSONALITY" ?

Our left hands are not static, and the shape of or fingers as they

touch down is ALWAYS subtly changing depending on what string we've

come from or are going to, where the other fingers are, etc., so a

tempered scale isn't even going to help that much in training

finger placement.

What we're really doing is holding in our head what we want to

hear(singing it) and then trying to fulfill that

internal song. Why sing out of tune for years?

Beginners, both adults and children, are ABSOLUTELY capable of

perceiving these "personalities". Give a seven year old a D scale

and s/he can tell you that

D shines, "stands

tall", is vertical, anchors -- the "General."

E stands vertical

but not as tall, and can point either back to D or up to #F

#F stands, is high and wide,

expansive and shimmery, it "reaches up tall"

G leans back down

against #F wants to fall back onto it. Is NOT "vertical"

A shines tall,

almost as much as D, and is the other anchor point - the

"Lieutenant."

B is stable and CAN

go back to A, but also can lean a bit, reach up to...

#C which leans a LOT, is

unstable, wants dearly to get to ...

D  the shining anchor

again.

I had a beginning student come in after the first week of playing

both the D and A scales (top strings only) and say:

"There must be something wrong with me, when I play the A scale my

second finger goes right on the C# tape, but when I play the D

scale it doesn't sound right unless I sneak it a little higher. Am

I just weird?"

He was the first student I had taught to "hear the personalities"

when he first started, and now I do it with everybody - the

vocabulary changes with kids vs. adults, but not much!

Another payoff : later on the idea of resolved/unresolved phrases

makes total sense, and leads to a visceral understanding of WHY we

put ritards/accents/breaths in certain places.

Try it. Try playing the following patterns as you warm up, BEFORE

you play the whole scale: (do as many octaves as your skill

allows)

openD...high D ...third position D .. up, then down again

now go D A D A

Now slowly build up the pentatonic:  DED....DE#FED...

 DEF-A-FED.... DEF-ABA-FED....

 DEF-AB-highD-BA-FED...

Then play DEFGFGFGFGFG and listen to how they "lean."

Do the same thing with ABCDCDCDCDCD.

NOW play the whole scale. Are the relationships still there? If

they're not, you'll hear the missing flavor in a hurry.

And yes, stillnew, I use the movable-Do solfege when we sing, and

BOY does it work.

A kid who's been exposed will say "yeah, C# needs to be higher when

it's acting like Ti so that it squeezes right up to Do, but it's

lower when it's being Re", -- not knowing that this is supposed to

be advanced stuff.

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Pandora,

Excellent contribution that is worth far more than 0.02!

The value in your explanation is that when a violin becomes out of tune during playing a piece the student learns how to correct and adapt. He/she also learnt that the finger position for e.g. a C# is not always the same: it's dependent. This is the greatest value beyond a key-instrument: one can adapt c.q. correct. This kind of correction is only possible when is learnt to listen at what should be heard. With your perception your students are in good hands!

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quote:


Originally posted by: pandora OK, folks, here

comes my .02 First, the whole idea of Suzuki (and most everyone

else who has thought seriously about string pedagogy)  is that

it's mistake to start a beginner out on some poor excuse for good

technique and ask them to switch to the "real way" later,

right?

I think you may be negatively painting the Suzuki method with a

wide swath.  Maybe it's who you know anecdotally - someone who

calls him/herself a 'Suzuki' teacher - who just isn't a good

teacher, period.  Unfortunately the number of teachers who

call themselves Suzuki teachers simply because they use the

repertoire is far greater than the number of, in my opinion,

authentic Suzuki teachers, i.e., the teachers who pursue lifelong

teacher training, participate in the professional conferences -

SAA, ASTA, etc.

I agree with your philosophy of teaching intonation - that's how I

approach it, too - and I'm a Suzuki violin teacher of 20 years.

 In my opinion, the number one job of the left hand (that has

been properly set up) is to play in tune in the context of whatever

key is being played.  The proper set up of the left arm/hand

achieves the intonation goal, combined with a properly set up

bow arm that can execute the correct weight, speed and contact

point to convey excellent intonation and expression.

vlngeek

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