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Intonation


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From Strad Magazine, regarding the blended orchestra sound...

"Almost no variation is allowable in intonation, but depending on the note or composer there can be minute differences in accidentals, or a B, C or F, yet the section still blends and sounds unanimous."

I understand how accidentals may vary (with respect to Pythagorean intonation vs. equal temperament), but why specifically B, C and F? Won't it depend on the key signature of the piece?

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perhaps due to wind instruments like french horn  those

specific notes are mentioned, but then again i don't play or have

much knowledge of wind instruments but it's just a thought.

there was an interesting experiment done at my music school where a

brandenburg concerto by bach was altered so all the pitches matched

pyth. intonation, and then the same piece was altered so all

pitches matched equal temperament.  the result was the piece

sounded really weird both ways.  the conclusion was that most

(solo piano obviously excluded) pieces are a blend of both

pitch types.

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The article focused on how bowed rhythms affect the section's sound and then briefly mentioned intonation. I'm assuming the quoted text above referred to the string section and not the horns, but I haven't been able to make sense of it.

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i have not read this article...so really i can't make any speculation at all. However, disregarding sharps/flats...B-C-F are the three notes on the VIOLIN that do not have a corresponding open string.

with regards to intonation, there's only so much you can do with playing a G-D-A-E...because they generally have to match the FIXED tuning of the open string. therefore all other notes...such as B-C-F have to be VARIABLE and tuned towards G-D-A-E. So if you imagine that the tunings of G-D-A-E are fixed...then that's why they mention that B-C-F can be variable.

At the moment this is the only logical explanation I can come up with in regards to the quote. Yes, I know this is violin-specific in nature.

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