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intonation tips


fiddlewallop
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I like the idea of recording and playing back,,,priceless.  Often during playing we are so "occupied" we don't--perhaps even cannot-- listen very carefully and deeply.

 

Playing very slowly and listening to the playing while moving the fingertip a bit up and down to explore the "zone" may also help.  You need to challenge and explore your preconception that in tune really means in each spot.   Takes time, though, therefore rarely done or done well.

 

Also, despite quality concerns, some recordings on youtube are good enough to listen to one million times.  There is no better way to steal from the great ones,,,

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Hello,

 

Does anyone here have any tips about how to develop good intonation. I've been playing with the tuner on the fiddle, to make sure I hit the right note (not sharp or flat). Any other tips for learning good intonation?

 

Thanks!

FW

Easy :

1. Make DEAD sure that you know the interval between the current note and the following one.

2. Associate to each interval a well known melody ( the beginning of )

3. Attempt to hear inside your head the next note before you sound it on the violin

4. Be prepared for months of frustration.

It always ( eventually... ) works.

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I'd think if you spent enough time listening to excellent intonation, at some point you'd either "get it" or not.  A CD of a good quartet would be a good place to start.  As Carl mentions, you have no frets to help, you must know the pitch you're aiming for, and then, thru intelligent practise, become able to repeat it.

 

In quartets you have the essential elements SATB ("perfect - no more or less than absolutely necessary!").  A good suggestion would be to start with Beethoven op. #18.  (You could do a lot worse! :D )

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First make sure your instrument is in tune ;)  For exercises I'd say play scales, but take them seriously.  Play them slowly using a whole bow per note, checking notes with open strings when you can, and listen for the ring and overtones.  When you get better you can try double-stop scales :blink:

 

Every violinist knows that intonation is something you work on your whole life.  :rolleyes:   There is a story (myth?) about Heifetz who, when asked why his intonation was so much better than that of other violinists,  said "Because I adjust faster".

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Great! Thanks for all this information everyone! I have been playing scales, and just concentrating on making sure I hit the exact right note, without sharping or flating it at all. I think the more I practice, the better I'll get. But it's good to set my expectations that good intontation is a life long process. I was listening to this video on youtube, and this girl seems to have very good intonation:

 

I like the "adjusting faster" quote. There's probably some truth to that. Lots of things going on when your fingers are hitting spots on the fingerboard. My violin teacher was talking about hitting double stops and listening for the beating of the harmonics within the notes.

Hopefully the more I practice the better my muscle memory will be for where the note is. We'll see, I guess! :)

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Good tips here.

 

I'd add that it would be good to sit at a well in-tune piano and really listen to scales and intervals and then sing them and then try to hear them in your head beofer you play the next note.  Then you have to regularly refresh this training, unless you have perfect ptich.  As Carl said, always try to hear the note before you play it.  Using a tuner is counter productive because it employs a sense you cannot use to help you play in tune in a rehearsal or concert (sight).  In fact the only thing you should use a tuner for is to get an A, and even there,I'd prefer you use something that give you a tone instead that you have to match.   

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The Trott studies are very good. Be sure your violin is carefully tuned before you start. Don't let people scare you away from testing your ear with an electronic tuner. They can be very helpful. Once you've established a tuned instrument, you can put the tuner aside. Note: most pianos you find are not likely to be tuned in perfect fifths.

 

This book is also helpful: 

A Violinist's Guide for Exquisite Intonation [spiral-Bound]

Barry Ross (Author)

 

The book teaches you to listen to sympathetic vibrating strings while you play a fingered note. For example, when you play a G on the D string, you should be able to sense the open G vibrating when you're in tune.

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Great! Thanks for all this information everyone! I have been playing scales, and just concentrating on making sure I hit the exact right note, without sharping or flating it at all. I think the more I practice, the better I'll get. But it's good to set my expectations that good intontation is a life long process. I was listening to this video on youtube, and this girl seems to have very good intonation:

 

I like the "adjusting faster" quote. There's probably some truth to that. Lots of things going on when your fingers are hitting spots on the fingerboard. My violin teacher was talking about hitting double stops and listening for the beating of the harmonics within the notes.

Hopefully the more I practice the better my muscle memory will be for where the note is. We'll see, I guess! :)

Whereas that is certainly a sweet and enjoyable experience for us and most probably herself, her way actually is the last thing you want to learn to do on intonation. Notice that with many notes, she slides up into the pitch.  Big no no when we talk about intonation in the very beginning in the purist sense.  One must learn to hit the right spot on first touch.  IF not, retract the finger and try again.  Sliding around has its danger in forming a very bad habit.

 

I think it is wiser to develop intonation techniques from the most conservative and classical way. Listen to those greats in the black and white Youtube videos.  Heifetz for sure.  From there, one can branch into other type of "playing the notes".  

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 My violin teacher was talking about hitting double stops and listening for the beating of the harmonics within the notes.

 

 

I hope this is a bad joke on your part, but if not, you seriously need a different violin teacher.  If you're just learning to play in tune you have "much time before you sleep" to get to playing double-stops!

 

The only exception would be if you're playing one open string as a drone, and then tuning the scale notes to that one (assuming, of course and as always, that all your strings are in tune!).  Contrary to previous advice here, I think it's proper and probably even critical to get your strings tuned properly, even with a tuner!  Technology marches on, and if you don't use it to your advantage you'll never learn to play in tune.  I have professional colleagues who tune with electronic tuners (including myself...), it just makes everything that comes after all that much easier.  There's no sense trying to learn to play in tune if your strings aren't.

 

PS  Gowan is correct, but he obfuscates the issue for your purposes.  Unless you want to get deep into music theory you can safely ignore droll jokes. B)

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I hope this is a bad joke on your part, but if not, you seriously need a different violin teacher.  If you're just learning to play in tune you have "much time before you sleep" to get to playing double-stops!

D-stops are a can of worms for a beginner. Take B on A string 1st pos and check for zero beats with E open string ( 4th ). IF that is perfect then the 6th with D will be BADLY out. You don't want in the beginning to worry about these sort of things.
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Pianos MUST NOT be tuned in perfect fifths.

 

This is a good book about the tuning dilemma: How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care) 

Ross W. Duffin

 

Best solution is to keep several pianos around the house, tuned to different systems. :rolleyes: 

 

Hello,

 

Does anyone here have any tips about how to develop good intonation. I've been playing with the tuner on the fiddle, to make sure I hit the right note (not sharp or flat). Any other tips for learning good intonation?

 

Thanks!

FW

Are you interested in "alternative styles" as the string teachers call them (Bluegrass, Cajun, Irish, etc.)? I've noticed that a lot of mandolin and guitar players now perform with tuners clipped onto the peghead of their instrument. Playing in tune with a guitarist can be a little different than playing in tune with a pianist.

 

If you've read all the replies to your question, you've probably seen that tuning can be a complicated issue. Also, the example posted (OokPic Waltz) is usually played in an open tuning, which raises new double-stop issues.

 

Keep working, and don't hesitate to show your teacher all the responses you've received!

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Easy :1. Make DEAD sure that you know the interval between the current note and the following one.2. Associate to each interval a well known melody ( the beginning of )3. Attempt to hear inside your head the next note before you sound it on the violin4. Be prepared for months of frustration.It always ( eventually... ) works.

Excellent tips, including your other of listening to yourself as if on the other side of the room. When you say interval, I assume you mean the interval of the first finger shift as well as the whole interval between the pitches? That is what i find most useful to be conscious of, the first finger position.

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Excellent tips, including your other of listening to yourself as if on the other side of the room. When you say interval, I assume you mean the interval of the first finger shift as well as the whole interval between the pitches? That is what i find most useful to be conscious of, the first finger position.

Great point and yes.

The old way to learn violin was to start in 3rd followed by 1st and then after minor preparation do all 7 in a couple of months. For a long time I thought ( with no evidence ) that this was wrong. I'm not so sure anymore. I think most hands fall better in 3rd and that helps in the beginning.

Another thing I'd like to mention is that without a post and bridge fitted DEAD right, a violin will sound "foggy", in other words a lot of pitches will be there at once and close enough to cause confusion. It's difficult to be perceived "in tune" with laryngitis.

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With my main violin in the shop, I've strung up another I had kicking around, and it took some adjusting to get used to the intonation. The chin (is that what it's called?) is slightly further to the pegbox than on my old one. It is, in my opinion, in a poorer position than my old one. That threw me off at first, but the entire neck is slightly larger. It is easier to stabliize my hand around this larger neck and it leads to better intonation.

 

As you said, the post is not optimally adjusted and the tone is broad and foggy with little intensity or focus. This does make it more difficult to play in tune.

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Some violins seem to sound false.  In other words, no matter how careful the player is, the violin never seems to be perfectly in tune.  I don't know what the factors are or how many different factors could lead to this sensation, but I have played many violins like this over the years.  It is very frustrating.

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Great point and yes.

The old way to learn violin was to start in 3rd followed by 1st and then after minor preparation do all 7 in a couple of months. For a long time I thought ( with no evidence ) that this was wrong. I'm not so sure anymore. I think most hands fall better in 3rd and that helps in the beginning.

 

Do you mean, to start learning in 3rd position, followed by 1st position?

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