Sign in to follow this  
kabutar

War with strings!

Recommended Posts

I expect each orchestra has different ways of handling the situation of their piano and whatever piano is for piano soloists.  But I was looking around on line and saw that according to one writer, in Berlin most pianos are tuned to 443, and that if a soloist with the Philharmonic wants a piano tuned differently he will have to provide it himself.  Interesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been wondering lately...

 

I'm inclined to tell my students that their A doesn't matter much.  If it sounds to me like it's somewhere between 439-442 I'll take it.  But yesterday I was practicing the first movement of the Ligeti Sonata which deals with small intervals and I was thinking that maybe tuning to a consistent A helps to develop the ear.  But, then again, maybe it doesn't.  All that are important to me are the relationships, but at this point maybe my ear is already developed.

 

My question to you:  would consistent tuning help?

 

Or the related: of how much benefit to the student is hearing a well-tuned piano?

 

My guess is that since precision hearing develops gradually (and, hopefully, more in the practice room than with the teacher), it doesn't matter too much.  

 

Every little bit helps?

 

ilovefiddle, do violinists ever tune their A higher than the piano they are playing with?  I am aware that a piano A could be just about anything it wants to be, but I don't think I've ever seen a violinist tune higher than their piano.

 

My earlier point was that violists will often take the A from the piano and tune downwards in perfect fifths.  The viola's C would then be significantly lower than the piano's C, so we sometimes tune it to the piano (thereby creating a very narrow fifth between the G and C strings).  An alternative is to squeeze all the fifths while tuning a little bit.  The C won't quite match the piano, but it'll be close and the instrument will sound in tune with a little razzle-dazzle.

 

Violinists don't have to deal with this issue because their lowest string is only 2 perfect fifths away from the A they take from the piano.  That third perfect fifth really causes trouble.

 

String quartets will sometimes use tuners to tune for some 20th and 21st century music.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think "every little bit" does help.  It can't hurt.


 


Interesting, Lymond, about the difference between the violin G and the viola C.  I suppose it would be even truer with the 'cello.  I still would tune my G to a piano, IF I knew I was going to have to play a long open G note.  You may have already read what I posted somewhere about how the LaSalle quartet tuned.   


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cellist David Finckel (formerly with the Emerson String Quartet) recommends tuning the open strings to an electronic tuner. The Emerson Quartet did that - it avoids disagreements. And - speaking of string quartets - just imagine the problems of tuning the harmonies in a string quartet - 4 players producing 4 different notes simultaneously and possibly up to 8 notes. Having done this under coaching for a concert program I can tell you that it ain't easy and you all really have to listen and adjust because what is in tune for "melody" is not likely in tune for chords. Vibrato might help - if it's good! Listeners' ears may be able pick the chord that works from among the "fuzz."

 

Ever since seeing Finckel's recommendations in his on-line video cello lessons (100 separate short videos) I always tune my open strings to my electronic tuners - never a problem. In fact I tune my vioin to A=440 for orchestra and I tune my cello to A=441, for piano trios because "her" piano is tuned a bit sharp (I just keep 2 separate pre-set tuners in my practice area - they are cheap enough). Before learning to do this 3 or 4 years ago, I would always tune my cello's C string to the piano and tune the other string harmonically to the A - that worked OK too.

 

As far as the issue of loudness is concerned, it is a physio/psychological fact that a louder note will sound sharper. So a loud violin, under the chin can sound too sharp - and this can cause some violinists to play sharp (seems to be less freqquent with  violists). This can also cause the left and right ears to hear the same frequency as different pitches - and the left ear hearing sharp and being closer to the instrument may cause the player to tune flat. You can check whether this is happening to you by inserting a cheap drugstore earplug loosely into your left ear and see how it affects what you hear from your instrument.

 

Andy

 

Andy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andrew, Great to see you posting and as astute as ever.

 

I remember listening to a fabulous radio documentary on the significance of the well-tempered Clavier.

Equal temperament and strings are managed only with compromise.

 

There were a couple of useful articles on how to tune a string quartet

on that site: soundpostonline.com

 

maybe it was this but the format seems to have changed.

 

http://soundpostonline.com/archives/403/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is an interesting article.  But I don't understand regarding the 'cellist tuning the harmonic leading to flatness.  If one tuned the open string, then the harmonic would be flat. Yes.  But if one tunes the harmonic to a correct pitch, which is what I thought 'cellists usually do, it would be in tune and the open string might be a little sharp.  Where am I going wrong?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is an interesting article.  But I don't understand regarding the 'cellist tuning the harmonic leading to flatness.  If one tuned the open string, then the harmonic would be flat. Yes.  But if one tunes the harmonic to a correct pitch, which is what I thought 'cellists usually do, it would be in tune and the open string might be a little sharp.  Where am I going wrong?

 

Nowhere. :)

It's a nifty little article, now that I read it, but somehow it tries to solve a problem which doesn't quite exist.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And here we have an example of what playing in tune means :

 

This is fantastic playing, though the style is not to my personal taste - but that's beside the point...

Listen *really carefully* to the first chord, and particularly the F and A which are held on together. They are *not* pure - the F is too low, relative to the A. You do not get the "Tartini tone" resonance you would if he played his F a little higher. This is the performer's choice, clearly - he is absolutely consistent with it. It gives a different character to the minor chord from the higher, pure F natural. My personal choice would be for the pure third/higher F - but his works too.

Intonation depends heavily on context and interpretation, in other words!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kurt Sassmanhaus's excellent web site 'violinmasterclass.com' has a clear discussion of the effects of various tunings (all accompanied with audio/video clips) here:

 

http://www.violinmasterclass.com/en/masterclasses/intonation

 

For example, the demo of why thirds and sixths can not be used to verify tuning in the Pythagorean system (but 4ths, 5ths and octaves can) is quite striking.

 

HS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is fantastic playing, though the style is not to my personal taste - but that's beside the point...

Listen *really carefully* to the first chord, and particularly the F and A which are held on together. They are *not* pure - the F is too low, relative to the A. You do not get the "Tartini tone" resonance you would if he played his F a little higher. This is the performer's choice, clearly - he is absolutely consistent with it. It gives a different character to the minor chord from the higher, pure F natural. My personal choice would be for the pure third/higher F - but his works too.

Intonation depends heavily on context and interpretation, in other words!

 

Mine too :) but Bach's intention was somewhere else there - listen to the Chaccone by Busoni WITH Busoni and it'll become clear immediately. The style is "constructed" to appeal to a wide public : Szerying could, in private, imitate any other style or violinist to practically indistinguishable. His "exagerations" of Kreisler or Heifetz had the lucky audience rolling in laughter.

 

Or at least that's what I was told.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.