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Bad intonation hearing


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I used to think that I have really bad intonation, particularly since my first violin teacher, who taught me for 10 years, was a conductor/composer and quite an intonation freak.

However, when I listen to others in general, I seem to have a fair sense of whether they're in tune or not, and some of my more recent teachers even say my intonation hearing is good - she said I just need more practice (not hearing, but playing). So I am a little puzzled about my hearing ability.

The reason I bring this up is because of the recent discussion about HKV's caprices. I remember lwl posted a message about the intonation slips in the opening theme of Caprice #24. I must be careful to say that I do NOT want to bring up the old fire again, and I ask this for purely educational reasons (HKV, sorry about using this example, I hope you wouldn't mind). I just listened to the clip carefully again, and I can only find ONE E that was out of tune in the opening theme. Somehow I just couldn't hear the rest that lwl was talking about. This got me worried about my pitch sense. What am I missing here?



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Not wanting to embarass myself, I listen to the clip another time after posting the message. The E that I think is definitely out of tune is the last E in the second repeat of the first pattern. Now upon closer hearing, the few E's before the bad one may be very slightly sharp, but that's something I really wouldn't notice normally. Is that what you were talking about, Lydia?

BTW, I want to yet again emphasize that I do not want to bring up any dispute from the old thread, otherwise it'd make me feel very guilty.

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I listened to all HKV's clips and went away seriously disturbed that I had been getting something wrong all along !

I'm very inarticulate as far as remembering names of everything etc. but anyway... the long & short of it is that I was really put OUT (intonation wise), I didn't have enough confidence in my own capabilities and find it easier to trust others .... long story later ... I'm sticking to my own judgement from now on. No personal slight upon HKV, but I am sure I heard an awful lot of flat notes in several of the recordings, (although I appreciate his skills, which are way beyond my own)... hmmm

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Theme to HKVs recording of no. 24:

(1st time)

The C in the first measure is flat, The as were the E's (1st finger on D string) and the F# in the 2nd measure.

The E on the 2nd beat of the 4th measure was a bit sharp.

(2nd time)

Downbeat of 2nd measure is Sharp. F# in this measure is flat.

Downbeat of Measure 4 is also Sharp

the last 16th note of Measure 7 is hardly there (but what is there is slightly flat)

The Second 16th note of the 2nd beat of measure 8 (the E) is sharp.

Downbeat of measure 10 is sharp (another E) as is the 2nd 16th note of the 2nd beat of measure 11.

Any note I did NOT mention was in tune.

(this is one benefit of having perfect pitch!!)

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Dear Stewarts,

I do know exactly what you mean. I have ranted about this topic too often in the past, and somehow, like you I feel we have had similar exeriences? My teacher was very fastidious about intonation when I was studying, oh about 35 years ago (gasp). I would come to lessons, cold sweaty palms worried about if I'd hit a passage out of tune...one note would bother me. Maybe I was a bit obsessive about it, but it was because of this problem I dropped playing cello. My hands were too small to play all the repertoire with accuracy. I also knew that on piano -- Liszt, forget it, Chopin in some as well. Well, my training is different and of course everyone's is different, but it is because of my background/experiences that I see things the way I do.

In college, we had a class on the psychology of music, and in it was a topic on intonation and what you were willing to accept. I believe I posted the relevant sections many months back. The gist of it was that people get used to things, and if notes are continually played out of tune, it comes to a point where, perceptually, the listener doesn't know any more. I think there is a lot of truth to this. I also believe that players no longer can perceive out of tune notes when they are played that way for a long time. A type of reinforcement, I guess.

In my opinion, it is the first and utmost duty of the performer to play in tune to the very best of their ability. To do otherwise is not acceptable. First, a work played out of tune isn't the piece that the composer wrote: it's some distortion and isn't fair to the work. Now I'm not saying that we aren't human, and mistakes do happen in performance...It does and will. But what I am saying is that a person should do their utmost to present a good performance, and that this should be first and foremost in the mind of the performer: to do your duty to play as in tune as much as it is possible. To me out of tune play is not music... Sorry but it is my opinion, and you don't have to agree, it's just what I need to have in a performance to enjoy it.

Anyway, it is an important topic stewarts, and I agree that we should give it our best effort. I hope I didn't over kill...maybe it's been on my mind too much also.



[This message has been edited by JKF (edited 05-09-2001).]

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Iupviolin - I'll take your word for it, I no longer have the clips to listen too. I guess a few wrong notes throws all the rest out (for me anyway).

My teacher was much like yours JFK, and it has made me unwilling to play a piece for anyone, not even my friends, unless I think I have have it perfected.

When practicing - I have a tendency to play a lot more reliably when I'm accompanied ... why is this ??

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Miranda, :-)..

I don't know. Do you think when you play with someone else there accompanying, that the spot light isn't as keen, or the light isn't exposing everything for everyone (a microscope so to say?). I don't know, maybe, but I know what you mean about that. I liked having the accompaniment because of the fuller sound, the blending, you know. Also, at least for me, it was a comfort to have someone with me. At least I could duck if a chair was thrown :-).


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I'm thinking this topic should not really be

discussed in relation to someone who has put

themselves on the line by showing us a recording of their playing. I know that if

_I_ gave you guys an example of my playing,

that there would be plently of stuff to pick

over, and that I would not be happy with a

similar result. I know it serves as a good

specimen because it wasn't gone over and

perfected in a studio, but I think we should

try to respect the feelings of the player a little more... unless of course he decides to grant us that right. I know that he can

speak for himself, but in a situation like

this it might be embarrasing for some people to protest, so I thought I'd jump in. Of

course, its 4:00am and I may be a little bit

off the mark.


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You know, I don't see where this thread is picking at anyone, really. I take pot shots at myself :-).

Now, I'm not discussing HKV -- I was replying to the thread on intonation in general, and it is a topic of major concern. But HKV can take care of himself, I'm sure of that. He has professed many times as to his stature as a professional in the field, and has taken many liberties insulting many fine artists and professors alike...but lets not revisit that topic. So, I feel that if you are reading in sensitivity to criticism of HKV's playing, it is given not in a cruel fashion, but meant to help. If he were to let everyone know that he is just playing for the fun of it, then it is my guess that he would not be given these type of reviews.

Jake, all teachers wish to encourage their students. No one wishes to create bad feelings. Pros accept criticism - it's a fact of life, and many seek it.

[This message has been edited by JKF (edited 05-09-2001).]

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Originally posted by stewarts:

I just listened to the clip carefully again, and I can only find ONE E that was out of tune in the opening theme.

I think this is an important point. I'll bet when you first listened to the piece, you didn't hear any of the notes out-of-tune.

I'll bet you were listening to HKV's interpretation first, the technical aspects second. Given enough listens to just about any recording, you're bound to eventually find less than perfect moments.

There are different ways of listening to music; I doubt this initial listening says anything about your pitch sense.

Perhaps in the future, if we want to have objective discussions about intonation, we could use a better known performance of the Caprices. There are enough bad notes in Perlman's recording to keep us occupied for several years.

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I think you're right JFK, about playing with accompanyment (scuse spelling) It helps if you know there are others you can share the responsibility with, which is comforting & thereby a more relaxed atmosphere ! When it's just me I get stressed with myself for the slightest mistake which then leads to more mistakes blush.gif(

Jake, I responded to this topic because after listening to the recordings ... I was left feeling as though my perception of what certain notes should sound like, was wrong (which was genuinely upsetting for me, given the % of my life that I spend practising)

I naturally assumed that someone as talented as HKV wouldn't post soundclips to this club that weren't absolutely spot on.

I wonder if HKV has got round to listening to the clips for himself yet & what he thinks ?? I'd have asked before but the last thread was getting a bit off the topic.

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