Posts tagged “intonation”

July 7, 2017

Buy intonation, not tone

How exciting to try out new instruments (or mouthpieces or headjoints or barrels or…) and to find one that really has a great sound! It’s a rite of passage for the young woodwind player, trying out a parade of shiny new possibilities, surrounded by parents, a private teacher, friends, and a salesperson with dollar signs ...

July 17, 2015

Pushing in and pulling out

A simplistic view of "tuning" is that "pulling out" makes the instrument play a little flatter and "pushing in" makes it play a little sharper. One of the problems is that not all notes are affected equally.

June 23, 2015

Playing in tune: five factors

One of the first “technical” things I wrote on this blog was about playing in tune. I ran across that now-embarrassing post recently and decided it is time to revisit that topic since my thinking about it has crystallized a bit more. To play a woodwind instrument in tune, there are five factors to address: ...

January 17, 2014

Playing flat on the clarinet

The correct solution to this problem is to take at least a few lessons with an excellent clarinet teacher. A good teacher faced with this problem will review the fundamentals of tone production with you: breath support, voicing, and embouchure formation. With some dedicated practice, you will almost certainly see your pitch improve (as well as your tone, response, and more).

May 20, 2012

Getting an “outsider” opinion

Photo, Pirate Scott Saxophones, more than many other instruments, have a tendency toward mechanical noise: clicks and clanks are a hazard of the relatively large keys and articulated mechanisms and of the relative popularity of “vintage” instruments. Much of the noisiness can be solved by a good technician, but it’s sometimes surprising how much key ...

February 5, 2012

Balancing voicing and breath support

My oboe students frequently have this problem: These notes don’t respond well These notes are sharp and thin-sounding (Okay, sometimes I also have this problem.) The solution, in most cases, is quite simple. Step 1: Use the correct voicing. For oboe it should be low and open, like blowing very warm air. This is usually ...

June 9, 2011

Why tune to the oboe?

Photo, nobleviola Why do orchestras tune to the oboe? Well, because it’s tradition, I suppose. But, realistically, in a professional group the pitch standard is likely determined in advance, and the oboist will use an electronic tuner to be sure they are giving precisely the correct pitch, so it could just as well be anyone. ...

December 15, 2009

Using autotune in your practice sessions

Autotune has been getting a lot of attention lately. Whether you use it in recording or in performance is between you and your sound guy, but I think it also has useful application in the practice room. Here’s how to use it to shed some light on your own intonation. (I’m using all free Windows ...

June 20, 2008

Playing in tune

I’ve been working on improving my pitch this summer. Why is it so difficult to play a woodwind instrument in tune? I believe there are three reasons: The instruments are, of necessity, built in a hopelessly compromised manner. A flute or bassoon or whatever that plays perfectly “in tune” doesn’t exist. (“In tune” is in ...
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