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intonation question
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (3 votes) 
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screwdriver
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July 12, 2012 - 7:08 pm
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hey quick question about intonation. when you practice a song your learning how do you make sure your intonation is correct? do you practice with a tuner or play along with the music or just use your best judgement and trust it will get better in time? and how accurate are violinists intonation when they play a song is it always spot on or do they play notes sharp and flat and that's ok? i can usually tell when I'm too sharp but sometimes when i check a note against the tuner it is too low and i don't catch it and i don't want to develop a bad habit so was wandering whats the best way to play in tune?

 

thanks

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ftufc
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July 12, 2012 - 8:05 pm
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Hey Canaan, first of all, welcome to FM!

Here's my input, btw, there have been a couple REALLY good threads on this topic (I'm just not sure how to find them); I had mentioned in one of those threads that I play the first 10 minutes of every practice using my pitch meter; I run through a few songs that I know, slowly, so that I can see (per the meter) if each note is "on" or not.  Then I just go on with the rest of my practice session without it.  It gives me an accurate point of reference.  And when you're playing songs you know really well, you can clearly tell if you're off without a meter.

I believe it was Oliver who then talked about how accurate/inaccurate one can play before it is noticeable, and then offensive to listeners.  As you become more experienced, the more you play, and the more you pay attention to your pitch, you will,,, or so I've been assured by the more seasoned players, that you will consistently be "on", or at least within that tolerance.

But I would say emphatically, you should constantly work on your intonation and keeping working to get as accurate as you can.  After all, each song was written with specific notes in mind, lol, and adjusting those notes (being off) just jacks up the song!

Good luck!

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Picklefish
Merritt Island, Fla
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July 12, 2012 - 8:37 pm
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screwdriver said
hey quick question about intonation. when you practice a song your learning how do you make sure your intonation is correct? do you practice with a tuner or play along with the music or just use your best judgement and trust it will get better in time? and how accurate are violinists intonation when they play a song is it always spot on or do they play notes sharp and flat and that's ok? i can usually tell when I'm too sharp but sometimes when i check a note against the tuner it is too low and i don't catch it and i don't want to develop a bad habit so was wandering whats the best way to play in tune?

 

So FM has these tutorials or studies or etudes for each of the strings. They are on the right side of your screen. How to learn the natural notes for each string. Start by playing slowly and holding your fingers one at a time on each note. relax and do again until your ear is trained and you have the muscle memory in your fingers. Do this daily for each string until you are super accurate and can hear the differences in tone. Also, play the FM ear training intonation game on this website. Practice with focus and purposefully and you will improve. This is the only way of the shaolin fiddler.jimi-hendrix That reminds me, can someone create a monk bunny fiddler smiley for me? thanks.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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KindaScratchy
Massachusetts
July 12, 2012 - 8:52 pm
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A couple of thoughts:

This one might be blasphemous, but...being exactly in tune with concert A (440 mhz) is only relevant if you're playing with others. (Did I say that out loud?) Otherwise, you just have to be in tune with yourself.

My theory (also potentially blasphemous) is that some violinist invented vibrato to hide his/her inability to find exactly the right finger placement.

roflolroflfacepalm

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

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Oliver
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July 12, 2012 - 9:12 pm
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Don't ever say that out loud surprised

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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eoj02
mooresvill, in
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July 12, 2012 - 9:47 pm
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I use slides to hide my inability to find notes

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
July 12, 2012 - 11:06 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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No one plays 100% in tune. It's always a relative acceptance. The best way to hear if you are in tune is to play slowly and listen to each and every note. The intervals are what you can notice as being too high or low. The interval from one not to another. Open strings, thirds, fouths, fifths, etc. they all have a certain sound and used as guidelines and if you practice scales and arpeggios you can learn to recognize proper intonation even more.
You can also visit my drones page, tune your instrument to the drone or the violin tuner under "Learning Tools" and practice your pieces while having the drones sounding in the background.
Finger patterns are used to come as close as possible along with a lot of practice.
In case I haven't said so yet, Welcome to the forum. 🙂

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Fiddlestix
Michigan, USA
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July 12, 2012 - 11:17 pm
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Welcome to the forum, SD.

First off, being tone deaf doesn't help when you play a note(s) on a violin or any other  instrument for that matter. Place your finger(s) on the fingerboard in the exact locations according to where they should be and you will get the correct note, but if the instrument is out of tune, your note will be off. With frettless instruments you can adjust the tonal quality of the note simply by moving your finger accordingly till the note sounds spot on. The correction must be made in a fraction of what the listener can detect. Fretted Instruments such as guitar, correcting the tone quality will be accomplished by bending the string until the note sounds good to the ear.

As for vibrato, I have to argue the theory of inventing it to hide being unable to find an incorrect note. Playing or listening to a note without any vibrato is very boring to the ear. Listen to a singer using absolutely no vibrato in his voice, sounds dull and lifeless. This is the reason vibrato effects are built into not only amplifiers and organs but many other electronics.

Over the past 58 years, I have owned four Guild guitars, two Fenders and a Harmony, whilch was my first real guitar. Three of the Guild's had tremelo bars,which are for the vibrato effect. They weren't used to correct a note but to bring life to the single note or chord.

I can't imagine Pierre playing a song without using vibrato, i'm sure he doesn't use it to cover all the mistakes he makes.  roflOnly joking, FM. Just think of him playing without using it, people would say, "he's not all that good, his music is blaan". Vibrato brings music to life.  violin-studentboring....serenadebeautifull.

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DanielB
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July 13, 2012 - 6:59 am
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The simplest answer is "Make it sound good."

But technically there is more than one "correct" intonation.  There are at least three intonation systems that are used for violin and more than one can be combined even in a single piece of music, when playing it.

In brief, they are "equal", "pythagorean" and "just" intonation.  To make it even more complicated, there is more than one scheme of "just" intonation from different time periods.  Equal is the one your tuning meter usually will know.  But for playing double stops and chords, equal intonation can also sound "equally out of tune" for some intervals or chords.  So for doublestops and chords, some players will adjust a note a tiny bit to sound better against another note or so a harmonic that needs to be played won't sound out of tune with a note sounded before, after or with it.  The difference is very small, just a centime or few. 

It is just one of those ways that very experienced players sound better than us noobs.  LOL  Most of them will make those tiny adjustments without even thinking about it. 

They are also following the rule of "Make it sound good".

But for practising scales and etc, especially in the beginning, the "equal" system that your tuning meter knows will work well for getting the basic fingerings down.  I practice scales against the tuning machine for a little bit every day and find it helpful.  Your ear will get better over time, and to yourself, you'll sometimes sound "out of tune" even when a normal listener wouldn't notice it at all.   But that just kinda goes with the territory.

Not likely to get better very fast if you don't compare it against a tuning machine or play along with some recorded scales though, in my opinion.  It won't get better much unless you make a conscious effort to play the notes more in tune.  it takes work.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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KindaScratchy
Massachusetts
July 13, 2012 - 7:41 am
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KindaScratchy said
My theory (also potentially blasphemous) is that some violinist invented vibrato to hide his/her inability to find exactly the right finger placement.

roflolroflfacepalm

 

For the record, in case it wasn't clear from my use of multiple smileys, I don't really think this. It was a feeble attempt at humor. I think vibrato is beautiful, it's clearly an advanced technique, not a cover, and I hope I find it some day on my own violin.

Please don't ban me from the forum for my heresy! <<(more humor)

beg

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

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Fiddlestix
Michigan, USA
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July 13, 2012 - 8:49 am
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roflol  KS,, you're toooooo funny.   rofl

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
July 13, 2012 - 9:35 am
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Actually there is sooooo much truth to that, joke or no joke.
I love playing Bach but you have to be soooooo careful when not using vibrato.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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screwdriver
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July 13, 2012 - 6:44 pm
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hey thanks for all the replies everyone. i will keep at it and I'm sure i will be back with more questions soon. thanks again

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