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Hitting the right note
Intonation
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (2 votes) 
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stringy
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October 6, 2020 - 5:50 pm
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I can finally now after over a year , hear when I am not hitting the notes in tune, sounds strange but at first when I played, under my ear it sounded correct, but on recording and playing back I was astonished to hear I was often flat. Now that I can actually hear when I am out of tune, is there any way apart from the frame of your left hand and constant repetition, of hitting the actual notes bang on first time, I find I often miss and have to slide very slightly into the note. I am not too bad in first position but in third It is more difficult, maybe because the fingers are slightly closer, any ideas would be welcome😱

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ELCB
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October 6, 2020 - 7:12 pm
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Hi stringy! 

I'm at 16 months, now - so pretty much same with ear training. 

Fiddlerman has great looping drones you can listen to while playing, to help with intonation - found under "Learning Tools" at the top of the page. 

I also found William Fitzpatrick's series of 5 videos titled, "How to Achieve Perfect Intonation" on YouTube very helpful.  I like how "pitch is not absolute" and intervals relate "across" strings to help you map out where to find your notes.  Here's #5 in the series so you can see where he takes you.

 

I think we just learn to correct faster until it happens before we even realize it!

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c0/a4/6f/c0a46f4a2d6370d2ed9512536ce19823.jpg- Emily

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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October 6, 2020 - 9:18 pm
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There's no substitute for slow scales and arpeggios.

There are a few things you can do just with the violin. You can check your intonation by playing a double-stop against an open string -- especially useful when the interval is a unison or an octave. You can also check some notes with natural harmonics, because finger placement on natural harmonics has to be precise.

For shifting practice, look into Whistler's "Introducing the Positions" and Yost's "Exercises for Change of Position". The Yost is now public domain and available on IMSLP.

I second the recommendation of practicing scales and arpeggios with a drone. Invest in a good electronic metronome that has a drone function. I use a Korg KDM-2 which can be set to drone on any note, with the A adjustable to a range of frequencies.

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stringy
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October 7, 2020 - 5:17 am
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Great answers thank you both, I am going to try all the suggestions, and hope it improves my playing. The video with the prof is excellent, the drone idea and double stop is also one I will start to use all the time. 

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Gordon Shumway
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October 7, 2020 - 5:55 am
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AndrewH said
There's no substitute for slow scales and arpeggios.

Knowing at least what scales and arpeggios sound like is the basis for everything.

There's even an anecdote about David Oistrakh doing a rehearsal then spending the two hours before the concert doing nothing but play slow scales because he wasn't happy with some of the intonation during the rehearsal.

I haven't the time to watch those 5 videos just now, but there are many techniques for intonating, depending on the note. Playing B C# on the A string (and analogously for E on the D string, etc) in tune is a matter of knowing your scales. Or arpeggios for the C and C#, but also simple intervals, see below. I used to play that B very flat until I spent a lot of time listening to it. There are some pieces for beginners in E minor that use it to advantage. It helps if you haven't spend too much time on cheap violins with high nuts.

Playing the D (on the A string) you can hear the beat with the D string's harmonic sympathising. With the E, you hear the beat with the E string (you don't have to keep the E string clear, but it's good technique - and you'll need it for some double-stopping). If you want F and F# on the A string, I often find it good to remember what the D string sounded like (or "accidentally" touch it, lol) and hear the minor or major 10th. For high notes on the E string you can often find the octave below on the A string then know your octaves. Then finally you synthesise all the methods into one (I assume - I don't pretend to have mastered that yet). 

Intervals are good to be able to sing, but I can't do things like minor 6ths and diminished fifths, but often these are much easier to hear in the context of a piece of music and its harmonic progressions - especially simple baroque music.

Andrew

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stringy
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October 7, 2020 - 8:04 am
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Andrew, you hit the nail on the head with one of the things you wrote. I also have real trouble with the note b, I constantly play it flat, under the ear it sounds as though it’s ringing but when I play a recording back it’s inevitably flat, so I now play it slightly sharp which is difficult to do, at least for me because it sounds wrong when I am playing. I have also started to sing tunes and Play them at the same time and this works But again isn’t easy, it’s not like when I play guitar and sing which I don’t even need to think about. Good to know even Oistrakh had trouble with intonation  ;). I have been playing a lot of chromatic scales lately as well. I have no trouble at all with the ringing notes, as you rightly point out it’s the intervals that cause problems. I had been told on another forum to play simple pieces one note at a time making sure each one is perfect which consigns the sound to memory, or is supposed to😬

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Gordon Shumway
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October 7, 2020 - 8:34 am
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I'm not sure chromatic scales are a good idea, but it depends on how much experience you have.

Andrew

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ELCB
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October 7, 2020 - 12:28 pm
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@stringy -

Forgot I had this stashed away in my bookmarked videos. 

Hope you find this helpful. 

 

 

- Emily Eye Alien Walking Caterpillar Monster Emoticons

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stringy
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October 7, 2020 - 12:52 pm
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Thanks Emily, very useful, as is all advice;)

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