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Serious intonation question
Hitting note bang on¹
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 

January 22, 2022 - 3:04 pm
Member Since: August 23, 2020
Forum Posts: 1368
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I was listening to myself play using a tuner which I dont normally do. Fairly pleased with the notes some alightly out, a couple of cents to five, mainly on the non ringing notes.

The problem is if I hit a note dead on, the slightest finger movement makes it go out, is it ok to hit the note bang on if it wavers afterwards, how do you keep your finger perfectly still while hitting such a tiny spot. 

I know its wrrong but I have been using vibrato to cover it, after all if the slightest movememt puts the note out, the same thing jappens with vibrato anyway as long the note is hit spot on in the first place.

Hope I explained this ok,. my inbetween notes f, c, b, are usually out a bit but I have started to work on this by shortening the semi tone a lot more, in other words squeezing the fingers a bit more. very annoying after playing for such a time to still be struggling.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

January 22, 2022 - 4:13 pm
Member Since: December 26, 2018
Forum Posts: 3891
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From what I have read over and over. It is humanly impossible to hit slot on every time and/or sustain it spot on. I read that in a group, for instance, not everyone is spot on, but more are on for each note than off, and they cancel the other out. Now, I suspect if the one who is not spot on is way off, it would not be covered up, but then most likely would not be playing with a group, either. In recordings, you know the sound guy has tweaked away bad notes. 

I would not worry about it and not play with the the tuner. I used to and it was driving me crazy. I do much better without playing with the tuner.

If I am learning a new note in a shift, I will use it to train myself where abouts it is, and hear what it is supposed to sound like. After that, the tuner is off.

The Bumblebee Flies!

Vermont, Massachusetts or somewhere in between

January 22, 2022 - 5:37 pm
Member Since: November 2, 2014
Forum Posts: 546
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I use the tuner when working scales to stat but remove it when I have found the zone.  Rarely will I use it for a tune, although I have forgotten to remove it on more than one occasion..

Sacramento, California

January 22, 2022 - 10:45 pm
Member Since: November 5, 2017
Forum Posts: 1379
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If you're 5 cents off, the difference is basically inaudible. The limit of human pitch resolution is about 6 cents for extremely well-trained ears. And you don't even have to hit that close: if you're within 10 cents or so, it takes only a tiny bit of vibrato to cover it up.


You can see the effect of groups on intonation by just listening to the Fiddlerman group projects. With the number of beginners playing in it, almost every note has a significant number of people playing noticeably out of tune in their individual tracks, and yet it doesn't sound out of tune overall. True, it sounds much more coherent if everyone is very close. But even in a professional ensemble, the warmth of a string section sound (as compared to a solo string sound) comes from the very slight differences in intonation between the individual players. So having a few cents difference is not only unavoidable given the limits of human pitch perception, but actually an important part of the section sound.


January 23, 2022 - 5:55 am
Member Since: August 23, 2020
Forum Posts: 1368
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thank you all for your answers.

Andrew thats very informative and makes me feel a lot better, I diddnt know about the pitch resolution, I also didnt give it a thought about orchestras and such, very interesting the idea of warmth in the sound, and makes great sense, if it was all the same it would I imagine sound  devoid of feeling. I actually thought there was something wrong with my hearing as my recordings sound ok to me and when playing but whwn I checked I was astonished to see the discrepencies on some notes.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

Jim Dunleavy
United Kingdom

January 23, 2022 - 6:08 am
Member Since: April 19, 2015
Forum Posts: 732
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I'll just give my stock reply when anybody worries about exact intonation:



Seriously though, if you can hear tiny errors of intonation in your own playing, it just means you have good ears. Therefore you have scope to get very good intonation indeed with more practise.


January 23, 2022 - 6:33 am
Member Since: June 10, 2020
Forum Posts: 4434
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@Jim Dunleavy -


FABULOUS article!  🤗 

Thank you!


January 23, 2022 - 6:51 am
Member Since: August 23, 2020
Forum Posts: 1368
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Just read that article jim very entertaining, especially the joke at the beginning. Whole article puts things in perspective.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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