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Tuning by ear?
I had two strange tuning-by-ear successes. Seems odd to me. Not sure if they were flukes or what.
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cid
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January 24, 2019 - 9:32 am
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I had a strange thing happen. Part of my plan for removing the tapes was concentrating on the sound of the strings. Before, my concentration was just hitting the tapes, nothing else.

Well, it was either Tuesday morning before my lesson or Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, and then again Wednesday night. I tuned my violin by ear. I did not expect to do it. The first time I did it, I was reaching to clip my D’aadario tuner to my violin and I thought, “Let me see how close I can get without the tuner.”

Bowed my open G. Sounded good. Then I touched where I thought the A would be and it was definitely an A. Then I touched where the C would be. Again, sounded right. I figured that string held its tune. I did this for each string. D sounded good, as did E and G on that string.

When bowing the A string, it sounded flat. I fine tuned it just a tad and bowed again. Sounded just a tad sharp. Then I backed up half a tad. It sounded right. I touched where the B would be. I was a little off, but it was in the range of where I would be if it was my fingering, so I wiggled my finger and found the B. It was either the B where it would be with an out of tune string, or spot on. I checked the C#. Sounded good, as did the D with the third finger. Assumed the A string was good. Then I moved on to the E string and it sounded right so I touched where the A would be and it rang beautifully.

I attached my D’aadario tuner and double checked. Much to my surprise, I got it right. I did the same thing last night with the same result. I am not sure if it was dumb luck, or if I did tune by ear with accuracy. I wonder if I will be able to do it again. 

I noticed that since removing the tapes, I know when my strings go out if tune when playing. By habit, I was using my tuner to check and adjust. I am now going to go the “tune by ear” route first and if I need to, double check with the tuner.

Again, I do not know if this will ever happen again, but I am going to give it a shot. Also, last night was the best “no tape” playing I have ever done. Not sure if it had something to do with all the playing I did at the viola shop in the afternoon when I taste tested violas, or if I am progressing with my tape-free playing. 

I am odd in that, even though finger stretch is different between cello, viola and violin, playing one helps fingering the other when I switch. Figured it would make it harder. 

We will see if I can tune my violin by ear after running errands before the snows fall again!

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Jim Dunleavy
United Kingdom
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January 24, 2019 - 9:39 am
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I'm getting the same thing - when I get my violin out and play the A string, I can tell if it's flat or sharp. I have to hear it first though - I can't think of the pitch beforehand and sing it. It doesn't work for me on other instruments either, even though I've been playing them longer (piano, flute).

I've tuned my A string entirely by ear and checked with the tuner to find it spot on.

I think we're both experiencing 'standard pitch memory', which is common in professional musicians.

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
January 24, 2019 - 10:47 am
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Yup, that's interesting, I find much the same - although I have been fooled on occasion when I go to check - and maybe discover I'm a semi-tone down (oh - I of course mean on all strings not just down on the A or some other string) - so - my point is - even if the A is not 440, nonetheless all strings are still perfect 5ths apart and you get the "wider sound" with inter-string resonances when plucking just a single string - and it sounds just fine.   

I appreciate most of us "go to the open A" as the initial indication of tuning when picking up the instrument - and indeed - if the whole instrument doesn't "ring" - something's "out"- could be the A that's drifted - although, it could equally be other strings....

Same thing on guitar - I've seen it "drift" ( through re-tuning because it sounds "out" when I pick it up) to easily a full semitone high or low (again, across all strings, so you have the wider inter-string resonances going on - and the instrument sounds just fine - well - until you try to play against a backing track or with someone else.....  then you know for sure - hahaha)

Over time, I am getting quite close to "knowing" A440 - although, as I say, it depends, and if a re-tuning makes the whole instrument "sound right" in 5ths - it could still be out overall, but sound perfect, each string being a perfect 5th apart, with all these lovely, delicious inter-string and body resonances going on.

So I guess, my "relative pitch" is pretty good - and even with an instrument "de-tuned a bit across all strings" - it's gonna sound absolutely fine when soloed. 

Besides, not everyone necessarily uses A440.   Oddly - I recently came across this interesting little snippet (hahaha, took me 10 minutes to find it again) - A tuning fork that belonged to Ludwig van Beethoven around 1800, now in the British Library, is pitched at A = 455.4 Hz, well over a half-tone higher.

As far as absolute pitch goes - well - I pretty sure I can get close - but I wouldn't put any money on it at all 🙂

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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damfino
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January 24, 2019 - 12:37 pm
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I find I can generally tune by ear, but I don't trust myself. I need my tuner-crutch. However, when I put on new strings, I always ear-tune the A before ever bothering to put the tuner on... I get it where I am familiar with it sounding, put on the tuner and then change the other strings. I don't understand my own logic, lol.

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Gordon Shumway
London, England
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January 24, 2019 - 12:49 pm
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I think my string supplier recommended new strings be put on a tone or a semitone flat and left to stabilise for a while before being brought up to pitch. I wouldn't like to attempt that without a tuner.

I always wanted to be a juvenile delinquent but my parents wouldn't let me.

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
January 24, 2019 - 2:42 pm
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Yes @gordon schumway - I've had advice similar to that - although to be honest I've never followed it - and - with new strings, I intentionally tighten the first one sharp (oh only half a semitone by the tuner) - and by the time the last string is on - I'll re-calibrate them all (they've usually flattened anyway with the increased overall tension) - and yes - I don't worry about the sound-post dropping - never happened yet - and even if it did - well relatively easy fix and I'd remember not to take all strings off on THAT instrument again LOL ).   

I know, I know, not recommended practice....  but I'm impatient when it comes to fitting a new-brand of strings 🙂   Can't help it...

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Mark
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January 24, 2019 - 10:58 pm
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Cid, 

Congrats you have become self aware violin_girllike skynet the computer on the

terminator movie.

Same here working to memorize that 440Hz A, some days I nail it, and well, someday not so well

Keep up the good work!!

 

Mark 

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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cid
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January 25, 2019 - 6:49 am
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Thanks. Last night I did need a little assist on nailing it, but I did know it was just a little off, not a lot. Would not have noticed before. I was a little disappointed I needed to turn on my little Dnaadario, but then figured, that would be the case once in a while for a long time. I am always gard on myself, according to my oldest kiddo.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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bocaholly
Boca Raton, Florida
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January 25, 2019 - 7:20 am
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I am truly envious of those of you who can tune by ear or on their way to doing so. Don't think that will be in the cards for me... can't sing in tune either pants_falling_down-2158

On the other hand, I'm really not a fan of having that little d'Addario appendage on my violin. It lives there permanently right now. Since my iPhone is always near by when I practice (handy metronome app) maybe a tuning app would do the trick? Advantages, inconveniences?

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Gordon Shumway
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January 25, 2019 - 8:27 am
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I was once watching a TV programme about Gypsy flamenco artists in Spain, and one group of performers featured a guitarist with a Snark permanently stuck on his tuning head. It spoilt the authenticity somewhat, lol!

In a similar vein (but thread-drifting), there's a Tuvan throat-singers' FB page, and they are friends with the Russian Beatles Appreciation Society!

I always wanted to be a juvenile delinquent but my parents wouldn't let me.

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cid
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January 25, 2019 - 8:43 am
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@bocaholly I tried an iPhone tuning app, and an iPhone metronome. I had issues. Now, realize, I am really a klutz, and proud to admit it. Had to drop out of trying out for cheerleading. I kept stepping on my left thumb in one of the routines we had to use for tryouts. My thumb got really bad. Then, I stepped on it and sprained it. Wreaked havoc on my typing in typing class, and I love typing (on real angled rows typewriters, not the flat things we use now). 

Anyway, issues I had:

1. I was afraid I would knock my iPhone down and break it

2. Battery life. I try to keep all my devices charged up. I have two little grandchildren on the other side of the country. I need to be able to Facetime. We only fly out twice a year. Actually, I need to contact my daughter today and see if they are going to be busy this weekend so we can have Facetime this weekend. It was a hoot last time.

3. Battery is pretty much shot. Again, waiting for no weather worries so we can drive in to the Apple and pay for a new battery to be installed. Cheaper than replacing the phone. Love my phone and not happy with changes to the new.

So, I kind of shy away from device apps. I was usng the Speak something metronome app. But again, it was a device app. Battery went down. 

I wish I could just use a device sometimes, but such is life. 

I like the immediate response on my D’aadario. Wish it would fit my viola. Didn’t fit over the edge of previous Eastman viola, and does not fit over my new Rudoulf Doetsch either. Not sure why it says it fits violin and viola. Clearly, it does not, at least the 15 1/2” and 16” violas, but description does not stare that. Have a solution. Just have to order another. Waiting until I need something else so I can get the order to $25 for free ahipping. LOL I don’t put it on from the get go now. I put it on if I am lost and need to get back on the right path.

I am still not convinced this isn’t some fluke, but we will see.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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mookje
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January 25, 2019 - 8:47 am
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I never tune my violin by ear because I don’t trust myself enough. I can hear when I play the wrong notes, to high or to low. I should practice tuning by ear more 😃

 Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about dancing in the rain!!

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cid
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January 25, 2019 - 9:16 am
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mookje said
I never tune my violin by ear because I don’t trust myself enough. I can hear when I play the wrong notes, to high or to low. I should practice tuning by ear more 😃  

I am still learning it. Still have the D’aadario as a crutch if I am not sure. That will probably be used for a long time. It was quite surprising when I got it right. Wasn’t really in my plans and not convinced this is not a fluke yet.

Just try it when you start each time, and then pay attention how far you are off, and which direction. Can’t hurt. You always have your tuner there to assiste or go back to. 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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bocaholly
Boca Raton, Florida
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January 25, 2019 - 9:22 am
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@mookje, I'm betting on the fact that you have a good ear!

@cid, Phone battery... sigh, yes.
When I started using that slow downer software, it obviously gobbled up battery life so this is the solution I came up with - A phone clamp attatched to my music stand and hooked up to an outlet with a 10' lightning cable.