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What is pure intonation?
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Regular advisor

April 28, 2012 - 12:42 am
Member Since: July 12, 2011
Forum Posts: 177
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Is the well trained musical ear:

a. sensitive to tones of a definite frequency OR

b. sensitive to pitch zones around the given sound

The question of pureness in violin playing does not seem so straighforward.  First there is the problem of non-diatonic intonation which means that C sharp and D Flat are not enharmonic: sharp tones sound higher, flat ones lower according to their direction and we have to produce them accordingly.  The other thing to consider is that the accuracy of a given note is likewise modified by the place it occupies in the context of a chord.  So (b) must be the answer. 

If you listen to a recording from 3 different players, is it possible that the difference in intonation between the 3 is so great that it is impossible to include them into a common system?  I would say yes. 

So "pure intonation" seems to be defined by several conditions:  the place of the given note in the context of melody and harmony as well as the function is occupies in this place.  But even more important is the zonal nature of the performers hearing.  This allows you to deviate (distinctive voice of the artist) so that the same note may be accurate in various senses.

King for a Day, Peasant for many

April 28, 2012 - 12:52 am
Member Since: February 13, 2012
Forum Posts: 1813
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hmm, let me think on that stuff awhile... that's very deep.dazed I might need to just go play in my special out of tune way... just to relax and think.

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

Midwest, US

April 28, 2012 - 1:37 am
Member Since: April 9, 2012
Forum Posts: 605
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Are you comparing the intonation of the 3 different players, playing in the same identical conditions or a recording of the 3 different players under different conditions?  If purely comparing recordings, you lose the fullness of the pitch variations by shear frequency cancellation by the recording equipment.  

I do believe that "pure intonation" to a highly trained musical ear is a heightened sensitivity to "pitch zones" rather than a specific set of frequencies due to biology.  Our auditory system can only process a limited number of frequencies and that amount decreases with our age in addition to any unknown damage we suffer to our hearing everyday.  In that case, we rely on the pitch zone to match our fellow violinists.  

For matching a defined frequency, many orchestras use strobe tuners to pick up frequencies we are unable to hear.  Often times, while tuning to an electronic tuner, I find myself making minor adjustments to match a defined frequency where I am not able to hear the difference!   

........great....I feel like I'm in school again! LOL  droolingdazed  Can someone help me off the ground?!?!  My brain hurts!!!

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin



Fort Lauderdale
April 28, 2012 - 3:10 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 13271

Composer, that would be B

We are sensitive to intervals. Intervals should be as well matched as possible. I can tune down my violin a 1/4 tone and play something with the relative pitch being correct and most would not be bothered by it.
Some people actually have perfect pitch and have a tough time with that but not many.
That gives me an idea for a video. I'll add it to my "to do" list. 🙂
It's only about 10 pages long now. LOL

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

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