Questions tagged [intonation]

Marks questions discussing the precise control over pitch that musicians exhibit as part of their technique; also used to describe the tuning of one's instrument or one's system of tuning.

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56
votes
20answers
37k views

Why Is Just Intonation Impractical?

I've read about the debate of "just intonation" vs 12-tone equal temperament. And nowhere it was clearly stated why just intonation is impractical. Here are my assumptions. Please let me know if I am ...
30
votes
7answers
8k views

Why do E♯ and F♮ not sound the same (according to Wikipedia)?

I was just reading the Wikipedia page on the note F (as I do every evening) and was confused by this part where it says that even though F♮ and E♯ are enharmonic they “do not sound the same”: E♯ is ...
26
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there a sound theoretical reason why a capella choirs “drift off” of the starting pitches in a piece?

Is the "comma pump" an empirical problem, or merely theoretical? It's a standard music theory exercise to show that certain chord progressions don't actually quite work. For example, in the I-IV-ii-V-...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

Should the dominant-seventh chord in just intonation use 9:5 for its seventh, or rather 16:9?

It may be just out of habit, what with the 12-edo temperament all around us, but anyway: I find the dominant-seventh rendition 20:25:30:36 sounds extremely harsh. In particular, the tritone from the ...
14
votes
3answers
3k views

Is my mandolin broken?

I read here that playing a string on the 12th fret will produce a note that is an octave above the note produced by playing the same string open (with no frets held down). For instance, if the bottom ...
14
votes
7answers
31k views

How does string gauge affect intonation?

I have a problem with intonation adjustment on my g-string on my Epiphone Les Paul. It's correct now but the bridge saddle cannot be adjusted any farther in range. I need to change strings but I don'...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Slightly tone-deaf?

I'm incredibly depressed. I have always wanted to be a musician and for the last 5 years I have learned various scales, chords in each key in various positions up and down the neck of the guitar and ...
12
votes
6answers
33k views

B -> C and E -> F, No Sharp?

The keyboard has these notes: A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G# Why do B and C and E and F not have a sharp note between them? If they did, the keyboard would look like this: A A# B B# C ...
11
votes
4answers
12k views

What frequencies should the violin and viola be tuned to?

I'm using this app to tune my violin, it supports many temperament options. What I want to do is tune the A string to 440Hz first, then comparing the other strings sympathetically to the adjacent ...
11
votes
5answers
13k views

How can I improve my note accuracy and intonation?

Over time my pitch has improved simply through singing more, but I still have some problems with being a bit off sometimes (or way off on very high or very low notes). It helps if I focus on a ...
11
votes
2answers
398 views

How do instruments with discrete tuning play chords alongside those with continuous tuning?

I was taught that when playing a triad, the third should be played sharper and the fifth flatter than the notes would sound on an instrument tuned to equal temperament, such as the piano. However this ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Does string length affect intonation?

Does string length affect intonation? Like on a Les Paul Jr. that has a wraparound bridge but intonation is still flat. If I use a Bigsby type tailpiece to correct the intonation would that correct ...
10
votes
5answers
355 views

“∞-TET”: Is there music that doesn't use discretely pitched notes?

Is there music that doesn't use notes with discrete* pitches, but rather has instruments playing continuously changing frequencies? I know there are microtonal tunings as high as 72-TET, but is there ...
10
votes
2answers
632 views

Why was Le Concert Spirituel playing out of tune at Proms 2012?

I know it sounds like an odd question, but I was listening to a recording of Handel's music for the Royal Fireworks (available here on Youtube), and there are sections where the horn players are ...
9
votes
3answers
937 views

What is the difference between temperament and intonation?

We talk of equal temperament but just intonation. From wikipedia, tempering is described as "the process of altering the size of an interval by making it narrower or wider than pure." where ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

How to learn to carry a tune, i.e. stay in some key or other

Motivated by Singing in key/on pitch Suppose you have a close friend or relative who has a tin ear, i.e. can't carry a tune. You try to sing Happy Birthday together. You wait to start singing until ...
8
votes
1answer
287 views

What are other intonations that exist in music?

I was wondering about the different intonations that have been used in the history of music. I have heard about Pythagorean Intonation, but are there any other types that exist ?
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Natural vs tempered semi-tones

I am reading "Fundamentals of Musical Composition" by Arnold Schoenberg. Chapter XI, page 99, states: Chromaticism is difficult partly because the natural semi-tones differ in size from the ...
7
votes
2answers
263 views

How can I improve my violin intonation for enharmonic notes?

I know that while, for many instruments, enharmonic notes are a single pitch and their differences are more of an interpretation, helping music to remain consistent (it would make more sense for a ...
7
votes
1answer
627 views

Over/under pitch note

I know there is a quarter tone notation, but is there a symbol for music score that will simply say over/under pitch? I think quarter tone notation might be too strict/rigid in music arrangement that ...
6
votes
4answers
10k views

Why does the bridge saddle on a steel-string guitar sit at an angle?

I have been playing a classical guitar for some years now and I recently purchased a steel-string acoustic guitar. I am puzzled by the placement of the bridge saddle on my steel-string. On my ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Intonation problems with a low b string

I just got a Warwick Thumb NT 6 and my b string is still sharp on the 12 and 24th fret but I cant tighten the screw anymore. What should i do? is it normal for the top few frets to be really out?
6
votes
4answers
9k views

Electric guitar doesn't keep tuning on the first frets. Anything I can do about it?

I can tune the open strings properly to any note I want and they keep the tuning for days, but as I press my fingers on the first 2 frets the tuner shows the notes slighly flat, as I go up the scale ...
6
votes
2answers
659 views

Why is Stratocaster Low E-String Intonation at Limit?

I recently got an American Standard Stratocaster and I've been working on setting it up. I have tightened the intonation adjustment screw for the low E string to its limit and now the tension spring ...
6
votes
1answer
359 views

What file format does timidity's -Z (or --freq-table) option require?

I'm trying to figure out how to use the "-Z" (or "--freq_table") option of timidity to assign specific frequencies to midi note numbers, but there is no clear documentation online.] How do I specify ...
6
votes
1answer
495 views

Just intonation with Finale Human Playback?

Is it possible to hear a piece in Finale in just intonation using the "human playback" mode and the built-in Garritan orchestra? If not, what is the best way of doing this, other than live performance?...
6
votes
3answers
5k views

Can I use a Mustang bridge on a Fender Jaguar? Are there issues?

I've recently purchased a Fender Squier Jaguar from an online dealer, and was aware beforehand, that the stock bridge was unreliable and subject to many complaints. The issue with the Stock Jaguar ...
5
votes
5answers
343 views

Theory confusion

In every book and website I look at it says for guitar that sharps and flats are on the same fret for example C sharp and D flat are both on the forth fret of the a string and I've seen that it is ...
5
votes
5answers
3k views

In Pythagorean tuning, what's the frequency of the tonic of each key?

When playing a fretless instrument (like violin), what frequency should be used to tune beginning of each key? I believe that for A major and A minor, 440Hz is the tonic. What will be the frequency ...
5
votes
7answers
75k views

Guitar intonation issue - still flat but screw as far as it'll go

I am having a serious issue with my guitar and looking for some help. I recently had the guitar set up in a shop and in order to get the intonation right the guitar tech had to adjust some of the ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Can we tell by ear if a piece is in sharp or in flat without relative or perfect pitch?

I remember a masterclass where the piano teacher commented a piece from Chopin with something like "and after this modulation we enter the world of sharps". This left me wondering if it was a poetic ...
5
votes
7answers
10k views

How can i improve my intonation on violin?

I'm sure the right answer is "practice more" but there's a limit to the amount of time I get to do that. Are there any obvious techniques or quick exercises I can use to improve my intonation? Even if ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Does an adjustable bridge need to be parallel to the frets?

The other day I was working on my guitar (Line 6 Variax JTV-89) that had some intonation issues. I noticed that I couldn't move the saddles in a position that would be satisfying (I was at the minimum ...
5
votes
3answers
5k views

Guitar string not in tune with itself

I have a knock-off telecaster made by Stadium. The strings on it refuse to be in tune with themselves (the G and B strings especially). I hooked it up to a tuner and tested the intonation. The G ...
5
votes
2answers
265 views

What is the savart unit in Persian music theory?

i was heard about savart unit in persian music that divides a chromatic interval into smaller units. persian musicians using an interval smaller than the chromatic intervals, called: kron. they ...
5
votes
2answers
47 views

Fixing Low Brass Intonation Outside

I'm a part of a marching band in mid-Michigan, where the weather varies widely from day to day and often hour to hour. The band I'm a part of is currently wrapping up our competition season over the ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Intonation problem: My 12th fret harmonic is on my 13th fret

So I've been trying to fix my guitar intonation recently because my B string is awful. However, when guides say that the 12th fret should be the same as the harmonic on that fret, it gets a bit more ...
4
votes
3answers
982 views

Fretted notes consistantly ~10cents sharp across the fretboard compared to open

I have a baritone ukulele, which is basically a classical nylon-string guitar except missing the 2 bass strings. I've noticed when I tune I can either have fretted notes in tune or open notes in tune ...
4
votes
4answers
252 views

Bassoon intonation problems on low notes

A professional bassoonist told me that I shouldn't write below a bassoon's low F because those low notes are too difficult to play in tune. However, the piece I'm writing is very much dependent on a ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Adjusting a string saddle back, making the string longer, reduce sharpness or increase it?

When adjusting a string saddle and moving it back, making the string effectively longer, does that decrease the sharpness or increase it??
4
votes
2answers
189 views

Calculation of a note's frequency in the 18th-19th century

Suppose you are trying to reproduce an A major scale from the early 18th or 19th century, when A4 was perhaps tuned to 429.3Hz. What is the correct frequency (in Hz) for the next C# up (assuming we ...
4
votes
4answers
19k views

Guitar intonation issue - still sharp but screw as far as it'll go

Recently I got a brand new Ibanez AM93 Lefty. It's an hollow body so I am using jazz guitar strings. I think I did a correct setup: Action is approx 1.8 mm in high E, and approx 1.9-2.0 at low E Neck ...
4
votes
1answer
164 views

Is this music (flow my tears) here being played in 31 TET or a form of renaissance unequal temperament such as quarter comma meantone?

While looking for 31TET music I stumbled across this recording of "flow my tears" my John Dowland The video description and the album artwork indicate that it's ...
4
votes
2answers
215 views

Deafness and intonation in music

I have a question I'm hoping someone may be able to help with. I'm 52 years old and have been a professional musician all my life. I play violin, viola and cello and these days do mostly remote ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the safest way to raise and lower action and adjust intonation?

I'm worried that taking my strings of every time to check whether the action or intonation is right will make them snap. So what's the safest way to remove new strings so I can change the intonation ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Which electric guitar strings have the least (pitch) bend

When playing my electric guitar, the pitch of notes varies depending upon how exactly the strings are fretted; this is particularly a problem with strings that are barred by the first finger, since ...
3
votes
7answers
2k views

How to teach a young child the correct intonation on the violin?

I'm a parent who is teaching my child how to play the violin. Unfortunately, my child is not consistent about the placement of his left-hand fingers on the fingerboard. For example, when my child ...
3
votes
3answers
780 views

Intonation exercises for string players

I am looking for intonation exercises for bowed strings. I use techniques mentioned by Simon Fischer in his books and those have served me well I think. However I am now able to match pitches well but ...
3
votes
3answers
6k views

Fret Buzz on specific areas

I have a Jackson Ke5Fr Kelly, I mainly used it on .09 string gauge with standadd tuning but last couple of months it was .10's in Whole-Step Down tuning. Now, I turned back to .09's and standard ...
3
votes
3answers
208 views

Playing Brass in Classical music: Intonation of thirds of a chord is often crucial

When playing classical music with for example a trombone, the player who plays the third of a chord must consciously adjust intonation depending on major / minor chords. On a piano this is not ...