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Whitbey
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« on: Nov 17, 2017, 09:33AM »

I am questioning tuner accuracy. I have noticed when certain people give a tuning note for the orchestra or band that many are not the same. The oboe at an orchestra is always sharp. When she gives the note it is interesting to watch ever person up and down the brass row and some of the woodwinds that I can see push in.

Curious who else deals with this and how much variable is in the tuners?   
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« Reply #1 on: Nov 17, 2017, 09:48AM »

A good oboist will check her/his tuning with an accurate electronic tuner, and make sure the pitch is a true 440Hz.  This is the agreed standard in the United States.  I know that some orchestras (particularly in Europe) tune a few cents higher (the violins seem to like this?); I'm not a fan.  My factory-tuned trombones like 440!   Clever
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« Reply #2 on: Nov 17, 2017, 10:37AM »

Not all tuners are created equal! The cheaper tuners that have lights as indicators leave too much wiggle room. I use this for my 6 string bass and for orchestra.  https://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=korg+orchestral+tuner&tag=mh0b-20&index=aps&hvadid=78065329460907&hvqmt=e&hvbmt=be&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_8pe1ir4ian_e
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« Reply #3 on: Nov 17, 2017, 10:45AM »

Of the three tuners I have there's about a +-1Hz window at 440 from highest to lowest.

It's not random error. The low one is always the low one and the high is always the high.
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« Reply #4 on: Nov 17, 2017, 12:52PM »

Use a drone to develop your ears in the practice room, and when the oboe plays, definitely don't use a tuner. You have at least two slides and both of your ears. That said, usually tuners that use vibration rather than a mic input are more accurate. Overtones and other musicians will cause havoc with a mic based tuner.
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« Reply #5 on: Nov 17, 2017, 01:13PM »

Use a drone to develop your ears in the practice room, and when the oboe plays, definitely don't use a tuner. You have at least two slides and both of your ears. That said, usually tuners that use vibration rather than a mic input are more accurate. Overtones and other musicians will cause havoc with a mic based tuner.

That is my problem. You sit there and wait for the entrance and my ear says the note is where it should be and they are a mile off. When I push my tuning slide in a half inch my ear and hand wants to fix it. The other day I took my pitch pipe up to the oboe players tuner. That tuner was flat while the two viola tuners one row up were right on.

I figure if I could understand the variations then I could say something to the conductor politely.   
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« Reply #6 on: Nov 17, 2017, 01:32PM »

That is my problem. You sit there and wait for the entrance and my ear says the note is where it should be and they are a mile off. When I push my tuning slide in a half inch my ear and hand wants to fix it. The other day I took my pitch pipe up to the oboe players tuner. That tuner was flat while the two viola tuners one row up were right on.

I figure if I could understand the variations then I could say something to the conductor politely.   

There is a way to calibrate the frequency of A. Maybe they are set in different places. Maybe there is a flaw with the device. Maybe the oboist just plays not in the center of the pitch. Also, some tuners are more sensitive than others. The Snark tuners have a pretty wide band of what is considered "in tune". Some tuners allow you to specify how many cents off of nominal is ok. My Adroid app Tunable has a Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced settings, with +/-10, 6 and 2 cents respectively. The Snark won't get down to showing that.

Here's a screen shot from my phone. I was trying to play with no hands and do the vulcan mind meld screenshot thing at the same time. The dark green band is 12 cents top to bottom, you can see how much I waver. This is the intermediate setting. You can't get this kind of detail on a Snark.

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« Reply #7 on: Nov 17, 2017, 02:17PM »

I am questioning tuner accuracy. I have noticed when certain people give a tuning note for the orchestra or band that many are not the same. The oboe at an orchestra is always sharp. When she gives the note it is interesting to watch ever person up and down the brass row and some of the woodwinds that I can see push in.

Curious who else deals with this and how much variable is in the tuners?   

Yeah, having a bad oboe player give the A is always ******. On the other hand, it's her job to give you the A and your job to take the A she gives you. If she's sharp and you're okay, well she's right and you're flat, and that's the way it is (sometimes, unfortunately).
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« Reply #8 on: Nov 17, 2017, 03:08PM »

That is my problem. You sit there and wait for the entrance and my ear says the note is where it should be and they are a mile off. When I push my tuning slide in a half inch my ear and hand wants to fix it. The other day I took my pitch pipe up to the oboe players tuner. That tuner was flat while the two viola tuners one row up were right on.

I figure if I could understand the variations then I could say something to the conductor politely.   

The problem described here is not about tuners, but about not being able to match pitch. While waiting for an entrance your brain and ears should be telling you your entrance pitch as dictated by the ensemble around you, not your internal or tuner based absolute. And if during tuning the oboe gives you a wonky A, and the strings and everyone else matches the wonky A, but you either know the drone tone from 440 or are using a 440 tuner and not matching the wonky A with everyone else, then you are not matching pitch.

You should tune to drones to help you hear and match pitch (or play intoned intervals) -- not to memorize what a given pitch sounds like.

So, again, same solution, but change your drones to A444, A438, A442, etc, and just get used to it. Pitch changes, and you play one of the instruments that is easiest to match anyone with.
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« Reply #9 on: Nov 17, 2017, 03:19PM »

When I push my tuning slide in a half inch my ear and hand wants to fix it. The other day I took my pitch pipe up to the oboe players tuner. That tuner was flat while the two viola tuners one row up were right on.   

Also, if the tuner is flat, why are you pushing in? Or is it that it shows the pitch pipe is flat? It's probably set to A442
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« Reply #10 on: Nov 17, 2017, 03:33PM »

Yeah, having a bad oboe player give the A is always ******. On the other hand, it's her job to give you the A and your job to take the A she gives you. If she's sharp and you're okay, well she's right and you're flat, and that's the way it is (sometimes, unfortunately).

Exactly.

Thank you.
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« Reply #11 on: Nov 17, 2017, 03:50PM »

Also, if the tuner is flat, why are you pushing in? Or is it that it shows the pitch pipe is flat? It's probably set to A442

When the tuner reads flat, raise the pitch to match the tuner. It makes sense when you work out the geometry.
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« Reply #12 on: Nov 17, 2017, 06:38PM »

When the tuner reads flat, raise the pitch to match the tuner. It makes sense when you work out the geometry.

The tuner reads flat if it is tuned sharp, but OP said the tuner was flat. A tuner tuned sharp to A442 would read A440 as flat, so you push in. Based on the confusion over just this, I think that the OPs orchestra has people with tuners out, not listening, and some tuners are 440 and others are at 442.
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« Reply #13 on: Nov 17, 2017, 09:33PM »

Tuners are great for home practice, however noting beats training you ears.  Tuners should never be used in an ensemble unless everyone tunes to the same tuner.  Learn to hear.

All that aside.  Modern digital tuners (could include those with analog meters)are pretty accurate.  They are based on similar technology that keeps quartz watches within a second or two a week.  If you have a noticeably bad one, it is likely to be 1 in a million or thereabouts. If you suspect you do, go and buy another one.  I recently posted a thread about tuners you could buy at 2 for $10 (shipping included)  The 2 I got were smack on.  As are the other 4 or so tuners I have rattling around my house.

Basically they are just playthings.  I use them to test my speed accuracy.  For real tuning I use a whatever - mostly my little keyboard.  I play a note an try to match it.  I'll also try to match all the notes in the arpeggio using the note on the keyboard as the root.

I can't remember a concert or a dance I've played in the last 2 years where I have not adjust my tuning at some point in the event.  You absolutely need to be able to tune to circumstances by ear.  It is totally useless to tune to an accurate tuner if most of the other players are playing 20 cents off - and chances are they will be.

As trombonists were pretty luck.  Just tune your horn a bit sharp and adjust with your slide.  However, to do this you must practice.  Even still, it's likely that you would have to make a tuning slide adjustment during any event that lasts long enough for the weather to change.  Like a 3 hour dance.


Tune by ear.  Tune early - tune often.
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« Reply #14 on: Nov 18, 2017, 01:54AM »

I'll just add to Harrison and BillO's great comments that not only is using a tuner on the fly bad because it doesn't take into account that others might be out of tune and you might need to match them anyway, but more importantly, it doesn't take into account that we never, ever play in equal temperament. Equal temperament is for pianos, not for orchestras. We play movable just intonation on an equal tempered scale.

In other words even if the rest of the group plays exactly in tune, and you are exactly spot on with your tuner, you'll be out of tune most of the time, because your tuner doesn't care about harmony and won't tell you to lower/raise your thirds by 14 cents or very slightly raise your fifths and lower your sevenths...

Use your tuner to tune your instrument when you're alone and find the default slide positions on your horn for that basic equal tempered scale. Then leave it in the case, use drones to practice pure intervals over that scale, and use your ears to play in tune in ensembles.
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« Reply #15 on: Nov 18, 2017, 04:38AM »

We play movable just intonation on an equal tempered scale.

I like the way you put that!  :) Good!

Concerning tuner accuracy, I have not actually used a tuner in many years now. I just don't find them useful. However, watching others use a tuner, I find it amazing how after using a tuner many people don't actually match the tuner when they go back and play a note again after say, 30 seconds. I also find it amazing how when, during that group tune-up, lots of people play along with that tuning oboe (or clarinet or whatever) and don't actually match it by ear either. One problem is that you get lots of people playing that tuning A, not matching the oboe, and then just simply don't move, or they hold their off-pitch making it very difficult for the rest of the group to find that original oboe pitch. You only really need less than one second of sounding a pitch to see if you match or not. More than that, you're just getting in the way. Or, go do some serious long tone work if it takes you longer than that to physically stabilize your buzz.
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« Reply #16 on: Nov 18, 2017, 07:48AM »

We played the orchestra concert last night. The trumpets could not go high enough to make pitch and went off crazy like trumpet players can. They put another tuner in front of the oboe and everything was fine. Moral of that story is quiet logic is no match for crazy.

I was happy.

I was trying to practice playing sharp to try and convince my ear that it was ok. Was not going well. So getting back to A 440 was nice. Maybe I should have posted this question in a different section on how to play off pitch so you match a band.

On a lighter note, I realized in the 5 sharp part of the piece that an A# in alto clef is on the same line as Bb is in bass clef. It is hard to un-see things like that.     
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« Reply #17 on: Nov 18, 2017, 08:39AM »

I was trying to practice playing sharp to try and convince my ear that it was ok. Was not going well. So getting back to A 440 was nice. Maybe I should have posted this question in a different section on how to play off pitch so you match a band.  

You don't play off pitch, you play on a different pitch. 442 is a really, really common pitch to tune to. Several music schools tune their pianos to 442 now. 441 is becoming very standard for concert bands because most percussions are tuned to 440, and if your piano is at 442, tuning the band at 441 is the best solution to avoid having either sound of tune. Many major orchestras play higher than 440. Some as high as 445. Under Charles Dutoit, for a while the orchestra was tuning so high that Pierre Beaudry had his tuning slide shortened to have some wiggle room. And in the world of early music, we have folks playing at everything from a=392 to a=520 (which is a span of roughly an equal-tempered major third). Playing at a=430 isn't forcing or convincing yourself to play everything flat, it's just playing in tune at a=430. And we play in different tuning systems, meaning even at the same reference pitch, what "playing in tune" means varies widely in terms of the pitches/slide positions we actually play. It is not uncommon for me to play slide trumpet at a=520 in pure intonation in the morning, then play sackbut at a=466 meantone, and later at a=440, all on the same day, with occasional a=430 in some well-tempered system or equal temperament thrown in there.

If your ear can't handle small variations in reference pitch, train it, because you'll almost never play at precisely a=440.
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« Reply #18 on: Nov 18, 2017, 11:09AM »

I disagree that we "never play in equal temperament."

I have heard a trombone soloist play something like just intonation with a piano and it was absolutely horrible.

There are plenty of times when equal temperament is totally appropriate.  Most of my gigs include a piano.  I would not intentionally play out of tune with the piano.  I guess you would.
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« Reply #19 on: Nov 18, 2017, 11:31AM »

Also, fwiw, you can use Tunable to tune to just intonation. I second the recommendation for it very highly for anybody with a phone of reasonable quality.  It works exceedingly well with my Motorola (Android) phone. 
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« Reply #20 on: Nov 18, 2017, 12:21PM »

I disagree that we "never play in equal temperament."

I have heard a trombone soloist play something like just intonation with a piano and it was absolutely horrible.

There are plenty of times when equal temperament is totally appropriate.  Most of my gigs include a piano.  I would not intentionally play out of tune with the piano.  I guess you would.

I'd like to point out that I did specify I was talking specifically about orchestra playing and that equal temperament applies to piano (and the whole thread is about playing in orchestra). I don't think your insinuation that I would obviously play intentionally out of tune is warranted.

That being said although I mostly  agree with you about playing with piano, I also almost never heard somebody who didn't at least lower some of their major thirds a little bit when playing with piano. When I did hear it, that sounded horrible. Good accompanists will also occasionally leave out thirds in important chords because they know we can make them sound good and they can't, and give you a chance to make the chord ring on important chords or held notes.
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« Reply #21 on: Nov 18, 2017, 12:42PM »

Well I never thought about the possibility of an accompanist intentionally leaving out 3rds.
It would be great if composers wrote that way - do you know of any specific cases?  I haven't been in that world for a long time. 

Sorry, I missed the fact that the whole thread was about orchestra tuning.  I've just been horrified at the intonation of some soloists with piano, who should know better but apparently don't.

So do string players tune differently for playing things with piano like the Trout Quintet?
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« Reply #22 on: Nov 18, 2017, 02:21PM »

Off topic, but anyone who says you never play in equal temperment probably hasn't played with a rock band, or a jazz band that uses electric instruments. Just intonation is NEVER appropriate for those groups. Pythagorean tuning is though. The singer will automatically do it without knowing they are. Soloists and melodic lines can use it too

Also, technically not a good idea to use true equal temperment (as in, tuner perfect) with accoustic pianos, since they use stretched tuning and you often have to take that in to consideration. Also not a good idea to use just intonation when playing a solo with a modern piano, since it can't do that. Luckily, as the soloist, you are likely not lingering on any thirds or anything like that, and if you do, you match the piano rather than have him/her drop notes off the page. The piano is much more likely to be playing thirds that are not part of the melodic line. The solo line should use Pythagorean tuning, which will sound just fine against an equal tempered chord, but will not sound right if you are playing the line in unison with the piano.

Phil Myers (I think? It was one of the big name horn players) suggests to always play in equal temperment and only adjust when absolutely dictated by the music.

This German guy also lays it out hard:

Intonation: Which System to Use When:

http://youtu.be/QaYOwIIvgHg
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« Reply #23 on: Nov 18, 2017, 02:32PM »

So do string players tune differently for playing things with piano like the Trout Quintet?

One way to tune the open strings of a violin to a piano involves banging a D minor chord on the keys with a B in the bass, B D F A in the neighborhood of middle C. Making each string sound OK with that is about as good a compromise as one is likely to get. (That may be an annoying cliché to some jaded string players, or I may be wrong.)

I don’t know what works best for viola and cello. If the A is tuned to the piano, their harmonically tuned C will be six cents flat w.r.t. an equal tempered C, enough to jangle many ears.

Of course, fingered notes can be played in any intonation the player likes.
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« Reply #24 on: Nov 18, 2017, 05:18PM »

I'd like to point out that I did specify I was talking specifically about orchestra playing and that equal temperament applies to piano (and the whole thread is about playing in orchestra). I don't think your insinuation that I would obviously play intentionally out of tune is warranted.

That being said although I mostly  agree with you about playing with piano, I also almost never heard somebody who didn't at least lower some of their major thirds a little bit when playing with piano. When I did hear it, that sounded horrible. Good accompanists will also occasionally leave out thirds in important chords because they know we can make them sound good and they can't, and give you a chance to make the chord ring on important chords or held notes.

I am note sure if this true in all cases. I talked to a principal oboe and clarinet about playing in just and equal temperament. They said move in weteen.
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« Reply #25 on: Nov 18, 2017, 08:02PM »

Maybe I'm just a backwoods ignoramus, but the way I play is to be in tune with the group.

For trombone, tuning is not that well cast in stone.   If I tune my Bb about 1/2" off the stop, I can play in tune whether it is equal temperament or just temperament, or whatever.  I really just tune by ear.  If I find I'm off (usually flat) I'll adjust my tuning slide on the fly as required.  Other than that I'm pretty good. Unless of course I've misread the key signature ... then I just claim ignorance ... which happens far more 'occasionally' than I'd like. :/
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« Reply #26 on: Nov 18, 2017, 09:35PM »

Just intonation is NEVER appropriate for those groups. Pythagorean tuning is though.

Pythagorean tuning is a form of just intonation.
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« Reply #27 on: Nov 18, 2017, 10:10PM »

Pythagorean tuning is a form of just intonation.

not quite as applied to melodic lines. It makes scales and melodies sound better, not necessarily intervals and chords.
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« Reply #28 on: Nov 18, 2017, 11:15PM »

Maybe I'm just a backwoods ignoramus, but the way I play is to be in tune with the group.

For trombone, tuning is not that well cast in stone. 



THIS!
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« Reply #29 on: Nov 19, 2017, 02:35AM »

As Harrison.T. pointed to the phytagorean intonation is about melodic playing, in some cases, like thirds and sixths actually the opposite direction to just intonation. As a trombone player it is good to know that melodic (phytagorean) achordic (just) and equal (like the piano) intonation is different.

I never came across a tuner that wasen´t accuat.
All good tuners can be set to low tuning like 415hz to high tuning like 465hz, actually both higher and lower. The tuner is used by most oboe players to give the A that the orchestra is using. I play in orchestras using 415 430 440 441 442 and rarelly 465. (well, not on the same instrument though)

Many organ players avoid thirds on the final chord when playing with trombone solist.
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« Reply #30 on: Nov 19, 2017, 05:23AM »

Tuners should never be used in an ensemble unless everyone tunes to the same tuner.  Learn to hear.

It is totally useless to tune to an accurate tuner if most of the other players are playing 20 cents off - and chances are they will be.


I think there is an advantage to the ubiquity of the cheap tuner, even though it's aggravating at times.

That 20 cents off is 20 cents away from an A 440 now, whereas in the past it might have been 20 cents away from anything, more than a half step up or down.  The tuner has standardized the amateur central pitch to where you can adjust close enough. 

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« Reply #31 on: Nov 19, 2017, 07:05AM »

Thanks Sven
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« Reply #32 on: Nov 19, 2017, 07:46AM »

Just to make sure we're all on the same page, why I say Pythagorean tuning is a form of just intonation:

Just intonation is tuning intervals by integer ratios. Nothing more.

Pythagorean intonation is tuning intervals by integer ratios specifically where the highest prime factor allowed is 3. Effectively, this is what multiplying and dividing by fifths means - multiplying and dividing by 3/2. Multiplying and dividing by 2 also gives us control over octave equivalence.

Just intonation in the sense of tuning thirds and sixths is typically 5-limit, which is another more specific form of it, and I think this is what people generally refer to when they say they use just intonation to tune.

As an interesting side note, we can tune thirds by higher limits than 5-limit, although you'll get generally farther away from 12ET when doing so. For example, 9/7 (septimal major third) and 7/6 (septimal minor third) are very nice and are naturally a part of harmonic 7th/9th chords.

For that reason it can be useful to clarify "5-limit just intonation" when referring to typically tuned thirds and sixths.
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« Reply #33 on: Nov 19, 2017, 08:02AM »

OP here.
The issue is many tuners are bad. Give one to the person that sets the pitch for a orchestra or band and now we have a social problem trying to convince the person with a bad tuner that they are wrong.
Or in Bullwinkle terms, it is a lot easier to tell someone to jump off a bridge that get them to do it.

A few years ago I had the same problem with a concert band. Just as the tuning note was played I played one full volume in tune and got everyone to use my note.

The issue is wrong happens. How to deal with it and maybe change it?
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« Reply #34 on: Nov 19, 2017, 11:00AM »

Never mind.

Carry on...


Some prime limits may be seen in this image, with a zoomable vector version (svg) ar wikipedia’s article on ET.
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« Reply #35 on: Nov 19, 2017, 11:07AM »

Playing in tune is overrated.
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« Reply #36 on: Nov 19, 2017, 11:13AM »

Playing in tune is overrated.

+1
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« Reply #37 on: Nov 19, 2017, 11:54AM »

I agree... nevermind lol.
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« Reply #38 on: Nov 19, 2017, 12:43PM »

 :D :D :D :D :D
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« Reply #39 on: Nov 19, 2017, 12:51PM »

Playing in tune is overrated.

OK.

All I know is what I hear. That, and some of the easier math behind it. I’m still learning not to get passionate about intonation on line, with 8x10 color glossies with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back explaining. Those who understand need no explanation. For those who don’t understand, no explanation will suffice. That’s why I edited my previous post.

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« Reply #40 on: Nov 19, 2017, 01:34PM »

Those who understand need no explanation. For those who don’t understand, no explanation will suffice.

That's why I agreed with your nevermind
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« Reply #41 on: Nov 19, 2017, 03:14PM »

OK.

All I know is what I hear. That, and some of the easier math behind it. I’m still learning not to get passionate about intonation on line, with 8x10 color glossies with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back explaining. Those who understand need no explanation. For those who don’t understand, no explanation will suffice. That’s why I edited my previous post.

Happy Turkey Day, for those of us who celebrate it.

Sorry, man, didn't mean to ruffle your feathers.  My post wasn't directed at yours (which is why I didn't quote it), but was a tongue in cheek reference to an entirely different thread with some of the same punters involved.
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« Reply #42 on: Nov 19, 2017, 03:24PM »

Thanks, guys. Must have missed that earlier thread, maybe a good thing. Now if I could just figure out where the things making whooshing noises over my head are coming from...
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« Reply #43 on: Nov 19, 2017, 03:30PM »

Sorry, man, didn't mean to ruffle your feathers.  My post wasn't directed at yours (which is why I didn't quote it), but was a tongue in cheek reference to an entirely different thread with some of the same punters involved.

That must be me!  :D

It was and still is a joke man. If you were referring to the "tone doesn't doesn't matter" joke, poking fun at the sad excuse for jazz I hear on the radio daily. But it was also dead serious.
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« Reply #44 on: Nov 19, 2017, 04:04PM »

A bit off-topic and newcomer's question, but I have always wondered. I have never played in symphony orchestra, only wind bands. If the orchestra tunes to A, but most of the brass instruments' closed pitch is in Bb, how do people in the brass section know that their instruments' closed pitch (where other tuning slides positions are derived from) is in tune, not just the 2nd valve tuning slide (or in case of trombone, the slide position)? Is it done entirely by ear?

And why doesn't the oboe gives A for strings and Bb for the brass section? (And maybe F for the horns and F tubas?) Theoretically the oboe should be in-tune for its entire range, isn't it?
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« Reply #45 on: Nov 19, 2017, 04:08PM »

A bit off-topic and newcomer's question, but I have always wondered. I have never played in symphony orchestra, only wind bands. If the orchestra tunes to A, but most of the brass instruments' closed pitch is in Bb, how do people in the brass section know that their instruments' closed pitch (where other tuning slides positions are derived from) is in tune, not just the 2nd valve tuning slide (or in case of trombone, the slide position)? Is it done entirely by ear?


I think the proof is in the results.

I have listened to a lot of orchestras on CD and radio, a few professional ones in person, and a much larger number of amateur ones in person.  I've even occasionally played in an amateur one.

The professional ones play in tune, mostly.  The amateur ones do not (and it can be painful).  But even at the amateur level, the offenders are not the winds.  They are the violin and viola sections.  That's just my experience, YMMV.
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« Reply #46 on: Nov 19, 2017, 05:24PM »

A bit off-topic and newcomer's question, but I have always wondered. I have never played in symphony orchestra, only wind bands. If the orchestra tunes to A, but most of the brass instruments' closed pitch is in Bb, how do people in the brass section know that their instruments' closed pitch (where other tuning slides positions are derived from) is in tune, not just the 2nd valve tuning slide (or in case of trombone, the slide position)? Is it done entirely by ear?

And why doesn't the oboe gives A for strings and Bb for the brass section? (And maybe F for the horns and F tubas?) Theoretically the oboe should be in-tune for its entire range, isn't it?

I don’t know what the valves instruments do, but for trombones in orchestra, tuning to A  is not an issue. We have a tuning slide in our hand and we are are making adjustments to compensate for many issues such as playing on a cold instrument or adjusting for changes in the pitch center that tends to occur with most groups.
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« Reply #47 on: Nov 19, 2017, 05:54PM »

A bit off-topic and newcomer's question, but I have always wondered. I have never played in symphony orchestra, only wind bands. If the orchestra tunes to A, but most of the brass instruments' closed pitch is in Bb, how do people in the brass section know that their instruments' closed pitch (where other tuning slides positions are derived from) is in tune, not just the 2nd valve tuning slide (or in case of trombone, the slide position)? Is it done entirely by ear?

And why doesn't the oboe gives A for strings and Bb for the brass section? (And maybe F for the horns and F tubas?) Theoretically the oboe should be in-tune for its entire range, isn't it?

Trombone should not tune the Bb to a closed position, but instead to a useable one a few cm out (hotly debated, but just my experience based opinion). That said, everyone should come to a rehearsal already well practiced in tuning. They should know if the orchestra is A440 or A442, and practice that way at home. They should also be able to recognize if the rehearsal hall is warmer or cooler than where they usually play. So, they should come pretty well warmed up and tuned.

The tuning A should feel familiar and right, since the player already tuned previously. It can be tested against other notes.

In the end, as long as both a Bb (or D above it) and B can be played in tune with the group, all other notes are also in tune. Tuning surprises mean you didn't practice with the group or someone needs to be fired.
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« Reply #48 on: Nov 19, 2017, 06:31PM »

A bit off-topic and newcomer's question, but I have always wondered. I have never played in symphony orchestra, only wind bands. If the orchestra tunes to A, but most of the brass instruments' closed pitch is in Bb, how do people in the brass section know that their instruments' closed pitch (where other tuning slides positions are derived from) is in tune, not just the 2nd valve tuning slide (or in case of trombone, the slide position)? Is it done entirely by ear?

And why doesn't the oboe gives A for strings and Bb for the brass section? (And maybe F for the horns and F tubas?) Theoretically the oboe should be in-tune for its entire range, isn't it?

Well, it also isn't the "closed pitch" for most of the woodwinds. Many concert bands do give A for woodwinds and Bb for brass. But trumpets are more often in C in a symphony orchestra. So are tubas, when they're not in F. Trumpet in Eb is not uncommon, and alto trombone either...you'd quickly reach 4 or 5 different notes to give...

You get used to know the necessary adjustments based on the given A. Also, we typically tune more than just an A. While the oboe only gives A, you can also touch D and E (as the strings need to play and tune those notes too).
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« Reply #49 on: Nov 19, 2017, 08:10PM »

A bit off-topic and newcomer's question, but I have always wondered. I have never played in symphony orchestra, only wind bands. If the orchestra tunes to A, but most of the brass instruments' closed pitch is in Bb, how do people in the brass section know that their instruments' closed pitch (where other tuning slides positions are derived from) is in tune, not just the 2nd valve tuning slide (or in case of trombone, the slide position)? Is it done entirely by ear?

And why doesn't the oboe gives A for strings and Bb for the brass section? (And maybe F for the horns and F tubas?) Theoretically the oboe should be in-tune for its entire range, isn't it?

Some orchestras I've played in do give both an A and a Bb when doing.  I don't like the practice.  What if the given A and Bb are not in tune with each other?  Furthermore, I have no problem tuning to an A.  I play the D above it and listen to the interval.

It doesn't really matter if I tune exactly to the oboe A.  Just as long as I'm close, I have the world's longest tuning slide in my right hand to fix minor errors.  I actually prefer to be tuned slightly high relative to the oboe A so that if I'm flat in first position I can fix it on the fly.  (First position being slightly off the bumpers.)
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« Reply #50 on: Nov 20, 2017, 02:18AM »

Some orchestras I've played in do give both an A and a Bb when doing.  I don't like the practice.  What if the given A and Bb are not in tune with each other?  Furthermore, I have no problem tuning to an A.  I play the D above it and listen to the interval.

It doesn't really matter if I tune exactly to the oboe A.  Just as long as I'm close, I have the world's longest tuning slide in my right hand to fix minor errors.  I actually prefer to be tuned slightly high relative to the oboe A so that if I'm flat in first position I can fix it on the fly.  (First position being slightly off the bumpers.)
Actually the idea of giving both A and Bb to the orchestra was practised in the The Rojal opera in Stockhom years ago. Bad idea. Did not improve the intonation. (understatement)
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What if the given A and Bb are not in tune with each other?

Well they arn´t. How could they?
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« Reply #51 on: Nov 20, 2017, 02:14PM »

I don’t know what the valves instruments do, but for trombones in orchestra, tuning to A  is not an issue. We have a tuning slide in our hand and we are are making adjustments to compensate for many issues such as playing on a cold instrument or adjusting for changes in the pitch center that tends to occur with most groups.

I had meant to comment on this earlier, but I get annoyed when I'm offered a Bb rather than an A as the tuning note, particularly when other instruments are given the A.

For one thing, you can adjust the A in both directions with the mainslide, allowing you to get a clearer position of where your horn in particular is sitting. Yeah, I tune a little bit off the bumpers as a general rule, but that being the case, sometimes I need to go sharper than I can on just the handslide and there isn't always time to get the pitch, try to find it, come off horn, adjust tuning slide, go back to horn, etc. For another, I'm also dubious of the premise that the Oboe's A and Bb will be equivalent and that just adds more error to the approximate nature of amateur intonation.
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« Reply #52 on: Nov 20, 2017, 02:25PM »

the approximate nature of amateur intonation.
Good! Good! Good!
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« Reply #53 on: Nov 21, 2017, 01:28AM »

Good! Good! Good!

Yes I believe many of us don´t like the Bb as a tuning tone. I was against as a teacher to. I believe students of 16 up of years shall learn to tune to A, beacuse that is what they get in the orchestras. No Bb:s aaginst the bumper.

How many if us have experienced a tuner that was not accurat thoug?

I have never found a tuner that wasn´t accurat.

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« Reply #54 on: Nov 21, 2017, 04:10AM »

OP still hasn't said whether or not the oboe's tuner was set to A442. If it was, it's not inaccurate, just tuned sharper.
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« Reply #55 on: Nov 21, 2017, 05:19AM »

Checkout the intonation on this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85_73iAm-sU&feature=youtu.be

I have visions of a whole section in our community band.

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« Reply #56 on: Nov 21, 2017, 01:35PM »

 I wonder if this tuner apps for phones are to trust? I mostly use my internal tuner but not sure of the accuracy :D

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« Reply #57 on: Nov 22, 2017, 09:44PM »

OP still hasn't said whether or not the oboe's tuner was set to A442. If it was, it's not inaccurate, just tuned sharper.

Not sure what the tuner was set to as I did not want to touch other peoples stuff. I did point out it was wrong when two nearby tuners were right.

I recall I had a tuner many years ago that was off and not adjustable......except to place it in the bottom of the trash can.

I personally prefer a pitch pipe. But I mostly prefer A 440.
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« Reply #58 on: Nov 23, 2017, 05:43AM »

I wonder if this tuner apps for phones are to trust? I mostly use my internal tuner but not sure of the accuracy :D

Leif

I don't trust phone tuner apps, but everyone I've said this to acts shocked, so it's probably just me.  Don't know
Might be that I'm using an archaic smartphone, so both my phone's mic and my app could be wonky.
Might also be that I like to use a tuner to check a whole buncha notes throughout my range. It might be fine for a simple A=440 tuning pitch, but it craps out when I try to play anything outside a narrow mid-range of pitches.
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« Reply #59 on: Nov 23, 2017, 06:26AM »

I'd speculate most of us would not be able to tell the difference between 440 & 442 if we heard them played apart by an hour or so.  I think the way to resolve this is to train yourself to tune by ear.  The director should pick a wind instrument (oboe or clarinet) and have everyone tune by ear to it. Perhaps more than once per practice so that everyone gets used to adjusting as they go.
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« Reply #60 on: Nov 23, 2017, 07:16AM »

I'd speculate most of us would not be able to tell the difference between 440 & 442 if we heard them played apart by an hour or so.  I think the way to resolve this is to train yourself to tune by ear.  The director should pick a wind instrument (oboe or clarinet) and have everyone tune by ear to it. Perhaps more than once per practice so that everyone gets used to adjusting as they go.

Doesn't everybody do that?

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« Reply #61 on: Nov 23, 2017, 09:19AM »


Might also be that I like to use a tuner to check a whole buncha notes throughout my range. It might be fine for a simple A=440 tuning pitch, but it craps out when I try to play anything outside a narrow mid-range of pitches.

Could be the tuner on those other notes, but, could it also be you?

Somebody, I think it was Brad Edwards? recommended occasional tuner use for the purpose of recalibrating your ear.  That makes sense to me.  I've been doing it with the pBones I'm playing (some hand pain is limiting my ability to play the 42B) and I might have drifted a bit on some notes.

Also recording a rehearsal can be enlightening.  I'm hearing myself play a tiny bit sharp when I could have sworn I was playing under pitch. 
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« Reply #62 on: Nov 23, 2017, 09:30AM »

Doesn't everybody do that?

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You would think.
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« Reply #63 on: Nov 23, 2017, 09:56AM »

Doesn't everybody do that?

Ronnie

OP wants to but has 440 stuck in his head, along with the entire orchestra other than the oboe player.
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« Reply #64 on: Nov 24, 2017, 05:15AM »

Could be the tuner on those other notes, but, could it also be you?

Could it be me re: I'm out of tune? Of course I'm out of tune!! Otherwise I wouldn't be bothering to use a tuner at all.
I should have been clearer; when I say it "craps out," I mean the needle becomes either completely unresponsive or wildly spastic (like, between an octave or two's worth of notes, not just the usual "spastic" problem where it can't tell if I'm playing a really flat C or a really sharp B).
I don't have this problem with my Korg tuner.
But this is an off-topic issue.
I'm just sayin' I don't trust phone tuners.

Somebody, I think it was Brad Edwards? recommended occasional tuner use for the purpose of recalibrating your ear.  That makes sense to me.  I've been doing it with the pBones I'm playing (some hand pain is limiting my ability to play the 42B) and I might have drifted a bit on some notes.

This is what I use it for. At home. Often supplemented by a drone/autotune. To see where my G is these days, to check my B-natural, etc.
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« Reply #65 on: Nov 24, 2017, 05:19AM »



This is what I use it for. At home. Often supplemented by a drone/autotune. To see where my G is these days, to check my B-natural, etc.


That's what I do too, but also I've recorded the last couple rehearsals.  Since I've been the only trombone showing up, if I'm out of tune it's pretty obvious.  I'm hearing myself play a little sharp on the recorder when I was hearing it okay when playing.  It's  not a lot sharp, but even a tiny bit is wrong.

Obviously I need to bring a couple more recorders and see if one of those is inaccurate.  <hee, hee>
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« Reply #66 on: Nov 24, 2017, 06:48AM »

That's what I do too, but also I've recorded the last couple rehearsals.  Since I've been the only trombone showing up, if I'm out of tune it's pretty obvious.  I'm hearing myself play a little sharp on the recorder when I was hearing it okay when playing.  It's  not a lot sharp, but even a tiny bit is wrong.

Obviously I need to bring a couple more recorders and see if one of those is inaccurate.  <hee, hee>

Just out of curiosity - what is the acoustics of your rehearsal space like? I am not always in tune either, but I think at least for me it's usually when I can't properly hear the rest of the group, and people next to me (i.e., trumpets) are also sharp but the only clear pitch reference due to what the room propagates.
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« Reply #67 on: Nov 24, 2017, 07:47AM »

Just out of curiosity - what is the acoustics of your rehearsal space like? I am not always in tune either, but I think at least for me it's usually when I can't properly hear the rest of the group, and people next to me (i.e., trumpets) are also sharp but the only clear pitch reference due to what the room propagates.


Very live, loud and echoey, and people playing way too loudly at the same time. 

I leave my H2 on a table behind me and to the left.  But I'm very present in the mix, even with the mini pBone.  Maybe I should put it out in front and see.  The pBone doesn't give much feedback and I may be playing too loudly also. 

Maybe I can snip a couple segments today and see what you all think. 
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« Reply #68 on: Nov 24, 2017, 08:01AM »

I'm the one who has talked about using a tuner to calibrate your ear when your own hearing is inaccurate.

The real problem is that when you're playing there are three pathways of sound - bone conduction, right ear, and left ear.  Perception of pitch can be slightly different in each.  That's why you can think you're in tune when you're playing but the recording (and the tuner) tell you otherwise.

Using a tuner helps to get accustomed to the actual correct pitch sounding correct.
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« Reply #69 on: Nov 24, 2017, 08:11AM »

I'm just sayin' I don't trust phone tuners.

On a side note, we in the early music world all are big users of phone tuner apps, because of the huge flexibility they offer in terms of reference pitch and temperaments. The only traditional tuner that can compete with them is the Korg Orchestral Tuner. Which sells for ~$80.....(it is a great machine and I love the analog needle with adjustable sensitivity - but it's a bit large to carry around when you can just pull out your phone and have something almost as good and even more flexible).

And so these apps are extremely useful to us. Also very useful to tune a harpsichord or organ on the fly. Yet, there are some issues with that, one of them is, as you say, reliability - there is some variation based on what phone you have - I have noticed some differences between my two phones and my Korg, with all three giving me different readings for the same note even if calibrated to the same frequency and tuning system. Also, some of the tuning apps (including the most widespread, Cleartune) have mistakes in some temperaments, and now that many keyboard players will use their phone tuners instead of tuning by ear and/or comparing the raw frequencies to a tuning chart, you find that these mistakes sometimes make their way in actual daily use, where some notes are no longer exactly where they should be...
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« Reply #70 on: Nov 24, 2017, 08:55AM »

I'm the one who has talked about using a tuner to calibrate your ear when your own hearing is inaccurate.

The real problem is that when you're playing there are three pathways of sound - bone conduction, right ear, and left ear.  Perception of pitch can be slightly different in each.  That's why you can think you're in tune when you're playing but the recording (and the tuner) tell you otherwise.

Using a tuner helps to get accustomed to the actual correct pitch sounding correct.

Great point!  Way cool

Sorry to harp on it, but this is another reason why it's pretty useful to learn the colors of harmonic tuning - getting those pure 3rds/5ths/etc. because locking in those kinds of intervals doesn't depend on this kind of perception. The "color processing" for intervals and how sound waves form chord-ish patterns is a different level of processing in our brains.

Speaking of tuners, if I remember correctly, it's a fun little physics quirk that someone almost matching a tuning note at the unison versus almost matching someone at an octave produces two different kinds of interference patterns. At octaves, very close pitches produce standard binaurnal beats, where the beats represent a cycle of the change in amplitude caused by the interference pattern. At the unison, the effect is different: the beats represent a cycle of the change in frequency as well as amplitude.

I think unison beats are easier to hear, so in terms of having an oboe or similar instrument tune up an orchestra, one interesting variation in the tuning ritual would be to give separate tuning notes in separate octaves.
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« Reply #71 on: Nov 24, 2017, 10:32AM »

I think unison beats are easier to hear, so in terms of having an oboe or similar instrument tune up an orchestra, one interesting variation in the tuning ritual would be to give separate tuning notes in separate octaves.

In a band I used to play in (and whose director is very interested in trying different approaches to intonation and blend), for a while we tuned in unisons and octaves from the bottom up, having a single tuba give a Bb, then the other tubas would tune to it, then some of them would switch octaves, a trombone would come in and tune to that, the others would come in and tune to him, and the tuning note would gradually move up the brass line like that, passing from principal to principal and octave to octave, with every principal taking their note from the previous on a unison, and members of the section taking their note from their principal, also at first on a unison. The same would happen with an A in the woodwinds.

It was interesting. I don't know how much difference it made in the tuning itself (it was a very good semi-pro band and intonation was not a big issue generally), but I think that and other elements intended to raise awareness to the sound concept of a pyramid based on the basses did improve the blend and the ensemble sound quite a bit.
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« Reply #72 on: Nov 28, 2017, 09:21AM »

The audience (and the people paying you to play) aren't listening with a tuner, they're listening with their ears.

You have to play in tune with the musicians and instruments you're making music with, not with lights or bars on an electronic device.

Unless you have perfect pitch A=430, 435, 440, 441, 442, 444 or WHATEVER doesn't make a lick of difference. The oboe is your reference over the tuner if that's what your ensemble tunes to. If you're playing with any kind of fixed pitch instrument, i.e. a keyboard/piano/synth/percussion or samples, then you tune AND TEMPER the rest of the ensemble to those instruments in the sections they're involved. Possibly with a tuner set to match the non tunable instruments if you need to save time.

If the oboe isn't in tune with the piano, you have bigger problems than just pitch. Do your best to match with what you believe to be the lead voice in that section of music, which is usually your section leader.

Just or Pythagorean or equal temperament should only ever come into play if you're the only person on stage playing that pitch, otherwise you compromise to be in tune with the other musicians. The listeners would much rather hear you match the equal tempered third in the chord than create beating between voices because you're worried about being "right", and you think the oboe is wrong.

Use a tuner when you practice by yourself to stay aware of your tuning habits, and not let them influence your ear. Being able to hear if you're in tune or not is just as important as being able to play in tune.
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« Reply #73 on: Nov 28, 2017, 11:59AM »

Could it be me re: I'm out of tune? Of course I'm out of tune!! Otherwise I wouldn't be bothering to use a tuner at all.
I should have been clearer; when I say it "craps out," I mean the needle becomes either completely unresponsive or wildly spastic (like, between an octave or two's worth of notes, not just the usual "spastic" problem where it can't tell if I'm playing a really flat C or a really sharp B).
I don't have this problem with my Korg tuner.
But this is an off-topic issue.
I'm just sayin' I don't trust phone tuners.

This is what I use it for. At home. Often supplemented by a drone/autotune. To see where my G is these days, to check my B-natural, etc.


The issue with phone tuners, as far as I can tell, is more an issue of speed than it is of accuracy, per se. Your Korg/Boss/Peterson/etc tuners have discrete circuits built for the purpose of finding the pitch, isolating it, and figuring out exactly where it is in relation to the chosen reference pitch.

The phone tuner runs everything through the DAC and then the phone's CPU, and is going through your phone's built-in microphone which may not have a microphone balance for which the tuner is ready.

I've had better luck with the $10 Peterson iStrobosoft app than I have with a lot of the free options, and with the free options (in particular DaTuner), you can try screwing around with the speed/accuracy balance, microphone sensitivity (are you clipping the mic? Are you picking up resonances outside of your trombone in particular?) to find the best results.

The last tip is one that I personally don't like, but it seems to help: Get the most popular phone, so the app developers can set up a profile for the particular microphone in use by the app. I had nothing but trouble with the tuner/SPLMeter/etc apps on my Droid Turbo (I loved that phone, but Verizon offered me a deal to get 2 for the price of 1 if I traded it in, and a family member desperately needed a new device), but with the Galaxy S7 (probably the most popular phone at that time) it seems much more stable. iDevices don't have this problem to such a large degree since there's only one made per generation, but if you're using Android it bears mentioning.
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« Reply #74 on: Nov 28, 2017, 12:11PM »

An occasional tune-up with a tuner is pretty useful, especially moving between horns. Yes, on my Yamaha 691 third position is that close.
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« Reply #75 on: Nov 28, 2017, 12:58PM »

TE Tuner app on my phone is the best tuner I've seen, with a lot of other nice functions.  I have no reason to doubt its extreme accuracy.
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« Reply #76 on: Nov 28, 2017, 02:47PM »

The oboe got a new tuner!

Someone talked to her and got her to get a new one. I think they put several tuners on her stand and showed her.

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« Reply #77 on: Nov 28, 2017, 05:19PM »

The issue with phone tuners, as far as I can tell, is more an issue of speed than it is of accuracy, per se. Your Korg/Boss/Peterson/etc tuners have discrete circuits built for the purpose of finding the pitch, isolating it, and figuring out exactly where it is in relation to the chosen reference pitch.

The phone tuner runs everything through the DAC and then the phone's CPU, and is going through your phone's built-in microphone which may not have a microphone balance for which the tuner is ready.

I'm no electronics specialist, but I doubt most modern phones have any issue with speed with regards to use as a tuner. They will instantaneously complete far more complex operations without trouble, all the time. Plus, aside from speed, the hardware in most modern phone would be much, much higher quality and precision than what's in a $10 tuner.

I've had better luck with the $10 Peterson iStrobosoft app than I have with a lot of the free options, and with the free options (in particular DaTuner), you can try screwing around with the speed/accuracy balance, microphone sensitivity (are you clipping the mic? Are you picking up resonances outside of your trombone in particular?) to find the best results.

TE Tuner app on my phone is the best tuner I've seen, with a lot of other nice functions.  I have no reason to doubt its extreme accuracy.

I've heard good things about that TonalEnergy app.

Some great phone based options out there, many for free. Probably the most used and popular one is Cleartune. My personal favorite is PitchLab (don't be fooled by the silly marketing presenting it as a "Guitar tuner"). The free basic version is the most complete tuner app I've seen. More temperaments, more settings to play with, plus the possibility to create your own temperaments or modify the existing ones (if you find a mistake in them, for instance), which Cleartune only offers in the Apple version, not the Android. The only downside of PitchLab is the visualizations are not great. You can get more advanced options for a small cost (among other, a very cool "pitch spectogram" feature that displays your pitch in relation to time, so you can see when you have a tendency to go attack sharp or go flat at the end of notes, for example - I hear TonalEnergy has a similar feature as well).
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« Reply #78 on: Nov 28, 2017, 07:05PM »

The oboe got a new tuner!

Someone talked to her and got her to get a new one. I think they put several tuners on her stand and showed her.



In community groups, there is some humor involved in tuning to an oboe.  The oboe player plays their A, and we wait for the note to settle.  When the note finally settles, we can say that is the note we use to tune.  The concert master wears a wonderful look of seasickness when it takes extra long for the note to settle.
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« Reply #79 on: Nov 28, 2017, 07:51PM »

I'm no electronics specialist, but I doubt most modern phones have any issue with speed with regards to use as a tuner. They will instantaneously complete far more complex operations without trouble, all the time.

You are right there.  The processors in today's phones run the the GHz range.  That means, for the layman, they live at billions of cycles per second.  Music deals with hundreds or thousands per second.  While tuning your trombone, the phone is basically asleep.  Unless, of course, the programmer was incompetent. Which is, of course, a distinct possibility.
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« Reply #80 on: Nov 28, 2017, 07:53PM »

TE Tuner app on my phone is the best tuner I've seen, with a lot of other nice functions.  I have no reason to doubt its extreme accuracy.
Is this an app that, for reasons no one can determine (hehe) requires access to the internet, your location and your contacts DB?
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« Reply #81 on: Nov 28, 2017, 07:58PM »

I'm no electronics specialist, but I doubt most modern phones have any issue with speed with regards to use as a tuner. They will instantaneously complete far more complex operations without trouble, all the time. Plus, aside from speed, the hardware in most modern phone would be much, much higher quality and precision than what's in a $10 tuner.

I'm no electronics specialist either, but I can assure you nothing on my five-year-old phone is "instantaneous" these days.



Thanks for the info, John Beers. Makes sense to me.
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« Reply #82 on: Nov 28, 2017, 09:12PM »

Is this an app that, for reasons no one can determine (hehe) requires access to the internet, your location and your contacts DB?
Not that I know of.
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« Reply #83 on: Nov 28, 2017, 09:15PM »

Not that I know of.
Well, that is promising.  Such honest applications are a rarity these days.
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« Reply #84 on: Nov 30, 2017, 07:54AM »

Is this an app that, for reasons no one can determine (hehe) requires access to the internet, your location and your contacts DB?

Access to Device ID's in Android, say if the app wants to optimize for a specific phone's microphone and A/D idiosyncracies, means that Google Play store will tell you that it needs to access your Contacts, even though it's just looking at the device name, which obviously has nothing to do with your contacts.

Also for Region/Language customization, such as to properly display the different ways notes are named around the world, it needs to access your "Location". If they need to do any lookup in a self hosted database to do the aforementioned hardware corrections/updates to make sure the tuner doesn't start reading incorrectly with whatever carrier or manufacturer update got released that week(which also requires access to your "Contacts"), it's going to be listed as permission to access to the internet. The alternative is to build it into an app update that needs significantly more bandwidth and may require the user to manually do.

This is a problem with the way Google categorizes and labels permissions, not with the apps themselves. Some apps will list specifically what they need the permissions for though if you're not a developer yourself there's no way to check they're being honest. Also keep in mind that development does take work, and a lot of these apps are free and have to be supported by ads and/or selling user data and analytics to even exist in the first place. Even more so on the Apple store as Apple takes a third of the money for themselves, because they feel that their platform alone is responsible for a THIRD of the entire worth of every app, piece of music, book or article that's offered through their store.
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