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Re: Pitch and Intonation
:: Posted by RickyM on February 11, 2014

cloudscapes wrote:

"... I was thinking this was going to be a lively chat about cricket and visa procedures . . ."

It wasn’t? No?


Re: Pitch & Intonation . . .
:: Posted by cloudscapes on February 11, 2014

Call me Mr. Thicky but here I was thinking this was going to be a lively chat about cricket and visa procedures . . .  Ah well.  Cheers!

Intonation and pitch
:: Posted by Turnip on February 11, 2014

Intonation is a thorny issue, has been for centuries and doesn’t translate well for our modern fixed-fret instruments. I play early music and was delightfully flabergasted when DGM produced two albums by Jacob Heringman. Be that as it may, a few words from a renaissance perspective.

The purpose of Meantone temperment is to produce a more perfect third. What does a perfect third sound like? Pull out your guitar and play the harmonic over the 4th fret on the low E string. First of all you’ll notice it isn’t over the 4th fret. Then you’ll notice it’s flat against the high 4th fretted E string (B). But that really is a perfect third over an E. With fixed frets in an Equal temperment you cannot produce perfect thirds or 6ths except w/ the whammy. But you can play and modulate into different keys - which you cannot easily do in a tempered environment. The meantone purists joke that modern tuning is equally out of tune in every key. There are different flavors of temperment that are more mild (gives greater key modulation possibilities) to severe (damn, those 3rds are beautiful but let’s keep it in G since we’re surrounded by wolves [wolftones]) that were developed from the mid-15th century through the baroque. Lutes have movable frets so you may dial in the temperment as you need or prefer. Btw, JH plays in 6th comma meantone and, for reference, 4th comma gives the most pure thirds. Most of the surviving fixed metal fretted instruments have a meantone temperment, usually 6th comma.

There’s a reason power chords are played w/ only root and 5th: those are the only notes in tune!

As for pitch, in the early music world, players are more elastic on what we call A. There’s A=440, A=415, 392, etc. In the old days cities would have their own preference (possibly dominated by the local/biggest church organ). Shifting your A reference will let your instrument/room/head-and-ears resonate differently but shouldn’t, ultimately, affect your music. Many baroque groups record and perform in A=415 since the instrument copies (flutes, recorders) are designed along those dimensions.

Sorry to get all nerdy. Keep calm, carry on ... Sean

:: Posted by emory0 on February 11, 2014

"A ’temperament’ is a system of tuning which slightly compromises the pure intervals of just intonation in order to meet other requirements of the system"

Yeah, I think that’s been pointed out but it bears repeating: Our tempered scale deliberately messes with what should be perfect mathematical definitions of pitch, so that all sorts of interesting games can be played musically. And no one seems too bothered by all those tones that are, technically speaking, "off" what they should be even compared to lower notes in the same scale. (But I do believe some advanced musicians can hear that off-ness when playing unusual melodies that include notes from different ends of the spectrum.)

In fact, isn’t there some great piece by maybe Bach (The Well Tempered Clavier) which was one of the original showcases for the new tempered tuning? I find it interesting to think that, during the enlightenment, people realized they could "get away" from deviating from metaphysical perfection in order to allow much more complex musical possibilities.

:: Posted by MartinLennon on February 11, 2014

Perhaps DannyX had a wry smile on his face when he said "C’mon, guys, it’s just intonation!"  I know I did when I read it.


:: Posted by zebanet1 on February 11, 2014

As far as I understand the discussion so far is based on the assumption, that everybody hears the same way. I doubt that very much. Just think of someone with the ‚absolute hearing‘ (hope the term is correct), like Mozart had. These people maybe would recognise different pitches at once, I guess. Not everybody has that ‚perfect‘ ear (at least not any more). Sometimes I notice different perceptions between my left and my right ear. So physical basics, educational, social and culutural backgrounds, musical training, other influences  and who knows what else might be of importance, too.

If nothing helps, pimp up up your ear aid ...

Pitch and Intonation
:: Posted by RickyM on February 11, 2014

Continuing the debate and saga ...

Merriam-Webster’s definition of these are such ...

Pitch (noun) (Concise Encyclopedia)

In music, position of a single sound in the complete range of sound; this quality varies with the number of vibrations per second (hertz, Hz) of the sounding body and is perceived as highness or lowness. A higher pitch has a higher number of vibrations. In Western music, standard pitches have long been used to facilitate tuning. A confusing variety of pitches prevailed until the 19th century, when the continual rise in pitch made some international agreement a matter of practical necessity. In 1939 the A above middle C was standardized as 440 Hz. See also interval; tuning and temperament.

a : the relative level, intensity, or extent of some quality or state
b (1) : the property of a sound and especially a musical tone that is determined by the frequency of the waves producing it : highness or lowness of sound (2) : a standard frequency for tuning instruments
c (1) : the difference in the relative vibration frequency of the human voice that contributes to the total meaning of speech (2) : a definite relative pitch that is a significant phenomenon in speech

Intonation (noun) (Concise Encyclopedia)

In phonetics, the melodic pattern of an utterance. Intonation is primarily a matter of variation in the pitch level of the voice (see tone), but in languages such as English, stress and rhythm are also involved. Intonation conveys differences of expressive meaning (e.g., surprise, doubtfulness). In many languages, including English, intonation serves a grammatical function, distinguishing one type of phrase or sentence from another. Thus, “it’s gone” is an assertion when spoken with a drop in pitch at the end, but a question when spoken with a rise in pitch at the end.

1: something that is intoned; specifically : the opening tones of a Gregorian chant
2: the act of intoning and especially of chanting
3: the ability to play or sing notes in tune
4: manner of utterance; specifically : the rise and fall in pitch of the voice in speech

So, Intonation speaks to being in tune, while Pitch addresses the frequencies (and the vibrations that it might cause). Two different aspects that make music work for people, places and instruments.

Being born in the second half of the 20th century, I was taught A440Hz was the tuning standard in western music. By my late 20s and early 30s, "world music" was getting noticed and all sorts of tunings and such were being explored.

Clearly, there’s no right or wrong. But, most can "hear" something out of tune (with other instruments, in a relative way, so to speak). And, in certain situations, some even can "feel" a change in pitch on a instrument (even if at a subtle change).

I have tried a few experiments in the past few weeks w/ two guitars - 1 tuned using NST, the other using OST. On each, I initially used A440Hz as my basis for tuning. Then, I played each instrument (as is my default practice). But then, I set my electronic tuner so A=432Hz. Then tuned both guitars using that 432Hz setting for A. Once I started to play, either using chords or single note runs, the difference is noticeable (chords in particular). What I have yet to do, but do plan on, is, record one guitar in A440Hz and another in A432Hz - either on the same track or separately.

Again, no right or wrong here, just seeing where this takes me and to see what effect it has on my inner systems.


Little help here...someone, anyone?
:: Posted by DannyX on February 11, 2014

Seems not. OK then, from our friends at Wikipedia:

’Just intonation’ is any musical tuning in which the frequencies of notes are related by ratios of small whole numbers.

A ’temperament’ is a system of tuning which slightly compromises the pure intervals of just intonation in order to meet other requirements of the system.

Sorry to interrupt the fun...please continue.

:: Posted by RickyM on February 10, 2014

Well, "... it’s just intonation!". I wish it were that simple.

Again, i can only speak from my own experience (on Aug 8th 2014, it will be 50 years as a guitarist, and close to 13 years, experiencing the wonderful effects of A432Hz in Bath UK), so I cannot speak with another voice or authority but my own.

I do know that I would prefer to not play with other musicians/players who lack intonation on their respective instruments. Yet alone being out of tune with the cosmos.


:: Posted by GonzalezPaulo on February 10, 2014

The improvised section of TRAVEL WEARY CAPRICORN on the LIVE AT THE MARQUEE CD contains Etude Number 8 by Matheo Carcassi. BY THE SLEEPY LAGOON is part of the improvised section of CAPRICORN on the PLUMPTON FESTIVAL CD.

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