Thursday, July 12, 2007

Playing the flute in tune

Hi there Flutists interested in good intonation! :>)
Firstly; A quick note to my flute-blog subscribers:
I've updated the pdf and mp3 files for yesterday's very fun warmup called "expanding intervals" . Had to repost the YouSendIt link in order to include some minor note corrections, so please download the corrected versions using the new link here. Thanks for discarding the older version (zip files with errors---eeeek!) :>)

Of interest to those working on tuning, the above warmup is FAB for working on tuning intervals! The playalong of solo flute is a perfect reference pitch in equal temperment.

Next topic:
Playing the flute with good intonation has been a problem for the last 150 years, as any professional flutist or teacher will tell you. Either you have "gifted ears" (very rare) or have to work on it somehow (no known method!!! Argh!) So to help with creating a new method for flute students to work at it, and have fun too, I've been writing articles by the score on how to help with flute intonation. Check this out:
Today I added an mp3 called "How to hear beats", for novice flutists. Help yourself to a listen.

The other tuning articles I have on my site are here:
Beginner Flutists: How to Tune Your Flute
Intermediate Flutists: Typical tuning problems-flat low register, sharp high register: how to fix.
also: Playing the flute in tune in ensembles.

And you may want to bookmark this one for your students and flutey friends:
All tuning articles about flute intonation.

Until the invention of "The Tuning CD" we often had to rely, as flutists, on theory, arguments over equal-temperment vs. natural tuning systems, and even consider mathematical ratios.
Good grief...boggles the mind, especially when the older flutes (pre-1975 for the most part) had horribly out-of-tune scales on them. But nowadays tuning is easier. There are new inventions, and new methods.
Please leave comments below if you have ideas to add. (see comment button below.)
I particularly have enjoyed using my notation software to create unison and harmony backing tracks (see previous two blog posts) to keep the pitch centered while playing for tone or technique. Very clever indeed!
Jen :>)
Comments (3)
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the tuning CD and use it from time to time. Very helpful!
What you explain here, this should be part of the tuning CD! Perfect basic help!!
When I got it, I did not understand how to use it and had to try a long time. And I hate loosing time to reinvent things ;-) ... and I love using the Tuning CD for better playing the Syrinx (yes, studies go slowly on, hahaha)

Saturday, July 14, 2007 3:50:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Thanks R.L. for your comment.
I think that the instructions that come with The Tuning CD are fairly good, but unless a person has heard "beats" before (as shown in the mp3) they're not aware of them as much as after a few minutes of working with a teacher who is demonstrating "beats".

And of course, those "beats" are very present if playing in equal temperment (see cut 36, the last cut on the Tuning CD to hear them.)

So it's a very new phenomenon for students listening to the drones for the first time, but a very old phenomenon (the "wah wah" of the beats) that orchestral and chamber music players hear and deal with all the time.
So you're in very good company, NOW! :>)
Best, and thanks for your comment,

Saturday, July 14, 2007 10:40:00 AM

Blogger Sheila said...

I have the Tuning CD (thanks!), and I also use it once in a while, but my problem is it has such high, tiny pitches that it almost hurts my ears. Hmmmmm...

I can see how it is very useful though. Thank you for the tips and when I have some 'spare time' I'll read them! :D

Monday, July 16, 2007 9:10:00 PM


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