Tutorials

David Beecroft: Perfecting Intonation

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
Hello,
David Beecroft: Perfecting Intonation

- I think Pete mentioned this book a while back and I had it book marked as something to go back and have a look at. It has me piqued my interest as its aim is to help you blend tuning wise with the other musicians not a tuner.

It's rather expensive and so I was wondering if anyone has any experience with it that they could share.

All the best,

Chris
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Pete C

Member
Messages
346
Location
Exeter
haven't seen this book Chris but it's an interesting area - I did read that book "How equal temperament tuning ruined music" or similar title. Did you buy this book in the end?
 
OP
Chris98

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
Hi Pete,

No, I've not bought the book yet but I've downloaded the sample chapters from Jazzwise and listened to sample audio files and I'm still very interested.

I could be wrong but I think it's a Jazzwise publication, I'd not realised they published as well.

David Beecroft's Website

If, or more likely, when I get it I'll try it out for a bit and then post a short review of the book my experience.

All the best,

Chris
 
Last edited by a moderator:

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,361
Location
Buckinghamshire
Hello,
David Beecroft: Perfecting Intonation
- I think Pete mentioned this book a while back and I had it book marked as something to go back and have a look at. It has me piqued my interest as its aim is to help you blend tuning wise with the other musicians not a tuner.

It's rather expensive and so I was wondering if anyone has any experience with it that they could share.

All the best,

Chris
My teacher says my intonation is pretty good for the time I have been playing - it's everything else that's rubbish! So I'm working on everything else. :w00t:

Would be good to hear if this is any good though.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
OP
Chris98

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
Perfecting Intonation by David Beecroft

Well I took the plunge and ordered the book from JazzWise and when it arrived I dutifully read through all the initial text which explains, with a bit of maths in places, the advantage of ‘Just Intonation’, I’m not sure, hand on heart I fully understood it but here goes:

This is my very simplified take on it, on a piano/keyboard every note has it’s place, locked and unmoving but that actually means that no note is in tune with any other note. Unfortunately or fortunately most people don’t have the natural ability to play out of tune to the accuracy required to play ‘in tune’ as dictated by the ‘equal temperament’ tuning system.

Forget keyboards, pianos and guitars for the moment and imagine three accomplished singers, the first sings a low note and you check your digital tuner and the note is solidly in tune then the next singer pitches their note maybe a 3rd higher and then the third pitches their note say a 5th higher to create a nice harmony. If you were to isolate the second or third singer and check their note on the tuner you’d notice they were out of tune, yet your ears tell you the three together are perfectly in tune, this would be ‘Just Intonation’ and is based on whole number ratios which we can naturally hear and recognise.

Okay enough of my poor explanation of something I’ve yet to fully grasp, the idea of the book I think is two fold, to develop your ears and develop flexibility of pitch, the goal being that you are flexible enough to place the note you are playing in the best place to sound good against whatever you are playing with, be it a piano, other saxophonists or a whole band.

The majority of the book consists of exercises to be played against the backing tracks, the exercises look thoroughly boring, there is no rhythm, there is just a group of notes marked on the staff, usually ascending and descending and that's it. At the top of the page is usually a note to say what to look out for, ie: “Pay particular attention to the 3rd scale degree. In just intonation it is almost 14 cents lower then the equal temperament counterpart”

But, put on the CD track and play those notes, forgetting about everything except getting each and every note in tune and it’s almost like a meditation. When your notes are in tune with the backing track it gels and you can really hear the harmonic richness, when you are out of tune it beats and the beating gets faster the more out of tune you are. It takes concentration but I’ve found it totally captivating.

I’ve had the book four days now and have used it each day, it’s too early to say what it’s long term effect will be but it’s already had one positive effect, I’m starting to trust my ears as to whether or not I’m in tune not a tuner.

I got the impression when I first posed the question about intonation that most people didn't have a problem with it, so maybe this book will have limited appeal.

All the best,

Chris
 

Linky Lee

Member
Messages
182
Location
Salisbury, UK
On the other hand, I think most people do have trouble with intonation.

maybe they can pitch the notes fairly well naturally, but then they can't quite get control of the subtleties to get that richness you talk of.

or maybe they can control the pitch to fit in well with others, but solo they're stuck as they don't have a strong enough inner reference to compare too.

I think of myself as more of the latter, though I obviously don't pitch perfectly so I am both in reality.

My intonation is getting better and better all the time. I've spent a lot of time practicing singing in tune - which I find is not only highly enjoyable, but does wonders for my saxophone playing as well. Also it seems to be improving my inner sense of pitch. By thinking of the opening riff to Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac or the first note to Food for Thought by UB40 I can get a pitch in my head which I know is correct and therefore compare to (this is the bit that takes the time).

I've also joined a funk band where I have decided to learn all the songs by heart. So far it's been quite challenging, though working out what the trumpet player plays, recreating that on the sax and then finding my line has been a real workout for my ear and I have started to notice myself doing this more naturally.
 

deebee

New Member
Messages
9
Location
Berlin
Hello Chris,

I came across your comments on Perfecting Intonation a few days ago. Very well written. I admit the explanation of the math behind just intonation is rather quick. I thought that if someone is interested in the topic, they can dig further themselves. I am glad to hear that you found the exercises to be "meditative". Playing "in tune" is something you relax into, even when playing at the top of the natural register of your horn.
If you have any further comments or questions, then I would be glad to hear them. Either here or you can email me at:
mail (at) beecroft (dot) de

Yours,

David Beecroft





Well I took the plunge and ordered the book from JazzWise and when it arrived I dutifully read through all the initial text which explains, with a bit of maths in places, the advantage of ‘Just Intonation’, I’m not sure, hand on heart I fully understood it but here goes:

This is my very simplified take on it, on a piano/keyboard every note has it’s place, locked and unmoving but that actually means that no note is in tune with any other note. Unfortunately or fortunately most people don’t have the natural ability to play out of tune to the accuracy required to play ‘in tune’ as dictated by the ‘equal temperament’ tuning system.

Forget keyboards, pianos and guitars for the moment and imagine three accomplished singers, the first sings a low note and you check your digital tuner and the note is solidly in tune then the next singer pitches their note maybe a 3rd higher and then the third pitches their note say a 5th higher to create a nice harmony. If you were to isolate the second or third singer and check their note on the tuner you’d notice they were out of tune, yet your ears tell you the three together are perfectly in tune, this would be ‘Just Intonation’ and is based on whole number ratios which we can naturally hear and recognise.

Okay enough of my poor explanation of something I’ve yet to fully grasp, the idea of the book I think is two fold, to develop your ears and develop flexibility of pitch, the goal being that you are flexible enough to place the note you are playing in the best place to sound good against whatever you are playing with, be it a piano, other saxophonists or a whole band.

The majority of the book consists of exercises to be played against the backing tracks, the exercises look thoroughly boring, there is no rhythm, there is just a group of notes marked on the staff, usually ascending and descending and that's it. At the top of the page is usually a note to say what to look out for, ie: “Pay particular attention to the 3rd scale degree. In just intonation it is almost 14 cents lower then the equal temperament counterpart”

But, put on the CD track and play those notes, forgetting about everything except getting each and every note in tune and it’s almost like a meditation. When your notes are in tune with the backing track it gels and you can really hear the harmonic richness, when you are out of tune it beats and the beating gets faster the more out of tune you are. It takes concentration but I’ve found it totally captivating.

I’ve had the book four days now and have used it each day, it’s too early to say what it’s long term effect will be but it’s already had one positive effect, I’m starting to trust my ears as to whether or not I’m in tune not a tuner.

I got the impression when I first posed the question about intonation that most people didn't have a problem with it, so maybe this book will have limited appeal.

All the best,

Chris
 
OP
Chris98

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
Hello Chris,

I came across your comments on Perfecting Intonation a few days ago. Very well written. I admit the explanation of the math behind just intonation is rather quick. I thought that if someone is interested in the topic, they can dig further themselves. I am glad to hear that you found the exercises to be "meditative". Playing "in tune" is something you relax into, even when playing at the top of the natural register of your horn.
If you have any further comments or questions, then I would be glad to hear them. Either here or you can email me at:
mail (at) beecroft (dot) de

Yours,

David Beecroft
Hello David,

Welcome to the forum.

As always the test of time is a good indication as to the success of a product for an individual, throughout my life there have been various things that I have picked up with the sincere intention of putting effort into, but after a short while they have been left. Some music books I’m afraid have shared the same fate, I start them with enthusiasm and hope that what they promise will rub off on me but they soon get left on the shelf. Your book ‘Perfecting Intonation’ thankfully has not been one of those and has been incorporated into my daily practice sessions since the day I got it.

I’d be very grateful if you would advise me on how to incorporate it into my practice sessions to gain the most from it. Unlike a math’s book where having finished one book you move on to the next one, I feel your book like Pete’s 'Taming the Saxophone 3' will be used time and time again as there will always be something new to be learned or skills to be developed. But that can leave the student wondering how best to make use of such a book.

My approach thus far has been to familiarise myself with your book and the exercises by trying to fit in two exercises into each practice session and so I have been progressing from exercise to exercise through the book. This has had the advantage of illustrating just how flexible my tuning has to be, it really has been quite an eye opener, and I hope has started my early development in being able to play more in tune, certainly I’m noticing when I’m out!

For example, would you recommend ‘perfecting’ each exercise before moving on? Or have a more fluid approach, for example there are 12 tracks and for each track there are 5 exercises I could progress through each track concentrating on just the first exercise and then once completed go through each track again and work just the second exercises and so on until I’ve finished and then start again.

The other idea I had was to concentrate on just one track and keep rotating through the five exercises until I became reasonably proficient at keeping in tune before moving onto the next track.

Any thoughts as to the best approach would be gratefully received.

Best wishes,

Chris
 
Last edited by a moderator:

deebee

New Member
Messages
9
Location
Berlin
Hello Chris,

I am glad to hear that you continue to use the book!

As far as which order is concerned, follow your interest. Although I began with 5th's and 3rd's my interest led me to explore more dissonant intervals. A big surprise for me was that the addition of a third note to dissident intervals created no difficulty for my ear. The third note, along with having a very specific tuning, in some instances has more than one tuning. The resultant chords are complex and very interesting to listen to. With "just" or perfect ratio seconds, tritones, minor seconds, major and flatted 7ths the intervals express a beauty that is not found on the keyboard equivalent.
Your skill develops as long as you are excited by that which you do. Boredom is the big killer. The trick to loving what you do is to make sure it that feels good when you do it. As long as it feels right, it is right.
Now I use the tracks as part of my warmup. It makes long-tones fun. I sometimes sing the exercises.

A little tip, whether you play or sing, try this:
Take a deep breath, as much air as you can take in. After you inhale, relax and let the natural elasticity of your body push air out, into your instrument. Do not "blow" or "push" air into the instrument, let the body get rid of the excess air on it's own. Use this as a starting point and you will never feel uncomfortable when you play.

Yours,
David


Hello David,

Welcome to the forum.

As always the test of time is a good indication as to the success of a product for an individual, throughout my life there have been various things that I have picked up with the sincere intention of putting effort into, but after a short while they have been left. Some music books I’m afraid have shared the same fate, I start them with enthusiasm and hope that what they promise will rub off on me but they soon get left on the shelf. Your book ‘Perfecting Intonation’ thankfully has not been one of those and has been incorporated into my daily practice sessions since the day I got it.

I’d be very grateful if you would advise me on how to incorporate it into my practice sessions to gain the most from it. Unlike a math’s book where having finished one book you move on to the next one, I feel your book like Pete’s 'Taming the Saxophone 3' will be used time and time again as there will always be something new to be learned or skills to be developed. But that can leave the student wondering how best to make use of such a book.

My approach thus far has been to familiarise myself with your book and the exercises by trying to fit in two exercises into each practice session and so I have been progressing from exercise to exercise through the book. This has had the advantage of illustrating just how flexible my tuning has to be, it really has been quite an eye opener, and I hope has started my early development in being able to play more in tune, certainly I’m noticing when I’m out!

For example, would you recommend ‘perfecting’ each exercise before moving on? Or have a more fluid approach, for example there are 12 tracks and for each track there are 5 exercises I could progress through each track concentrating on just the first exercise and then once completed go through each track again and work just the second exercises and so on until I’ve finished and then start again.

The other idea I had was to concentrate on just one track and keep rotating through the five exercises until I became reasonably proficient at keeping in tune before moving onto the next track.

Any thoughts as to the best approach would be gratefully received.

Best wishes,

Chris
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Rogerb

Member
Messages
766
Location
Costa Blanca, Spain
That clip of "You Go To My Head" on the JJ site was, IMO, just sublime !

OTOH, I don't know if there was something wrong with my ears or the recording, but "Autumn in NY" and "All or Nothing at All" on his website both sounded painfully sharp to me!!
The other tunes there which I know well, such as "When You Wish Upon a Star" seemed fine ....so maybe it was just 'interpretation'!
 

deebee

New Member
Messages
9
Location
Berlin
You are quite correct, at times quite sharp - just part of the joys of live performance.

David


That clip of "You Go To My Head" on the JJ site was, IMO, just sublime !

OTOH, I don't know if there was something wrong with my ears or the recording, but "Autumn in NY" and "All or Nothing at All" on his website both sounded painfully sharp to me!!
The other tunes there which I know well, such as "When You Wish Upon a Star" seemed fine ....so maybe it was just 'interpretation'!
 
Top Bottom