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Intonation poll

Which of the following sustained alto notes sounds best to you?

  • The first one

  • The second one


Results are only viewable after voting.

Pete Thomas

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A bit of note bending but almost nobody would have though 30+ cents off the pitch....
Yes exactly

After recording this I ran the alto track with the tuner on it, then suddenly saw 30 cents flat and "blimey, I have to fix that or there will be hell to pay when the forum people get to hear it"

So I tuned it up digitally, played it back and it sounded worse. I thought at first may be it is just intonation, but in that case it should actually have been sharper than the tuner

So back to 30 cents flat and decided it sounded OK to leave it and call it a blue note.

So when I see people talk about practising intonation by looking a tuner, I do tend to point out it isn't always a great idea.
 

Neffmusic

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I don't hear any flat guitar. When I analysed the guitar the wah wah guitar, it really has very little actual pich because it's basically damped strings and amp hum. Plus it's very quiet in the mix.

The guitar track soloed:


The versions of two tracks but with no guitar



I can't get the tracks without the guitar to play for some reason.
 

Neffmusic

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Yes exactly

After recording this I ran the alto track with the tuner on it, then suddenly saw 30 cents flat and "blimey, I have to fix that or there will be hell to pay when the forum people get to hear it"

So I tuned it up digitally, played it back and it sounded worse. I thought at first may be it is just intonation, but in that case it should actually have been sharper than the tuner

So back to 30 cents flat and decided it sounded OK to leave it and call it a blue note.

So when I see people talk about practising intonation by looking a tuner, I do tend to point out it isn't always a great idea.
I find this so curious. I am usually pretty sensitive to notes that are even a little flat and my alarm was not going off on that first track. If anything I was expecting you to say it was 3-5 cents flat but 30 cents flat really shocked me. I am just really curious why it sounds acceptable........
 

Pete Effamy

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I find this so curious. I am usually pretty sensitive to notes that are even a little flat and my alarm was not going off on that first track. If anything I was expecting you to say it was 3-5 cents flat but 30 cents flat really shocked me. I am just really curious why it sounds acceptable........
Me too - exactly this. Hence my other thread post thingy about hearing intonation in various styles. My alarm didn’t go off either - and nobody would have questioned it if not asked (and therefore donned their super-ears).
Even then, it barely registers as a “problem“.

The interesting part is where your tuning reference is - and you may not know yourself as it would be an unconscious thing during the take - unless you’d done a few takes and it had been flagged up as being out - which I doubt.

Following on from this I know that during my orchestral clarinettist days - occasionally the tuning of the bottom of the woodwind section to the top - bassoon to flute might be too small or large, but it used to point most ears, including mine, to the middle and the clarinet. On those days I felt that nothing I played was in tune whether playing sharp to A=440hz or flat to it. Something made worse by the clarinet using the least - often none - amount of vibrato in the section.
 
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Pete Effamy

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@Pete Thomas just to cement our sense of intonation either being freaky or not - aside from the alto being compared to the tuner - does everything else playing at the time of your entry and just prior stack up well to the tuner? I presume the horns aren’t flat.
 

Pete Thomas

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does everything else playing at the time of your entry and just prior stack up well to the tuner? I presume the horns aren’t flat.
I can’t guarantee that, but to short to register properly on the tuner.
Yes it could well be the reason

Maybe I will do a mix that is just rhythm section
 

Pete Effamy

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I can’t guarantee that, but to short to register properly on the tuner.
Yes it could well be the reason

Maybe I will do a mix that is just rhythm section
It’s bloody odd though isn’t it. What were the horns recorded to - a finished rhythm track or part of what we hear?
Presume it wasn’t all live - that’s expensive! ( a venue for starters)
 

David Roach

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London
I think # 1 sounded better because it's a note in transition to the correct pitch (i.e. an upwards bend), and psychologically, the dirtiness of it's non-arrival at pitch is more exciting. We know where the note should be, but when given that correctness as in # 2 the effect is disappointing in comparison to # 1. If you had swapped the order of the clips the accurate version would not have been so much of a disappointment.
In a nutshell, #1 is sexy, #2 not so much.
:)
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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Which is why tuners have limited usefulness. Find the mouthpiece position and back in the drawer with it. ;)
I feel similarly. It;s a good tool to use early on in one's development, then perhaps now and again along your playing experience just to 'check in'.... but there (should) come a point (for most) where one's blowing and embouchure and even ear are established 'enough' that they can self-adjust relatively as a second-thought, and concentration/reliance on the tuner actually becomes at least a distraction ...and sometimes IMHO, a hindrance.
 

Neffmusic

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I think # 1 sounded better because it's a note in transition to the correct pitch (i.e. an upwards bend), and psychologically, the dirtiness of it's non-arrival at pitch is more exciting. We know where the note should be, but when given that correctness as in # 2 the effect is disappointing in comparison to # 1. If you had swapped the order of the clips the accurate version would not have been so much of a disappointment.
In a nutshell, #1 is sexy, #2 not so much.
:)
But why do you refer to #2 as correct? Because the tuner says it is? The majority of listener's voted for #1 and the majority of listener's said #2 sounded sharp.

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around why a note that is -30 sounds perfect to me and a note that is right on the 0 sound sharp........
 

David Roach

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But why do you refer to #2 as correct? Because the tuner says it is? The majority of listener's voted for #1 and the majority of listener's said #2 sounded sharp.

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around why a note that is -30 sounds perfect to me and a note that is right on the 0 sound sharp........
I just said 'correct', not good, better, preferable, suitable, cool or anything else. Correct (-ish) because the tuner said it was.
I stand by my comment that #1 sounds better because it gives a sense of imminent but unrequited arrival at spot-on pitch which is exciting (and grungy and laid-back), rather than simply in-tune. #2 sounds sharp because you heard #1 first.
I just listened to #2 again after many hours of not hearing it, and it actually sounds fine.
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
Expectation & Anticipation. vs Correctness.
Who knew blues was dirty? Well...all of us innit?
I suppose it's the difference between playing and playing with feeling.
It may explain why we play saxophone and why some hate it.
I didn't pick saxophone because of the way it looked. Slipping and sliding from note to note like a singer appealed to me on a higher plane. No not Concorde. ;)
 

Pete Effamy

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Hampshire
Under normal listening circumstances - not “there’s something off with this, find out - we’re all concurring that the original un-tuned solo is fine. We just enjoy the music, and have no issue with intonation.
With it being so flat according to what we’d expect, I wonder if there is any correlation with what we put down to “feel” or “groove” in rhythm - particularly with the placement of the snare on 2 and 4 in some music.
Anyone that has programmed drums and tried to make them sound human will have noted how almost unbelievably “late” the snare is on some grooves/styles.
I can’t remember an exact example without opening up some old studio projects but it’s at least 15%. My feeling is that it’s a bit more too but I’m not gonna stick my neck out further. Not what you’d expect from one of the major metronomes in a band.
I had asked Pete if he had played flat because of the possibility of the brass slipping flat immediately before his entry - but thinking about that, the rhythm (including Hammond) all hit the 1 and Pete plays after this - surely meaning that his ear would have reset. Anyway, like others I’m just curious as to how the hell it doesn’t sound out of tune with reference to how exacting we strive to be in our practice etc.
I know that music isn’t an exact science but the thing that bothers me the most is that with the tuning on this note being some 20/30% flat (I think Pete said), to quantify this only as “feel” is almost like saying that it’s foo foo dust. Maybe it is. Experience is where the magic is.
 

David Roach

Senior Member
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704
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London
What I'm starting to get from this is to be wary of the perfect pitch police.
I disagree, but there's a time and place for working on good intonation - i.e. the practice room.
After many years of live performance, I know that good intonation is always about fitting in with what's going on around you and it matters not a jot whether you are 'correct' with a tuner. In fact the rise of the tuner has come about with the rise of electronic music, both of which are fascistic in the original sense of the word, meaning that neither brook any deviation from the definition of correct.

But, there's also something else going on on that recording. During the held note under discussion, there is little solid pitch info going on apart from the bass, and I know very well that when playing duets with a bass that I hear a flatter pitch centre than if I'm playing with, say, violins. The baritone notes preceding are flat, almost inevitably, but the pitch spread between the brass section is acceptable, especially since there's a lot of scooping going on.
The held note in #1 does not sound flat to me in this specific environment. And again, I say that to my ears, if you listen to #2 in isolation, it doesn't sound sharp, just less 'hip'.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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Location
Hampshire
I disagree, but there's a time and place for working on good intonation - i.e. the practice room.
After many years of live performance, I know that good intonation is always about fitting in with what's going on around you and it matters not a jot whether you are 'correct' with a tuner. In fact the rise of the tuner has come about with the rise of electronic music, both of which are fascistic in the original sense of the word, meaning that neither brook any deviation from the definition of correct.

But, there's also something else going on on that recording. During the held note under discussion, there is little solid pitch info going on apart from the bass, and I know very well that when playing duets with a bass that I hear a flatter pitch centre than if I'm playing with, say, violins. The baritone notes preceding are flat, almost inevitably, but the pitch spread between the brass section is acceptable, especially since there's a lot of scooping going on.
The held note in #1 does not sound flat to me in this specific environment. And again, I say that to my ears, if you listen to #2 in isolation, it doesn't sound sharp, just less 'hip'.
On the subject of playing flatter during recording I’m sure we are all aware that headphone volume can result in hearing/playing flatter.
 

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