Saturday, January 21, 2012

Intonation and temperment

Here's a master class video on intonation, for violinists but interesting for everyone I think. The violin presents an interesting case for discussion of temperament, because they have both melodic and harmonic use, and because pitch is completely under the player's control. The speaker advocates different temperament depending on the context: Pythagorean for melody, just for harmony, and figure out a workable compromise when it's more complicated. Examples mentioned include a melody with double stops, playing with an equal-tempered piano, and playing  as a soloist with an orchestra with a range of pitches to choose from.

For myself, I'm happy if I can tend to be in the general neighborhood of the right pitch, or should I say, a right pitch. I've added bending long tones against a loud drone to my routine practice, and while it's no panacea, I think I've become better as listening and adjusting.

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