Intonation and spelling

Regular Vftp readers will know that intonation is one of my favorite topics. As I was catching up on favorite blogs, I came accross a remarkable series of posts on flute intonation by my friend, the contemporary flute virtuoso Helen Bledsoe. This one in particular hit home- if only everyone spent so much time thinking about how to tune one note before a first rehearsal. In the process, I think she manages to finally explain why I am such a lousy proof-reader (especially of my own writing).

 Whether this works in context or not, I love working with combination tones. Scientists are still not in agreement as to what they are – but it is a wonderful example of how our brains work – how they “fill in the blanks” of the overtone spectrum. I wonder if this is the same phenomenon that allows transistor radios to work? Only the upper partials are projected, the brain fills in the rest.

Also, I’ve noticed that I’m one of those people who can read things like this, hence my spelling problems, most likely. (Thanks to my like-minded Uncle T for this text):
fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too
Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.
i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervti sy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Check it out.

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at

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2 comments on “Intonation and spelling”

  1. Eric S.

    Very interesting. I’m sure, however, that there are a number of people who, like me, can read the partially scrambled text almost as fluently as normal writing, AND are excellent spellers/proofreaders. Accomplished Scrabble players would fall into this latter category. (I’m not bad, but I’ve never applied myself to memorizing unusual words and/or what’s known as “The Cheat Sheet.”)

  2. Jan Mark Iniego

    this was a very big help for my term paper thank you very much!!!!!

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