10 Things Every Musician Should Know About Intonation

 

10- The tuning slide allows a trumpet player to adjust how sharp he or she is to the rest of the orchestra.

9 – Violinists invariably play sharp when they’re under pressure, which is always. This is why they tune their open strings higher than the rest of the string section.

8- High C is a very flat note on almost every oboe, which is why they don’t adjust it unless you ask them to.

7- Bassoonists are faster at adjusting pitch than anyone else in the woodwind section because they never have to worry whether they’re sharp or flat, only how sharp.

6- When playing cello in an orchestra, never sit between the bassoons and double basses, because you can’t.

5- Horn chords are often out of tune because they’re sure you are too far away to tell.

4- The lower note in the timpani solo in Also Sprach Zarathustra is out of tune because everyone knows what it’s supposed to be.

3- When writing string trios, Beethoven usually gives both inner voices in a four-part texture to the viola, because that’s going to work just great.

2- The basses are sure they were playing perfectly in tune until you checked.

1- If you need to tune a woodwind chord with a high note on the e-flat clarinet, don’t.

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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 www.kennethwoods.net

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