Orchestra tuning

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BestStudentViolins.com

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Jun 16, 2008, 11:35:57 PM6/16/08
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This remark was made on YahooAnswers:

Lots of orchestras tune to 442 for a brighter tone. Also, apparently
the Boston Symphony Orchestra tunes to 444, NY Phil tunes to 443, and
Berlin Phil tunes to 445

...this is not true, is it.

My response was the following:

Orchestras tune to 440. Baroque performance groups can tune to less
than 440 (438 or less), but not higher than 440.

No?

Message has been deleted

howard posner

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Jun 17, 2008, 12:40:23 AM6/17/08
to earl...@wu-wien.ac.at
On Jun 16, 2008, at 8:35 PM, BestStudentViolins.com wrote:

> This remark was made on YahooAnswers:

>> Lots of orchestras tune to 442 for a brighter tone. Also, apparently
>> the Boston Symphony Orchestra tunes to 444, NY Phil tunes to 443, and
>> Berlin Phil tunes to 445
>
>
> ...this is not true, is it.

It is. And then they tend to drift sharp. "Better sharp than out of
tune" is the motto.

> My response was the following:
>
>> Orchestras tune to 440. Baroque performance groups can tune to less
>> than 440 (438 or less), but not higher than 440.
>
>
> No?

No. 466 is fairly common. For instance, Koopman's recording of
Bach's cantata 172, "Erschallet ihr Lieder," is at that pitch (I
imagine all the recordings in that series are at that pitch, but I'm
not familiar with many of them), so the opening C major chorus sounds
in modern C#.

BestStudentViolins.com

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Jun 17, 2008, 9:04:02 AM6/17/08
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On Jun 16, 10:48 pm, Terry <b...@clown.invalid> wrote:
> On Tue, 17 Jun 2008 13:35:57 +1000, BestStudentViolins.com wrote
> (in article
> <a1cf1a3d-62e7-4eab-a67d-62b15a92e...@8g2000hse.googlegroups.com>):
> No.
>
> Baroque pitch was anything between about A = 392Hz and A = 466Hz. As a
> general (but not reliable) rule, the French opted for the lower end of the
> spectrum and the Italians for the higher end.
>
> --
> Cheers!
>
> Terry


Terry, I appreciate the information, which is something one should
know. My real concern, however, is the following:

>> Lots of orchestras tune to 442 for a brighter tone. Also, apparently
the Boston Symphony Orchestra tunes to 444, NY Phil tunes to 443, and
Berlin Phil tunes to 445

Is this true??

John Briggs

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Jun 17, 2008, 10:49:47 AM6/17/08
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BestStudentViolins.com wrote:
> On Jun 16, 10:48 pm, Terry <b...@clown.invalid> wrote:
>> On Tue, 17 Jun 2008 13:35:57 +1000, BestStudentViolins.com wrote
>> (in article
>> <a1cf1a3d-62e7-4eab-a67d-62b15a92e...@8g2000hse.googlegroups.com>):
>>
>>> This remark was made on YahooAnswers:
>>
>>> Lots of orchestras tune to 442 for a brighter tone. Also, apparently
>>> the Boston Symphony Orchestra tunes to 444, NY Phil tunes to 443,
>>> and Berlin Phil tunes to 445
>>
>>> ...this is not true, is it.
>>
>>> My response was the following:
>>
>>> Orchestras tune to 440. Baroque performance groups can tune to less
>>> than 440 (438 or less), but not higher than 440.
>>
>>> No?
>>
>> No.
>>
>> Baroque pitch was anything between about A = 392Hz and A = 466Hz. As
>> a general (but not reliable) rule, the French opted for the lower
>> end of the spectrum and the Italians for the higher end.
>
> Terry, I appreciate the information, which is something one should
> know. My real concern, however, is the following:
>
>>> Lots of orchestras tune to 442 for a brighter tone. Also, apparently
> the Boston Symphony Orchestra tunes to 444, NY Phil tunes to 443, and
> Berlin Phil tunes to 445
>
> Is this true??

They wouldn't admit it, and the numbers are probably not accurate, but yes,
it is broadly true (442 is more believable than 445.)
--
John Briggs


Message has been deleted

howard posner

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Jun 17, 2008, 11:58:12 AM6/17/08
to earl...@wu-wien.ac.at
On Jun 17, 2008, at 7:49 AM, John Briggs wrote:

> They wouldn't admit it, and the numbers are probably not accurate,
> but yes,
> it is broadly true (442 is more believable than 445.)

Los Angeles Philharmonic players will tell you that the orchestra
tunes to 442.

John Howell

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Jun 17, 2008, 1:13:24 PM6/17/08
to earl...@wu-wien.ac.at

Baroque pitch was anywhere between about 392 (in Paris) and 460 (in
Venice), but the MODERN compromise "baroque" pitch is 415, which just
happens to be about a half step below 440.

My late wife's composition mentor at Indiana, Tom Beversdorf, had to
turn down an offer from the Boston Symphony because his perfect pitch
was locked to 440 and they played sharp enough to drive him crazy!

Our community string orchestra conductor is European (Finnish), and
he wants us to tune to 442, as if anyone could hear the difference!
Well, perhaps he does. I certainly don't.

Actually only the oboes players really know, and they won't tell!!

John


--
John R. Howell, Assoc. Prof. of Music
Virginia Tech Department of Music
College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A. 24061-0240
Vox (540) 231-8411 Fax (540) 231-5034
(mailto:John....@vt.edu)
http://www.music.vt.edu/faculty/howell/howell.html

emeeled

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Jun 17, 2008, 5:15:04 PM6/17/08
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for me it all should be 432
cheers edwin
"BestStudentViolins.com" <SunMusi...@gmail.com> schreef in bericht
news:a1cf1a3d-62e7-4eab...@8g2000hse.googlegroups.com...

Jon Teske

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Jun 17, 2008, 9:16:48 PM6/17/08
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NYPO tuned to 442 under Bernstein. I don't know the present practice.

One of my own orchestras tunes to 441. Some of the founders of the
orchestra went to Indiana University where that was the standard. All
my other groups tune to 440. My own piano is 440. Every oboist I know
has a tuning meter of some sort which by default is 440, but the
oboist can adjust if the pitch for the group is higher or lower than
that. As for me...I take my A from whatever the oboist is doing. At
home I have a 440 standard built into my metronome. That is is
actually 440 is really an act of faith...I have no means to verify
that.

Baroque pitch was a mixed bag, varied from region to region from what
I heard and there were no real means to determine standards. (How do
you verify a tuning fork is 440 or whatever if you didn't have the
means to accurately measure that.) I've seen figures from the high
300's to the 430's, but not as high as current standards.

NIST, the US Standards organization sends out a 440 tone at 2 minutes
past the hour on its time station WWV.

A European Standards Organization sends out the signal on the internet
at this URL

http://www.audiosparx.com/sa/archive/Electronics/Test-tones/676-440Hz-Sinewave-Tone-at-EBU-Euro-Ref-Level--18dB-re-full-Scale-to-match-to-BBC-PPM4-or-0VU-24bit-version/259452

There is a discussion of this in the following NY TImes story from
1989:


http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DE7DD1630F930A2575BC0A96F948260

Jon Teske violinist


Roland Hutchinson

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Jun 18, 2008, 2:00:11 AM6/18/08
to
Jon Teske wrote:

> On Mon, 16 Jun 2008 20:35:57 -0700 (PDT), "BestStudentViolins.com"
> <SunMusi...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>>This remark was made on YahooAnswers:
>>
>>Lots of orchestras tune to 442 for a brighter tone. Also, apparently
>>the Boston Symphony Orchestra tunes to 444, NY Phil tunes to 443, and
>>Berlin Phil tunes to 445
>>
>>...this is not true, is it.
>>
>>My response was the following:
>>
>>Orchestras tune to 440. Baroque performance groups can tune to less
>>than 440 (438 or less), but not higher than 440.
>>
>>No?
>
> NYPO tuned to 442 under Bernstein. I don't know the present practice.
>
> One of my own orchestras tunes to 441. Some of the founders of the
> orchestra went to Indiana University where that was the standard. All
> my other groups tune to 440. My own piano is 440. Every oboist I know
> has a tuning meter of some sort which by default is 440, but the
> oboist can adjust if the pitch for the group is higher or lower than
> that. As for me...I take my A from whatever the oboist is doing. At
> home I have a 440 standard built into my metronome. That is is
> actually 440 is really an act of faith...I have no means to verify
> that.

I do. I've never encountered a metronome whose version of 440 wasn't
accurate.

> Baroque pitch was a mixed bag, varied from region to region from what
> I heard and there were no real means to determine standards. (How do
> you verify a tuning fork is 440 or whatever if you didn't have the
> means to accurately measure that.) I've seen figures from the high
> 300's to the 430's, but not as high as current standards.

Those would be for Kammerton. Chorton was higher than A-440, as someone
else has already pointed out. When you see a Bach score in which the organ
and/or the strings are notated in a key a major second or a minor third
lower (on paper) than the woodwind, those string or organ parts are the
parts at Chorton, about a half step sharp to A-440. The Matthew Passion is
a good example (the organ sounds "in D" relative to everyone else); Cantata
106 -- which I just played -- is scored for recorders and viols tuned a
step apart, plus continuo (with the viols in pitch).

The current version of the nice little $20 Korg tuner is very handy:
adjustable from 410 to 480 Hz, which goes high enough to keep even
bagpipers happy, thought it doesn't go low enough to cover the low "French"
chamber pitch ca. A-392. Well since, it only does equal temperament
anyway, setting it to 440 and tuning to G instead of A is more than close
enough. And it makes a sound (although not a loud one), which allows for
much more accurate tuning than trying to center a needle or an LCD
emulation of a needle.

--
Roland Hutchinson Will play viola da gamba for food.

NB mail to my.spamtrap [at] verizon.net is heavily filtered to
remove spam. If your message looks like spam I may not see it.

Roland Hutchinson

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Jun 18, 2008, 2:09:34 AM6/18/08
to
John Howell wrote:

> Our community string orchestra conductor is European (Finnish), and
> he wants us to tune to 442, as if anyone could hear the difference!
> Well, perhaps he does.  I certainly don't.

It's not in tune until the xylophone sounds flat!

Oh -- string orchestra. Never mind the xylophone, then: it's not in tune
until everyone is sharp.

> Actually only the oboes players really know, and they won't tell!!

Oh, the bassoonists know -- and they will not fail to chew out an oboist who
give a pitch that makes them reach for a different bocal.

The oboist always faces a moral dilemma: do you give the winds a slightly
low A since they are going to rise in pitch as they warm up, or do you give
the strings a slightly low A since they are going to tune sharp to it
anyway. You can't win.

What do the oboists actually do?

I don't know; they won't tell me, either.

(Cross-posting to r.m.m.b-s restored.)

Jon Teske

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Jun 18, 2008, 9:26:21 AM6/18/08
to
Jon Teske wrote

>> At
>> home I have a 440 standard built into my metronome. That is is
>> actually 440 is really an act of faith...I have no means to verify
>> that.

To Which Roland Hutchison replied


>
>I do. I've never encountered a metronome whose version of 440 wasn't
>accurate.

That's very reassuring!

Jon

PeterNewton

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Jun 18, 2008, 11:32:32 AM6/18/08
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My sister-in-law used to be principal oboe of a Toronto orchestra (not
the Toronto Symphony, but a professional orchestra that no longer
exists). Back in the late 80's, I guess it was, she played a concert
at which the violin soloist was a former Torontonian then living in
Germany, where he was the concertmaster of a second-rank orchestra.
She told me of the pressure she felt from the soloist when she gave
the tuning note to make it as high as possible (I think she mentioned
445), while the rest of the orchestra was willing her to keep it as
low as possible. She said the soloist was glaring at her as she gave
the note... not an experience she wanted to repeat.

By the way, isn't it strange that the insturment that gives the tuning
note is one that is notoriously hard to play in tune? I imagine that
most oboists today have a tuning box open on their music stand when
they do give it so they can be sure where it actually is. But what
did they do before tuning boxes were invented? And when did this
custom originate? Surely not before oboes were routinely included in
orchestras, which would be not before the late 18th century, I would
assume (just around the time when harpsichords ceased to be routinely
included for the continuo part? Coincidence?)

Peter Newton

BestStudentViolins.com

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Jun 18, 2008, 12:05:54 PM6/18/08
to
Hmmm....what are the advantages of tuning above, or tuning below, the
440?

John Howell

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Jun 18, 2008, 2:58:48 PM6/18/08
to earl...@wu-wien.ac.at
At 6:00 AM +0000 6/18/08, Roland Hutchinson wrote:
>
>Cantata
>106 -- which I just played -- is scored for recorders and viols tuned a
>step apart, plus continuo (with the viols in pitch).

Actually the BG editors got 106 wrong. They assumed transposing
instruments for recorders, and put their edition in Eb. It should
have been in F (relative to whatever the Chorton and Kammerton were
at -- I think it was Weimar.)

True story. Back in the late '60s, Fiora Contino decided to do 106
with her choir at Indiana. My late wife, an undergraduate, was her
recorder consultant and was teaching a recorder class--the first one
ever offered at Indiana. When she saw the recorder parts going down
to low Ebs, she called Frederich von Heune in Boston and asked, "Do
you have any Eb alto recorders that we could rent?" There was this
pause on the line, and then he said, "You're doing 106, aren't you.
Let me explain about that."

I think they ended up using one alto (in F) and one tenor.

John Howell

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Jun 18, 2008, 3:08:01 PM6/18/08
to earl...@wu-wien.ac.at
At 6:09 AM +0000 6/18/08, Roland Hutchinson wrote:
>
>The oboist always faces a moral dilemma: do you give the winds a slightly
>low A since they are going to rise in pitch as they warm up, or do you give
>the strings a slightly low A since they are going to tune sharp to it
>anyway. You can't win.
>

You know, I think that's nothing but urban legend, in the same class
as "flutes prefer sharp keys." When I'm given a reference A I tune
my viola to that A, and so does everyone around me. Admittedly, I DO
slightly temper my lower strings rather than tuning perfect 5ths,
because if I don't my C string will be flat to the concentus pitch.
But I do not deliberately tune sharp, and nobody else does either.
Viol is different. the internal octaves and 5ths have to be as pure
as possible.

John Howell

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Jun 18, 2008, 3:43:12 PM6/18/08
to PeterNewton, earl...@wu-wien.ac.at
At 8:32 AM -0700 6/18/08, PeterNewton wrote:
>My sister-in-law used to be principal oboe of a Toronto orchestra (not
>the Toronto Symphony, but a professional orchestra that no longer
>exists). Back in the late 80's, I guess it was, she played a concert
>at which the violin soloist was a former Torontonian then living in
>Germany, where he was the concertmaster of a second-rank orchestra.
>She told me of the pressure she felt from the soloist when she gave
>the tuning note to make it as high as possible (I think she mentioned
>445), while the rest of the orchestra was willing her to keep it as
>low as possible. She said the soloist was glaring at her as she gave
>the note... not an experience she wanted to repeat.

Interesting (and I believe every word of it!). A piano soloist would
not, of course, do any such thing!

>By the way, isn't it strange that the insturment that gives the tuning
>note is one that is notoriously hard to play in tune?

I wonder why you say that, and what sources you can cite to support
it? Yes, the oboe is a difficult instrument to play, and a difficult
instrument to play in tune, FOR BEGINNERS!!! Every instrument is.
But for someone who has learned to play the instrument it is just as
stable as any other instrument. I work with college-level students,
and once they have developed the necessary embouchure strength (which
does take a while) and if they have a good instrument in their hands
(not always the case) they play just as in tune as anyone else.

>I imagine that
>most oboists today have a tuning box open on their music stand when
>they do give it so they can be sure where it actually is.

Yes they do. And most math students use calculators these days. So?
The inventor of calculus didn't have one and didn't need one.

>But what
>did they do before tuning boxes were invented?

Tuning forks.

>And when did this
>custom originate? Surely not before oboes were routinely included in
>orchestras, which would be not before the late 18th century,

Make that the late 17th century, at least for French orchestras, and
sometimes whole herds of oboes, not just one pair. (Not even to
mention Handel's Royal Fireworks Music for oboe and bassoon band!)
As to whether oboes were used as the tuning reference at that time,
I'm not sure I've ever read anything about it one way or the other.
Since the keyboard instruments could not be retuned in real time, I
rather suspect that they gave the reference pitches. I can't imagine
doing anything else if an organ were involved. But to assume that
baroque musicians couldn't play in tune or that an electronic box is
necessary to tune well seems borderline Darwinian. The fact that
they did not use equal temperament and probably couldn't have stood
it, while we think it's in tune, demonstrates, for me at least, that
their ears were BETTER attuned to good tuning than are most modern
ears.

>I would
>assume (just around the time when harpsichords ceased to be routinely
>included for the continuo part? Coincidence?)

A very unlikely correlation. And one that suggests that the early
fortepianos were (a) tuned to 440 and (b) tuned in equal temperament,
both of which assumptions are totally unsupported and highly
unlikely. It's actually the clarinet that was newly introduced to
both the band and the orchestra in the late 18th century. And my
understanding is that harpsichords continued to be used in opera pits
even after fortepianos started becoming popular. We're talking about
George Washington's and Thomas Jefferson's lifetimes, which go rather
later than you seem to think. Heck, the Brahms Requiem has a figured
continuo line, although I've never heard it played in any modern
performance.

I appreciate your comments very much, and thank you for making them.
I just can't agree with all of them.

Jon Teske

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Jun 18, 2008, 5:27:22 PM6/18/08
to

I've heard supposedly brightness or mellowness, but frankly I have
problems telling the difference. Anyone else know anything about
this?

I did a test some 47 years ago when I auditioned for a college
orchestra and the conductor had a xylophone type device with
5 or 6 notes 1 Hz apart (this was so long ago, they didn't even call
it Hertz). I could descrimination 2 or 3 Hz apart, but not 1 Hz.
apart. I've never tried this test again.

Jon

Fritz

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Jun 22, 2008, 12:16:42 AM6/22/08
to
Tradition has it that string players, in the late baroque, conspired
to increase the pitch of their instruments, realizing that it led to
"brighter" timbre. All one has to do, of course, is twist 4 pegs. Pity
the organ builders of that time. The music of the later baroque was
adapted to this brilliant sound. The earlier gamba literature was of a
mellower nature. Compare an early Amati to a Stradivari violin and one
sees the same trend.

At any rate, the down bearing on a harpsichord, or the pressure
exerted by string on the bridge of a violin definitely increases by a
few percent with a change from a-430 to a-440 and if you try this on a
violin it is quite apparent. Practitioners of violin acoustical theory
including Josef Curtin et. al have a lot to say about this but
evidently more tension on the upper table delivered via more string
tension, or a tighter sound post, leads to more/richer harmonics with
attendant "brilliance" of timbre.

That said, I am a bit miffed about the value of increasing the pitch
by 2 Hz. Tune up your violin PERFECTLY to A-440 with your "Korg", IF
YOU CAN , play 3 notes, and check again. You will inevitably find that
the instrument has drifted already, probably to the "flat" side. I
certainly doubt that any "blind screen" test of instruments tuned at
440 and 442 will yield acceptable results assigning different timbre
to the latter group. I suppose that the tendency of stringed
instruments to drift "south" after tuning and playing a bit, merits
tuning up a few Hz to allow them to settle out the the other
instrument sections.

Cheers
Fritz

Michael Zarky

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Jun 24, 2008, 10:20:30 PM6/24/08
to
On Wed, 18 Jun 2008 12:43:12 -0700, John Howell <John....@vt.edu> wrote:

> ...


>
>> By the way, isn't it strange that the insturment that gives the tuning
>> note is one that is notoriously hard to play in tune?
>
> I wonder why you say that, and what sources you can cite to support it?
> Yes, the oboe is a difficult instrument to play, and a difficult
> instrument to play in tune, FOR BEGINNERS!!! Every instrument is. But
> for someone who has learned to play the instrument it is just as stable
> as any other instrument. I work with college-level students, and once
> they have developed the necessary embouchure strength (which does take a
> while) and if they have a good instrument in their hands (not always the
> case) they play just as in tune as anyone else.
>
>


Bruce Haynes, in The Eloquent Oboe, describes famous players using the
same oboe to play pieces at two widely different pitches in the same
concert. In fact, he doesn't use historical oboes for pitch data in his
History of Performing Pitch: The Story of "A", because they could
encompass a wide range of pitches. This was a bit of a surprise to me,
since the concept of the oboe as incarnation of steady "A" is drilled into
our minds, but there it is. I would trust his experience. As HIP
enthusiasts, we should be used to having our preconceptions shattered once
again!


Michael
---- Posted via Pronews.com - Premium Corporate Usenet News Provider ----
http://www.pronews.com offers corporate packages that have access to 100,000+ newsgroups

Raybro

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Jun 25, 2008, 8:13:17 AM6/25/08
to
On Jun 18, 11:32 am, PeterNewton <peternewton2...@gmail.com> wrote:

> By the way, isn't it strange that the insturment that gives the tuning
> note is one that is notoriously hard to play in tune?

What is far stranger is the tradition of tuning a symphonic band to
the clarinet's Bb, since that note is in the clarinet's transition
register, notoriously difficult to control, and on an instrument which
is far more famous for playing out-of-tune than oboes. Who has missed
the now-old saw:

How do you get two oboists to play in tune? Shoot one.
How do you get two clarinetists to play in tune? Shoot both of them.

The oboe isn't that difficult to play in tune, but overall it is
difficult to tune, possibly the most difficult to tune because the
reed doesn't allow large pitch-shifts by pulling out or pushing in.
Double reeds can be 'lipped' up or down, but only so much, and it is
fatiguing to have to do it for hours. Bassoonists get over the problem
with (as was mentioned) a battery of different-length bocals, usually
one at their nominal and most-used pitch, one above and one below. (I
believe it's common to have five bocal sizes available, although
longer or shorter ones can be made-to-order. Then again, it's been 30
years since I majored in bassoon, and the world changes more quickly
than that.) Oboists could combat the problem (and do) with a battery
of reeds, possibly on different-length staples, certainly with
different-length reed-portions. But that is both a time and accounting
problem, because making reeds isn't insignificant, and you make money
by playing, not by making perfect playable reeds. (Which doesn't
include the folk who make reeds to sell, which are not sold as
finished perfect reeds because the players have to modify them, at
least a little, and you can't put wood back on the reed!)

Anyway, tradition aside, we tune to the baroque oboe when we have one,
because its easier than waiting for the player to modify his reed.

As for tuning organizational music in general, if there's a
harpsichord or piano, we tune to that. (four or seven or even 15
strings are nothing to tune in the face of around 200!)...and of
course, then play out-of-tune (i.e., temperament, temperature,
humidity, near-miss by the tuner, etc.) The late Earl North, director
of the symphonic band at the University of New Hampshire, Durham,
tuned from the Besson tubas up. This was a great idea, since the
bessons provided a stable, harmonic-rich spectrum with lots of ability
for others to zero-beat against. It also worked very very well.

As for modern orchestras, at least to my ears, tuning them higher
_does_ make them shriller, if not necessarily brighter or more
vibrant. If you want bright, vibrant tones, try beating a baroque
orchestra!

ray

Jack Campin - bogus address

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Jun 25, 2008, 10:54:48 AM6/25/08
to
> What is far stranger is the tradition of tuning a symphonic band to
> the clarinet's Bb, since that note is in the clarinet's transition
> register, notoriously difficult to control, and on an instrument which
> is far more famous for playing out-of-tune than oboes.

Which B flat do they use? The one below middle C is bang in the
middle of the chalumeau register and one of the most stable notes
on the instrument.

An octave up might be a bit odd (bottom of the clarinet register)
but at least the clarinet player will be able to tell if it's in
tune with the lower one.

==== j a c k at c a m p i n . m e . u k === <http://www.campin.me.uk> ====
Jack Campin, 11 Third St, Newtongrange EH22 4PU, Scotland == mob 07800 739 557
CD-ROMs and free stuff: Scottish music, food intolerance, and Mac logic fonts

John Howell

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Jun 25, 2008, 2:00:59 PM6/25/08
to Jack Campin - bogus address, earl...@wu-wien.ac.at
At 3:54 PM +0100 6/25/08, Jack Campin - bogus address wrote:
> > What is far stranger is the tradition of tuning a symphonic band to
>> the clarinet's Bb, since that note is in the clarinet's transition
>> register, notoriously difficult to control, and on an instrument which
>> is far more famous for playing out-of-tune than oboes.
>
>Which B flat do they use? The one below middle C is bang in the
>middle of the chalumeau register and one of the most stable notes
>on the instrument.

STOP!!!!! There is a complete misunderstanding evident here. No
band tunes to "the clarinet's Bb," which would sound as a concert Ab.
Bands tune to the Clarinet's "c''," which sounds as concert Bb, and
which is entirely stable as it is the 7-fingered note in the clarion
register, and is NOT in the throat register.

When making statements like the unattributed one above, you have to
both understand and take into account the conventions of transposing
instruments, something I've been dealing with since elementary school
a hundred years ago! And beginners on either clarinet or oboe are
out of tune--ALL beginners are! Accomplished and well trained
players are not, period! Please lay off the generalizations and
urban legends.

And if the band has an oboe, it tunes to the oboe's Bb, also a very
stable pitch. At least ours does. And, just to cover the gamut,
when a string section joins the band, as we will for our 4th of July
Independence Day Celebration, the oboe first gives an A for the
strings and then a Bb for the winds.

John


--
John R. Howell, Assoc. Prof. of Music
Virginia Tech Department of Music
College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A. 24061-0240
Vox (540) 231-8411 Fax (540) 231-5034
(mailto:John....@vt.edu)
http://www.music.vt.edu/faculty/howell/howell.html

"We never play anything the same way once." Shelly Manne's definition
of jazz musicians.

Jack Campin - bogus address

unread,
Jun 25, 2008, 6:15:25 PM6/25/08
to
>>> What is far stranger is the tradition of tuning a symphonic band to
>>> the clarinet's Bb, since that note is in the clarinet's transition
>>> register, notoriously difficult to control, and on an instrument
>>> which is far more famous for playing out-of-tune than oboes.
>> Which B flat do they use? The one below middle C is bang in the
>> middle of the chalumeau register and one of the most stable notes
>> on the instrument.
> STOP!!!!! There is a complete misunderstanding evident here. No
> band tunes to "the clarinet's Bb," which would sound as a concert Ab.
> Bands tune to the Clarinet's "c''," which sounds as concert Bb, and
> which is entirely stable as it is the 7-fingered note in the clarion
> register, and is NOT in the throat register.

I assumed that he meant what a typical band clarinetist with a B flat
instrument would think of as a C, I just didn't know which one. Neither
of them seemed problematic to me. But I've never heard a military band
tuning up.

(I play four different pitches of clarinet, and since this is for folk
music and I have a recorder player's brain, I never use transposed dots
for any of them).

Arthur Ness

unread,
Jun 25, 2008, 7:18:46 PM6/25/08
to
A reason for tuning to the oboe is because it has such rich overtones.

I've never played in a band, including professional concert bands,
that tuned to the clarinet. Bands usually tune, however, to concert B
flat (C on a B flat clarinet). The written "throat" B flat on a
clarinet is often out of tune, and rather dull in timbre, especially
in inexpensive instruments for beginners.

--
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"John Howell" <John....@vt.edu> wrote in message
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Carl Witthoft

unread,
Jun 30, 2008, 9:33:06 PM6/30/08
to
In article <bogus-808BE4....@news.news.demon.net>,

Agreed. I never found the written C (concert Bb) just over the octave
break to be a difficult note to control on the clarinet. The wide-open
C (octave key , thumb, and nothing else) is the one that's overly easy
to bend :-)

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