Goal 02: Intonation

Good intonation is both an acoustic reality, as in the creation of overtones and undertones when tones agree or mix with other notes being sounded simultaneously or by causing sympathetic vibrations with open strings, and a kind of societal compromise, with musicians and audiences growing accustomed to and agreeing upon a certain delineation of pitches. We must have finely tuned ears and accurate fingers, so that we can evoke the utmost ring on our instrument whenever possible; yet we must also adapt to the intonation system being used by other players in our ensembles. True artists will understand functional harmony as well, at times choosing to shade a note up or down to create a certain tension or relaxation. It is helpful to distinguish three of the most used and useful intonation systems: expressive, equal-tempered, and just. With utmost attention, we can learn to hear the clear changes in interval sizes and emotional moods when these different systems are employed. We can also practice relational tuning by using a drone.


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