Intonation Tip from an Amateur

March 27, 2021, 5:46 PM · I always knew people said playing in tune was hard on the violin (because it doesn't have frets), but since I had already been playing the piano I was pretty confident in my musical ear. Intonation didn't seem like such a big deal.

When stopping strings, I would generally allow my fingers to find the right spots with the help of my ear. I would play scales and everything would seem ok.

Yet, once I tried a double stop, everything would fall apart. My musical ear was screaming that something was wrong, but my fingers didn't know what it was. After all, they landed in the right spots, didn't they?

It was only today that I realised that those spots were not so right after all. I confirmed it with a little experiment.

I kept playing an open G on my violin while singing an A, then a B, then a C, and finally a D. I noticed that the harmony sounded pure. It sounded perfect.

On the other hand, if I sang the G while playing the other notes on the violin, something sounded off. Something sounded wrong. I simply had to unlearn those not so right spots.

I kept singing that G, and I adjusted my second finger until – it happened. The harmony sounded just right. That was a proper major third.

From that moment, my eyes were opened. I had been relying on my ear alone the whole time, but it was only when I also relied on my voice that I could achieve proper intonation.

So yeah, I guess my tip is to sing more.


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