Printer-friendly version
Bart Meijer

Intonation epiphany: in a pure major scale, the II-IV third is Pythagorean

February 20, 2010 at 7:51 AM

Greetings,

Like all v.commers, I knew that using pure intonation leads into trouble when the music changes key. I was unaware of how soon the trouble starts.

Last night, I was practicing the scale of B flat major, in thirds, and I just could not get the first three (B flat-D, C-E flat, D-F) consistently in tune. Especially the C-E flat was difficult to reconcile with the others.

And when you calculate the intervals, that fits! Set the B flat to 1; the C would be 9/8, and the E flat would be 4/3. The interval between those two becomes 4/3 : 9/8 = 4*8/(3*9) = 32/27, not the "pure" 6/5 third I was naively expecting. When I want it to sound "pure", I have to compromise elsewhere.

Imagine, it has taken me 48 years of violin playing to find that out!

(and it's a left hand workout, too)

Cheers,

Bart


From Jefferson Dixon
Posted on February 21, 2010 at 9:29 PM

Yes the Pythorean Interval is taught in music theory ;)

-Jefferson


From Bart Meijer
Posted on February 22, 2010 at 9:02 AM

Jefferson,

I was surprised at seeing a Pythagorean minor third show up in the pure, harmonic, scale. To many this discovery must have a "Duh. What else is new?" quality, I'm sure.

Bart

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music: Protect your instrument this winter

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Starling-DeLay Symposium
Starling-DeLay Symposium

Los Angeles Philharmonic
LA Phil

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Violinist.com Shopping Guide
Violinist.com Shopping Guide

ARIA International Summer Academy

Study with the Elizabeth Faidley Studio

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

FiddlerShop

Fiddlerman.com

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Baerenreiter

String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine

Subscribe