October 2015

The Awe of Tuning

October 13, 2015 15:13

I'd like to say a few words about tuning up, and am interested if other people have ever written about it in violinist.com, and who else has thought about it.

AWe all tune up before starting a concert. Many of my music partners over the years are prosaic about it. They tune as quickly as they can. Their final sound is a loud chord against a couple of strings. They tune up to the note quickly, are satisfied, and don't check all strings again, even after they have adjusted the other strings. They don't savor the delicious sound of the pure fifths resonating. When tuned perfectly, you can hear the difference frequency as a low growl. It's vivid if you tune in to it.

A friend of mine once heard me tune up and said it was "like the chakras coming into alignment".

I consider tuning up as a reverential moment. I feel that the care and peacefulness you give to tuning up tells the audience you really care about what you are about to play, even before they've heard a first real note from you. One should not be shy about taking one's time here. It gives the audience time to breathe and get ready to receive what you are about to offer.

I can imagine that some players don't want to "stick out" --- to be caught alone after their partners have ceased to tune. I say relish it. When you are at last in tune, let that sound taper away. You are in resonance. Don't slap your bow on the string. Usher in a moment of silence. All is still. Breathe. Look at your partners, and commence the magic. There is time. Take that time.

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