I just came back from a tour with my youth orchestra. During one of the rehearsals to prep for this tour, something I thought was strange happened.
We were rehearsing the second movement of Dvorak symphony 8, and as a second violinist, we have to play this strange series of notes:
Eb g, Eb g, C F#, C F#, C G, Ab G,
As you can probably tell, the tuning is strange in this area. My conductor was getting frustrated with the second violin section because we were off in this area. So he began asking us to play one by one.
I was fairly confident when it was my turn, because I had practiced this section before and my fingering was secure, and I had perfect pitch. However, after I played, he said that the C F# interval was off. It sounded perfectly in tune to me though.
After everybody played it by themselves, he demonstrated. And when he got to the C F# interval, he sounded awfully sharp to me. And I thought he was reading the notes wrong, so I told him that it was a C, not a C#. My conductor is a wonderful player (don't get me wrong, I respect him very much), but when he demonstrates, I noticed that he tends to go sharp on the fingerboard if he doesn't check with an open string.
So I told him he was playing it sharp, and he said that he wasn't, and again played the interval sharp. And it was so obviously sharp (to me) that I didn't understand how anybody else didn't hear it. I looked towards the conductor's wife who usually sits in and criticizes our performance (she has extremely good advice to give and also has perfect pitch) and she said it was a C natural that the conductor played.
I really don't understand what happened, because I clearly heard a c#, and I know I was correct because I checked it multiple times shortly afterwards with the pitch in my head and at the moment, I was checking his sharpish c natural with my open a string which was in tune! But when I did, he said "Don't check it with the a, check it with a G!" And I realized that it was not smart that I checked with a third and not a fifth, which is Pythagorean tuning?
This bothered me so much that I kept thinking about this occurrence. I'm very sure I was correct in saying that his C was much closer to a C# than a C natural. Later, I thought that this may have had something to do with the fact that both the conductor and his wife have been accustomed to stringed instrument tuning (wife plays cello) and I learned the piano first. (Pythagorean tuning vs equal temperament, which I don't understand at all and Wikipedia is way too technical for me to get much out of reading it). Does this have something to do with the way my perfect pitch is tuned compared to the conductors wife? Or am I just making excuses for my own mistake?
And should we ever disagree with the conductor?
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