I can't hear myself tune!

February 17, 2005 at 10:31 PM · Hey everyone! Hope you are all right!

I wonder if you can help me with this:

I can tune my violin using fifths but as soon as everyone else in orchestra starts tuning, my violin gets drowned and I can no longer hear if it is in tune or not.

Is there any way of dealing with this?


One-Sim :)

Replies (14)

February 17, 2005 at 11:34 PM · Greetings,

there is an interesting law of physics, the name of which I forget, that ponits out the greater the sensory input the brain recieves the harde r it becomes to processta a refined level. The usuall example is a comparison between a room lit by a single candle and one lit by 50. In the former case the addition of a second candle is noticeable in the latter not.

Tuning in orhcestra is the same and one of the worts diseases orchstras acquire is tuning loudly and then wanting to hera beteer so playign louder and so on and the whole damnthing just gets sharper and sharper. Actually you should be able to tune your instrument following the reconmmendations of the classic French school who advocated dropping the bow lighly on the string for a bounc eor two so all one hears is a kind of pizzicato pianissimo.

Bets oyu can do is discuss the problem with the concertmaster and conducter and/or tune your insturment before the rehearsal concert using an electronic tuning device.



February 17, 2005 at 11:48 PM · I second Buri's suggestion of tuning beforehand with an electronic tuner. That's what I do. In addition, if you use synthetic strings, you should pretty much be in tune most of the time anyway.

February 18, 2005 at 12:58 AM · You are not alone with your orchestra tuning problem. I would like to suggest you get an electronic tuner with a microphone (I use a Seiko ST500 ($25-) and a Matrix Pick-up ($11-) from Shar. Tune your violin carefully by ear and then see what the tuner reports. That way you can get a good oral tuning in a noisy orcheatra.

February 18, 2005 at 01:22 AM · The Center Pitch Universal CP2 tunes based on vibration in your instrument, not perpetuated thru air. Spring clamps to peg box. Even get it at Amazon.


February 18, 2005 at 01:46 AM · I turn my head and press my ear gently to the chinrest. It makes it easier to hear the strings and hear the vibrations of the perfect fifths on my instrument. I know I know, it's not good posture....

February 18, 2005 at 03:23 AM · I tune based on vibrations, get your A and tune through those. Then it doesn't matter how loud people around you are, or how loud you are. Ta!

February 18, 2005 at 09:34 AM · I was told once that the tuning done onstage was merely formality, and that everyone should be tuned before they go out. Heck, what's all this about electronic tuners? I prefer the tuning fork.

February 18, 2005 at 09:35 AM · Plus, I've really been harping on my students about proper tuning lately; it seems to be an area that is neglected. You absolutely must have a good tone to tune, and sawing is not the way to get it. A gentle upbow toward the tip, using only the weight of the bow generally does it for me. Watch the contact point on the string as well. Since this type of tuning is not possible to hear in a group, plus everyone's varying pitches are also registering in your ears, I don't know how that violist gets in such an argument over 440 vs. 442 A when he's sawing away and can't even hear his note.

February 18, 2005 at 03:12 PM · I just feel the vibrations with my chin if I cannot hear myself. Sometimes if it's really bad, I put my violin down, stick a peg in my ear and pluck the strings to double check. If they are not in tune...I wait until it's more quiet.


February 19, 2005 at 12:34 AM · Greetings,

I once dated a deaf double bass player who tuned her base through vibrations in her legs. Best not to pursue this one too far...



February 19, 2005 at 01:20 AM · She probably didn't need Alexander Technique! ;-)


February 19, 2005 at 06:56 PM · I just use my electronic tuner...it would be nice if I didn't need it, but I do...and I fail to see why it's considered 'second rate' in an orchestral setting with all the background noise...

February 20, 2005 at 01:34 AM · Greetings,

I don"t think it is second rate at all. I carry one around when I work with orchestras that tune too loud. I am quite happy to sit in the corner and fiddle around with ine.

Henry Wood had a tradition with oin of his London Orchestras of tuning each player individually from a large tuning fork before they went on stage.

Presumably his conerts tended to start half an hourlate.



June 13, 2005 at 01:55 AM · If your chromatic tuner has a pickup plugin, you can purchase a tuner pickup that clips to your bridge,a nd is very handy. I use mine even when playing somtimes. Also, tuning onstage is not just a formality, with some stages, specially with older lighting systems, they get extremely hot, and the change of temperature tends to expand the wood, putting the strings out of tune, so checking befor eyou play is good.

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