Tuning manually vs. Using a tuner
Good day all:
This is how I tune my violin, I use a tuner to tune the A string and then I tune the rest of the strings by ear, using double stop bowing. It works fine for me. However, when I check the ear-tuned strings with the tuner, they are a couple of cents flat. Is this normal or should they be dead on? Should manual tuning and using the tuner to tune the strings produce the same exact results?
Pure fifths are 2 cents larger than equal-temperament fifths, so that makes sense for the D and G strings.
Better to tune by ear, because the pure fifth is the most important interval on a violin (and one of the most important to be in tune for music in general).
I used to tune all of my strings to a tuner. But then I got a violin with only one fine tuner and tuning with adjacent open strings made tuning a lot easier. I'm still getting used to it. When I go to check it with the tuner, they are usually flat.
I agree but for me anyway it is also faster to tune the fifths by ear than by tuner (maybe a question of doing it often enough). Also it establishes the habit of listening to oneself. Though of course however you do it the strings will go out of tune fairly quickly as you play/practice unless maybe you have steel strings and a perfectly constant climate.
Tune by fifths once you have checked your A.
Thanks for all your answers. So it is normal for a tuner to show a few cents flat if the violin is tuned by the fifth using the ear.
How is your new Carlisle doing Ted?
Tuning by fifths requires a close start, or multiple cycles, in order to be accurate. Actually, all tuning methods do, because changing the tension in one string affects others as it's not an entirely independent system.
Electronic tuners usually default to piano tuning, also called Equal Temperament.
I tune A to the leader's A,or piano's A or tuner or not at all, and tune rest of the strings in fifths. Do you fine tune using harmonics?
I was taught to bow softly when tuning and indeed, heavier bowing does change the pitch of the open strings - you can easily check this with some of the very sensitive tuner apps.
"The typical tuner is calibrated to equal temperament."
For the last months I've been tuning only using a tuner.
Sometime I feel that 2 cents is probably close to the accuracy of my tuner, and arguably of my own personal ability to fine tune any string without a fine tuner and/or that of the effect of bow pressure on pitch. What usually happens when I use a tuner goes like this... oops I am too high... oh, now it is too low, oops now it's too high again... darn now too low again... back and forth about 20 times before I give up! For some reason, in tune is always between too high and too low, and I can never hit the spot right on! When I tune by perfect fifth, some how the "in tune" spot feels much wider and easier to get, but I doubt that I am consistently spot on, I am just more tolerant I think.
You may want to have your pegs looked at.
One thing to remember concerning tuning. If you are playing a piece with piano accompaniment, you need to tune to the piano. Otherwise, ....
If experienced violinists play on strings tuned on an equal temperament basis, wouldn't they be able to adjust the position of their fingers so as to produce perfect fifths (except if it's on more than one open string)?
Violinists DON'T play in equal temperament. Equal temperament means a whole set of tempered intervals:
Scott, I think you misunderstood the question. Suppose that a good violinist gets a violin tuned in ET fifths, would it make a practical difference in playing music that does not involve double open strings? Because the good violinist would play just (or pythagoreic or whatever) intervals anyway.
Yes that is what I meant too Han as a question . Whether experienced violinist would find the means to play with resonance, as Scott says, but having tuned their strings on ET basis. Scott, for my part, I'm not saying that violinists play in ET.
There's an informative book on this topic called "How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (And Why You Should Care)" by Ross Duffin. It's a good read, too. Don't take the opinion expressed in the title too literally.
"Go to a recently-tuned piano and play F3-A3. You'll hear it beating wide about 7 beats per second. Play F3-D4. It will be about 8 beats per second."
The digital piano app is "perfect piano" for Android. I'm assuming that it's using samples from a tuned grand piano. It sounds like a piano, not like sine waves. Two different tuning apps (running on a different device) tell me that the tuning is a few cents sharp or flat depending on the octave. I don't have access to an actual physical piano at the moment.
As J Ray noted, tuning each string changes the tension and thus the pitch of the others, so multiple iterations of tuning are required.
"the calculated beat rate between the D and the A was consistently slower than 1 per second, which confirms again that the ear beats the classical uncertainty principle"
Han, I used Sound Corset, a free app for Android, as my tuner. I drew a steady bow without too much pressure, and measured a stroke-to-stroke variation of less than +/- 0.5 cents in Audacity.
While tuning the D4/A4 pair, you are sensitive to beats in the A5, A6, E7, A7, E8 harmonics; maybe even higher ones. At E7 (2640 Hz), 1 Hz difference is 0.65 cents; half of that at E8.
Thanks, Han, you've taught me a lot. I will listen more closely and see if I can hear what you describe.