Intonation Practice/Training Audio Sources

Edited: April 1, 2019, 12:08 AM · I bought a MP3 library of scales being played by a violinist, from Amazon. Except it didn't have the G Major scale. Had all the others. Frustrating. Before I go buy another from someone else, I have two questions.

1) Is this a useful way to do this, i.e. play the scales on my violin along with the mp3.

2) Another set of MP3 tracks sounded like it was done with a synthesizer, which means tempered tuning. Would that be a less than optimal source to use? Plus, it sounds like a synthesizer, buzzy and all, and not like a violin. No overtones, etc.

Replies (30)

April 1, 2019, 3:45 AM · 1) I recommend imitating four or five note segments, rather than playing along with the sound file (where differences are hard to evaluate). Playing along with harmonised music is very beneficial, however.

2) The equal tempered scale is a million times better than nothing! One can fine-tune when playing in harmony.

Edited: April 1, 2019, 3:50 AM · I think it's useful esp in the beginning. Ultimately, you'll need to determine if you're in tune by your ears alone.

I think they have apps for that purpose too:

April 1, 2019, 6:16 AM · Just use a piano...
April 1, 2019, 6:45 AM · Thanks. I was able to get Amazon to refund my money since 4 scales were missing off that product, and one was duplicated. They also were not in order. Or the order was nonsensical. Wasn't circle of 5ths, wasn't alphabetical.
April 1, 2019, 11:47 AM · @Horace, I downloaded those apps. Thanks.
April 1, 2019, 12:07 PM · Drones have also been mentioned before. I could get you some mean bagpipes in any key you want :) I think I'm in tune until I look at my digital tuner.I'm usually slightly off....out of tune I mean.
Edited: April 1, 2019, 3:22 PM · I also use drones. The app "Tonal Energy Tuner" has a way to set up drones with different instrument sounds (I use the tonic and dominant for a particular key, with the "english horn" sound) along with a metronome, for scale practice.
Edited: April 1, 2019, 5:14 PM · @Horace, I went to try to use those ABRSM apps, which I thought were free, and they are almost unusable until you start chucking out $$$ to get functionality.

@Karl, I'll check out your suggestion. It costs $4, which is not bad if it gives me a lot of functionality regarding what I need. What all does it do?

April 1, 2019, 5:22 PM · Timothy, thanks for the offer of bagpipe abuse, er, I mean, help. That might be better than what I've been doing, following worker bees around trying to guess what key they are in.
April 2, 2019, 8:51 AM · I will look into putting some drone tracks up. Bagpipes are a bit unique in tuning but they can be electronically altered to any pitch.

I thought about doing this awhile back and this post reminded me again.I don't believe drones are typically violin based. Maybe you've been playing with an mp3 that's just a violin playing scales? Since violins routinely play with pianos I would think that violins are the easiest to adjust to the right pitch to play along with a piano instead of the other way around.The violin is slightly off in equal temperament.I was playing an open string A this past weekend. My tuner said it was in tune, but it didn't sound in tune to me.
My ears are trained on the piano so it's difficult to hear something slightly off. I compare it to that dizzy effect we can get when walking around wearing reading glasses.
The brain has been conditioned one way and we are throwing it something else.

April 2, 2019, 9:08 AM · Fiddlerman has some free drones tuned to a 440 A:
April 2, 2019, 9:20 AM · Hey David, try "SmartScales" the app. It's better.
April 2, 2019, 10:22 AM · Those Fiddlerman drones are pretty good. I have heard good ones and not so good ones.
I prefer something I like listening to instead of a sparse tone, not that either is bad. Has to be an instrument/tone capable of sustaining.

I think bagpipes would be cool. If I were using the Fiddlerman drones I would rip the audio and make loops so a person could listen as long as they want.If looped it can go on and on and on and on and.........

April 2, 2019, 5:55 PM ·

April 2, 2019, 6:27 PM · @David, the Tonal Energy Tuner can simply be a tuner (in Just intonation, by key, or in Tempered), provides a tone/drone tool with a circle of fifths and a wide range of sounds to choose from, and a comprehensive metronome. Well worth the $4 IMO - it is a great practice tool.
Edited: April 3, 2019, 12:24 AM · I bought it yesterday. Thank you for your recommendation.
April 3, 2019, 6:22 AM · Check out the MusicWrench app on iOS. This is one of the best app for intonation!

April 3, 2019, 6:29 AM · @Timothy Smith I've been playing bagpipes for 39 years. It's my main instrument. You're right about them being a bit unique in tuning.

Our pitch has crept up in recent times, back in the 70s our Low A was around 466 , these days largely thanks to the competition bands our low A has crept up to about 485!!! A long way from 440...

I have bellows blown smallpipes that I play, the low A on those is at 440.

Do not get me started on the Uilleann pipes.....

April 4, 2019, 10:07 AM · Brent I gotta hand it to you. That is a difficult instrument to play. Interesting how the tuning standard has changed. You don't like the Uileann pipes? :) The ones I've heard seem tough to keep in tune.Nice to meet you!

@David Ford, I made drones in Bagpipes for all keys for my practices and put them up here for anyone that wants to have them for free. There are lots of choices in drones online. For my own situation I prefer to have something that's not so visual since I'm trying to train my ears not my eyes.I also wanted something with interesting harmonics.

A few words about the link to the drones. These are easier to use as downloads. I put them all together into one folder. If you stream them you'll need to stream from your browser which isn't quite as easy.You can do that though. I compressed these to mp3 so they are small files and won't take up all of your HD space.

The media player in win 10 has a repeat function , so you can keep listening indefinitely albeit with a slight tail at the end each time.Not enough to interrupt practice.

The best way is to drop these into a DAW, set loop points and loop it. This way you don't have that tail. Either way is ok though.

Here's the link-

April 4, 2019, 5:23 PM · Thanks Timothy. Have downloaded.
April 4, 2019, 5:23 PM · Thanks Timothy. Have downloaded.
April 4, 2019, 8:16 PM · In my opinion scale-like studies are just as good as scales for beginning to intermediate players. The main thing is to learn to hear intervals, especially small intervals like half-steps, whole steps, and minor and major thirds. Wohlfahrt, Dont (Op. 20), and Kayser studies come to mind.

Also don't agonize over intonation to the exclusion of everything else.

April 5, 2019, 4:45 AM · @Timothy Smith, don't get me wrong I absolutely love the Uilleann Pipes ( basically the Gaeilge word for Angle used in the context of the elbow ). I have a set myself.

But! The Highland pipes are hard enough to keep in tune with one reed in the chanter and one in each of the three drones, a set of UP can come in various different keys D, C etc, concert sets, flat sets. There's the chanter reed, a reed in each of the drones, a reed in each of the regulators.... gah! I think I need a lie down in a dark room....

April 5, 2019, 10:21 AM · More than welcome David. I hope it helps. I have designs on maybe making some double stops in different configurations and posting the examples up with the notes.. I had once thought those to be more difficult than they really are. They are still difficult for me to attempt to play but if I could hear an example it seems easier.

Another idea was to put up all scales in all modes. This would seem very helpful. I could grab mixolydian in G and hear it played.

...Anyways I'll stop rambling here for now.

Brent, I have a friend who took up bagpipes, had to quit and offered to sell me his setup. I guess if I were only 10 and knew I would live to be 100 the idea would have been more attractive.I just have too many irons in the fire. Violin is a big one! We have a few in my area who play the smaller pipes. Not sure what they are. Depending on how they are inserted into a song and played they can either sound wonderful or like an elephant with a plugged trunk. I have sat on occasion, smiled and pretended to enjoy the latter. I envy anyone who has mastered that craft.
Such a unique thing. Who would have thought? Someone did.

Edited: April 5, 2019, 1:51 PM · I found myself playing tunes to the drones. Might even record one or two.:)
I am especially drawn to D and A. Not sure why.

It was a shocking revelation.I voted for Trump but couldn't help myself;)


Edited: April 5, 2019, 11:02 PM · BREAKING NEWS: Putting my hearing aid in helps with intonation!!!! DUH!!!!

April 6, 2019, 4:15 AM · "Also don't agonize over intonation to the exclusion of everything else."

True, but agonise over it all the same!

April 6, 2019, 10:09 AM · Otherwise, what's the point???? ;-)

I'm already a performing musician, just not on violin, so I pay attention to how others I know sound who are performing on violin, but are newer in their odyssey. They are playing a type of folk music where "rustic" can sometimes be fallen back on, but....

April 6, 2019, 7:30 PM · Timothy - I checked out your drones, thank you! I like that much better than the drone my tuner will play.
April 8, 2019, 8:53 AM · Glad they might be helping Catherine!

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