I would like to know how trombones should tune in an orchestra. A is usually played by oboe, then flutes, clarinets, etc etc but for trombones in particular they would prefer Bb but I don’t think I’ve ever heard the oboe play a Bb after the A.
The oboist always plays a Bb for the brass section in every orchestra I've played in!
Brass instruments in most of the orchestras I've played in have tuned to the A. One casual community orchestra in my area tunes brass to Bb, but it's the only orchestra I've played in that does that.
I've never heard an oboe play a Bb. Depends on your orchestra, Sonia. If it's amateur, get the trombones trained better!
in our orchestra and other community orchestras I am aware of, the oboe plays A, then Bb. but I readily admit I've never seen this with professional orchestras.
This is a legitimate question. The A is not a natural note for a trombone to tune. Its pitch depends on the position of the slide. It would be like tuning violins to C#. Maybe they tune offstage and the onstage tuning routine is just for show (like pretty much everyone else anyway).
I used to play trombone professionally. In orchestra jobs, we tuned to A.
Brass, even in a youth symphony or not-great community orchestra, will generally still tune to an A. I think the only times I've ever called for a Bb was for public-school elementary or middle-school band kids combining with a string orchestra to do a full-orchestra work for the first time.
In my two best non-classical pro. bands, we never had a formal tuning session at the start of a show. Everyone just knew how to play in tune.
We played a performance recently with an electric piano; the conductor asked the piano for an 'A'. It was dreadfully sharp (I guess someone had reset it above 440). So we all ignored it and I don't think anyone was aware.
I have been wondering: Isn't the tuning ritual obsolete now that electronic tuners are available?
I know a very fine orchestral violinist who is convinced that his violin goes a little flat when he puts a mute on. I don't know whether anyone else has noticed this - I haven't - but I guess what is happening is that the mute cuts out a lot of the upper partials, which he may subconsciously be relying on when tuning or playing, and his auditory system interprets the fundamentals and lower partials as being flat by contrast when the upper partials aren't there.
In a radio interview with a retired clarinettist I heard some years ago he related the story of a day-long studio recording session of a very avant garde and complex piece for wind instruments. The conductor was also the composer.
Finally a question that I can answer without sounding like an absolute moron! Given that a trombone's center of pitch and center of resonance is identical, a trombone should not need to tune! I was a trombone major in college. Likes string instruments, it must tune each pitch. Unlike string instruments, there is no being in tune, there is only playing in tune. If you really must provide a pitch, go with an F; it is a more stable pitch in the instrument.
Back in the day when I played in a community orchestra we dispensed with the tuning in front of the audience. Tuning was done off-stage.
I have had single strings go a bit out of tune before walking on stage and tuned them on stage on two or three occasions in the last several years.
"I have to wonder why the tradition persists with professional orchestras where I've never seen one musician actually tuning their instrument"
"Some people complain of the sound remaining dull after taking off a practice mute..."
… or its because you are now used to playing quietly and loud is alien to your ears.
Thanks for all your input. I thought there might be a right answer for this but looks like I was wrong
Lydia gave the right answer. :-)
Tuning up in front of the audience also gives the audience an important initial impression of the quality of the performer(s).
So much insight!
No professional violinist would tune any open string except the "A" to a tuner. We tune by fifths, listening for the proper interval, and yes, the ears of any professional musician are that good.
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