Tuning a violin by harmonics
I still have difficulty tuning the open strings, and I find it more convenient to tune by harmonics - i.e. play the D harmonic on the G string and compare it with the first harmonic on the D string, and so on up to the E string. I realise this will only work at home and not in an orchestra, where I probably wouldn't be able to hear myself. Is this a stupid habit, or does it have support among better violinists?
What went wrong there?
I suspect Paul was responding to something else. I noticed that if you reply to a thread that is deleted before you click the "reply" button, the reply gets posted in the next new thread that anyone starts.
My teacher tunes by open strings first, and then checks the harmonics as a "fine tuning" step. Before she showed me, it never occurred to me to use harmonics for tuning.
The harmonics can be a little bit off, although cellists often tune that way - or at least check their tuning that way - probably because cello pegs can be hard to turn and (even though most cellos today have fine tuners) you can't tune fifths continuously with fine tuners (too many arms in the way).
Stephane Grappelli was fond of tuning with harmonics.
Harmonics make pure tuning to an actual 5th. Equal temperament however, does not.
Tuning by harmonics is fine. Bass players do it all the time.
Gordon, I was responding to the "sheet music" thread that got posted twice. But, I responded to it *before* it got taken down, so I don't know what went wrong.
We had a conductor with one of my orchestras who barked at me when I was checking my tuning using harmonics, "Don't let me see you tuning like that again!" - he was a former school music teacher, so his reaction may have been unthinking. I ignored him and continued checking.
FYI: when tuning two strings as perfect 5ths, we are not tuning the fundamentals. We are trying to match the 3rd partial of the lower string to the 2nd partial of the upper strings.
@Scott: "FYI: when tuning two strings as perfect 5ths, we are not tuning the fundamentals. We are trying to match the 3rd partial of the lower string to the 2nd partial of the upper strings."
I agree. If you tune by harmonics you are maybe less than totally perfect but more reliably good enough than tuning the fifths that you have not yet the routine or confidence to hear correctly. If you have time I recommend to tune by fifths anyway and check on it afterwards using the harmonics. Doing that will give you the confidence (after some time) to trust in your fifths and solve the problem with hearing the harmonics in an orchestra.
If you have trouble tuning fifths, try turning one of the fine tuners while bowing two adjacent strings. With practice you'll hear the beating of the partials change from almost zero through a few Hz and back as you turn the fine tuner back and forth. Once you hear the (admittedly subtle) beat you can tune it down to zero. Repeat on the other strings. One tuning fork, no batteries, perfect fifths.