Tuning. Really???

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tbdana
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Tuning. Really???

Post by tbdana »

I feel like making a bold proclamation and daring you all to disagree with me. :twisted:

Stop tuning. Don't tune anymore. Just say no to tuning.

I never tune. And I almost never move my tuning slide. I might as well not have one. When the oboe plays an A for the brass, I don't even pick up my horn unless it's just to screw around. What's the point of it?

My thesis here is this: A bad trombonist plays out of tune on an in-tune trombone, and a good trombonist plays in-tune on an out of tune trombone.

Trying to tune-up with the band or orchestra is a fool's errand. We play a giant tuning slide, after all. Each note will be in or out of tune depending on what you do with that particular note, and tuning to an A or a Bb before starting is absolutely useless. It's worse than useless, because it deceives you into being lazy and thinking your horn is in-tune.

The very best advice I ever got was from Roy Main, my teacher at the time, who once suggested in a throw-away comment that I push my tuning slide all the way in and leave it there, and simply play in tune. :idea:
The light just came on. Doing that was a huge revelation for me in both listening and playing, and it forever changed how I play.

Bass trombonist Bob Sanders writes the following anecdote on his website:
For a decade or so, I played a Conn 62H with no tuning slides whatsoever – main or valves. I had Larry Minick tune it so 1st position was about ½ half inch out. It responded great all over the horn – and had a super light-weight hand-slide. So . . . one night at Donte’s, Bill Watrous noticed this and told the audience, “I thought I was arrogant. I don’t pull my tuning slide, but he doesn’t even have one!” [After all, the trombonist has a couple feet of tuning slide in their right hand.]
My point is that if you're tuning, you're missing the boat. Each note has its own place on the slide and on your chops, and it changes depending on the harmonics of the moment and where everyone else is playing. Good players don't rely on their tuning slide, but listen to every note and make small adjustments so quickly that you don't even notice that the note may have been out of tune when it started (although it probably wasn't in most cases). I haven't moved my tuning slide in months, and I play in-tune without difficulty.

Here's my suggestion to you: Stop playing with your tuning slide. From now on just leave it wherever it happens to be right now, and just listen and play each individual note in tune.

You're welcome. :)

Okay, commence firing! :D
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by AtomicClock »

tbdana wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 1:42 pm When the oboe plays an A for the brass, I don't even pick up my horn unless it's just to screw around. What's the point of it?
I call it "tuning theater". Playing the A avoids scowls from the conductor, and the "orchestra tuning" sound prepares the audience.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by harrisonreed »

I made this a long time ago when I had just got back into playing:



If a group is giving an A or Bb, you definitely should play it though -- the group might not be where your head thinks the pitch is at, and you could help your section hear the pitch. Also, you won't come across as someone "above the group".
Last edited by harrisonreed on Mon Apr 01, 2024 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by EriKon »

Again a post with just black/white thinking but nothing in between although there's a lot of shades there ;)

I would agree that the part of orchestral tuning to someone's 'A' can be redundant, especially for wind players. Not always, but it can be.

But when I realize a colleague next to me is always a little more flat than me I don't want to correct all my slide positions because of that colleague. So if he plays flat and I have to play together with him, I'll just adjust with the main tuning slide. And I think no one ever suggested to tune with the main tuning slide and then carve it on that exact place and play through the rest of the day without using your ears.

Also, recently played some Ellington stuff with pixie/plunger combination. And I simply just don't want to play everything approximately a 3/4 position further out on the slide. Why make it more difficult if it can be easier? Just pull the main tuning slide the farthest out (at least with my pixie) and it works quite well.

So, yes to some parts, but I don't see a need for that much dogmatism.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by Burgerbob »

I dare anyone here to play a Getzen/Edwards with the tuning slide all the way in.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by hyperbolica »

The good groups I play with never tune unless it's a special situation. Only the bad groups tune, and then it doesn't do any good.

... and to respond to Harry's stuff.... The first thing you should rely on is muscle memory. Muscle memory helps you play in tune with yourself. It takes time to develop. If you've been playing trombone for more than a few years, you know where each position is by muscle memory. If you are first relying on your ears, that means you have to play out of tune first, hear it, then adjust, and all of that takes time, an in that time you are playing out of tune.

"Beginners" don't start hearing and knowing how to react to intonation right away. It takes time to be able to understand what to do with the information your ears are giving you.

Plus, you should never tune visually with your slide lined up with the bell. If you ever play a different instrument, you'll be lost. If you don't play in a key with 3rd position notes, you'll be lost.

Put Bb in a predictable place, so you can go there with your eyes closed and without playing a note. You have to do that with the main tuning slide. Then all the other notes will also have predictable locations. Trombone players tuning with their chops is barbaric. Only converted baritone players do that. Low F on the valve will be one of the notes that you have to pull up the furthest. C on the valve will have to be pushed out. Tuning such that B is just before the slide falls off in 7th is insane. Give yourself some room, and put Bb about 1/2" out, or in whatever predictable place works for you and your horn. Pushing the tuning slide all the way in is just cynical hot dogging and bad advice. Certainly nothing you should tell beginners. Anyone with ears good enough to play that way probably knows better than to play that way except as a circus trick. It slows down your ability to play in tune, because you're depending on reaction as a first recourse, not a second recourse, and then you have to do the mental math to add or subtract the tuning-coefficient-of-the-day. Muscle memory is the best first recourse. You start out an order of magnitude closer to in-tune than play-by-reacting. Plus, it takes longer to develop muscle memory if your Bb is in a different place every day.
Last edited by hyperbolica on Mon Apr 01, 2024 3:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by WilliamLang »

We should always aim to let our ears guide us, but having a decent tuning note to center on makes that adjustment even faster and less noticeable. Also tuning is context dependent, of course, so a C in a C major chord and a C in an Ab major chord won't be in the same position. Knowing where you are adjusting from and understanding where your positions are for that remove at least a little of the guesswork.

If you have truly outstanding ears and can make those adjustments so quickly that no one else notices, then great. A lot of people think they have those ears and they really don't though. People notice, they just don't say anything.


I wouldn't want to work next to someone that thought they were above playing with the group and didn't have to participate in a tuning note, whether or not you think it's useful and/or just for show.
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EriKon
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by EriKon »

hyperbolica wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 2:29 pm The good groups I play with never tune unless it's a special situation. Only the bad groups tune, and then it doesn't do any good.
This is something I've observed as well with the exception of classical orchestras.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by harrisonreed »

Burgerbob wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 2:27 pm I dare anyone here to play a Getzen/Edwards with the tuning slide all the way in.
I do.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by Burgerbob »

harrisonreed wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 2:45 pm
Burgerbob wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 2:27 pm I dare anyone here to play a Getzen/Edwards with the tuning slide all the way in.
I do.
Yes, a longer slide 396. I'm talking 350 or 454.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by OneTon »

If God had intended a trombone to be played with the tuning slide all the way in, Vincent Bach would have deleted the tuning slide.

There is but one 42, and Vincent is His Profit.

I prefer the 292 with a 4.125 inch stroke as opposed to the big block 4.094. There is no replacement for displacement, but I digress.
Last edited by OneTon on Mon Apr 01, 2024 3:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by harrisonreed »

Burgerbob wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 2:55 pm
harrisonreed wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 2:45 pm

I do.
Yes, a longer slide 396. I'm talking 350 or 454.
Yeah the Edwards bass I have has a bell section that seems short, you're right.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by BGuttman »

Orchestra tuning A primarily gets us trombones to know where the orchestra is and how much adjustment we need to apply. Our orchestra used to offer a Bb for the brass for a while. We told the conductor it wasn't necessary. He realized that the extra tuning note looked kinda silly to the audience and made no difference in how in-tune we were (or weren't ;) ).

Also, there are some German instruments with no tuning slides.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by OneTon »

Trombones live in a one dimensional world. Re-tuning open strings on the fly is a non-starter. The wind instruments like to lip up and down the respective bad notes on their instrument as opposed to lipping everything up or down. Excepting French horns which never entirely embraced tuning slides or valves. We are the odd instrument out.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by tbdana »

EriKon wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 2:22 pm Again a post with just black/white thinking but nothing in between although there's a lot of shades there ;)
Well, I did say I was going to make a "bold proclamation" and "dare" you to disagree. Mission accomplished! LOL! :lol:

Truly, I wanted to spur discussion about playing, to try to inspire more posts about actually playing trombone, and big proclamations tend to get more responses. I also wanted to make the point without diluting it by listing a bunch of exceptions. Like, I told one person that if I find myself moving everything up or down on my slide to stay with someone, I'll adjust my tuning slide to make it more convenient. But I didn't want to take away from the point and add to an already long post by adding that.

The point was that it's not necessary, and we should be able to play in tune no matter where our tuning slide is; or, in Bob Sanders' case, when his horn doesn't even have tuning slides. And conversely, don't rely on the tuning slide to think you're in tune. :)
Last edited by tbdana on Mon Apr 01, 2024 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by harrisonreed »

But your point is common knowledge, plus the extra bit about being too cool to establish pitch along with the the rest of the orchestra 😎
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tbdana
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by tbdana »

harrisonreed wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 4:39 pm But your point is common knowledge, plus the extra bit about being too cool to establish pitch along with the the rest of the orchestra 😎
Oh, it's absolutely not common knowledge, LOL. Maybe for you and the folks on this website, but out in the wild, not so much, especially among younger and community band/orchestra players.

As for being too cool to "establish pitch," that's an interesting interpretation I wasn't even aware could be made. I'm pretty sure exactly zero people notice that I'm not tuning and think, "Wow, what an a-hole!" OTOH, I feel no need to add needlessly to the noise. What I will do, though, is I'll play the tuning note for the second half of the concert if I've sat out the entire first half, just to make sure I can still come in cold and be okay.

But, ya know, you were dead-on balls accurate when you observed that I am pretty cool! 8-) :D
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by elmsandr »

For quite a while, I always did the slow little Star Trek opening riff when presenting with a tuning pitch. Gets a lot of nice open intervals to get the ears going…. And amuses me, so worth the price of admission, I guess.

Cheers,
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by Burgerbob »

elmsandr wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 6:44 pm For quite a while, I always did the slow little Star Trek opening riff when presenting with a tuning pitch. Gets a lot of nice open intervals to get the ears going…. And amuses me, so worth the price of admission, I guess.

Cheers,
Andy
Uh oh... Great minds think alike. I do the same thing!
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by ngrinder »

I use a tuner and drones in the practice room to get a good baseline. Ears are tantamount…but the real problem arises when different parts of the orchestra/group are playing in different pitch worlds. It can happen in pits and isolated studios sometimes, especially with electronics and different folks clocking to different instruments. Also, basses are usually low and trumpets/high reeds are usually high, and it falls on us to make them *both* sound in tune! I’ll take any of the help I can get. Having an established baseline pitch in line with the keyboard means less work on my end making that happen…but, agree 100% that ears/the moment always win!
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by GabrielRice »

I don't move my tuning slide often, but when I do it's necessary. Sometimes it's because I'm playing with a low organ in a cold church. Sometimes it's because I'm called in to sub with the Boston Symphony, which tunes to A441 rather than the A440 the rest of my gigs tune to. In both cases, my continued employment depends on my ability to come in for an entrance in tune right away. I can't afford to be adjusting by default.

I know a couple of extremely fine trombonists who play with their tuning slides all the way in all the time and adjust with their slides to different situations, different pianos, etc. Their careers have them in very different situations with very different expectations from mine. I don't mean that as a value judgement in any way.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by brassmedic »

If you play orchestral music or do any orchestral recording, you need to be able to hit a note right in tune immediately, not hear that it's out of tune and then adjust. You have muscle memory that tells you where to put the slide for any given note. It's helpful to use your tuning slide to ensure that when you play in different groups with different pitch centers, that muscle memory is going to put you in the right place immediately. Sure, you're using your ears to play in tune, and you don't really need a tuning slide, but why not take advantage of something that's going to make it just that much more secure? Are you going to refuse to move your tuning slide just to prove some sort of point?
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by blast »

brassmedic wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 12:23 am If you play orchestral music or do any orchestral recording, you need to be able to hit a note right in tune immediately, not hear that it's out of tune and then adjust. You have muscle memory that tells you where to put the slide for any given note. It's helpful to use your tuning slide to ensure that when you play in different groups with different pitch centers, that muscle memory is going to put you in the right place immediately. Sure, you're using your ears to play in tune, and you don't really need a tuning slide, but why not take advantage of something that's going to make it just that much more secure? Are you going to refuse to move your tuning slide just to prove some sort of point?
This.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by timothy42b »

Remember, hearing beats is good. It means you're getting closer.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by CaptEquinox »

If you think you're placing your intonation exclusively by ear (plus your exquisite reflexes) in each and every instance, let me pull your tuning slide nearly all the way out before the concert. Where's your La gazza ladra now?
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by Kbiggs »

I use the tuning note. Yes, it’s partly for show. Whether it’s a band or an orchestra, the audience expects it—it’s tradition. But, I think tuning has other purpose besides just establishing pitch for the group.

It’s also a way for musicians to delineate preparation from performance. We rehearse and we practice, but then for the show we have a different mind set. We dress in special clothes, we make sure our slides are lubricated, that our valves work, we have all the mutes we need, etc. We all have our little performance routines to soothe ourselves when we notice nervousness creeping in. The tuning note is the second-to-last thing we do as a group before the performance starts—the last thing we do is stand when the conductor walks out. Tuning is part of a group activity or routine that marks the end of the ordinary world and the beginning of the magic of performance, of live music.

Most groups where I play use A=440, so it’s rare that I would move my tuning slide more than 1/8” either way, extreme temperatures notwithstanding.

Personally, I have another reason I tune with the group. With tinnitus that hovers around an A7 to Bb7 (perhaps an A8-Bb8?), I sometimes initially hear that I’m playing quite flat, particularly when I play my A3 against an A4 at 440 Hz (ditto for B-flats), especially when it’s only the interval. However, listening to the tuning pitch and comparing it to the sound (noise?) around me, and playing a D4 against the A4 to establish a perfect fourth, allows me to confirm that my intervals are in tune and my muscle memory is good. It also confirms that when I hear things in context, rather than isolation, my intonation is good.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by AtomicClock »

GabrielRice wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 8:19 pm the Boston Symphony, which tunes to A441 rather than the A440 the rest of my gigs tune to.
I suppose I could do the math... but about how far do you move a tuning slide for one Hz?
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by Burgerbob »

AtomicClock wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 10:08 am
GabrielRice wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 8:19 pm the Boston Symphony, which tunes to A441 rather than the A440 the rest of my gigs tune to.
I suppose I could do the math... but about how far do you move a tuning slide for one Hz?
They're about 4 cents different. Almost 8 for 442.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by tbdana »

brassmedic wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 12:23 am Are you going to refuse to move your tuning slide just to prove some sort of point?
Obviously not. I think that's obvious, since I announced it right at the beginning of the first post in this this thread, that I was making a "bold proclamation" in order to make a point about tuning and the mindset of playing in tune.

And because I announced my intent at the very top of my post, I'm actually kind of surprised that people are interpreting it in unexpected ways; e.g., not to move a tuning slide to make a point, not to play the orchestral A to seem "cool," or that there are no exceptions, etc. I'll learn from that, but as I've said, I made a "bold proclamation" to be provocative and get a discussion started about actually playing the trombone, since I've made it clear that I'd like to see more of that content. Now, I thought this would be a new concept for many folks, though one poster complained that the whole thing is "common knowledge." So maybe I didn't need a "bold proclamation" after all.

But learning to play in-tune without relying on my tuning slide was a big light bulb moment for me. And since I no longer play with the best musicians on earth, I currently find myself watching so-called professional trombonists fiddle with their tuning slides all the time when that's not really the problem or the solution. So I thought I'd get everyone's attention, and see if maybe someone else can have a realization like I did back in the day.

Finally, everyone adjusts (hopefully!). If you're a trombonist who plays perfectly in-tune all the time and never has to adjust your pitch after the attack, you're the only one in the world. Or you're not as in-tune as you think you are. We all have to listen and adjust. Pitch is never static, even minute to minute pitch floats throughout the orchestra/group. But this isn't supposed to be a nit-picky thread, it's a bold proclamation to have discussion. And, frankly, I think it has worked pretty well so far, and I'm enjoying reading what people have to say. :)
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by CalgaryTbone »

brassmedic wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 12:23 am If you play orchestral music or do any orchestral recording, you need to be able to hit a note right in tune immediately, not hear that it's out of tune and then adjust. You have muscle memory that tells you where to put the slide for any given note. It's helpful to use your tuning slide to ensure that when you play in different groups with different pitch centers, that muscle memory is going to put you in the right place immediately. Sure, you're using your ears to play in tune, and you don't really need a tuning slide, but why not take advantage of something that's going to make it just that much more secure? Are you going to refuse to move your tuning slide just to prove some sort of point?
Well stated!
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by AtomicClock »

I recently joined a community orchestra who's trombone section was in the midst of a tuning disagreement with the conductor. They had convinced the oboe to give a Bb amongst the various tuning A's, just for the trombones. The conductor thought this interfered with everyone else's tuning. I just thought it was tacky. We discussed little of what is in this thread, but I didn't want to be a pushy new guy. After a few months, the Bb faded away.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by AtomicClock »

tbdana wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 10:34 am If you're a trombonist who plays perfectly in-tune all the time and never has to adjust your pitch after the attack, you're the only one in the world.
While I agree with this, I have seen Joe Alessi videos on Youtube where I swear the note sounds before the slide stops moving, but there is no wavering of pitch or tone. Magic!
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by timothy42b »

My last comment intended humor, or at least schadenfreude, but this is a serious question.

This is a little farfetched. But with the horn in playing position, and when we're paying attention, do we get some intonation information subconsciously?

A horn responds somewhat to the signal being input, from either end. There is always ambient noise, and during the piece there is a variety of sound entering the bell. Some of it is in the correct chord and maybe even on a note we will play, and where our slide is makes a difference. Maybe some of the time it isn't hitting a note that's close and then adjusting quickly, but actually adjusting before we play the note, based on feedback from the horn.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by AtomicClock »

timothy42b wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 11:18 am My last comment intended humor, or at least schadenfreude
I've never been able to notice beats when playing trombone (despite LOTS of out-of-tuneness!), but recently I found that they are very easy to detect on euphonium. Go figure.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by timothy42b »

AtomicClock wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 11:23 am
timothy42b wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 11:18 am My last comment intended humor, or at least schadenfreude
I've never been able to notice beats when playing trombone (despite LOTS of out-of-tuneness!), but recently I found that they are very easy to detect on euphonium. Go figure.
At a past ATW, Don Lucas (Boston University) described a method for improving the intonation of students. He had them play a note on a drone, hum or sing the note softly, and then move up and down a half step, controlling the rate at which the beats went from fast to slow to (hopefully) stopped.

I don't think he had them do it on trombone.

I just tried it, using a YouTube cello drone on A, moving my slide slowly down to Ab and up to Bb. I can hear beats. They're not as loud as my tinnitus but they are there. :biggrin:
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by harrisonreed »

AtomicClock wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 10:57 am
tbdana wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 10:34 am If you're a trombonist who plays perfectly in-tune all the time and never has to adjust your pitch after the attack, you're the only one in the world.
While I agree with this, I have seen Joe Alessi videos on Youtube where I swear the note sounds before the slide stops moving, but there is no wavering of pitch or tone. Magic!
Don't forget that videos don't tell the whole story. It could be anything from an audio sync disconnect on an amateur video recording, all the way to a post production choice for a professional audio recording.

Yeah, as to the original post, it's kind of like the other guy said, all black and white with lot's of "shades" in there. Play in tune, sure, of course. A lot of trombones let you play in tune with the tuning slide all the way in, but like Aidan says, the Edwards bass doesn't let you do that comfortably.

I get why you're surprised, Dana, that people are interpreting what you wrote slightly different than you intended, but check it out:
tbdana wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 1:42 pm I feel like making a bold proclamation and daring you all to disagree with me. :twisted:
Let's go!

Stop tuning. Don't tune anymore. Just say no to tuning.
Right, don't establish pitch with the rest of the group, which is what tuning really is. Those people are fools. We all know we're just innately above them. There is ZERO value in gauging today's chops, the room temp, or section, or where the strings are at today.

I never tune. And I almost never move my tuning slide. I might as well not have one. When the oboe plays an A for the brass, I don't even pick up my horn unless it's just to screw around. What's the point of it?
Heck yeah. What a bunch of clowns. Screwing around with your horn during tuning is what it's all about!

My thesis here is this: A bad trombonist plays out of tune on an in-tune trombone, and a good trombonist plays in-tune on an out of tune trombone.
I think it's more like, bad trombonists play out of tune. Good trombones play in tune. The trombone is only out of tune if it physically can't play a Bb or D in first. If that.

Trying to tune-up with the band or orchestra is a fool's errand. We play a giant tuning slide, after all. Each note will be in or out of tune depending on what you do with that particular note, and tuning to an A or a Bb before starting is absolutely useless. It's worse than useless, because it deceives you into being lazy and thinking your horn is in-tune.
Heck yeah, your section mates don't need you to establish pitch in the section either. They play trombone too.


You're welcome. :)
changed my life!!

Okay, commence firing! :D
Shots fired. 😎 For the record, this is not me being mean! You asked for controversy and for the shooting to commence!
Last edited by harrisonreed on Tue Apr 02, 2024 12:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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elmsandr
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by elmsandr »

timothy42b wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 11:18 am My last comment intended humor, or at least schadenfreude, but this is a serious question.

This is a little farfetched. But with the horn in playing position, and when we're paying attention, do we get some intonation information subconsciously?

A horn responds somewhat to the signal being input, from either end. There is always ambient noise, and during the piece there is a variety of sound entering the bell. Some of it is in the correct chord and maybe even on a note we will play, and where our slide is makes a difference. Maybe some of the time it isn't hitting a note that's close and then adjusting quickly, but actually adjusting before we play the note, based on feedback from the horn.
Yes, you get a ton subconsciously!

Other way to do your test, how far can you move the pitch without changing the physical position of the slide?

When I’m playing in a group, I sometimes sit between a great horn player and a well tuned tubist. In those days, I don’t have to pay much attention to exactly where my slide goes, because my brain and ears take me out of the equation on playing in tune with them. Unless I really fall of the wagon and do something really dumb. When I’m pushed farther away, I have to listen actively to make sure I’m helping the cause.

Cheers,
Andy
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by WGWTR180 »

April Fools?
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harrisonreed
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by harrisonreed »

Shoot, I didn't think of that. *Nervously looks around*
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by GabrielRice »

AtomicClock wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 10:08 am
GabrielRice wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 8:19 pm the Boston Symphony, which tunes to A441 rather than the A440 the rest of my gigs tune to.
I suppose I could do the math... but about how far do you move a tuning slide for one Hz?
Not far - maybe 1/16"
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by brassmedic »

tbdana wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 10:34 am
brassmedic wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 12:23 am Are you going to refuse to move your tuning slide just to prove some sort of point?
Obviously not. I think that's obvious, since I announced it right at the beginning of the first post in this this thread, that I was making a "bold proclamation" in order to make a point about tuning and the mindset of playing in tune.

And because I announced my intent at the very top of my post, I'm actually kind of surprised that people are interpreting it in unexpected ways; e.g., not to move a tuning slide to make a point, not to play the orchestral A to seem "cool," or that there are no exceptions, etc.
I don't find the reactions you are getting to be unexpected at all. I think that's exactly what you should have expected based on what you wrote in your post. As for my question, it was intended to be rhetorical in nature.
But learning to play in-tune without relying on my tuning slide was a big light bulb moment for me. And since I no longer play with the best musicians on earth, I currently find myself watching so-called professional trombonists fiddle with their tuning slides all the time when that's not really the problem or the solution. So I thought I'd get everyone's attention, and see if maybe someone else can have a realization like I did back in the day.
There are good players and there are bad players. If they can't play in tune, they can't play in tune, and I agree that moving the tuning slide isn't going to solve the problem. That doesn't mean good players who can play in tune shouldn't ever move their tuning slide. Playing in tune is a skill not everyone has. I'm not sure a "realization" that you're supposed to listen and play in tune is going to suddenly give someone that ability. I've played with many people who never move their tuning slide AND play out of tune.
Finally, everyone adjusts (hopefully!). If you're a trombonist who plays perfectly in-tune all the time and never has to adjust your pitch after the attack, you're the only one in the world. Or you're not as in-tune as you think you are. We all have to listen and adjust. Pitch is never static, even minute to minute pitch floats throughout the orchestra/group. But this isn't supposed to be a nit-picky thread, it's a bold proclamation to have discussion. And, frankly, I think it has worked pretty well so far, and I'm enjoying reading what people have to say. :)
But weren't you just complaining about people thinking there are "no exceptions", and isn't that what you're doing with us? OF COURSE you are going to have to adjust the pitch after starting the note sometimes. My point is that we have a device (tuning slide) that allows us to set the instrument to a place where we minimize the number and degree of these corrections. You're minimizing the chance that you're going to be 1/4 step flat on the first note of New World Symphony 2nd movement, and have to gliss up to the right place. The steering wheel on a car is calibrated so that when it is centered, the car travels in a straight line. You still have to make small corrections to continue going straight, and you could mount the steering wheel so that when it is turned 42 degrees to the right, the car is traveling straight, and it would still work just fine. It's just easier when you have a known starting point from which to make the corrections.
Brad Close Brass Instruments - brassmedic.com
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tbdana
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by tbdana »

Yeah okay I give in. :)
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by chouston3 »

I think tuning slide influences color as well as pitch. With my tuning slide out more I get a brighter sound. With it in more, I get a darker sound.

Try to get a centered tone with the color you will use and adjust your tuning slide accordingly.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by AtomicClock »

I actually do find the tuning A helpful, even though I know my tuning slide won't move. It's a transition from the day's work,the frantic commute, the hurried warm-up; to a first taste of ensemble playing. Even if I hardly ever move the tuning slide, the action of calmly listening to the oboe, then blowing a matching longtone really does affect my mindset, and helps me shift gears from one world to the other.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by mgladdish »

I'm with you. The tuning note is super-useful for the band as a whole, but the most productive thing trombonists can do with it is just shut up and concentrate on internalising where the A is. I've not needed to move my tuning slide in about 20 years.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by hyperbolica »

chouston3 wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 10:24 pm I think tuning slide influences color as well as pitch. With my tuning slide out more I get a brighter sound. With it in more, I get a darker sound.
Yeah... I would challenge you to test that. Along with clocking your slide bumper. :D Theoretically - possibly, but the effect is so small I doubt it can be detected with anyone's ear or the most sensitive equipment. There are so many variables, that that one isn't in the first order of magnitude changes.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by harrisonreed »

On alto the effect of how far the tuning slide is pulled has a huge impact on the intonation of the horn overall, partial to partial. Some tenor players are pulling their tuning slides out so far that it has to be having the same effect.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by Kbiggs »

The longer I play, the greater my awareness that intonation and tone quality go hand-in-hand.

In the past, I’ve been guilty of playing “low on the pitch,” and “throwing too much air at the problem.” However, I’ve been thinking about and trying to put into practice the idea of “playing on top of the sound” from this video of Jim Pandolfi (thanks Adrian!). I think it helps with intonation and stability: viewtopic.php?p=229585&hilit=Pandolfi#p229585
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I have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by WGWTR180 »

I used to work with several tenor trombonists from a certain city who insisted on playing with their tuning slides pushed in all the way. They stated that their instruments played better that way-something I agree with in may ways. But they also insisted that they adjusted with their playing slides to bring their instruments down to pitch. It was a great thought. Unfortunately their application didn't match the thought process.
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Re: Tuning. Really???

Post by OneTon »

Some trombones have a Goldilocks position based on the hand slide not being closed for the desired ensemble pitch. Notes stay centered, the partials “line up” as expected, and intonation is more stable. On those horns particularly, and most horns in general, I like to set the tuning slide to optimize the horn’s slide sweet spot for the ensemble’s pitch. Plus or minus 1/16 inch is usually close enough. I don’t usually have to move it much, or often. My mentor altered his trombone by a modification to the tuning slide. It was supposed to be biased towards the higher note range.

On the other hand, if the sweet spot was in the closed position and/or with the tuning slide pushed all the way, that would not be the horn for me.
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