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intonation in fiddle music

GUEST,Tunesmith 19 Jan 09 - 04:27 PM
katlaughing 19 Jan 09 - 05:52 PM
The Sandman 19 Jan 09 - 06:28 PM
katlaughing 19 Jan 09 - 07:15 PM
Artful Codger 20 Jan 09 - 01:35 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 20 Jan 09 - 03:22 AM
GUEST,BanjoRay 20 Jan 09 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,strad 20 Jan 09 - 07:54 AM
GUEST,leeneia 20 Jan 09 - 11:30 AM
Marje 20 Jan 09 - 11:47 AM
Artful Codger 20 Jan 09 - 10:12 PM
katlaughing 20 Jan 09 - 10:49 PM
GUEST,BanjoRay 21 Jan 09 - 05:09 AM
nickp 21 Jan 09 - 06:08 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 21 Jan 09 - 08:08 AM
matt milton 21 Jan 09 - 09:06 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 21 Jan 09 - 10:57 AM
Stewart 21 Jan 09 - 11:48 AM
GUEST,Russ 21 Jan 09 - 12:49 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 21 Jan 09 - 01:06 PM
Artful Codger 21 Jan 09 - 08:56 PM
Will Fly 22 Jan 09 - 04:32 AM
The Sandman 22 Jan 09 - 07:32 AM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jan 09 - 08:04 AM
The Sandman 22 Jan 09 - 08:22 AM
katlaughing 22 Jan 09 - 11:28 AM
meself 22 Jan 09 - 11:52 AM
greg stephens 22 Jan 09 - 01:52 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jan 09 - 02:08 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 22 Jan 09 - 05:30 PM
meself 22 Jan 09 - 10:20 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 23 Jan 09 - 02:24 AM
bald headed step child 23 Jan 09 - 03:18 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 23 Jan 09 - 06:36 AM
greg stephens 23 Jan 09 - 06:53 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 23 Jan 09 - 07:10 AM
greg stephens 23 Jan 09 - 08:58 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 23 Jan 09 - 09:14 AM
GUEST,BanjoRay 23 Jan 09 - 09:24 AM
greg stephens 23 Jan 09 - 09:38 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jan 09 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,BanjoRay 23 Jan 09 - 09:58 AM
meself 23 Jan 09 - 10:06 AM
greg stephens 23 Jan 09 - 10:14 AM
meself 23 Jan 09 - 10:17 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 23 Jan 09 - 11:35 AM
bald headed step child 23 Jan 09 - 01:32 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jan 09 - 02:52 PM
pdq 23 Jan 09 - 03:10 PM
greg stephens 23 Jan 09 - 03:13 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 23 Jan 09 - 03:48 PM
greg stephens 23 Jan 09 - 03:54 PM
pdq 23 Jan 09 - 03:59 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 23 Jan 09 - 04:32 PM
GUEST,BanjoRay 23 Jan 09 - 07:35 PM
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Subject: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 19 Jan 09 - 04:27 PM

I've been listening to lots of fiddle music recently, and I'm amazed at the range of intonation found with the various Celtic/American styles. I can't enjoy Tommy Jarrell's Old Time fiddle playing because it just sound so out of tune; indeed, even a sophisicated player like Vassar Clements sound "flat" to me a lot of the time. And Irish fiddle playing ranges from Liz Carroll - who sounds beautifully in tune to me - to some older players who seem to be a war with the backing musicians.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Jan 09 - 05:52 PM

There was a neat docu done on Jarrell, apparently quite recently. I found THIS on youtube. I think I hear what you mean, but maybe it just takes some getting used to; it's not as precise as classical which I learned in school, yet it reminds me some of my dad's playing. Not the singing, though. My dad and mom hated what they called "singing through your nose" and we were not allowed to do so. What I hear is overtones and a wavering which is very much a part of that music and I've grown fond of it.

On the other hand, I don't really care to listen to Clements, at all, and I don't think it's because of intonation. I just don't like his style.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Jan 09 - 06:28 PM

thanks Kat laUghing,I enjoyed that, yes I agree about Vassar Clements too
Now where is Jim Eldon?


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Jan 09 - 07:15 PM

You're welcome. As to Jim Eldon, well, he's on youtube. Can't say as I'd take a steady diet of his fiddle playing, though. At the opposite end of Clements, imo...almost too laid back and loose. I guess that makes me a Fickle Fiddle Figure.:-)


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: Artful Codger
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 01:35 AM

Some fiddle music intentionally uses different intonations, particularly sevenths and thirds that are a bit sharper or flatter than we're (now) used to hearing. When the players sing the tunes instead of play them, they use the same variant of intonation.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 03:22 AM

It is interesting - and not surprising really - that a fiddler/singer would use the same intonation in their fiddle playing as their singing. It's strange then that I love Tommy Jarrell's singing but not his fiddle playing.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,BanjoRay
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 07:27 AM

I didn't like Tommy's fiddle and voice when I first heard them, but now I love them. His intonation is perfect for the type of music he played/sung. Jim Eldon has a good voice, but I don't believe I'll ever like his fiddling.
Ray


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,strad
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 07:54 AM

Perhaps the sound of not being in tune especially when playing two strings at once has sommething to do with our long exposure to the well-tempered clavier concept. If I e.g. play an open E together with a C# on the A string, I find I have to flatten the C# just a tiny bit for it to sound in tune to me. That's the joy of playing the fiddle - you can do things like that. But I also find that a lot of fiddlers just don't hit the right note with me, but I'm a grumpy old fart.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 11:30 AM

I was a self-taught recorder player until I started going to week-long workshops with professional staff. Until then, I thought that if my fingers were in the right place, the note would be right.

I'm sure many musicians, including fiddlers, think that, but it's not that simple.

I have learned that '90% of intonation is attention.' i.e. We have to listen to the music and ask 'Does this sound good?' Too often we are focussing only on the notes and on our fingers, and we forget to listen.

It is remarkable what our hearing faculties and our fingers can accomplish without any input from the left brain. The left brain always wants to be in control, but for once we have to tell it to shut up and let the lizard brain take over. For example, it is amazing to see a group of weak players play a D minor chord, listen to it and tune it. These are people who had never even heard of tuning a chord before.

Strad, you remarks are in line with what I have learned from the pro's. They say that if you want a 'true, Pythagorean' chord, then flatten the third of a major chord just a bit. Sharpen the third of a minor chord just a bit.

'But I also find that a lot of fiddlers just don't hit the right note with me' Again, I know what you mean. Our town used to have a trio where the fiddler played every note sharp when compared to the rest of the group. The other instruments were hammer dulcimer and folk guitar, so I think he was the one most able to adjust the intonation.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: Marje
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 11:47 AM

I'm not a fiddler, but reading this thread makes me think that the difference is that classical orchestral violinists will be playing close to tempered pitch, because they're playing along with other instruments which are more or less fixed-pitch. The same applies to session or band fiddlers who are playing along withe squeezeboxes etc.

But a solo fiddler, like an unaccompanied singer, may be more inclined to bend the notes in a way that sounds strange to those who are used to tempered pitch ensembles. The solo playing may be just as "precise" in its way, but aiming for different effect, and I suppose it may take some getting used to.

Marje


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: Artful Codger
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 10:12 PM

Unless you've learned to play the fiddle, you have little conception what a capricious beast it is, or how fine is the line between good and bad playing. It's not like a guitar, where you just have to finger reasonably close behind the frets and pluck or strum. On fiddle, you have more factors to control, with little leeway for error and not a lot to guide you. The string length is relatively short, increasing the need for precision. The spot to finger isn't quite fixed, varying with finger pressure and bowing. Misjudge by a trifle and it's apparent.

So it shouldn't surprise you when fiddlers play a little out of tune; rather, you should marvel that anyone can play fiddle in tune.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: katlaughing
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 10:49 PM

LMAO, well said, Artful Codger!


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,BanjoRay
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 05:09 AM

Fiddle players fingers are like lightening - they never hit the same place twice...


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: nickp
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 06:08 AM

You should have heard me 'trying' to play at last night's session... or, rather, you shouldn't!


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 08:08 AM

I gave up on the fiddle years ago, but still wrestle with this problem on the guitar. The really obtrusive problem interval is the major 3rd interval (for example C-E in the key of C, or E-G# in the key of E). The "equally tempered" major 3rd is 17% sharp of the "natural" major 3rd , and even relatively insensitive ears (like mine) can hear the difference – which is why we often keep on retuning our guitars between songs, often to little effect.

Most singers and fiddlers will automatically sweeten these awkward notes by adjusting their strings or vocal cords. Players of fretted or keyboard instruments (which are almost always tuned to the equally tempered scale nowadays) don't have the option.   Clashes between the two scales can be a real problem even for classically trained musicians – for example in pieces written for a piano quintet (2 fiddles, viola & cello plus piano).

For struggling fiddlers, I have no solutions. But for guitarists, here are some hints based on years of painful – and occasionally humiliating – experience.

1) Have the intonation on your instrument checked (and if necessary adjusted) by a competent luthier. If it's beyond correction start saving for a better box.

2) Use good quality strings, and change them as soon as they show signs of wear.

3) Tune up using a good electronic tuner, and don't try to improve on the result by tweaking the odd string here and there – that way madness lies.

4) When playing chords, try to use fingerings that hide the 3rd in the middle – its awkwardness is most intrusive when it's on the top. (For example, when playing the first-position C chord, try using the little finger to hold down a G on the first string at 3rd fret, rather than leaving the 1st string open, as many chord charts advise.)

5) When playing a melody line which requires you to dwell on the 3rd note in the scale, add a little vibrato. This blurs the edge, and takes away the harshness of the ET Major 3rd.

6) When playing a melody line where the 3rd note in the scale is part of a continuous upward run, try hitting the note one fret behind and then immediately sliding up to the next fret. (Caution: this works fine in Jazz and blues, but may sound inappropriate in other genres of music.)

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: matt milton
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 09:06 AM

As others have already pointed out, a lot of what you're hearing as "out of tune" is simply a deliberate (or perhaps intuitive) specific way of pitching. What it has most in common with is the fiddle styles of Scandinavia, which also uses those quarter-tone pitches. So in a sense, it's not surprising and all very joined-up: from Scandinavia to Scotland and Ireland, and from there to the US. Listen to African spike fiddle playing and singing; listen to some Scandinavian fiddle. The return to your old-time stuff. You'll see what I mean.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 10:57 AM

Is it possible to able to move between all these ethnic styles with their different intonations? I would have thought that the ear would become confused. For example, if you were to listen to Liz Carroll play a particular Irish fiddle tune and then, immediately after, listen to an older player from Sligo or Clare perform the same tune, with his different approach to intonation, I bet your ears would rebel in some way.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: Stewart
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 11:48 AM

The ear is trained by what it hears. My daughter's mother-in-law is a accomplished pianist. But she complained that a concert violinist friend of hers seems to play some notes a little flat. That is just the difference between a tempered and untempered scale, and what one is used to hearing.

Regarding tuning - I tune my fiddle and my guitar, as much as possible, to a tuning fork and by ear rather than use an electronic tuner. That's good ear training. With my fiddle I tune in perfect fifths, which you don't get on an electronic tuner. Too many people rely on the electronic tuner and don't pay much attention to their ear. Besides, in a quiet room, I find it much easier and quicker to tune by ear.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 12:49 PM

This says it all:

12 questions violinists ask about fiddling


I can never resist the temptation to reference this excellent explanation.

Russ (Permanent GUEST and banjo(not fiddle) player)


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 01:06 PM

Surely a fiddler and a singer have the same intonation choices. But, for me, fiddlers clash - unpleasantly - with their backing musicians alot more than singers. It must be the singer/fiddlers job to fit in with the tonality of the backing musicians.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: Artful Codger
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 08:56 PM

While fiddlers may have the same intonation choices (in terms of scale pitches) as singers, they don't have the same ability to control the pitch well. With singing, you use only your own body, in the way it was designed to work, with the most immediate feedback and the most direct relationship between muscle movements (concerted in a small area) and pitch. You practice subtleties of pitching every time you speak, and have done numerous times each day since you were a babe. Would that fiddlers had anything like a comparable situation.

The demands on the fiddler are also greater: how many singers can sing runs, arpeggios and ornamentation at the speed a fiddler fiddles, while maintaining proper intonation? I don't know of one, even among scat singers.

So really, you're comparing apples and orangutans.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 04:32 AM

I'm just getting to grips with a fiddle after not playing a viola since 1958! Luckily, several years of playing tenor banjo, and some years playing mandolin mean that the fingering is coming along quicker than I expected. Also, luckily, I remembered my lessons on bowing, so that isn't too bad.

But the exactness of the intonation is a constant battle to be fought. Just as Artful Codger has described it - and more! Oddly enough, I've found it easier to adjust the intonation, while I'm playing, by not looking at either the fingerboard or the fingers, but by staring into space - in other words letting my ears, rather than my eyes, do the work.

As for guitar intonation, it's often necessary to make small tuning adjustments for melodies in different keys - just because of the temperament issue. D is a key which immediately springs to mind here...


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 07:32 AM

re the guitar.
trying to use iversions that,dont double the third[ I mean in major chords]helps eg playing g major ,with second string, finger on 3rd fret.
instead of open second string.,and playing d modal,instead of d major,etc etc


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 08:04 AM

Well this sounds just fine to me - I don't know if that means my ears/brain aren't clever to pick up stuff that's wrong, or clever enough to recognise that it's right all along...


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 08:22 AM

yes i agree and isnt he in a modal tuning,is it aeae,or gdgd


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: katlaughing
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 11:28 AM

Well, maybe Jarrell does warrant a second listen.:-) I liked that one, McGrath, thanks!

Russ, thanks for the link. I'd lost the link to that great article.

I still feel very lucky that I learned both classical and fiddling and both teachers taught tuning and playing by ear. It didn't matter what the dots said, if Granny Grantham heard we were not spot on, she'd let us know we were NOT using our ears!:-)


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: meself
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 11:52 AM

That Jarrell clip is an excellent illustration of the relativity of the intonation issue. His intonation is absolutely correct for the style of music he is playing. Classical intonation would take away from the performance.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 01:52 PM

If there is a difference between what Tommy Jarrell plays, and what some theory says he ought to play, it is quite simple. The theory is wrong.
And earlier, Tunesmith says "It must be the singer/fiddlers job to fit in with the tonality of the backing musicians". Well I'm sorry, but I must fundamentally disagree with that statement. I have spent the last twenty-something years playing guitar backing Kate Barfield's extraordinary fiddle playing. Playing a cajun tune in C, for example, my guitar plays an E note pretty much at concert pitch(subject to the inevitable variables of fret position, my ear etc). The E's Kate plays with my C chord will be infinitely variable, varying probably from about an Eflat(though rarely as low as that) up to slightly above my E, depending on context and what effect she is going for. That is how the music is played.I appreciate some people find this sound offensive, and go around saying "That note is flat". Well, of course it is, compared to how Mozart would like to hear it, but this is not classical music.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 02:08 PM

I think Mozart would have been quite up to liking that kind of music, and using it too.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 05:30 PM

The assumption seems to be that Tommy's playing exactly the notes he wants to play. Well, take it from me, he isn't. Recently, I attended a classical music festival. Much of the festival was taken up with music competitions. I went with a friend whose daughter was taking part in a violin competition. I was flabbergasted at the overall weakness of intonation from the contestants. And, these are youngsters who have been studying the violin for years with - hopefully - teachers who are constantly working on their intonation problems. Hitting the correct ( i.e. intended) notes on the fiddle consistently is a major challenge. I agree that Tommy's take on intonation is different than classical music BUT he is still hitting notes that are "wrong" within the context of the music. Put another way, if he were to sing - rather than play - those notes, we wouldn't hear so many "dodgy" sounds. And, I am very famliar with Tommy's singing.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: meself
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 10:20 PM

" Well, take it from me, he isn't."

You haven't made it clear why we should take it from you. Without some persuasive reason, I am not inclined to do so.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 02:24 AM

Don't take it from me! Take it from the recording!!


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: bald headed step child
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 03:18 AM

I found the clip that was linked by McGrath to be very pleasant.

I think the biggest thing with Jarrells, and Vassars playing is the type of music.

A couple of people have hit on it.

The music they are playing is coming from a tradition of modal tunes and tunings that do not necessarily translate well into the classical definitions.

As for whether they intend to hit every note exactly as it comes out, of course they don't, and neither do you. I don't care how good you think you are, or what instrument you play.

Even on guitars or other fretted instruments, variances in pressure on the string, slight bending, attack, etc, will make the pitch change.

It's what makes the music what it is.

The world is full of "well trained" musicians(?) who can't play worth a damn.(IMHFO)

I personally like the playing of both of these guys.

If you don't like the style they play in, find someone whose style you do like, but don't try to convince me that these guys ain't doin it right. All you will end up doing is convincing me you don't know what right is.


BHSC


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 06:36 AM

Vassar plays out of tune! And, I don't care if he is legend. Because that just makes him an out-of-tune legend. If Vassar is playing the intonation he wants to play then he is consciously playing out of tunein tune! Put another way, if music is a sort of language, alot of the time Vassar is talking gibberish.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 06:53 AM

Tunesmith: I really don't understand your position. If Bessie Smith starts a note say a semitone "flat" of what you think it ought to be, slides up to a little above the "correct" pitch, and then settles back to a note just below the "correct" pitch, are you saying she is singing out of tune. And if so, at which point of the slide is she out of tune?
Of course, some players can't manage to play or sing what they are aiming at, and miss it by so far that it is agonising. That is obvious. But it seems to me that Tommy Jarrell, for one, does pretty much what I want him to ie sound bloody marvellous.
What on earth do you make of those strange Kurdish and Arabic scales?


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 07:10 AM

Well let's take Vassar for example. Now, as I have said, he seems to be playing to his own perculiar intonation. If you're happy with that, well that's the end of it. But, of course, Vassar doesn't play in isolation, and when he comes up against a great, great player like Stephane Grappelli,Vassar's intonation just sounds dreadful! I have studied, and played, Eastern music, and I believe I can hear when, for example, an Indian sitar player hits an, unintended, dodgy note.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 08:58 AM

Tunesmith: while I disagree with most of what you are saying here, you've put your finger on one problem that certainly exists. The incompatibility of intonation thrown up by Vassar Clements and Stefan Grappelli trying to play together is always going to create problems. When players from radically different traditions attempt to collaboarte, there will always be a tension, unless they are both very empathetic and able to compromise hugely.(They tension may be intonation related, but it can equally well be rhythmic or tone-related). A compromise may not be a good thing anyqway, if it resuklts in one or both musicians throwing away part of what makes them musicians.
There will always be differences of intonation when a fixed pitch instrument plays with a variable pitch insrument, or when two variable pitch instruments meet. Whether this results in good or bad music is basically a matter of personal taste.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 09:14 AM

I would safely say that Stephane's beautiful intonation is one of the main reasons that he is universally revered so much( not that many listeners could articulate that fact. But they certainly know it!) And, Stephane, of course, has fitted in - with fantastic success - with a far wider range of music types than Vassar could imagine.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,BanjoRay
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 09:24 AM

I love the music of Vassar Clements, Tommy Jarrell and Stephane Grapelli. I know a bum note when I hear one (I get very critical in sessions I'm in) and these guys don't play them. I also very much agree with what Greg wrote at 08.58
Ray


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 09:38 AM

Tunesmith: you refer to "Stephane's beautiful intonation". But surely "beautiful", in this context, means only "conforming near enough to the equal tempered scale". Which is fine for his music, but not necessarily so for, say, Canray Fontenot. Who, I take it, is another famous fiddler you would say plays out of tune all the time? Canray, by the way, played with a deliberately rough tone, never mind the intonation!


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 09:47 AM

Canray Fontenot - Les Barres De La Prison with interview (with subtitles for the non-francophones.)

Isn't YouTube a wonderful thing!!


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,BanjoRay
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 09:58 AM

Beautiful - thanks for that.
Ray


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: meself
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 10:06 AM

"you've put your finger on one problem that certainly exists. The incompatibility of intonation thrown up by Vassar Clements and Stefan Grappelli trying to play together is always going to create problems."

But of course Tunesmith is not saying that their intonations are merely incompatible; he is saying that Clements's intonation is wrong and Grappelli's is right.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 10:14 AM

McGrath: thanks for that link to Canray Fontenot. Fantastic! And what wildly variable thirds. And if anybody takes a look at it(you really should) try the "Bonsoir Moreau" that you'll find Youtube lists as the next connected tune, Canray playing with Bois-Sec Ardoin.(Whose accordion, Tunesmith will notice, is tuned deliberately "out of tune" in the Louisiana style).


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: meself
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 10:17 AM

I suppose someone should have told Jean Carignan to get himself into tune here.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 11:35 AM

Would you say that Canray Fontenot is a great musician? I wouldn't. Of course, part of the problem is how senitive are the ears of record producers/companies who release these artists, and, of the people who praise them. Of course, it's too easy for every fiddle player in the world to claim that anyone who critises his intonation is simply not "getting it". We have examples of "out of tuneness" in recordings of other instruments. There is an album of Skip James playing the piano(recorded in the 60s but only released for the first time a few years ago)) where the piano is dreadfully - and painfully - out of tune; interestingly, the fact that the album wasn't released at the time of the recording probably means that somebody with good ears decided that it didn't warrant release. p.s. some of you guys might love that recording!


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: bald headed step child
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 01:32 PM

I will definately concede to you, Tunesmith, that there is ALOT of music out there that should NEVER have been released.

The Skip James recordings you mentioned were more likely not released due to protestations by James. He was rather picky in some ways about his music, however, probably not picky enough in others.

I think that is one of the biggest problems with the music "industry" and probably has been for decades.

It seems that back in the day the people who did alot of the field recordings, for whatever reasons, gave us alot of "music" that should have died in obscurity.

BUT, as Codger said earlier, it's apples and orangutans.

The "industry" seems to like to shove together people from completely different styles in order to try and create crossovers. Most of the time this doesn't work due to the fact that the people doing the shoving are more interested in expanding their wallets rather than expanding the music.

Taken in context, I like Vassars music. I don't think he would have fit in with the Philharmonic.

Very few musicians have the ability to fit into EVERY situation.I am a huge fan of Bela Fleck, who plays across a very wide range of situations, but there are a few where I wonder "what was he thinking?".

I guess you shouldn't set your apples next to that orangutan.

The main point is, if you like the music listen to it, if you don't like it, DON'T listen to it, but quit trying to imply that everyone else that does like it is an idiot for not hearing it the way you do.

BHSC


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 02:52 PM

I'm reminded of the kind of art critics who would complain about a lack of finish in the work of the Impressionists...


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: pdq
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 03:10 PM

"... if you like the music listen to it, if you don't like it, DON'T listen to it, but quit trying to imply that everyone else that does like it is an idiot for not hearing it the way you do..."

Hopefully, that was aimed at the first person on this thread who took a childish swipe at Vassar Clements. The man was great and always will be.

Right now, I would say that Richard Greene has taken the place vacated by the late great Vassar. Since Greene is classically trained and prides himself on his perfect classical technique (while playing swing, Country and progressive music), most peolple on thihis thread will have no problem with Richard Greene's, at least not with his intonation.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 03:13 PM

Tunesmith: you say "Would you say that Canray Fontenot is a great musician? I wouldn't.".
Well, I would. Not that that has any relevance whatever to whether he plays in tune, but I think he is a stupendous source of material and style for a very significant chunk of American music, viz Louisiana Creole. And, interestingly, if you study his music, you can hear that he doesn't always play "like that"(see clips referred to). He sometimes played with a very sweet, quite conventional tone, and with a much "straighter" intonation.He played "Les Barres de la Prison"them. And that is just how I like to listen to them, as do his many other fans. He was a star, and a gentleman. But he was a Creole star, not a classical star.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 03:48 PM

Both Tommy and Canray would have played mainly at dances as young men where drive and rhythm would have been of more importance than accurate intonation. I would suggest that, because of that, they didn't pay as much attention to accurate intonation. Today, were such artists would play in a concert situation, intonation would be alot more important. In all spheres of folk orientated music, modern players have, generally, more accurate intonation than previous generations; for example, no older Bluegrass players can match the intonation accuracy of Mark O'Connor of Stuart Duncan.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 03:54 PM

Tunesmith: please concenrate. Canray could, and did, play "your way" when he chose to. When he played Creole music, he played it the other way. Your way is not "more accurate". It is just "your way". "There are nine-and--sixty ways to construct a tribal lay. And every single one of them is right".
(OK in this case not every single one is right. Of course, some fiddlers can't play in tune, period. But Canray Fonenot is not one of them!)


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: pdq
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 03:59 PM

"...no older Bluegrass players can match the intonation accuracy of Mark O'Connor of Stuart Duncan..."

Please listen to Kenny Baker and see if you can really say that.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 04:32 PM

Kenny Baker's intonation is not as accurate as Mark O'Connor or Stuart Duncan's. Anyone with ears should be able to hear that. Of course, it could be argued that Kenny's intonation ( because of his age) owes something to the older mountain style playing( read Tommy Jarrell) and therefore cannot be judged against the type of intonation required by a modern "session musician" like O'Connor or Duncan.


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Subject: RE: intonation in fiddle music
From: GUEST,BanjoRay
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 07:35 PM

Mark O'Connor was playing this evening on the old Transatlantic sSessions program on BBC4. His intonation was spot on, his playing was extremely lively and accurate - but I found him boring. I'd much rather listen to Ali Bain OR Tommy Jarrel.
Ray


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