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 Post subject: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 8:10 am 
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Hello everyone:-) I could use some advice. I think it’s hard sometimes to know if I’m flat or sharp when i play the flute. Especially when it’s just a little bit.I often hear it’s a bit out of tune,but i can’t tell if i need to flatten or sharpen it. I need to adjust my blowing to hear. Do you guys have any trick on how to train yourself this skill? Do any of you use a tuner,like a clip-on tuner when you play?or when you learned the flute,to find out how you were in pitch and what you need to adjust++ I don’t find much on this topic on the net,so i would love ti hear your thoughts.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:50 pm 
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This is a subtle art that takes time to learn... I'm not there, yet.

Kevin Crawford recommends always practicing against a 1-5 Drone in the key you are playing in. Thus your ear is always training with a reference. There is an iPhone app called "Just Drones" that provides this.

My tuner on my iPhone is an app called "Tunable", and it shows your tone accuracy over time. I've found that helpful.

As you view your tuner and adjust your lips, you are able to push the note into accuracy. That doesn't mean that you remember when you look away. There is another app called "RTTA Tuner" that let's you play a tune and at the end view the accuracy of all the notes during normal playing experience.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:54 pm 
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Rule of thumb in a session is to tune to instruments that have fixed tuning, like a concertina or button accordion. They can't change, but you as a flute can. That way the group will be in tune with itself. An instrument that has fixed tuning may or may not be in tune with an electronic tuner. Sometimes the two may be quite different. Choose the fixed-tuning instrument over the tuner. We spend a good deal of time in our slow sessions on this concept, and try to break people away from the dogma of the electronic tuner. There is 'in tune with yourself' and 'in tune with the group'. The latter is far preferable.

For ear training tuning practice - the drone idea that Tom mentioned is really good one. You will hear when your flute comes into tune from being sharp or flat by the decreasing or increasing number of beats.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:20 pm 
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Anden79 wrote:
Do any of you use a tuner,like a clip-on tuner when you play?

No, I just went by ear. I would think a tuner would be a distraction, because then you're trying to serve two masters. I assume you're only practicing in private, at this juncture.

If it puts your mind at ease any, in a group setting you're unlikely to get a bunch of fluters all on the same perfect page tuning-wise; some tune sharp because they think that's the best way to be heard; some tune flat for the same reason; others sadly just don't have an ear. Also, you won't have true uniformity because everybody plays differently, and as a result not all notes will perfectly match every time, no matter what. So you make do with a reasonable consensus. Someone once called the effect a "shimmer".

Training your ear is a good thing, though, because if you care - and it seems that you do - adjustments will have to be made, and often on the fly. I too think the drone suggestion is useful, because you can use it to audibly compare sharp from flat; using your eyes is best confined to keeping track of your pint.

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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 9:06 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
If it puts your mind at ease any, in a group setting you're unlikely to get a bunch of fluters all on the same perfect page tuning-wise; some tune sharp because they think that's the best way to be heard; some tune flat for the same reason...

Somehow, the idea of playing either sharp or flat on purpose so you can be heard playing out of tune seems somewhere between silly and anti-social.

Best wishes.

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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 9:50 pm 
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I agree with comments above that you need to develop your ear, but in this modern digital age we do have some aids to learning. I highly recommend the occasional, not everyday use of a RTTA analysis app as a reality check on how you're actually playing in tune. Terry McGee covers this here:

http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/RTTA.htm

I use the Android TTTuner app linked there. The advantage of this kind of thing, compared to a digital tuner, is that it records a tune you play and then tells you how close you are to 12TET tuning in the "heat of battle" while actually playing a tune, and not just chasing the needle on a digital tuner for pitch.

While acknowledging all the diatonic idiosyncrasies of the "Irish flute," I still want to be as closely in 12TET tune as I can be, to play with others. Especially my fiddler S.O. who is very pitch-sensitive. This kind of RTTA app is a tremendous help in figuring out what's going on while you're developing your ear to hear how you're blowing pitch on the flute.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:09 pm 
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Steve Bliven wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
If it puts your mind at ease any, in a group setting you're unlikely to get a bunch of fluters all on the same perfect page tuning-wise; some tune sharp because they think that's the best way to be heard; some tune flat for the same reason...

Somehow, the idea of playing either sharp or flat on purpose so you can be heard playing out of tune seems somewhere between silly and anti-social.

My sentiments exactly. For some people it's less of a group celebration than an arms race. It's not WAY sharp or flat, but it's sharp or flat enough to be detected, and some will even say that's what the pros do. Really? Remind me not to play with those ego cases. And some will say they can't hear themselves otherwise, but I don't seriously buy that, either. Besides, there's a very strong argument to be made that If I can't hear myself, then I must be doing it right. Just sayin'...

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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:31 pm 
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tstermitz wrote:
Kevin Crawford recommends always practicing against a 1-5 Drone in the key you are playing in. Thus your ear is always training with a reference.


I think this is one of the best things you can do to train your ear. Playing in tune with others requires constant listening and it takes time for this to become second nature. When I was just starting out (15+ years ago) I somehow independently came up with the idea to do this and it really helped. Only found out recently that Kevin was recommending this practice technique.

Purposely being out of tune is one of the most ignorant things I have ever heard of! Yeah, you can be heard over everyone else... sounding bad!!!! :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:40 am 
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I had this recommended to me by a friend I play with. They were polite enough to wait until I asked for help! In this kind of situation I am thick enough skinned to take it, without being asked, and would always appreciate friendly advice.

https://trainer.thetamusic.com/en/conte ... o-brothers

It is an ear training website. The games for pitch are the ones to go for. Also has other aspects of ear training but I haven't pursued these much, maybe should do. I found that after practicing for mayde 20 to 30 mins a day my scores improved . It is now easy as I'm sure it would be for most classically trained players or people who have naturally precise accurate pitch. I think it would probably be useful to pay for the advanced package which I understand becomes increasingly difficult . The free lessons get you most of the way your need I guess.

I found learning fiddle helped a lot too. I guess a guitar or similar would do the same to at least some degree; as long as you work on learning to tune by ear, Isn't it funny how so many guitarist have to use a tuner?

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Last edited by gorjuswrex on Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:51 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:44 am 
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tstermitz wrote:

Kevin Crawford recommends always practicing against a 1-5 Drone in the key you are playing in. Thus your ear is always training with a reference. There is an iPhone app called "Just Drones" that provides this.



I know the basic idea of drone notes are but what's a 1-5 drone ?

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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 6:41 am 
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I'm guessing its a root and a fifth?

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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:03 am 
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So for the key of D that would be a drone of D and A or just the A ? and for G a done of G and D or just the D ?

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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:43 am 
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I have occasionally use a small wad of cotton in my left ear which seemed to help!

Sessions can be tricky. If the tuning is 'loose' the flute player might get a comment that they are out but if it's not necessarily the flute players fault. A visit to the ladies or gents ( as applicable) can be useful. If within range it makes tuning issues evident. Shame the flute player can't hear how he was fairing in the standing, but the culprits / suspects in the crowd can be discerned.

You know the way the showbands in the 70's seemed to love a loud PA mix that had terrible EQ (equalisation). If you wanted to hear the words , go outside. I had the same thing with a group in a bar recently. They asked the small but quality , of course, audience if they could hear. I had a quite word and said it was good but too loud , 'can't hear the words'. A guitar player was doing the knobs. A good player who looked like he had been playing for a large part of a long and hard rock and roll life. So long that without that level he probably couldn't hear himself. So he cut the vocal and left the two guitars and drums where they were damaging the plaster on the walls. The sound was much better outside and words could be understood.

Acoustics is a funny thing.

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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:34 pm 
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Thanks everyone for so many good advices!! This is great stuff!! The RTTA tuner must be perfect for fluteplayer. I’m gonna check it out. As well as practising with a drone. It’s good to hear others saying it’s hard :lol: I’m used to correcting pitch in studio and tuning stringinstruments, but i must say pitching flute is quite hard. Thanks a lot everyone!!


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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:37 pm 
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gorjuswrex wrote:
So for the key of D that would be a drone of D and A


Yes! For the key of G it would be G and D, E would be E and B, A would be A and E etc. Major or minor doesn't matter the 1 and the 5 are the same in either.

Personally I don't always like a 5th when using drones, sometimes it can clash too much, but this is more of a problem when I put drones behind my songs where I am singing and playing bouzouki or guitar. (I use drones a lot in various contexts.) Less of an issue with a single note melody instrument but trust me when you hit a big 4 chord and you have a drone on the 5th it can sound pretty nasty.

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