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Intonation, Tuning, and Blending
By Hilary Janysek
What’s the difference?
Intonation:
(noun) The correct or accurate pitching
(placement) of intervals; the capacity to play
or sing in tune.
2. Tuning:
(verb) to adjust to the correct or given
standard of pitch. Agreement of pitch
3. Blending:
(verb) (general)To mix in order to obtain a
particular kind or quality; to have no
perceptible separation. (music) The act of
altering one’s tone color, vibrato, articulation,
and style to match one or more sounds.
1.
Other confusing terms

Scale:
◦ A group of notes taken in ascending or
descending order, especially within one octave
◦ the tuning scale, fixed intervals as in equal
temperament

Pitch:
◦ An absolute frequency assigned to a certain note
◦ The auditory property of a note in relation to
others

Tone:
◦ A pitch
◦ Quality or character of sound
Why is it hard for young flute
students to play in tune?
Must develop a centered, resonant tone.
 What does “centered” mean?

◦ Practice finding center

How can we develop resonance?
◦ Moyse De La Sanorite No. 1 (Figure 1)
◦ Melody in a Major Scale (Figure 2)
1. Intonation

Know the tendencies of every note.
◦ In general (Figure 3)
◦ On your flute (Figure 4)
Practice centering tough notes.
 Then once you can play the note in tune by
itself, practice in intervals with a drone.

◦ Moyse De La Sanorite, p.6 (Figure 5)
◦ Favorite melodies
◦ Add dynamics, and varied articulations

What do we listen for?
1. Intonation, cont.

Difference Tones
◦ Also known as Resonance or Ghost Tones
◦ The faint presence of a tone whose frequency
is equal to the difference between the
frequencies of the two notes actually being
played. Usually an octave or two lower.
◦ The pitches being played must be adjusted so
the fundamental sounds in tune.
 Trio for two flutes (Figure 6)
2. Tuning
True or False? If you have a good
understanding of your instrument’s
intonation, you don’t have to worry about
tuning.
 FALSE! tuning is a life-long journey that
depends on which instruments you are
playing with, what climate you are playing
in, and what style the ensemble wishes to
portray.

2. Tuning, cont.

Learn about other instruments and their
intonation tendencies to be able to
predict tuning problems
◦ Ex: clarinet, violin, oboe

Just because both instruments both sound
in tune individually, does not mean they
will sound in tune together. Why is this?
2. Tuning chords and intervals

Equal Temperament vs Pure intonation
◦ Major chord
◦ Minor chord
Interval
Relative Adjustment
Major 2nd
+2
Minor 3rd
+8
Major 3rd
-7
Perfect 4th
-1
Perfect 5th
+1
Major 6th
-8
Major 7th
-6
From the Trevor Wye Practice Book,
Volume 4: Intonation and Vibrato
3. Blending

Two flutes can be playing in tune individually,
but sound out of tune. Why?


Two ways to blend: 1+1=2 VS 1+1=1
What variables can be changed to blend with
other instruments? How?
◦ Tone color, vowel shape, intensity, vibrato, air
speed
Conclusion
What is the key to good intonation,
tuning and blend?
 Don’t forget to use your ears!
 Remember, it is a life-long journey; a
marathon, not a sprint.

Sources
Debost, Michel. The Simple Flute: From A to Z. New York:
Oxford University Press, 2002.
Moyse, Marcel. De La Sonorite: Art et Technique. Paris:
Alphonse Leduc, 1934.
Reichart, M.A. 7 Daily Exercises for the Flute. New York:
G. Shirmer, 1872.
Wye, Trevor. Trevor Wye Practice Book for the Flute,.Vol. 4,
Intonation and Vibrato. London: Novello Limited,1983.
Krell, John C. Kincaidiana: A Flute Player’s Notebook. 2nd
ed. Santa Clarita, CA: National Flute Association,
1997.
Definitions of terms taken from www.dictionary.com
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