Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Read First. Then work out what to do

Even though I have relatively poor pitch perception, an equally poor sense of rhythm, I still like the idea of playing a musical instument. More precisely for I'm attracted to the woodwind family. I also have mild asthma so the deck is really stacked against me in terms of playing a woodwind.

Most recently I've taken to playing the Alto recorder, this is slightly larger and lower pitched then the more common soprano records that tend to be used by school music programs. Knowing for past experience that it is quite easy to play out of tune even on woodwind I got myself a cromatic tuner, so as to give me some of the feedback that my ear doesn't quite provide.

Their are two reasons I've shifted from Saxaphone to recorder:
* I live in a unit and an Alto recorder is much softer then an Alto Saxaphone.
* getting a recorder setup at the beginning of practice, and cleaned at the end takes much less time. It's smaller and their is no reed to mess about with.

Reading part of the way through a book on Musical Scales and Temprement has really blown that theory out of the water. THe point is that my cormatic tuner is giving me methamatically precise Just Temperament. Which is essentially a set of compromises need to get keyboard instuments tuned into something usable.

Now a Record does not have fixed intonation, if it did I would never have gone down the path of getting a tuner in the first place. WHat this means is that I should be aiming to play the real intervals, not the tempered intervals (especially when playing solo).

Now the chromatic tuner wasn't a total loss, but it means how I use it will have to change. Rather than trying to get the tone exactly on the note the correct thing to do is to sharpen or flatten it based on the melodic progression.

This will however require me to get my head around what the real intervals actually are. So far I know their names but don't quite follow how they relate to the notes of the scale. How sharps and flats actually work is particularly confusing me at the moment. Though I do know that they don't really coinside so that A sharp is slightly flatter then B flat, etc.

This will take quite a lot of thinking an experimenting. I was planning to write myself some ear training programs relying on midi playback. However I may have to rethink my strategy here as I suspect MIDI uses Just Temperament. So it will be a case of learning how to control the sound hardware to generate particular pitches including overtones. And then generating the correct intervals from their.

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