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  1. #1

    Question How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    I can tell when im playing out of tune but how can you tell if your sharp or flat?

  2. #2
    Distinguished SOTW Member RandyJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    Your ears, and the knowledge that's between them.

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    Forum Contributor 2011 thadnoland's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    Buy yourself a tuner.

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    Distinguished SOTW member daigle65's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    Use a tuner.
    Play intervals while looking at the tuner, listen carefully to the "distance" between the notes, then look away and play them again.
    When you think you have it right, hold the note and look at the tuner to see how far off you are.

    If your tuner has a note generator, select a pitch and sing it, then check with the tuner to see if you're sharp or flat.
    If you do this a little everyday, your hearing will improve.
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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    Have someone else hold a note. You play the same note and make it a perfect unison. Then tighten up your embouchure - that's what "sharp" sounds/feels like. Go back to the perfect unison. Loosen your embouchure - that's what "flat" sounds/feels like. Repeat until it soaks in.

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    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    Tuners are only good in the long run if you use them correctly. diagle's suggestion of playing a note first and then looking is the best was. Most amateurs do the opposite, which means that they force the tone into tune but then when they go back to playing, they're right back out of tune. You must find the purest core sound to a tone, and then compare it to a tuner. You must also be aware of your instrument's tuning idiosyncracies, because even when you fine that pure core sound, it might be on a note that, because it will always be sharp or flat, you will have to humor.

    One very good way is to play along with a continuous tone that is perfectly in tune. This can be an electronically generated tone, or one from another player. Then listen for the waves in sound between the two pitches. The faster the waves, the more out of tune you are with the correct pitch. Try to raise or lower your tone and listen to see if these oscillations are getting slower or faster. This tells you which way you are going. then Pull out or push in your mpc and do it again to double check.

    p.s. there are shortcuts an advanced player can take, but I don't see that as the topic here.

    Wow - obviously MM above and I were typing at the same time. Our posts complement one another.
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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    Tuners are only good in the long run if you use them correctly. diagle's suggestion of playing a note first and then looking is the best was. Most amateurs do the opposite, which means that they force the tone into tune but then when they go back to playing, they're right back out of tune. You must find the purest core sound to a tone, and then compare it to a tuner. You must also be aware of your instrument's tuning idiosyncracies, because even when you fine that pure core sound, it might be on a note that, because it will always be sharp or flat, you will have to humor.

    One very good way is to play along with a continuous tone that is perfectly in tune. This can be an electronically generated tone, or one from another player. Then listen for the waves in sound between the two pitches. The faster the waves, the more out of tune you are with the correct pitch. Try to raise or lower your tone and listen to see if these oscillations are getting slower or faster. This tells you which way you are going. then Pull out or push in your mpc and do it again to double check.

    p.s. there are shortcuts an advanced player can take, but I don't see that as the topic here.

    Wow - obviously MM above and I were typing at the same time. Our posts complement one another.
    I agree with Gary.

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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    ...and now that you are thinking about sharp and flat, it's never too early to become aware of, and think about, one phenomena regarding the way that we hear. When two instruments play an approximate unison, the sharper of the two seems to sound the best, or correct, pitch-wise, while the other seems flat. In performance, one must make a conscious effort to remember the correct tuning pitch of the tonality, and inhibit the psychological desire to sound "better" than everyone else.

  9. #9

    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    There are already some great replys. For me it helped to make my Kork ca-30 tuner play a note and then shove my MPC on and listen to myself sounding really sharp. Do the oppisite too. Just that will increase your ear. I also tuned my bro's ukulele by ear and then checked my progress with the neadle. Don't want to spend $$$ on a tuner? Don't worry, superman is here to save the day! http://www.bgfl.org/bgfl/custom/reso.../piano/sax.htm http://www.freeonlinegames.com/fun-g...-keyboard.html

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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    For me, the only way i get in tune with myself is by using the overtone series.

    Way better than any tuner out there, in my opinion.

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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    Play a low c, then get the first overtone. Now hear that note and get the matching real note on the horn to be in tune with that.

    Get the next partial and do the same, and so on....

    I use 4 overtones to get as in tune as i can.

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    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    Quote Originally Posted by 10mfan View Post
    For me, the only way i get in tune with myself is by using the overtone series. Way better than any tuner out there, in my opinion.
    I agree and I use that sometimes, but if I'm not mistaking, that tunes the horn with itself but does not necessarily tune it to A=440 (or whatever your reference pitch is).
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    Forum Contributor 2014 patmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    All these replies seem to be based on the notion of a static practice situation, or an in between tunes band situation. There is a problem of fixing your pitch "on the fly" when you notice yourself playing out of tune in an ensemble situation. Small tip: If there are good players around you who are fiddling with mouthpieces or tuning slides, frowning and looking in your direction, then odds are they are not worrying about their own tuning but trying to let you know, without being confrontational, that YOU are out of tune.

    In my experience, if a band has been playing for some time and your tuning is starting to drift, mostly you'll be sharp. Try either lipping (jawing?) down a bit and or showing some more neck cork. If it sounds better and your mates stop grimacing, then you're on the right track. If it gets worse (or doesn't get better) you're flat. This is rarer although not if you're doubling and have just picked up a cold wooden clarinet where you're almost guaranteed to be flat unitl it warms up.
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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesWipplinger View Post
    ... Don't want to spend $$$ on a tuner? Don't worry, superman is here to save the day! http://www.bgfl.org/bgfl/custom/reso.../piano/sax.htm http://www.freeonlinegames.com/fun-g...-keyboard.html
    Not to be negative, but ... That tuner is really a tuning fork of sorts, and it doesn't sustain the note. Also, the sax, flute, and organ are off by 1 - 2 cents compared to my (440) tuner.

    IMO, a better tuner and a better tuning fork are both available free from Seventh String Software. Some of you may recognize Seventh String as the people who make the excellent program, Transcribe.

    Anyway, the Seventh String tuner is here and the tuning fork is here.
    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

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  15. #15
    Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and 2014 Forum Contributor maddenma's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    If your audience starts comparing you to Kenny G, you're probably sharp. )
    1926 Buescher True Tone Series III Gold Plated Soprano -- Morgan Vintage 6
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  16. #16

    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    Get the Tuning CD....and follow the instructions.

    I am also big on overtones. They help so much.

  17. #17

    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    Thanks for all the help, I know about tuning with a tuner and overtones ect. It was just the other day i was with a friend listening to this band and he said that the sax player was really flat and i was wondering how he could tell whether it was flat or sharp.

  18. #18
    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    (Sigh) Well, then, why didn't you say that in the first place?
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    Distinguished SOTW Member jazzcat58's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    (Sigh) Well, then, why didn't you say that in the first place?
    LOL!...all good advice though! none the less, it helps many others!
    bs gunning

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    Default Re: How to tell when your either sharp or flat?

    Tuning to a tuner beforehand will get you close, though I seldom do this because playing to a needle is a visual skill and to the band an aural one. Nonetheless it's a good starting point and a frame of reference, but not THE referenece -- from there you have to listen.

    Playing with one other horn is the toughest situation you'll be in. When you're on a unison together listen to the vibrations and listen if they 'beat' and 'pulse' together. If you sound dark and tubby by comparison then you are flat to him. If you sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, then you are sharp to him.
    "The key to improvising is being able to play and listen at the same time."

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