How is the pitch measured?

Measure pitches - but how?

  • The following problem: I have a CD recording with period instruments, in this case: oboe and pianoforte. As is well known, the mood 200 years ago was different than it is today, mostly lower. Today the concert pitch A is 440 Hz, previously it was 415-430 Hz.

    Question: How can I measure as precisely as possible how the instruments are tuned during my recording (unfortunately the CD booklet does not contain any further information)? The keys of the works recorded in my case are known to me, e.g. B. a sonata in C major.

    I actually get along quite well with the classic tuning fork, but in this case it doesn't really help me.

    I also have an electronic tuner, a Korg CA-1 Chromatic, which helps me improve my intonation on the oboe (calibration option 410 - 480 Hz):



    A rough procedure: I put a piece of music on my headphones, sing the root note (i.e. C in C major) and calibrate the device until the pointer is in the middle, the green light appears and shows "C". Result here: 420 Hz. This method seems to me to be very imprecise.

    How can that be improved?

    Greetings from Gurnemanz
    ---
    The artist has nothing to say - he has: to create. And what has been created will say more than the creator suspects.
    Helmut Lachenmann
  • A software like Audacity, with which you can repeat a single point (and also a single chord) of the piece in an endless loop, does, of course, go. To do this, you have to rip the CD (or the piece that matters to you) beforehand, i.e. make a WAV file out of it.

    While the chord (an unaccompanied single note or an octave in unison is better, of course) continues "endlessly" you can hold the tuner to the loudspeaker.

    It could even be that Audacity can recognize the pitch itself, but I've never looked for such a function ...

    Greeting,

    Normann
    between no sound and white noise
  • Dear Gurnemanz,

    in your case you can give yourself the (imprecise) singing (and you don't need to rip anything). I proceeded as follows with the CD in question (or its snippets): I first calibrated the tuner to the assumed pitch, namely 430 Hz, and then simply held it in front of the loudspeaker of my laptop while it was playing. Lo and behold: the pointer was largely exactly in the middle! Then I calibrated to 440 Hz and tried again. Now the pointer hung correspondingly far down on the side that was too deep. So it is clear that the instruments were tuned to the 430 Hz, which is usual for classical-classical music with original equipment.

    Since you can calibrate your part up to 410 Hz, you are able to carry out corresponding tests even with a suspected 415 tuning.

    Nowadays, wind instruments or their copies are not built in all possible tunings ..... an oboe tuned to 420 Hz cannot be bought at all! As far as I know there are 392, 415, 430, 440 and 445 as a basic mood.

    Best regards

    Bernd
  • Thanks for your suggestions! Bernd's idea seems simpler to me, I'll try it out. Maybe I can cope with it, then I will be spared ribs and Audacity. ; +)

    Greetings from Gurnemanz
    ---
    The artist has nothing to say - he has: to create. And what has been created will say more than the creator suspects.
    Helmut Lachenmann
  • I have just tried Bernd's suggestion: It is not so easy to find the right places, because you need a long, protruding tone so that the measuring device can adjust to it. In fact, there are apparently slight fluctuations: for the oboe in the range 429-431 Hz.

    Presumably one cannot speak of intonation problems here yet ...

    Incidentally, the accompanying piano tends to 431 Hz. All without guarantee!

    Greetings from Gurnemanz
    ---
    The artist has nothing to say - he has: to create. And what has been created will say more than the creator suspects.
    Helmut Lachenmann
  • For the oboe in the range 429-431 Hz.


    This agrees with the result of my experiment.

    Presumably one cannot speak of intonation problems here yet ...


    No, you definitely can't. A fluctuation range of 2 Hz is still in the highly professional range.

    Best regards

    Bernd
  • Thank you, Bernd! I think I can live with that now. Unfortunately, the mood is not always specified in "historically informed" recordings.

    Greetings from Gurnemanz
    ---
    The artist has nothing to say - he has: to create. And what has been created will say more than the creator suspects.
    Helmut Lachenmann
  • Now a few more questions:

    Does this apply specifically to the oboe? And what is the maximum range of tension allowed without the intonation being perceived as problematic?

    There are of course no problems with the correctly tuned piano or harpsichord, but what about the winds in general and the strings? I could even imagine that an intonation that is precise down to the last detail would sound sterile ...?

    Maybe there are also studies on it?

    Greetings from Gurnemanz
    ---
    The artist has nothing to say - he has: to create. And what has been created will say more than the creator suspects.
    Helmut Lachenmann
  • Why do you want to know that exactly?
    Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne pas savoir demeurer en repos dans une chambre.
    (B. Pascal)
  • Sometimes details are important to me too.

    Specifically: When practicing on the oboe, I like to compare it with the measuring device mentioned (although I notice that my intonation is lousy even without this aid: I cannot hold any note for a long time without the pointer deflecting). It would be interesting to know what a professional standard would be (also in comparison to other instruments) - even if I would never achieve it myself.

    Greetings from Gurnemanz
    ---
    The artist has nothing to say - he has: to create. And what has been created will say more than the creator suspects.
    Helmut Lachenmann
  • Dear Gurnemanz, you can cover it up with a vibrato. Unfortunately, "us" clarinetists are not entitled to this ...: hide:

    maticus
    Social media is the toilet of the internet. --- Lady Gaga
    And I only knew who Herr Reichelt is since Monday. --- Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten
  • Correct vibrato is unfortunately even more difficult than correct intonation ...


    Yeah ...: star: -


    Dear Gurnemanz, who should dare to answer your question with a specific number?

    In the magazine "Rohrblatt" (March 2009 edition) there was a very interesting article with the title "How do intonation curves and oboists get along?" The authors Christoph Teßmar and Martin Schüttle had carried out a series of intonation measurements with professional orchestral musicians (!) And were noticeably shocked by the result:
    First of all, we can observe that there are individual notes on the oboe that are extremely unstable, such as the a2. There were definitely deviations of 25 ct within a single breathing phrase for the same wind player.


    25 ct correspond, if I see it correctly (users who have a physical perspective, for whom bare numerical ratios are less problematic than me: shame: prepare, I would like to correct!) About 6 Hz .....

    If you are interested, I will take the trouble to quote further passages from the corresponding "Reed" contribution, although this should probably be done in the oboe thread.

    Best regards

    Bernd
  • I am currently playing the Vaughan Williams Concerto with Albrecht Mayer.

    Intonation is not an issue, rather play very softly.
    THAT is a challenge with Albrecht.
    Otherwise it is as clean as one could wish for.

    Tuners are not used, so unfortunately I can't have a say - I've never needed one and will never buy one.
    I can't read measuring instruments myself.
    Either you have ears or you don't.

    Tune in to a string quartet with measuring instruments, e.g. m.M. after simply impossible and completely wrong.
    We tried that ........ Schmarren.

    Intonation curves?
    Either it appears clean or not, but ears are required, no fiddling around with frequencies ..........

    I know my opinion is uncomfortable, but that's how I work.
    And if the intonation of an oboe or another wind instrument should slip, which is normal, then I just adjust my intonation.
    There is always a bit of loss on all sides, but no measuring device helps me, only my ears.

    What do I get from a musician who wants to prove to me that he plays cleanly using the measuring device?

    Nothing at all, except that I find someone else asap who doesn't work THAT.

    Michael
  • Dear Michael,

    Michael Schlechtriem wrote:

    Tuners are not used, so unfortunately I can't have a say - I've never needed one and will never buy one.
    In my opinion, there is a sensible use for a tuner: In order to be able to take the a before the concert in the rehearsal of piano chamber music and then to start the concert without public voices. This allows the music to really come "out of silence". There are strings who can trust their memory to the point that they can still hit concert pitch after an hour, but not everyone can do that. How does the oboist actually do it in your orchestra? I suspect he uses a tuner, right?

    Best wishes,

    Christian

    (How was your chamber concert? I would actually have come to Münster, but had to play myself ...)
    "Professor, two weeks ago the world seemed fine."
    "Not me."
    (Theodor W. Adorno)
  • arundo donax wrote:

    If you are interested, I will take the trouble to quote further passages from the corresponding "Reed" contribution, although this should probably be done in the oboe thread.
    Good idea. I would be interested in the article. But in no hurry.

    I can partially understand Michael's aversion to tuners: Even a good device certainly does not replace bad ears ...; +)

    Although they are probably used in orchestras. For timpani z. B. I have observed this several times. It is a good tool for me to check and improve my own intonation. I can hear unclean tones without it, but I don't notice it without outside help when I step up in tone after a while. Which, of course, could be critical in interaction with a pianist.

    That too probably belongs better in the oboe thread ...

    Greetings from Gurnemanz
    ---
    The artist has nothing to say - he has: to create. And what has been created will say more than the creator suspects.
    Helmut Lachenmann
  • There is always a bit of loss on all sides, but no measuring device helps me, only my ears.


    In principle, I see it the same way. I also don't use a tuner during a rehearsal. However, like (almost?) Every other oboist, I need such a device to get the a, which I in front Orchestral rehearsals claim to control.



    Well, the said specialist article was about even seeing how great the fluctuation range is in professionally handled oboes. And it is obviously terrifyingly large:

    When xy saw the curve, he was quite shocked, he had supposedly blowed as evenly as possible ... We have to say: We don't know such diversity from the measurements of the clarinets ...


    Best regards

    Bernd