Playing in tune

So I was laying down a violin part to a new tune last night, trying to follow a synth piano line that I had recorded several months ago. I was also trying out my new Neumann microphone to see how it sounded with the fiddle.

Its amazing how much worse my intonation was when I compared it to the synth piano part. It was not pretty!

But then when practicing alone, without a partner (synthetic or real), I think we tend hear what we want it to sound like. We don’t notice the out of tune notes until they are compared against a perfect standard.

One thing, be sure your instrument is in perfect tune before trying this. I compared my out-of-tune notes using Melodyne, and notice that I was consistently sharp most of the time rather than flat. That indicates to me that either I am playing sharp tonight, or else I am tuned up 5-10 cents.

The other thing, is sometimes you are just not spot on. I was thinking the whole time, that a classical violinist would not have this problem. But I know better. Maybe a trained professional, who practices 6 hours a day, would have less of a problem, but we all experience those times when we just can’t play in tune, to varying degrees.

The final thing, I did find that by the 5th or 6th take that my notes were much closer to being in tune. I was finally able to get a take that I did not have to “repair” using Melodyne. I also realized that my headphone mix was not very good, that the audio I was playing along with was too loud compared to my instrument mix. So I am going to work on getting a better headphone mix. I am certain that if I had a client/musician in the studio that they would perform better with a well-balanced mix. In this case, I was the client.

So yes, practice does make perfect, or at least better than “it sucks”. But there are times when you will suck, and others not so much. As musicians we have to keep reminding ourselves of that. We are not synths.

Speak Your Mind