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Violin and Fiddle Instruction Online - Tuning

Lesson One - Tuning

Of utmost importance is to have an instrument tuned correctly. Prolonged playing on an incorrectly tuned instrument will damage the ears' ability to perceive true pitch. In a concert hall string musicians are always given- A 440 as the concert pitch.

Special care should be taken to develop a good ear for recognizing true notes. As the violin is a fretless instrument, a players ear is the only guide to correct pitch.

A violins' pitch may rise and fall according to local weather conditions. The instruments wood structure is susceptible to moisture and temperature absorption, therefore causing the wood to distort and the pitch to become inconsistent. The elasticity of the strings as well as the pegs trying to unwind are other factors to take into account. Storage of the violin inside its case will help prevent tuning fluctuations as well as keeping it safe from accidental knocks.

To bring a string into tune a reference tone is needed. When the string rings in phase with the reference note there will be no pulsation and the string will be in tune. A beat is heard when two frequencies are out of tune with each other. Their phase will be out of sync with each other.

Holding the instrument for tuning.
bulletRest the violin comfortably on the shoulder, with the left hand under the neck where the neck joins the body. In this position the violin light and balanced. There should be no excessive tilting of the players neck. If so a shoulder pad is advised.
bulletWith the right hand press the A440 button.
bulletStrike the A string with right thumb.
bulletTurn the peg for string A with left hand, until the phase of the string matches the phase of the recording. The peg should always be wound upwards towards the note. This helps the peg lock into the peg-hole and stops the string from slipping.
bulletAdjust the fine-tuner until the perfect pitch is encountered. There should be no beats to be heard, the two notes sound as one.
bulletProceed to E, D then G.


Three important sounds.

A violinist can access the tuning while playing by the strength of certain combinations of notes. These notes are of the open strings as follows:

violin 5ths

These Fifths are the quickest way to see if the strings are in tune relative to each other.

Lesson Two

Back Next

What is Concert Pitch?

Concert pitch A440 (A above middle C vibrating at 440 cycles per second) is universally accepted as the pitch to which all instruments should be tuned. It ensures that when instruments play together, they will all be in tune with one another.

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