Einstimmen und Intonation auf der Querflöte

Tuning

For tuning a flute, the head joint is pushed in or pulled out. Making the tube longer by pulling out the head joint, makes a deeper sound, pushing in leads to a higher tuning.

Tuning is most of the time done playing an a. It is sensible, though, to tune also on other relevant keys or harmonies.

It is better to play the tuning notes one after another and not together, thus you can hear better and won´t adapt to the tuning of the simultanously played tone.

A tuning machine is helpful but should not be the only tool. Use your ears!

Another fact, important to understand, is that you need to control tuning and intonation for every note any time you play. A tuned flute is no guarantee for tuned playing as pressure, angle, dynamic and so on, will modify the tuning. Thus, the next chapter is about so called "intonation".

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Intonation

Intonation means the sensible tuning while playing the flute. A flute, as any wind instrument, does not produce the exactly correct frequency if you use the correct fingering. Even after tuning the flute, you always have to listen and control the pitch exactly. There are numerous influencies to intonation.

In general a flute goes up while getting warm. Thus by playing the flute, the warmth of the player´s breath makes it go up, as well as playing in a warm room. On the other side a flute goes flat while not playing in cold rooms like churches.

An other influence comes from the dynamics (playing loud or low). Playing louder normally makes the flute go up. Playing quietly might make the tone flat.

Another rule is that the tone in the lower octave tends to be flat, while the sounds of the upper octave are tending to be sharp. Additionally there is an influence from the intervals you play and the direction of the melodic line (coming up or going down).

In general an open fingering like a c or c# in the second or third octave is more sensible to intonation problems than others.

While playing with others one should know about the special aspects of intonation for those instruments. The piano for example is tuned absolutely, the octave is divided in twelve exactly even intervals. Not so for wind instruments or strings.

When playing with a reed instrument like bassoon, clarinet or oboe, you have to know that those become flat if playing loud. Brass instruments get sharp if playing loud, as flutes do. Strings are going down as soon as the instruments warm up, for example in a warm concert hall.

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Author: Claudia Haider; Last updated 23.04.2013