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Double Bass - Intonation aid

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by notdavey, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. notdavey


    Nov 2, 2006
    Seattle WA
    I work for a music software company and we are thinking of developing a product that fretless and double bassist (as well as violinists, cello players, any fretless instrument) may find of use. It would basically be a "finger finder" application that tells you when you were fingering correctly and your intonation was on or off.
    It would be used with a PC or MAC with a Mic or a using the audio in for the computer. It would also track progress (i.e. if you are practicing the C major scale, it would show you where you were hitting the notes and where they should be, giving you a score).

    Do you think this would be a useful application? What other features might be helpful?
  2. If you were playing a solo or something not already in the program would you have to enter it in by hand? It sounds like a useful program to me, thank for bringing the idea here.
  3. notdavey


    Nov 2, 2006
    Seattle WA
    It would simply be recongizing the pitch and telling you if you were intonating correctly. Your Eb is really an Eb and not slightly off etc. We haven't discussed it beyond that point, but it would be great to be able to record a piece or score it and then play againist it (I think Finale or Smart Music allows you to do that).
  4. I wish I had your job. But, my honest assessment is that I wouldn't buy it. I prefer just to hit an open string now and then, which is all the checking I need. But that's just me.
  5. uethanian


    Mar 11, 2007
    for DB and BG, maybe, but it wouldn't work too well for violinists. they rely completely on their ear and tune notes according to pure temperment (if they're any good that is).
  6. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    That's no different than DB. What else do we rely on?
  7. sibass89


    Jan 29, 2006
    Cincinnati, OH
    I do not know if I would buy a program like this. The great thing about playing a string instrument is that our tuning is not strictly tempered. For example a D# and Eb are not the exact same pitch and they different notes are tuned in different spots in different keys. If a program just recognizes the pitches and not its relativity to the key center or chord, this can actual have a negative effect on intonation.
  8. notdavey


    Nov 2, 2006
    Seattle WA
    Sounds more sexy than it is some days.....trust me.
  9. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    It might be more interesting if it had a statistical angle -- you know, it tracks how accurate your scales and arps are and it figures out how many cents (tones?? yikes!) you're off on average. Shows you how variable your tuning is. Let's you track progress over time. Maybe identifies particular areas where you might focus improvement efforts.

    I'd still rather use my ear, but that's just me. I'm thinking here more of something like a typing tutor program -- I learned touch-typing with one of those in two weeks, flat, with daily practice. The instantaneous feedback is almost useless, but the cumulative tracking is helpful.
  10. Heifetzbass

    Heifetzbass Commercial User

    Feb 6, 2004
    Upstate, SC
    Owner, Gencarelli Bass Works and Fine String Instruments, LLC.
    Smart music is already a well established application that will do amazing things for students. It also has a built in grade book for teachers. (version 10.2) We use it in our public school program and I will be using it soon with my private students as well.

  11. Yea, I'm sure. Any job is gonna bite sometimes. I do web software so I know how it can be. I divide my time between the day job and the music specifically because one full time job will burn me out in no time, no matter what it is.
  12. jdapodaca


    May 25, 2006
    El Paso, Texas
    If you do keep developing this, I'd expect it to have something that plays drones while you play.

    I'd also like to tell it which A I'd like to tune to. 440, 441, 442...you get the idea.

    Perhaps a metronome would be good. It would be cool if there was a program that could tell you how close to real rhythms you're playing, also.

    It would also be cool if you could set it up to play any note, and then you have to play that same note, in tune, and it tells you how off you were. It could maybe show it on a staff, and maybe you could pick how many octaves you wanted to be available. There could also be an option where you turn off the staff and try to guess the note entirely by ear, and it tells you how in or out of tune you were. This would also be controlled by a metronome. This would be good for sight-reading. It's easy to get notes in tune when you're playing scales because usually you're using a fingering that you're used to. If you are just told what note to play, randomly, you have no close fingers. You just test how good your muscle memory is.

    I think I'm getting too carried away already, I'll stop now.
  13. edvon


    Apr 4, 2004
    My favorite intonation device are my ears, but saying that, they are not always spot on, so if I had technology like this available to track progress and point out intonation errors that otherwise only my teacher picks up on, I'd use it.

    Oh yes, if I could check my timing with it, even better. A nice graphical output of the results would be important and of course it'd have to be easy to use.

    Please add me on the list of beta testers :)
  14. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    It is nice idea if other instrumentalists played in tune as well. Intonation is really tough problem,as I have brought up before.
    Do we put our time into tuning to the Western System? or to the musicians we play with?
  15. jdapodaca


    May 25, 2006
    El Paso, Texas
    I think we need to learn to tune to both. Programs like this, that test exact pitch, are good for testing your muscle memory.

    If the program asks you to randomly play B three octaves above open G, and then a low Bb, then a high F#, low G#, etc, random notes, I think this would be good to test how good your muscle memory is.

    Also if you want to try tuning to a violin player who tuned a little higher than you, make the standard pitch on the program 442, and try the same thing without retuning your bass. The notes will lie in the same place and you will be forced to make minor adjustments.

    Did that make any sense?
  16. Will the program take into account different temperaments? Say I'm playing a Baroque Sonata with a harpsichord, will I be able to set the program to harpsichord tunings? If you are playing in different keys you would need to change the tuning that you are playing against since the double bass does not play in equal temperament.

    Will the program account for vibrato? Whatever the highest pitch of the vibrato is is the pitch that will be recognized by the ear. Will the program recognize that?
  17. egbert


    Dec 14, 2006
    Portland, OR
    How would this be better than, say, recording yourself? If you record yourself you should be able to hear whether you're in tune or not, and if you can't hear it a computer program will not help you.
  18. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    There is a well established school of playing along with sequencers for pitch. Alot of the guys at IU have used this method, and many of them land great jobs...

    Good product idea, but many professionals practice with sequencers or Finale day in and day out.

    I personally haven't found a better way to hone your intonation.

    btw, isn't your product just a glorified chromatic tuner?
    (I use those too...)
  19. notdavey


    Nov 2, 2006
    Seattle WA
    Wow - I am amazed at all of you comments. Thanks first off (I posted the same in the Bass Guitar forum and get vey few responses)

    As I mentioned the program is in development so I can't answer some of your questions about other features etc. It may not even make it beyond the production schedule.

    I am in sales and marketing so any questions regarding technical specs I can't address.

    As I said this is meant to be an aid and not replace anyones ear. When and if I have more info I'll definitely post.

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