Intonation question

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Shornick, Aug 9, 2013.

  1. Shornick

    Shornick Scot Hornick

    Dec 18, 2001
    Just curious to how many of you avoid going for things live in worry of staying in tune? I spend a lot of time with the bow and numerous exercises to work on intonation daily. Some days are good, some not so but still educational.
    There are definitely times during performances where I hear things and go for them irregardless but of course it doesn't always work out tuning wise. I make the adjustments and make mental notes for next practice session but it made me think if sometimes it just is better to play of safe. Most of the music I've been playing is original and the leaders seem to prefer to let it happen but listening back to gigs all I ever hear are the missed notes, even if its on a night where it only is a few it drives me nuts.
    I've listened to a lot of live discs and hear guys miss all the time but love them trying to get it out but it just kills me on a personal level when its me. Just curious to if you limit yourself for safety's sake or just go.
  2. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    playing w/proper intonation is a lifelong pursuit. My teacher stresses proper left hand technique (Simandl). It takes dedicated practice to develop muscle memory - shifting skills and interval relationships. Use open strings as a reference, as well as the heel of the neck whether it is a D or Eb. I like playing w/just a piano player so that I can clearly hear proper intonation.
  3. notabene


    Sep 20, 2010
    SF Bay area
    Playing for recording and playing for live performance are different exercises. Taping live stuff may make you play more conservatively if your goal is the playback. But that caution can dampen the spirit of the moment. You decide.

  4. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    I find that I decide on a case-by-case basis. If it's a *more important* gig I tend to play *within my limits*. Less formal or the group I'm with likes to experiment, then I tend to take a lot of risks and only realize some of them. I do hate listening to the recording later and realizing that I was off-pitch on the note that sounded so cool in my mind's ear. On the whole, I try to push myself during rehearsal and then go back and make corrections until I get it right consistently, and try to play within my limits on the stand. Sometimes, I get carried away and partially regret it later. Partially, because on the one hand, it's usually a cool idea poorly executed. I think it's a line and it moves around a bit.
  5. I do that a lot... sadly..but at this time my technique on DB limits me in ways that I'm not limited on bass guitar. Those frets really help...

    I'm working on it... playing with backing tracks in the medium positions (above 4th, below thumb...)

    I'm still not confident enough to repeatedly bring out the arco play for solos in amplified settings. I've done it before, and it works well when it works, but goes really bad when it doesn't work.

    We're not alone.. I'm sure trumpet players deal with this a lot too. The truth is people will remember a cack.. among a bed of nice notes.. and one part of sounding good is getting rid of the cacks...
  6. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    My experience is that if you're worried about making a mistake, you will, even though in a comfortable or non-threatening setting, you won't. When all your positions and intervals are internalized and "owned" by your right brain, you'll find yourself executing things you didn't know you could do.
  7. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    +1. And it takes YEARS.
  8. Shornick

    Shornick Scot Hornick

    Dec 18, 2001
    Thanks for the info on what you guys are thinking.
    Should've said that I have been playing for a long time with a lot of studies and practice in the past present and future.
    I definitely understand the if you think you'll miss you will. I see that all the time in my playing and in my students as well.
    I know when I'm in the studio I have tended to play it a little safer as time is money but I do prefer to go for what I am hearing at that moment as opposed to bringing completely pre worked out ideas to the project during solos.
    Live performance the moment is there and gone, miss a note and its a blip in my mind to work on a shift more and move on. Practice and finding those things to practice is some of my favorite things to do. Love working out problem areas and getting them right.
    Guess I was just curious to how many players self limit depending on what they know they can hit and if you do, what do you do with the sounds in your head? Take down an octave? It's definitely gig dependent as well, restaurant background music I'm not playing nearly as wide of jumps and trying to limit my ears to more traditional solos. On more adventurous gigs where freedom is more encouraged is where I'm thinking about this limit thing.
    Thanks all! Time to go practice some more.
  9. And some days are better than others! Eddie Gomez said something like "intonation is a constant negotiation"
  10. Don, This might almost be a thread in and off itself!
  11. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    I don't do threads.
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Yup. And they never stop until you do.

    I was very proud to be at a mixing session of some trio stuff I recorded recently in the studio, and only feeling the need to fix two notes (both Ab's). Regarding taking chances, IME it's usually best to gauge how my "intonameter" is working on any given night and play pedal to the medal against the limits of that.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I do agree that worrying about making anything, is probably the very thing that will make you miss it!

    And can I just say there is no such word as "irregardless"..? ;)
  14. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    I remember the first lesson I went to with Eric Hochberg he asked what I wanted to work on. I said "intonation". He said "don't we all".
  15. gerry grable

    gerry grable

    Nov 9, 2010
    Doubtlessly, Bruce :D
  16. And the Best, most Honest, Truthful and Hilarious quip regarding this topic goes to Eric via Marc......nuff said, at least for me
  17. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I find that my intonation on the stand is a pretty good measure of how much I've been practicing. And if I start worrying about it, then it gets worse.
  18. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Have you had the experience in which you play a piece and you have consistent intonation issues? Recordings clearly, repeatedly announce your failure.
    I find that when that happens to me, if I play through the piece very slowly, arco, against a drone or Finale, usually in a few days I'll nail that errant pitch every time. Then, even years later, I still play it accurately.
    I know sometimes it's stupid fingering but sometimes I find that I'm just off a few cents for I pitch that I wouldn't expect to be an problem. Riddle me that, Batman.
  19. Paul Warburton

    Paul Warburton In Memoriam

    Aug 17, 2003
    Denver, Co.
    Just wondering up in here; does this include "Gomezing"? :bag:
  20. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard Commercial User

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Black Dog Bass Works
    No, don't google "Gomezing" unless you want to see Justin Bieber's autopitched girlfriend. :(

    Eddie's answers for intonation problems are seen here:

    FWIW, they're found wherever Eddie is, or has been.