Playing in tune together

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Damon Rondeau, Jun 8, 2003.

  1. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Here's one I hope my musical pals don't see.

    It's not just we bassists who can have trouble playing in tune. I've known some saxophone players who have dicey tuning.

    Bassists spend all this time practising so we can play in tune and with ease. We get together with a group, tune up with the piano and let 'er rip. Introduce another instrument into the bass, drums, piano mix, though, and then you've got another voice whose tuning may or may not be in synch.

    Lately I've been finding myself in a bit of a tonal soup situation in my early-phases jazz quintet, as I've determined that the tenor player is consistently sharp. I know what to do about that, that's not why I'm posting.

    I'm wondering what experienced bassists do in the tonal soup situation, while the music is happening, where the bass and piano are in tune but the horns have their own ideas. Stick with the piano? Find a "happy" medium? Wait for the tune to end and pour out a double?

    It's a bad situation musically, no doubt. No matter what, it's gonna sound out of tune.

    Do you and your group have any tuning rituals/procedures that you go through? I'm thinking especially of situations where there are horns in the group.

    BTW, "out of tune" is a matter of degree. The situation I'm talking about would sound quite good to most ears, but to me it sounds wonky.
  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Talk about it with the people you're playing with.

    Also, note that sometimes people deliberately tune a little bit out - moley was recently talking about how his father was remastering some classic jazz recordings and found out that the horns were consistently a little bit sharper than the rhythm section, adding a certain amount of 'edge' to their sound.