Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
629 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I play a lot w/backing tracks and am often a bit out of tune... any ideas for fixing that?

I tune initially w/snark tuner. challenge is bg tracks often slightly enough off to where it doesn't sound good.

too bad there's no sustained tuning note at start
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
Joined
·
7,443 Posts
Typically the musician will adjust his tuning to the environment he is in regardless of what it should be. If you can't tell if you're sharp or flat to the recording, go both ways and see what works. The technology exists to re-record the track with adjusted intonation but that would be a lot of trouble unless you already have a small studio. No, just go with it and adjust to it. This will be good practice for playing live.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,207 Posts
I was having trouble playing in tune and what has helped me is to practice overtones with a tuner. Working on this will teach you how to "voice" the notes to get them in tune using your larynx, similar to the way we match pitches when singing. Youtube has some good videos on how to practice overtones on sax.

The other thing that has helped my intonation was to move down to a smaller tip than I was playing before. However, this is a somewhat controversial topic and others would disagree. All I know is that it's worked for me, though everyone has different experiences and needs. Good luck!
 

·
Just a guy who plays saxophone.
Joined
·
3,589 Posts
You've got to be able to hear what the note is supposed to sound like to play in tune. You can practice voicing and staring at a tuner all you want, but if you can't hear it you can't play in tune.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
715 Posts
You've got to be able to hear what the note is supposed to sound like to play in tune. You can practice voicing and staring at a tuner all you want, but if you can't hear it you can't play in tune.
Use drones instead of a tuner!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,441 Posts
If you have an electronic keyboard pick a pick an organ patch with little modulation and play a chord, hold it with a pedal and play your sax with it.
 

·
Just a guy who plays saxophone.
Joined
·
3,589 Posts
Use drones instead of a tuner!
Yes, very helpful. Not just for overtones and longtones though. Playing melodies and scale/ chord/ pattern stuff over drones really opened me up to how terribly unaware of how out of tune I always played. The tuner is useful for checking now and then, but you train your eyes if you’re just staring and making micro-adjustments with every waver of the needle...I might’ve spent hours a week doing it. I had a great tone, but I sounded like crap most of the time because I wasn’t singing or hearing myself. Didn’t know how.
 

·
Moderator
Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
Joined
·
28,943 Posts
It may be worth putting my Mr. Pedantic hat on briefly, as correct terminally can sometimes be useful.

I may be wrong, but I see a difference between tuning and intonation. Sometimes they can be used interchangeably, other times not.

For example if you your instrument and is basically tuned to a different pitch than the instruments in the track , then it would be classed as out of tune.

But if it is tuned correctly, however some notes are out of tune, then this is intonation. In other words your are not playing the instrument in tune with itself, even though the A is in tune with the A on the piano in the band.

In other words, if you play consistently fast to the backing you are out of tune. If you are in tune, nut your D is sharp and your C# is flat, the it is the intonation that is involved.

As we know the saxophone is not built 100% in tune to equal temperament (or any specific tuning system) although most good instruments are quite close.

@graphicguy your thread title mentions intonation, but the posts seems to actually be about tuning to the same general pitch as the backing, which is a different issue often.

I've heard and enjoyed some of your videos, I would say that often it is your intonation that can be slightly out (as can mine and everybody's) so I would try to work out is the actual issue. You can't just tune to a tuner, then play with a backing (or a band) and assume you will be correct. When I play with guitarists and no piano, they can all be in tune with each other, but not to A=440 so in that case I just have to adapt, no point in me tuning to A=440 on a tuner and telling them it's their fault.

You need to develop an ear for knowing whether you are "overall" sharp or flat to the track, and also be aware of individual note tendencies.

If you have a tuner that can be adjusted (I think the clear tune app can do that?) it may be worth initially trying to adjust the tuner to be in tune with the track, then there is value in tuning to the tuner - but sooner or later you should get to use, trust and rely on your ears.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
629 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
excellent points, Pete; you make perfect sense as usual... developing an ear for overall sharp vs flat is the way to go; though easier said than done. the tuner doesn't seem to help; as you point out; if the bg track isn't there at a=440; i tune to the tuner; most notes are very close; but if the bg track is flat or sharp then thats what to tune to.

its much better to get in tune pre-production; fixing it in post or by using auto-tune w/effects unit is a hassle
 

·
Registered
Alto sax, Tenor sax, Clarinet
Joined
·
1,309 Posts
I too have noticed that some backing tracks are out of tune. I even have one that includes an initial tuning note. But once the track starts, it is significantly flatter than to initial tuning note. I went as far as to transpose the first few bars to piano and play them along with the start of the track. The piano was in tune with the tuning note, but the piano was much sharper than the beginning of the track. With my mouthpiece out at the end of the neck, and with a soft embouchure, I could play in tune, but it was not a lot of fun (which of course was the intent of purchasing the backing track).
I really do not understand why the tuning note on the track and song on the track were so different.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
I never gave it much thought, I learned a long time ago to tune to the other instruments around me and learned to play my horn in tune throughout its range. I've got a tuner, but hardly ever use it.

Learn to play the horn in tune, and you'll never have to rely on a tuner.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
Joined
·
7,356 Posts
For me sometimes soft reeds aren't as in tune as slightly harder reeds.
^ I have a weird theory about this.

For me, a New reed that plays well within the first 10 minutes or so will be pushed a bit further on the neck to stay in tune. As the reed breaks in and becomes more responsive I find I have to slowly pull out in order to adjust the tuning to remain equal.

It's like clockwork. I can almost even look at how close my reed is to the tip and predetermine where my mouthpiece will need to be in order to be in tune.

And to the OP. I think that knowing whether you are in tune or not comes easier for some people than it does to others. That's not very encouraging but based on many years listening to people who have been playing for a long time I believe this to be true.
 

·
SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,394 Posts
I play a Duo gig. The guitar player supply's the trax. Mostly gleaned on the fly from YouTube and some stuff he put together..

Dig this, I get an occasional comment about my intonation(grr) yet this dick insists "all the tracks are in tune" yeah right. I constantly adjust intonation (or out-tonation) with my ear and embouchure, I don't generally move a mpc. Some of the stuff is tough to make sound good.

I miss the good old Band days, I don't like tracks much but I make a lot of bread with them.:twisted:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
Practice with the backing track and only play simple melodies. Longer tones than usual. And really focus on pitch! Tune with your ears, not with your eyes.
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top